Too Many Resources?

28 November 2012 — 3 Comments

While at Youthwork The Conference this weekend, I wandered around the exhibition area and took a look at some of the resources available to buy. It struck me that there was a never-ending variety of books telling me how to do certain sorts of youth ministry.

Urban youth ministry, “middle school” youth ministry, new kinds of youth ministry, biblical youth ministry, relational youth ministry, youth ministry discipleship, etc, etc. Now I know these resources can be helpful and I’ve not read most of them so don’t want to be critical of the authors or content, but it did make me wonder whether we need any of these ‘how to’ manuals?

If we’re investing in our own spiritual development and are reflective practitioners in our work, then perhaps we might not need to borrow someone else’s model of youth ministry and can simply get on with being who God has called us to be. Perhaps I’m being a touch naive!

What do you think? Do you buy lots of resources or are they a waste of time?


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

3 responses to Too Many Resources?

  1. I think you are right about ‘investing in our own spiritual development and being reflective practitioners’ being the key to being able to develop and deliver the best possible ‘ministry’ for our young people. One of my favourite parts of my job is exploring and developing curriculum and figuring our how to deliver it in a engaging and relevant way to our young people. But…

    For me as a children’s worker who is also doing youth work I find that although there are a baffling number of resources available they can be very useful. Part of reflecting on who I am called to be and the job that I do is for me to recognise where I am potentially weak and to seek support and development in those areas. Over the years I can’t say that I have ever adopted any single ‘model’ of youth work practice promoted/provided by these resources but they have been invaluable for ideas and helping me to plug gaps in my own ability to deliver what I think the young people i’m working with need to be covering.

    I also think that many times we understand the concepts, theology, theme etc that we believe our young people need to be challenged with but maybe can benefit from having outside input into the practical delivery. For example, at Emmanuel we are really trying to invest in and develop a worship filled life with our 11s-14s, but the team and I have run many many sessions on worship as part of this process and even with our wide range of skills and experience we can benefit from bringing in resources like this not to necessarily shape the overall program but to resource its delivery.

    • Brilliant and articulate response Pete. I totally agree with all of that.

      I guess my ‘unease’ was less about curriculum resources and more about the books promoting a particular style or way of ‘doing’ ministry. As if that one narrow approach can work in all contexts and transform our work!

  2. I tend to create my own. I guess over the years I have tried everything out there. Rock Solid material was good, SU, etc. but the authors do not know the young people you are working with, nor do they know the vision of your work. So you look for a best fit… younger material is geared towards bible knowledge, while teenage material is generally issues based. Try to find a decent resource for 14 year olds on the letters to the churches in Revelation… good luck. A student asked me if I knew of any recently. What was my response? Drop by my office and we’ll open up revelation 3 together. Within 20 minutes, we had go to the crux of the passage as it related to the “crisis” of adolescence, as Root and Creasy Dean would put it.
    It’s about salvation by faith over works – an image conscious Christian over a content conscious one. I agree with your concern – I said in my seminars that there are way too many “magic” books in Christian circles – follow this and gain that. It’s not faith – it’s magic, from an anthropological perspective.
    My job is to help students see that (in magical terms) they themselves, plus serious thought, reflection and study, plus depth of spirit, equals a much better shot at delivering something that has the potential to change lives…

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