Whether you want to admit it or not, you use a curriculum in your youth ministry, and one of three things is true about the curriculum you use: You either bought it, borrowed it, or built it (or some combination of the three). Maybe the title of this article should be:
“Should We Buy a Curriculum, Borrow a Curriculum, Build Our Own Curriculum, or Should it Be a Combination of the Three?”
But that would be a really long title. So, let’s hit pause on those curriculum questions long enough to ask a better question,
“What do we want to accomplish in our youth ministry?”
(If you cannot answer this question, STOP READING this article for as long as it takes to establish an answer.)
Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can consider whether building, borrowing, or buying your curriculum will help you accomplish your goal. No matter how you do it, here are a few things to remember.
- If you choose to build your own curriculum, your curriculum will be limited by
- Your knowledge and experience.
- Your ability to write and effectively communicate what you wrote.
- The time you are willing or able to devote to building it.
Building a quality curriculum from scratch takes a lot of knowledge, experience, ability, and time; lots and lots of time!
- If you choose to borrow your curriculum, your curriculum will be limited by
- Your time and ability to actually find a curriculum.
- The quality of the curriculum you find.
- Your character in giving the proper credit to the resources you use.
Borrowing a curriculum takes a never-ending investment of time to look for a quality curriculum and the moral character to give the proper credit to your sources.
- If you choose to buy your curriculum, your curriculum will be limited by
- The financial resources available to you.
- The availability of a curriculum that will meet your ministry strategy.
Buying a curriculum requires an initial investment of time to find a curriculum that is in line with what you want to accomplish and the financial resources necessary for purchasing that curriculum.
For the BUILDERS: Students are worth the time investment you are making but will remember more about who you are than what you teach. Has God called you to invest the bulk of your time in building a curriculum for students or building relationships with students and leaders?
For the BORROWERS: Students can learn from what others have written but are worth a financial investment and deserve a teacher with the character to reveal all sources. Are you sacrificing truth on the altar of thrift? Are you giving credit to the sources from which you are borrowing?
For the BUYERS: Students are attracted to quality but need more than the bells and whistles of an experience-driven program. Is your purchase based on their marketing strategy or your ministry strategy?
Since youth ministry is fluid, there will always be a place for writing a lesson to meet the needs of your students, borrowing content from someone wiser than you, and buying a curriculum to help you focus on specific content. There is no perfect curriculum.
But, for the bulk of your curriculum needs, buying a quality curriculum that promotes your ministry strategy and allows you to both borrow from the expertise of others and personally build upon the given foundation of biblical research is a wise course of action.
Make the financial investment needed to purchase a biblically-based curriculum written by people with experience in youth ministry that is designed to be adapted to meet the needs of your ministry. As you might imagine, we know where you can find something just like that!
Paul O’Bradovic was a youth pastor for fourteen years before becoming a Youth Ministry Coach with Word of Life. Along with serving local churches in the area of youth and children’s ministry, Paul also oversees Word of Life’s Youth Ministry Internship and curriculum development for Word of Life Olympians and Fifty1 Student Ministry. He and his wife Tati have two awesome girls and live in Schroon Lake, NY.