I’m not a huge fan of curriculum for youth. I’ve seen far too many lessons that were long and culturally irrelevant, and most of the time they didn’t even make sense. If I see another youth lesson where they ask people to dress up in Biblical costumes I think I will drop kick the writer into the 21st century! For the most part, over the last thirteen years of working with youth, I have written my own lessons. I like getting ideas from others, but I couldn’t find the right mix of Biblical teaching and conversational questions that fit my teaching style. With our recent changes to our youth ministry at Cornerstone, I knew I needed to come up with a plan for equipping and preparing our different youth leaders.
We have made the change from one large youth meeting each week to multiple smaller groups meeting at the same time. We all meet together for announcements and some activities, but then we split up into different age groups. I did want all the groups studying the same thing each week, so I started looking at several different options. I really liked the content and messages from the XP3 curriculum by the reThink group, but it is geared for one teacher to teach a large group and then break up into smaller discussion groups. We have tried that before and it is tough to teach a lesson that connects with a large group of students ranging from 6th to 12th grades. The lessons were also very long. I looked at some others that I won’t mention here that seemed like they came straight out of 1980, and then I finally found what we we’re looking for. Simply Youth Ministry just recently released a curriculum for small groups called the Live Curriculum. I talked with another youth pastor who was using it, and we made up our mind to jump in. So far it’s been great.
The lessons are easy to customize and share. It is online based, so I can login, make any specific changes that I feel are necessary, and then share with the rest of our leaders. They can then customize the lessons for their group and teaching style, and print out the lessons and student sheets, all from their homes. The lessons are intended to create discussion, and there are even text message questions and parent emails you can send during the week. You can also choose the order in which you teach the lessons. The cost sounds a little high ($499), but you are buying into a four-year plan so it really becomes cheaper than all the other options that I have seen. I’m not easily impressed, but I think this will really help our youth ministry and save some valuable time for our leaders.
When choosing a curriculum, don’t choose something because everyone else is using it. You have to evaluate your ministry and style, and then find something that will be a good fit. In many cases, you may have to write your own, but don’t rule out looking at all curriculum.