Recommended Sites for Youth Ministry Curriculum

3pic.001-001In my last post I shared some things I look for in a good youth ministry curriculum. As I mentioned in that post, there is so much youth ministry curriculum that at times it can be overwhelming  for the youth pastor or youth worker who is trying to find the right curriculum for their ministry. I want to make it somewhat easier by pointing you towards a few places that provide what I believe is some of the best youth ministry curriculum on the market right now.

Simply Youth Ministry. Simply Youth is by far the most popular place to get youth ministry curriculum. The thing I love about there curriculum is that they have something for everyone. Whether you’re look for small group curriculum, large group curriculum, Bible studies, devotionals, leadership training, they have it all!

Youth Ministry 360YM 360 has been my favorite place to get youth ministry curriculum over the past few years. I love the stuff that they have created in the past and excited about the stuff they are currently producing. They always create curriculum that is centered on Scripture and practical application. They also create great graphics, videos, and parent resources that go along with many of their studies. Definitely check out their website and see what resources they have that you can use in your ministry.

Word of Life Local Church Ministries. Word of Life has been around for decades and have been creating church resources for all ages. Over the past few years they have really been raising the bar and creating some incredible curriculum for students. They offer a year long curriculum package that you can use in your ministry year around and also shorter curriculum that you can use for a few weeks within your year. Click here to check out what they have to offer on their online store.

There are the three places I tend to go first when I’m looking for good pre-made curriculum. There are countless other websites and places you van get curriculum, but check out what these three sites have to offer. Where do you go when looking for curriculum for your student ministry?

Choosing the Right Youth Ministry Curriculum

iStock_000012210065SmallEven though our student ministry writes and prepares the majority of our curriculum in house, I’m still a big fan of using pre-made curriculum from time to time. There are some great ministries out there creating great youth ministry curriculum that sometimes works better than if I sit down myself and make my own. However, when a youth pastor starts to research youth ministry curriculum they will easily be overwhelmed with how much there actually is out there. With so many different choices and avenues a youth pastor can go with youth ministry curriculum, how do they know which curriculum is the best? How do they go about finding the right curriculum for them. Let me suggest a few things to look for when your trying to find a good youth ministry curriculum for your ministry.

1. Scripture Content. Obviously the first think you need to look for is Scriptural content. Whether its an expository curriculum that goes through a book of the Bible or a topical curriculum that covers a topical idea, it needs to be based on Scripture. Not only based on Scripture, but Scripture should be the main point and majority of each lesson. I’m not against illustrations and application, but Scripture comes first and is the most important. Don’t settle for a curriculum that doesn’t have a large amount of Scripture. Youth pastors must teach students the Bible and good curriculum will make that possible.

2. Practical Application. Even though a curriculum should be Scriptural, it should also have practical application. A good youth ministry curriculum will balance both Scripture and application. One without the other is not effective. Look for curriculum that has application that flows out of Scripture. Once Scripture is explained and taught, application should follow to help students apply what they have learned from God’s Word.

3. Graphics. Not only will a good youth ministry curriculum have Scriptural content and application, it will also have graphic resources. Not all curriculum will have graphics with them, but the majority of good ones will have them included with the curriculum. Finding curriculum that has good graphics will save you time because you will not have to make them yourself. Most good curriculum now come with backgrounds, posters, countdowns, videos, and much more.

4. Ability to Edit. Even when you find a good curriculum make sure it has the ability to changed and edited based on your ministry. Good curriculum will always come in a format that makes it possible for the youth pastor to edit and use how he sees fit for his ministry and students. Many times you will need to add Scripture, change illustrations, or change the format of the lesson. Having a curriculum that makes this possible is a good thing to look for.

These are the things I look for in good youth ministry curriculum. What are some things you look for when your searching for a youth ministry curriculum?

Freebie: A Guide to Writing Bible Study for Teenagers

For today’s freebie, I want to share with you a great resource provided by Youth Ministry 360. Recently, they released a short guide to writing Bible Studies for Teenagers called “The What? The Why? And How? Of Writing Bible Study for Teenagers.” I have already downloaded my a copy and have looked through it briefly. I am hoping to read through it more intently over the next few weeks.

