I’m regularly asked for suggestions of good/great youth ministry resources and I’m happy to oblige with a referral to one or 100 different ideas, I have after-all been in this gig for many years and have an incredibly large library of resources and ideas from all over the place.
But many of the conversations rarely go the way that I’d like them to, infact I can usually tell how they’ll end up well before the question has actually completed being formed by the mouth of the one asking the question.
Here’s an example of one such conversation, it’s a compilation of many conversations I’ve had, perhaps you might have encountered similar conversations.
Darren, I’m looking for a good youth ministry bible study or weekly sunday school material for teenagers in high school, do you have any that you’d like to recommend?
Let me tell you about one such resource, it’s called Devozine, it’s a daily devotional magazine for young people, written by young people. the magazine comes out every two months and includes reflections, scripture, prayers, poetry, prose and ideas for action that cover a number of themes each edition.
Written by young people for young people you’ll find that the reflections are topical, easy to read, great to enter into dialogue with and inspirational. I myself find the process of reading the magazine to be a rewarding one that regularly has me entering into the questions being asked and meditating on my own faith.
The process for Devozine is that it provides daily reflections, prayers, ideas and poetry for the participants to reflect on over a week, a resource called “In The Habit” has been developed to help mentors and leaders engage with the participants and the weekly reflections, the idea is that the group would meet weekly to discuss the reflections and worship together.
One of the reasons I recommend this as a resource to you is that it’s stood the test of time, it’s not one of those one-off resources that might be hit or miss, it’s been published and developed over many years, I actually believe it’s currently in it’s 17th year of operation, that’s a long time for any resource.
In those 17 years it’s not lost any of it’s creative edge, probably because it’s regularly rotated it’s youth advisory board and regularly included authors from all over the world including Canada, the US and Australia.
Another reason that I recommend Devozine is that it’s collected a number of youth workers and pastors over the year who have used Devozine and invited them to help create a mentoring resource for leaders/mentors of the young people. This “team” of youth workers, educators and pastors have over the years created many helpful resources that engage with the weekly themes, more recently the resource has moved to an online and retitled as “In The Habit.” In The Habit follows a regular pattern where the authors provide a setting and process for mentors/teachers to help the young people debrief the previous week’s daily reflections, it regularly includes prayer patterns, multimedia, creative activities and more to help people discuss the issues/reflections.
My final reason that I’d recommend Devozine is that its got the capability of linking young people from all over the world online in their community space to connect and discuss issues of faith, prayer, life and to create another mutually supportive community online with other young people that can help with their faith development as they share their life with one another.
Sure, there’s a regular cost to the program but when I compare it to the once a year payment that many churches make for their Sunday School or Lectionary Curriculum, or their Copyright Agreement for the music that they’ll be playing throughout the year, or the Lenten and Advent studies that you’ll regularly use it’s not much at all. Lets also remember that “In The Habit” is free to access online, (that’s right, no cost) and provides you with more resources than you’ll ever really need in easy to understand programs and ideas.
If what you’re looking for is my best recommendation for a youth ministry resource that will help you, your leaders and your young people enter into deep discussions on faith then I’d recommend Devozine to you any day of the week.
If what you’re looking for is a mentor-based resource that will deepen the conversations you’ll have with each other and help you explore and participate in a number of spiritual practices and develop your biblical literacy then I’d recommend Devozine to you any day of the week.
This is where the conversation could go either of two ways,
Option 1 (not that likely)
I’d love it to end with the person saying:
“That sounds like a great resource, one that will help us as a church community, as a faith community and as families engage with the faith development of the young people in our midst and develop us as leaders in the process, I’ll go and experiment with it now and encourage our leaders to explore the In The Habit database while we wait for the first edition to be mailed out to us.”
Option 2 (more likely than you’d think, I’ve had this conversation a number of times this year)
but it more than likely will end up like this
“That sounds nice… interesting, great even…. but sounds like it could be hard work, or at least harder than I want to put in, and it looks like it’ll cost money too, I’m not sure if our kids will like anything that has homework and our leaders (or myself) really would like something that doesn’t involve much work or many expectations, do you have any video resources that we can just hit play? Or perhaps a book resource that tells me step by step what do do and what to teach our kids? Or even better a bible study book with “fill in the blanks” sections that focus on biblical literacy? Or perhaps something I can read and prepare the morning of the study and not have much to do with, a step by step guide… and can it be cheap also, or perhaps free, perhaps we can download it from Youtube?”
If option 1 were to occur I think I’d die of shock, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that kind of response, option 2 is the standardised response and one that I’ve heard about more resources I’ve recommended than I care to remember.
What I’d like to say to option 2 I’ve never really had the guts to say, but it basically goes like this:
So, what you’re saying to me is that your faith was developed not through any connection with a mentor, or a community of faith that regularly participated in faith practices, or a community of people who discussed issues of faith, scripture, doubt and life, that you never had anyone important to you spend any money or any of their time to encourage you in your faith, that the type of faith development that you experienced didn’t involve any time from other people, money for resources, community involvement… that you did it all by yourself and not with any help from anyone else and that you’d like to encourage that in the children and youth in your ministry…