Q&A: What curriculum do you use with your teens?

A lot of you are submitting questions for the Q&A series here at Life In Student Ministry, which is great! Now I have to try to keep up with them. lol

Brian Sheeler asks, “I was wondering what curriculum you use with your teens. What have you used? Do you pick your Bible lessons according to the teens you have and where they are at?”

I actually don’t purchase curriculum at all. In fact, I’m a pretty avid fan against canned “one size fits all” twists on all the same ol’ Bible stories. I write all of my lessons. Our small group leaders, however, pick different books and resources to use and I leave that up to them unless they want my input. (When I delegate responsibility, I also delegate the authority that goes along with it, which could be a whole post in itself.) However, I don’t use any specific curriculum myself.

When I lead a small group, I usually teach from my own life and the Lord’s interaction with it. More details on that here.

For large group teaching times, I start with a text of scripture, study it myself using Observation, Interpretation, and Application. Then I apply it to my personal life to learn “how it works” so I can use personal illustrations. In doing so, I find that I teach from my heart instead of from my notes. This is very important because then I’m actually passionate about what I’m teaching since I’ve already internalized the principles and application. Passion isn’t something that can be faked. When it’s genuine, it becomes contagious. Besides, I never ask my students to do something spiritually that I’m not already doing. If I’m going to challenge them to share their faith, I need to make sure I pop my Christian bubble and share my faith with unbelievers first.

I pretty much follow Ezra’s example in 7:10, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Study the Word, practice it in your own life, then share it with others.

If you’re a full-time youth pastor and don’t have time to prepare deep meaningful Bible lessons, then perhaps you should evaluate what it is you’re spending time on. I’m not saying that using curriculum is bad — just that you should never use it as an excuse to devote your time to something other than internalizing the Word yourself.


Have a youth ministry question you’d like me and other readers to answer? E-mail it to me! Please keep your question brief and to-the-point. Thanks!

Posted on May 28, 2008

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