This is a great resource for anyone who works with teenagers.Writing Bible studies can be a hard task, but with proper guidance can be a somewhat easy and enjoyable task. Andy Blanks, co-founder of Youth Ministry 360 says,

When it comes to Bible study curriculum, youth workers fall somewhere on a scale. On one end there are those youth workers who only teach curriculum they’ve purchased. On the other end are those youth workers who write all their own lessons. My experience is that the majority of youth workers fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. Most youth workers will take a blended approach, incorporating a mixture of both self-written Bible study curriculum and off the shelf curriculum. Because of this, I wanted to pass along some thoughts on crafting your own Bible study lessons.

Andy has done a great job at providing great thoughts on how to develop a good Bible study for teenagers. I encourage anyone who is involved in teaching teenagers to download a copy of this guide and take some time to look through Andy’s thoughts. I am sure they will be of help to you. Click the link below to download the guide FREE!

A Short Guide to Writing Bible Studies for Teenagers

Choosing Curriculum

One of the things I am currently working on right now in my new student pastor position is choosing a curriculum for the student ministry. This is no small task and can be somewhat overwhelming when you start to discover just how much curriculum is out there for students. Because of the amount of curriculum out there, student pastors need to take time to look around and discover the curriculum that best fits you, your students, and your church. With all that being said, here are some questions to consider when your trying to choose a curriculum for your student ministry:

Does it have Biblical content? The first, and most important thing, you need to consider when you’re looking at curriculum is how much Biblical content does it have. Unfortuantley, there is a lot of curriculum that does not have a lot of Biblical content in it. I believe teaching God’s Word is the most important thing we do as student pastors. God’s Word will change students, so we need to make sure our curriculum has plenty of God’s Word built within in.

Do you want expository and topical? Personally, I lean towards expository teaching. I believe it’s the best way to teach and allows you to keep God’s Word at the center. Even with that conviction, I do not discount or throw away topical teaching. I try and throw in topical lessons and series from time to time and believe they have a place. Because of this, I try to look for curriculum that is a balance between the two. I usually use curriculum that is overall expository, but has topical lessons as well. This is sometimes a hard thing to find. But when your considering curriculum, decide what style of teaching best fits your style of teaching.

Does it agree with your overall church? You need to make sure the theology of your curriculum agrees with the theology of your church. Out of respect for your senior pastor and overall church, try and stay within the theological “circles” that your church is. I say this because you don’t want your students learning one thing in youth group and then another on Sunday mornings. You want your curriclum in the student ministry to compliment and agree with the teaching of your church.

Does it have good media? Some might think this is shallow, but this is huge! In our culture, student ministries need to invest in and have good media. That is why we need to make sure a curriculum has good media with it. Most good curriculums will have good media. Curriculum with good media built in will save you time, energy, and money. It allows you to focus on preparing the lesson rather than spending an hour making a PowerPoint and trying to find a video.

I hope these questions will help you as you look for curriculum for your students. As I said earlier, curriculum is a good thing and believe it you take the time to find the right one it will help your students grow and your teaching to become a vital part of your ministry. Here are a few curriculums I have used or am planning on using that you may want to check out:

Word of Life-This will be your more conservative theology type of curriculum. I lean more towards that, so this is a curriculum I have used and will probably be using more  in the future. Has a great balance between expository and topical and comes with a great media package.

YM 360-If you have not checked out YM 360’s curriculum, you need to! I am planning on using one of their studies in the coming months and have a good relationship with the guys over there. Their  stuff has a lot of Biblical content and comes with probably the best media stuff out there.

Simply Youth Ministry-The curriculum you get from this group will be more broad in theology than others. I have used a lot of there stuff and usually am happy with it. They allow you to edit it and make it your own which is a plus. Also, comes with top notch media.

The Gospel Project (Lifeway)-This is brand new and has not officially been released yet, but from what I can see it looks really good. It’s a Gospel centered and Bible based curriculum. Matt Chandler has been a huge contributor to this and I am looking at using it in our ministry.