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.

Random Randomness

 —  August 20, 2013 — Leave a comment


Now that my blog has joined forces with the mighty More Than Dodgeball, I thought I’d continue some of the features that kept my junior high blog small and relatively unpopular. My “Random Randomness” posts are a good place to start.

– Just returned from four nights camping under the stars with 8 other families. We fished, hiked, shot BB guns, faced down bears (Katie Edwards did, anyway) and sat around the fire. A really lazy way to end an outrageously busy summer.

– Another thing we did while camping was play lots and lots of KanJam, the game you really must purchase for your youth group.

– May I recommend a short shopping list for your junior high ministry this fall?

  1. This Book Gets Around.  If you are looking for a fun way to help your students (in small groups, at a retreat, etc.) get to know each other a little better, this is the way to go. Such a fun idea. Or, buy some 10-packs and ask your students to take them to school to learn more about their friends!
  2. LIVE small group curriculum. There simply is not a better small group curriculum out there, in my opinion.
  3. The Challenge. Almost every junior higher loves games. Almost every junior high youth worker hates coming up with them. Make everybody happy!
  4. 99 Thoughts About Junior High Ministry. There are a few great junior high/middle school ministry books out there, and they are all too long for your volunteers to read! Give your volunteer team a pocketful of confidence with this fantastic little book.

– Want a free resource…that kicks butt?  Point your hurting students to Teen Christian Ministries. I love this little web show that is making a huge impact on the teenagers who tune in!

– Have you seen The Way, Way Back?  If not, write it into your schedule this week before it disappears. It’s a movie every youth worker needs to see.

Moving On

 —  May 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

Moving On

It is crazy to believe that the school year is almost over! For student leadership, we like to give our graduating seniors a big going away party, complete with a farewell/thank-you present from our ministry. Along with a few hand written notes and some other goodies, we are giving our seniors Doug Franklin Moving On.

This is the second year that we have given Moving On to our students. We love it because it is more than just a book, it is a resource. It helps students start to answer some of the big questions they have as they graduate high school and move on to the next chapter of their life. Questions like, what should I do? and what does God want me to do?

Moving On helps them answer those questions by walking them through the formula:

Burden + Passion + Vision= Mission

The students we gave the book to last year loved it so we are bringing it back for another run. If you want to pick the book up for your students, you can buy it here.

What are you giving your students for graduation?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

love isnot

Love is Not Abuse is a great website with lots of helpful resources. They also have a great iPhone app. Check them out! Get people talking about these important real life issues!

What are other great resources out there? Do you know any thing that is faith based on this topic?

simple truthJeff and I had the opportunity to be a part of a pretty amazing project that came out a couple of months ago. It is called the “Simple Truth Bible.”  This is a multi- author devotional,  purposed to help youth start reading the Word,  for themselves.

So often when we are trying to inspire students (especially those in survival mode) to press into Christ,  we aren’t sure how to best serve them. Our answer is often to teach a Bible Study or a program that enables students to “hear” more about Jesus,  or even talk out their questions.  However,  in addition we need to “inspire” them to learn to seek God for themselves.  If you are a young person who doesn’t know where to begin in the Bible this can seem overwhelming.  How many times have we heard students talk about  how they “tried” to read the Bible BUT:

  • “I didn’t understand it.”
  • “I got bored.”
  • “I can’t find the time.”

That is what we love about the “Simple Truth Bible.”  In a couple of minutes each day a student is introduced to a passage,  an explanation,  a prayer and a challenge.  There is enough for every day of the year,  with no dates attached.  There is no “pressure”  to stick to the time table or guilt if you fall off.  It is purely a motivation for those who need to begin steps towards allowing  God’s Word to change them.

As we have used it with our own students we have found it actually works wonderfully for youth from about ages 11 and up.  For those who are doubting.  For those who want to “get into the habit.”  For those we know need to seek for themselves.  We can say,  “Try this.”    It is transforming.   I have students who are pondering the Bible before they go to school and through out their day.  They are learning it isn’t about us “teaching them.”  They are learning more about who the Lord is for themselves.

