Two or three times per week I hear from a youth worker asking me for a resource recommendation.
When I’m asked that I’m torn. On the one hand I know (and sell!) a lot of great resources. On the other, I know that too many people are just going from resource to resource to resource.
Over Resourced, Under Adapted
In fact, one reason their ministry may be struggling is their inability to teach because they are merely communicating content. (Sidebar question: How do you know the difference between teaching & communicating?) They’ve never done ethnography for the students they are trying to reach (Instead just kind of know the students who come to their ministry already) so they would have no idea how to actually adapt a curriculum from its published form to the way it should be taught in their ministry.
I’d never recommend buying a curriculum and teaching it in its published form. Even the person who wrote it had to adopt it in ways during the publishing process that they wouldn’t teach it the way it is in the book.
By Default, Just Teach the Bible
Personally, I tend to swing the pendulum too far the other way. While I like an occasionally topical series to break things up, its my preference to just teach books of the Bible. All of the times when I’ve seen my small group or youth group grow the most it’s correlated with time spent, communally, in the Bible.
For instance, a great small group discussion happens in James. Read the first chapter out loud together, then ask the journalism questions… “Who was this written to? What do I have in common with those people? What was the author saying to those people? What might be transferable to me? Why did the Holy Spirit inspire James to say that? How can you apply this to your life?”
The Bible is the Ultimate Resource
With a huge, blossoming marketplace of resources, it’s good to remember that the best resource is always the Bible. Maybe what I like to do is too far for you? My advice would be to spend at least 50% of your time doing just this… working your way through books of the Bible in unfancy ways. If we really want to get trendy we’ll bounce from an old testament book to a new testament one or visa versa. But seriously, God’s Word is in there so it should be your default, go-to resource.