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?

Book Review: A Beautiful Mess

A few weeks ago I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and saw a link to a free download of Mark Oestreicher new book called A Beautiful Mess. This book is part of a series of books from Simply Youth Ministry and Group called Everyday Youth Ministry. I have a few of the books in this series and have enjoyed each one! Recently, I just finished reading A Beautfilul Mess by Mark Oestreicher.

It seems like every time you turn around there is a new youth ministry book that is promoting a new “model” or “philosophy” of youth ministry. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against these types of books and many of them have been instrumental in shaping my own philosophy of youth ministry (click here to check out my personal youth ministry philosophy). But far too often as youth pastors and youth workers, we look to the next “big thing” and quickly abandon what we are doing for the sake of doing youth ministry differently. This is not always bad because in a changing youth culture, we must be changing the way we minister to students in that culture. But we must not get caught up in what’s wrong with our youth ministry and quickly jump to trying something new. We need to realize a lot of what we are doing is working and actually making a different in the life’s of students for the sake of the Gospel!

This is why Mark Oestreicher book, A Beautiful Mess, was such a breathe of fresh air for me! Finally, a youth ministry book that didn’t talk about what is wrong with youth ministry, but actually explained what is right with youth ministry! Mark explains some of the current things in youth ministry that are working and bringing fruit in the life’s of our students. He helps us see that the glass is half full, not half empty. This book allows youth pastors and youth workers to be encouraged and walk away feeling like they are making a difference, because they really are making a difference! Mark admits that we must not resist change because we always need to be changing the way we do student ministry, but we must not change for the sake of change. We are doing some things right in youth ministry and let’s see the glass half full and continue serving students with the love of Christ.

I would recommend this book for anyone involved in youth ministry. This book will help you identity some of the things we are doing right in student ministry and encourage by reminding us we are making a difference! Click here to download this book for FREE for a limited time. If the free offer expires time you see this, you can still purchase a copy of the book for a great, low price here.

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.

Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2012

For the next five days I will be at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Louisville, KY. I have been to this conference a few times and each time I come away refreshed and more excited about youth ministry. I know many youth pastors who cannot make it this weekend so I want to be a resource to them and others you may be interested in the teaching that goes on at this conference. So my plan is to share all the notes I take from the tracks and workshops I am a part of this weekend. I will try to do this daily and put my notes into a blog format for others to read and learn from.

I have already planned what tracks and workshops I will be attending. Once I get there and the conference starts I make change which ones I am going to, but as of right now here are the tracks and workshops I plan to get in on:

Teaching the Bible to Teenagers with Duffy Robbins

New to Youth Ministry: Starting Out on the Right Foot with Steve Schneeberger

Under Your Unbrella: When College Ministry is Just One of Your Responsibilities with Chuck Bomar

Effectively Communicating to Teenagers and Parents Throughout the Week with Tim Schmoyer

If any of these interests you than keep an eye on my blog for the next five days. I will share all my notes from these tracks and workshops as well as anything else that happens at SYMC that is worth blogging about. Click here to see a list of other bloggers who will be blogging throughout the SYMC.

99 Thoughts

99-thoughts-r4_sm-330x500-new1Josh Griffen, the high school student pastor at Saddleback Church, is putting out this book soon. I’m super excited to read this book! I love reading any book on youth ministry, but Josh Griffen is a man in youth ministry that I highly respect. He is running one of the best youth ministries I have ever seen and has an excellent blog that is very relevant for anyone involved in youth ministry. Make sure and check that blog out at www.morethandodgeball.com. My opinion is that anyone involved or passionate about youth ministry should check out the student ministries at Saddleback and also check out the community around www.simplyyouthministry.com. I may not agree totally with some of the things at the student ministry at Saddleback, but God is evident in their work there. I hope this book turns out to be a good one! After reading it, whenever that might be, I will post a review on it!