Alright- Here’s my sales pitch.

There’s a “deal” if you order in bulk and TODAY until 11:59 MTN time  SHIPPING IS FREE!  

Click Here To Check It Out!

I admit it- I thought it was a great idea.  However, I really had no clue how it would work with my students who often have never cracked a Bible open in their lives.  I started giving them away.  My students are loving it.  They are telling their friends,  and more kids are asking for one.  Best part is- they are asking if they can have some to give away themselves.  Crazy right?

God always proves that HIS WORD IS POWERFUL!  There is no age limit for what he will do!

It’s hard to recruit an adult into youth ministry; however, to keep them for the long haul is another story.  I would like to say that everyone that served with me in my first year is still with me today; but, that would be a lie.  In fact there is only one person that has stuck around for the last 9 years.  Fortunately, that trend has changed and the turnover is much lower today.  THE PROBLEM is that ministers were leaving because they did not feel value.  They felt like they were treated like doers and not leaders.

If you want your ministry to grow, you need to take the volunteers you have and give them the opportunities to lead.  You can’t just wait around for the perfect leaders because they may never come.  Instead you have to look at opportunities to build your ministry depth.  That’s done when you:

  • Take A Risk: Doesn’t matter if you ask them to hand in a resume or if you pick them out of a hat, when choosing a leader you are taking a risk.  To take a calculated risk it’s important for you to develop parameters and steps that will allow them to grow as a leader.  That means giving them room to fail.
  • Give Over Control:  In order for a leader to grow, they need opportunities to lead.  Give them a project, an activity or event to run.  Not only will it give them confidence as a leader but the understanding to what you feel as the youth pastor.  This will allow them to understand the work that goes into reaching the vision for your ministry.
  • Equip Them With Resources: You need to set your leaders up for success.  To make that happen you need to give your leaders resources to educate them on ministry and materials that they need to perform certain tasks.  This means understanding how and where they need to grow.
  • Step Away: You can be the biggest obstacle to your leader’s development.  While you think you are giving them control you could still be micromanaging.  Encourage your leaders to come to you with any questions and then trust that they will follow through on the invitation.  This means allowing them to fail.  It means giving them permission to run the ministry in “their” way.  By stepping away and allowing them to lead you give them the most important gift as a leader, trust.

To build your ministry depth you need to equip, motivate and empower leaders.  They will extend your reach and influence.  They’ll help you create more capacity in your schedule.  When you grow leaders you build momentum behind your movement.

How are you empowering and growing leaders?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

Gangnam Everything!

 —  October 8, 2012 — 1 Comment

With more than 400 million views and still increasing, Gangnam Style has solidified it self as a cultural phenomenon. There are thousands of parody videos out there an its s a golden Youth Min opportunity to do something great. This opportunity was not lost on my friends Nathan Pawluck and Kyle Reddemann who work full time at a great camp here in B.C. called Sunnybrae and are well known for their creative video work like this. I saw this video on Facebook and had to share it with all of you.

A classic youth game with an awesome Gangnam Style twist. Copy the link and use it with your group if you want. We are going to try it out in a few weeks, should be awesome.


-Geoff (Twtter)



Comforting Teens in Crisis

 —  September 7, 2012 — 1 Comment

We decided to give out a great little book to our volunteers we just discovered called Comforting Teens in Crisis. I don’t know how I’ve missed it in the past, looks perfect for our life group leaders!

Failing grades. Pregnancy. Addictions. Cutting. How do you even begin to help teens through their greatest struggles? What if you make things worse? This go-to guide gives you the confidence to share God’s love and comfort! Includes:

  • Counseling advice
  • Tips on what to say and what not to say
  • Real-life scenarios
  • Scripture connections
  • Resources for reaching out in love