Jake and Melissa were married on August 27, 2005 and currently live in Norwalk, CT. They have one foster son who loves to bang on the drums and another baby coming sometime late May/early June. Jake and Melissa write regularly for Relevant Magazine (www.relevantmagazine.com) and Simply Youth Ministry (www.youthministry.com). They also just finished their first book, 99 Thoughts on Marriage and Ministry, with Group Publishing/Simply Youth Ministry.

At this point, we’re sure your Amazon wish-list is full of fantastic book suggestions from the other Youth Ministry Today authors. Rather than give you our top three favorite books of all time, we want to focus on our top reads for 2013. We also wanted to recommend a book each on marriage and parenting. Here are three from Jake and three from Melissa. Happy reading!

Jake’s Favorites:

1. 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan PhD

This parenting resource helped us out so much this year. Our son is two-years-old, fully mobile, high energy, and generally all over the place. After trying a couple of different discipline techniques and striking out, some of our friends suggested this book. The methods make sense, and while not fool-proof, they have helped us parent our little man in a firm and loving manner.

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2. Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World: A Hopeful Wake-Up Call by Brock Morgan

I read this book during the holidays and it was fantastic! It easily jumped into my top five youth ministry books of all time. More and more, especially in the northeast and northwest, we are finding students who have never been to church and don’t have a clue even about basic Bible stories. And this is causing them to approach faith and spiritually differently. Brock’s book is one of the first books I’ve read that addresses these cultural changes but has so many fantastic practical and easy-to-apply ideas on reaching these kinds of students.

3. The War Inside by M. Kircher

Yup, this is my wife’s book. She does not want me to mention it, but I insisted. All biases aside, this was honestly one of my favorite books this year. If you are a fan of dystopian stories (i.e. The Hunger Games or Divergent) this is a book you’ll like. The storyline sucks you in with vivid descriptions and a focus on how society/the earth can be rebuilt after almost-total destruction. It’s not per say a “Christian” book, but has many underlying themes that point to God and the classic good vs. evil struggle.


Melissa’s Favorites:

1. The 4 Seasons of Marriage: Secrets to a Lasting Marriage by Gary Chapman

Marriages are in a constant state of flux. As the seasons of life ebb and flow, so do the ways that we relate to each other. I enjoyed the descriptions of each marriage “season” given in this book: spring, summer, fall, and winter. And I appreciated how Mr. Chapman provided practical ways to navigate each stage. This resource won’t “fix” any of your problems, but instead it helps you to see each season in a healthy, positive light.

2. Lexicon by Max Barry

A fast-paced, mind-bending thriller, Lexicon grabbed me from page one. The premise is dark, that words have the power to coerce, persuade, and even kill, and that there are secret organizations out there studying words so that they can have control over people’s minds. The characters are rich and complex and the writing is stellar. You will not be disappointed with this one!

3. The Lantern

I don’t usually go for stories that include ghosts, but this one is worth all the spooky-ness! A suspenseful, psychological romance set in the lush countryside of Province; The Lantern tells the story of a long-dead family, the gorgeous place they once lived, old love, and new love. There’s intrigue, there’s descriptions so beautiful you feel like you’re literally breathing the air, and there’s a lovely, wonderful ending.


Jake and Melissa / @marriageismessy

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