It’s Okay to Use Curriculum

 —  September 26, 2014 — 2 Comments

Our student ministry had Kurt Johnston teach for us this past month.


(I tried to write that in my best Jon Lovitz impersonation)

TBH – that’s how “the kids” say “To be honest…” – we had Kurt “in house” via video.


physical-3058 (1)Our student ministry has been working through a DVD/discussion curriculum called “Smart Stuff.” It’s a super-practical walk through a handful of key verses in Proverbs.

To my students, Kurt “John-sTon” (that’s how they pronounce his name, over-emphasizing the “T”) seems like a “cool guy,” even though “that random guy in the background” in each video keeps them laughing.

In my world, Kurt’s a great guy who is one of the most generous servants to youth workers. I’ve gotten to know him better over the past few years as we’ve worked on different things together, including this blog. Before that, he was a name on books I saw in Christian bookstores and online.

That’s actually what I want to briefly mention.

It’s okay to use curriculum. 

Some of those names on books and teaching materials aren’t trying to get their name out there… they’re trying to serve you.

k13084729Think of it like crowd-surfing on the Church so you can serve your church.

You know it as well as I do – not every youth worker has the time to spend developing a lesson. In fact, if you have to choose between developing a lesson versus hanging out with teenagers, I’d suggest the latter… especially if you can rely on a quality piece of curriculum to give you some breathing space. Some are even quick downloads for when you’re on the go.

By no means am I advocating that you just copy-and-paste someone else’s stuff all year round, because even the best resources need your edits and adaptations. What I am suggesting is that if you’re a more relational youth worker than you are an epic speaker, play to your strengths. Even if you can teach well, don’t let your ego drive you to want to be the next preaching rockstar at the expense of letting someone else’s gifts shine, be it via video or through materials.

I used to be short-sighted and arrogant about this, assuming anyone who relied on “lessons in a can” wasn’t pulling their weight somehow in ministry. Like I said… it was short-sighted and arrogant. Now, I’m thankful for how many options there are out there for youth workers to feel the grander support of the Body of Christ, including from people who may not ever physically walk into your ministry space.

P.S. As a side note, after our first Wednesday in the “Smart Stuff” materials, my 13-year old son decided to start reading the book of Proverbs… and has been all this month. Coincidence?

P.P.S. No… it isn’t a coincidence. Thanks, Kurt John-sTon.

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1This week we are still talking about small groups.This week we bring in one of our veteran volunteers to talk about training, leadership, and care for our small group leaders. We had a lot of fun. Check it out!!


Hope it Helps,

Kurt & AC

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1We are back this week with our Let’s Talk Youth Ministry video blog after taking some time off for the summer. We discuss how to keep the momentum of your small group launch rolling, and also how we handle parents concerning life groups. If you have any questions or topics you would love for us to talk about just email us at


Hope it helps,

Kurt & AC

Here is Ep.19 – You can catch the other episodes at the Youtube channel (Let’s Talk Youth Ministry). Kurt and I talk about the Fall, and we both give a few tips on things you should try in the Fall. Check it out!! 


Hope it helps,


Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Here is Ep.18 – You can catch the other episodes at the Youtube channel (Let’s Talk Youth Ministry). Kurt and I talk about a few unwritten rules/principles in youth ministry that you should be applying and/or following. Check it out!!


Hope it helps,

Kurt & AC

Let’s Talk Youth Ministry Vlog is BACK!!!!!!!! And we are posting a NEW SHOW EVERY WEEK.Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1



Show’s Topic: The Gospel!!!!!

Hope it helps,


Let’s Talk Youth Ministry Vlog is BACK!!!!!!!! And we are posting a NEW SHOW EVERY WEEK.Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1



Show’s Topic:

  1. Interns – Free Labor or not?


Hope it helps,



- In my quest to help our students and youth leaders feel more confident explaining, sharing and even defending the gospel (which has included a quest to try to first define the gospel), I stumbled upon the book, What Is The Gospel? In it, authors Greg Gilbert and D.A. Carson take a direct, traditionally evangelical view of scripture that clearly articulates the gospel of Jesus Christ. It won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but it was mine. Or maybe because I love tea so much I was just looking for a reason to use that analogy.

- Are you a Youth Worker? Do you live in Los Angeles? Do you like Saddleback Church? Are you looking for a challenge? If you answered yes to ALL of those questions (or know somebody who would), you may be excited to learn that Saddleback Church has launched a new campus in the heart of LA/Hollywood and we are in the early stages of preparing to launch our student ministries department. The first step: Finding the right man or woman to lead the charge. Interested? You know where to find me!

- Having mostly not surfed for the past few years (the rest of my family enjoys riding dirt bikes in the desert MUCH more), I’ve jumped back in with a renewed energy and passion for the sport. My current “quiver” (set of surf boards) includes a 9′ long board, a 6’6″ Tri-fin, a 6’2″ fun board (shaped like a long board, but short) and a 5’10″ retro fish. They’ve all been purchased on the cheap, and I’m hoping that having lots of surf boards makes it easy for the rest of the Johnston clan to give it a shot this summer!

- I’m Learning…a Lot! I’ve been leading ministry teams for over 25 years, and while it’s never been easy it’s never been as tough as it is right now. For the first time in my ministry career I feel like I am as much of a “manager of systems” as I am a true leader. Saddleback Church currently has 12 campuses (U.S. and abroad) and very soon we will have youth ministries happening at all of them, and my role is to provide leadership, coaching, quality control and ensure they are all simultaneously very true to our ministry paradigm while also feeling free to contextualize appropriately. I knew it wouldn’t be smooth sailing all the time, but what has surprised me the most is that stuff I thought would be challenging and problematic has been fairly easy, and stuff I assumed would be in the no-brainer category has actually been the hardest part. I’m hoping that an old dog can, in fact, learn new tricks.

- Have you been watching “Let’s Talk Youth Ministry”? If so, share it with a friend in the youth worker nation! Me and my buddy, A.C., post a new episode every week mostly as a way to mix up the format on this blog a little bit. It’s sort of like the old Simply Youth Ministry Show, but a little more laid back (mostly because A.C. is the most laid-back person in the history of mankind!). Here’s one fun twist: We are hoping to add a short video from one of you each week! You can send us a 60 minute video that asks a youth ministry question, shares a “I can’t believe I did that” moment, or serves as a word of encouragement (so far, these seem to be the most popular). Just shoot a one-minute video on your phone and email it to