If in doubt, teach the Bible

A pile of biblesTwo 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.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.


  1. We did this with our junior highers on Sunday morning (Ephesians 4:25-32). Read the passages a few times and asked: what stood out, what does this passage have to do with life, etc …. no discussion allowed, went around the room and each shared — was amazing what came to the “table”

  2. I do this in my adult Sunday school class…got tired of out-of-the-box lessons that purported to cover books, but leapt through 10-chapter swaths and only highlighted a few select verses that supported an agenda, rather than an understanding.

    My best memory of youth ministry was spending 18 months in Revelation with 6-12 high school students, once a week in our home. I saw them learn to love the beauty of God’s word for its own sake; and how to ask those personal questions of the text that provoke us to growth in and by the Holy Spirit. The bible is not my only teaching resource, but I agree it is by far the best!

  3. Right on Adam! In my experience we’ve always seen more growth when we teach and learn Scripture with kids. I think we often fall back to a curriculum or video resource because we underestimate teenagers ability to think and understand the deep truths of Scripture.

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