On December 15, 2006, I introduced a blog series here at LISM titled, “Freebie Friday.” Here I am, almost 6 years later, and I have yet to miss a Friday of offering a free downloadable youth ministry resource.
When I started the series I was working as a part-time youth worker in a small church with an even smaller youth ministry budget. I really couldn’t afford to spend a few hundred dollars on curriculum, training, nor tools. It was frustrating, even disheartening, to see so many valuable resources for my ministry locked behind a price tag I couldn’t unlock.
So I started Freebie Friday. I figured I probably wasn’t the only one in that situation and instead of complaining about it, I’d offer a solution. Since I couldn’t afford to buy resources, I had to develop all of them myself. Why not freely with others what I created?
But after a few years of doing so, I started to feel like something just wasn’t right. Sure, it was good for receiving praises of thanks from many people and for growing blog subscribers, but it felt like I was contributing to a sense of entitlement and consumerism among youth workers. It felt like the continual free resources were enabling youth workers to not think beyond the next freebie that came out. Instead of developing a vision for their ministry, they were jumping from one free lesson to the next.
I also felt like the skills I developed by creating youth ministry resources out of necessity were now not as important for others to learn. Why go through the learning process of developing a plan for your lock-in when you can just download one from here?
Obviously, this isn’t true for everyone who’s used one of my 300 weekly resources. Many youth workers only use free resources that help drive forward God’s vision for their ministry. Others use them as a reference point or a visual example for something else they’re working on. Free youth ministry resources can bless a lot of people and ministries.
However, I’m feeling more and more than I should end Freebie Friday. The kicker for me is that most of the resources I have to offer are ones that do not move youth ministry as a whole in a direction I think it should go. It perpetuates a trajectory that is based on ministry beliefs and strategy that I question today.
As much as it is difficult to end a series that I invested into for 5.75 years of consecutive Fridays, I feel like this is the right thing for me to do. This Thursday evening is going to feel very weird indeed when I don’t have a Freebie Friday post to sit down and draft.
The Lord has been doing a lot in my heart, especially the past few months. He has surrounded me with people who challenge me, who push me deeper into His Word, and who are helping me have a bigger-picture biblical understanding of family, ministry, and work. It’s been stretching. It’s prompted my wife and I to make changes in many areas of our lives, some of them easy, some of them not. (More about that coming on our MinistryFamily.com blog. Subscribe there for some personal stuff I’m drafting.)
Whenever I come across free youth ministry resources that really does propel this essential area of ministry forward, I’ll definitely post it here, although I probably won’t wait for a Friday to do so. In the meantime, feel free to browse through 300 free youth ministry resources here. Maybe there’s a few that you missed over the past several years that could bless you and your ministry.
If there are any questions about this, please feel free to ask in the comments. I love our discussions there!
Posted on October 1, 2012