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Every student pastor or youth pastor has their own take on curriculum. Curriculum is too limited, topical, forceful, plain, and expensive.

Why Student Ministry Curriculum?

Every student pastor or youth pastor has their own take on curriculum.  Youth ministry curriculum is too limited, topical, forceful, plain, and expensive.

All of these criticisms of curriculum are valid, but why should a student pastor use curriculum or youth ministry video curriculum?

What if the youth pastor is not gifted in writing their own youth group talk?   What if the student pastor spends way too much of their precious time writing their talks?  What should student pastors do if they don’t have anyone on staff who can write sound theological and topical youth group lessons?

In the very beginning of my student ministry career, I was so proud and excited to write my “own” youth group lesson.  I would spend hours upon hours writing my youth ministry bible study, which 9 out of 10 times ended up in a trainwreck.  My boss even warned me that I should be investing in my adult volunteers instead of spending a lot of hours at starbucks preparing my youth group sermon. The large majority of my student ministry experience was in a small church, so I had to find ways to fully maximize my time while being extremely effective.  Thankfully I realized using curriculum will free up some of my time because I didn’t have to write every youth group sermon from scratch.  Granted I contextualized every curriculum I used.  I think every youth worker using curriculum has to contextualize. I would rather adapt than start from scratch.

Granted figuring out what curriculum is legit, is a WHOLE different conversation. I am biased:  XP3 curriculum (from Orange) is probably the best content-driven curriculums out there.  Give XP3 a free go….here (I would love any feedback if you do try our free “Godview” series)

My point:  Writing your own youth group talk is fine for a season, but you will eventually run out of gas.  In another words, you will end up waiting until the last minute to write your youth group sermon.  I think every student pastor really only has 4-6 different talks.  Using curriculum will enable you to relationally invest in your students and staff.  Students need more and more committed, caring, courageous, and Bible competent  adults leaders around them, than listening to a well crafted youth group sermon.


Does your church use curriculum?  Why or why not.

What would be the “ideal” curriculum for a youth ministry?

What should be more of a priority for a youth pastor:  teaching or recruiting/training volunteers?

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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  1. I use the stuff from Room1228.com. We use it all year round and the stuff is SUPER easy to pass off to volunteers and teenagers to allow them to teach.

  2. Totally a fan of using good curriculum & really like XP3. Used tons of different curricula over the years when appropriate. Wondering if you could clarify “you will eventually run out of gas” and “every student pastor has only 4-6 talks in them?” Thanks.

    • “you will run out of gas” simply means that at some point in your youth ministry career the motivation and excitement will slowly fade to write great youth sermons. I think there are too many demands on a youth pastor which squashes his/her ability to be creative and generate great talk after great talk.So being that fun and creative youth pastor that writs great talks every week is not reality. How many times have we wrote our talk at the very last minute because we ran out of time?
      I also think that a lot of youth pastors really only have 4-6 different talks in them. This is what I mean: we tend to start saying the same things after awhile. We tend to repeat our same core theological values, stories, and passages of Scripture. I think there are really gifted teachers who can write amazing talks week after week, but they will have to really only spend their week “writing the sermon”.

  3. For years I’ve had a negative thought on youth curriculum . It wasn’t until recently when I was visiting a church for a possible youth ministry position. This was a large church and I was asked the question what curriculum do I use. I was stunned. Curriculum?? I write my own. I spend time in the word and always looking for ways to make the word relevant in student’s lives. They told me they’ve being using Orange XP3 for a while now. They’re youth group is growing and the staff is mature.
    I sort of had a shaking moment in my personal belief. I watched this youth group thrive by using curriculum. So naturally, this caused me to look into XP3 and see what it had to offer.
    GodView was a free series so I thought I would take a look at it. As a current youth staff member I asked the pastor If I could speak a series.
    The next 3 weeks I spoke on GodView. Taking it and changing to meet my personality, my group of students, and my church. I was shocked of how smooth it was.
    So how do I feel about curriculum? I think if you have a passion to write and teach, then do it. If you want to build yourself a relational ministry by mentoring students, then XP3 might be the way to go. I am a creative artsy kind of guy. The first week of GodView I handed out 3d glasses. (you have to look at the series to understand why :)
    I don’t know if I would use it all the time, but it will be part of my ministry.
    Hats off to XP3.

  4. What should be more of a priority for student pastors: teaching or recruiting/training leaders?

    Both should be a high priority. If you recruit and train the right leaders, it frees you up to prepare sermons.

    Does your church use curriculum?

    We use XP3 in our middle school class which is half taught by volunteers and half taught by me. For the high school I prepare all the material from scratch.

    Having curriculum is great for volunteers who don’t necessarily have the time or skill to develop content and communicate it creatively. But I was hired for my ability to develop content and communicate it creatively. So as much as is possible, I want to use my skill set.

  5. thanks for clarifying. agreed that sometimes message prep can feel like a burden (I have yet to meet a pastor to any age group who hasn’t experienced that) but, and I might be reading you wrong here, I can’t say that the motivation and excitement to teach God’s word has ever really faded. If it does, might be time to pursue something else. I think the creative process of sharing God’s word has been a prime motivator over the years. Creativity and generative ideas for teaching can be similar to blogging but teaching ideas generally come out of what God has been teaching me in his word. I think it would be safe to say that God often does a work or teaches in us so that he can do a work or teach through us. Maybe that’s material for a future post, lots of potential there to write about the ruts of burnout and repetition. Thanks for the post. We recently used The Ripple Effect and I really love Fuller’s Sticky Faith.

  6. if your boss is having a go at you for spending too much time preparing your youth sermons I think it’s time to move churches as he clearly doesn’t understand the importance of preaching the Word of God…

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