So, when I first became a youth director/minister/educator/whatever the heck it is I’m doing here for the last 11 years, I wrote my own curriculum. I was fresh out of college, the proud owner of a degree in religion and a focus in Biblical Studies and I liked to write and study and plan and create. So every week at youth group, we used my original material.
Usually the studies were inductive (the best kind of Bible Studies for any group and age, I think) and focused on the what, the why and the what now. I took my first youth group through the Gospels this way and then through Genesis. I tried to come up with games and activities that were original.
I’m not saying it was great, but it fit our group a lot better than a lot of the material on my bookshelves at the time and it worked for us. And it was fun and I was engaged in our Scripture each week and had spent a lot of time considering it from lots of angles.
And then, I’m not sure what happened, but it was probably a combination of the following: I attended conferences where curriculum was presented, shared and pushed; my schedule got a lot more busy; more kids were coming to youth group; I got more comfortable using my budget; I worried too much about what other groups were teaching and doing and was afraid I wasn’t keeping up (whatever that means); I got lazy…
Lately, I’ve been writing youth group material again. It’s all because of my youth group.
When they launched their 1K Challenge project, called Kids’ Club, they made a great decision. Rather than use anything pre-packaged for curriculum, they wanted to create their own program. Using the knowledge gleaned from their time in Sunday School, our children’s ministry, Vacation Bible School and especially their own awesome gifts and creativity, they’ve done just that. The result has been inspiring, exciting and sometimes funny (the snack in February included “banana shingles” which became a favorite thing to say over and over again).
In order for us to be able to plan and teach the lesson each time, I always use the Scripture at Youth Group a couple of weeks before Kids Club. This Sunday night, we’ll study Luke 9:10-17 and learn about Jesus feeding the 5000. Because I’m’ following our made up Kids’ Club curriculum, I don’t have any curriculum to consistently follow to teach the Kids’ Club text at Youth Group. So I’ve been creating these lessons. Currently, I’m working on writing a Spontaneous Melodrama on the passage to use Sunday night because I try to use elements and activities as we’re learning that might help the youth better teach the children. Maybe if they like my melodrama, they’ll tweak it and use it at Kids’ Club.
All that to say: I remember now that writing material for Youth Group is fun. And I’m struck by the simplicity of it and how well the group responds to it. It’s a good reminder for me that our students don’t come to youth group for anything flashy or complicated. They come to be together, talk about God and God’s plan for them and God’s world and to grow in their faith and figure out how to share that faith with the world.
I pray that God will give me clarity and direction as I prepare to teach the youth group. I pray that they, in turn, will have clarity and direction as they share God’s word and love with the children they lead.