Our greatest calling in youth ministry is to build disciples. Which is why we need youth ministry resources that help us in this process. Granted, discipleship is not all about resources, but curriculum and other training materials can be a great help in this process. You do not just want to pick any old resources though, so there are a few things I would keep in mind. First of all I would look for a curriculum that pushes your students to feed themselves. They should not go through this process alone but they do need to begin to learn how to take ownership of their faith. Next, I would look for curriculum that calls your students to action. We have enough people who claim to be followers of Christ who believe and learn but never actually go out and do anything with their faith. And finally I would look for a curriculum that is reproducible. Whether that means that you can make copies or email digital files, you want to be able to reproduce this curriculum so that the discipleship process can happen again and again and the Gospel can be spread all over the world.
One of the youth ministry resources you need is Bibles. It is just a fact that not a lot of students bring their Bibles to church anymore and while they can use their mobile devices to access the Bible, this often leads to the temptation for distraction. This is why we like to have a stack of Bible's on top of the tables that our students meet at. You could have them in the rooms your students meet in if that is how you are set up. The question then becomes what translation to choose. My first advice on this is to get the one that you teach from. This is especially true if you are in a master teacher/small group format as students need to be able to easily follow along with you. The next thing I would consider is getting one that matches up with your small group curriculum if you have a traditional curriculum with books your students work through. If none of these things are really a factor for you I would look into the New International Version(NIV). This is not an official endorsement as I actually read from a different translation, but this one continues to one of the better jobs of combining accuracy in translation with being easy to read. I personally prefer the NASB or ESV for study and teaching but the NIV is still more widely accepted as easier to read. I'll close this post with one last piece of advice. I would not go out and get super nice leather Bibles. These will be only used from time to time and since they are for students you do run the risk of things getting torn up. So save yourself some money and look for paper backs but make sure that you do have plenty of Bibles ready for your students where ever it is you do your teaching or Bible study hour.
We believe one of the best youth ministry resources we can provide you is ministry coaching. This is because as student pastors we need advice and encouragement from others in the trenches. That is why we do our best to regularly post blogs and podcasts so that you not only get the support and encouragement you need but also it is for free. This is a huge advantage because most of our budgets and vacation days are limited so we can not always afford to go off to a conference. But there is an added benefit, all be it a selfish one. By hearing from you, both about your struggles and victories, we get to grow as ministers as and are challenged to wrestle with areas that we might be weak in. And through the relationships we begin to build we get to grow and become stronger as followers of Christ and hopefully you do as well.
When locating youth ministry resources you cannot just think about yourself. You have to think about your leaders, students, and their parents. You need to look for ways that you can make sure that they are being discipled as well as going out and discipling others. Because, there is a good chance that these people are not looking for these resources for themselves but they still desperately need them. So you need to step in and get them what they need, since you are occasionally spending time looking for these things anyways. Now, to be of further assistance there are a few things I would look for. One is fairly obvious, Bible studies. Whether it is something for students to do with their friends or something for them to do with their parents, any opportunity for them to grow in their faith and in the knowledge of the Word is a good thing. The other thing that I would suggest is anything Gospel related. Be it Gospel tracts or training materials, anything that gets people out sharing the Gospel is a necessity and something that is desperately needed at this time. I hope you will strongly consider this and continually look for ways to equip those you minister to so they can go out and minister to others.
There was a time as a student pastor when I thought I had all the youth ministry resources that I needed. Then because of that I had fallen into a routine of doing the same thing always and assuming that since something worked it never needed to change and that I must have that part of ministry all figured out. I then realized that not only was this attitude wrong, it was also doing a disservice to my students. Because since students are always changing, I need to make sure that I am always learning and growing as a student pastor so that I am prepared to minister to them and meet their needs. This learning happens at many times. Sometimes this learning happens through reading and and taking traditional classes but often time it happens through conversations or just observations. Then along with this learning I have to make sure that I am gathering resources so that I can effectively implement what I am learning in my ministry. You need to do the same. We always need to make sure that we are growing so that we can always be prepared for whatever ministry opportunities God places before us.
I do not know what is in your youth ministry resources library, but I would assume it is probably games, sermons, and maybe some event planning guides. But what I bet is less likely is books on teenage development and how a student's background might effect they're behavior and how they see the world. Now, I know some of you do many student pastors do not have resources like this which leads to a big problem. The problem is that many of us think student's are all cookie cutter and this is far form the truth. We also can tend to label students and assume things about students just form their appearance or first interaction with us. But this is not the right way to go about things. Students are unique and often have many layers because of their past experiences. Therefore we must do two things. We must learn about teens from all backgrounds and situations so that we can better understand teens from a variety of situations. The other thing we must do is build relationships with our students. This way we can get to know them, where they come from and what their needs are. This way we make sure all students are loved, respected, and cared for as they should be regardless of their background and experiences.
Did you know that you may be one of the best youth ministry resources that you have? The experiences and knowledge that you gain are a great resources that you can pull from as you plan and prepare for ministry in the future. But in order to do this you have to remember what you have done. There are two suggestions that I have in order to help you go about achieving this. The first thing is to get organized. You need to make sure that you can keep up with the events and plans you have made and implemented so that you can pull from those things instead of starting from scratch. The second thing I would suggest is journaling. You need to begin to write and record your thoughts and feelings daily about how your ministry is going, how events went, and what you feel your students are struggling with. This way you can look back and remember what works, what needs to improve, or what might need to be changed altogether. This along with getting organized will allow you to learn from your mistakes, remember your triumphs, and allow you to be a great resource for yourself in ministry.
This time of year, you need to be gathering youth ministry resources that help you prepare for summer. Because while students are about to get out for summer vacation, we know our next couple of months will be anything but a vacation. You need to look carefully at this summer and decide what direction you need to take and then what resources you need to get. Some student ministries need to work on fellowship and building community so you may want to look for event ideas and games. Some student ministries need to work on discipleship so you may want to look for Bible studies. Some students ministries need to work on going out and serving so you may want to look for service projects. Honestly, we probably all could use work in all of these areas so I encourage you to work on a plan that covers a wide variety of areas. That way your student ministry gets a wide range of growth. The main thing though is to see this summer as an opportunity and not a time to just go through the motions. Then just make sure you are equipped to take advantage of all the opportunities this new season holds.
Youth Ministry Resources are basically just a collection of youth ministry ideas. While that sounds simple enough there are a couple of problems that can arise. First of all, collecting all these resources takes time and often money. And we both know that there is only so much of either of those going around. Another issue is that it can be hard to keep all of those resources organized, no easy task once you have been in ministry for a while. Finally, there is the issue of investing time in making copies so you can distribute everything you have found to your leaders, parents, and students. That is why we were so excited when we came across this app, Youth Ministry Ideas. It has an entire library of ideas in a $.99 app. It includes 100 Ice Breakers, 100 Fellowship Ideas, 100 Mission Projects, and over 50 suggestions for Bible study and discipleship. Basically it has everything we would put in a binder for our leaders in a convenient mobile application. We encourage you to check out this app and to add it to your resource library or maybe use it to replace much of your library.
One of the greatest youth ministry resources that you have in your ministry is the parents of the students that you minister to. This is for many reasons. One is that you cannot do everything. You need others to assist you and help you in ministry. Who better than parents to get involved both in volunteering in the ministry, but more importantly in discipling their students and the friends of their students. The other major reason is that parents know their students better than anyone. Or at least having a strong relationship with them will give you a better glimpse of the lives of your students, whether their parents are good or not. This is especially invaluable if you are not a parent yet because research about teens and culture will only tell you so much. So I encourage you to get out there, reach out, and make building relationships with the parents in your church a priority.