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Your Youth Ministry Christmas Wishlist

** I learned this youth ministry wishlist technique from Lars Rood— the youth ministry resource guru.

Has your youth ministry been naughty or nice?

My assumption is your youth ministry has been nice unless you-the beloved youth pastor has been illegally downloading music, stealing content from blogs, and preaching the prosperity gospel and not preaching repentance.  But still we are all saved by grace and all youth ministries deserve a Christmas gift like the free gift of Jesus Christ.

The problem is due to our current economic recession, church budgets do not exist. My youth ministry experience was in small church ministry, so I had to always think of new ways to get stuff for our youth ministry without spending a dime.  In another words, I tried to get really good at getting stuff for free and being frugal, even though finances are not my strength.

My solution: Just ask. But how do you ask? By making a youth ministry wishlist.

That is correct.  Make a youth ministry wishlist like you would a Christmas gift list. So get a sheet of paper, a (color)pencil/pen/marker, a brain, all your parent/church email addresses, and 3-5 key students/adult volunteers you love and trust; and get ready to work.  Ask yourself and 3-5 key students/adult leaders what does your youth ministry need?  Dream big and don’t worry about money or the actuality of getting it.

Possible items to ask parents and congregation members for:

– TV

–  DVD player

–  candy

– video game systems

– athletic equipment (skis, snowboard, surfboards, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls)

–  bibles/books

– sleeping bags

– camping gear

– church leadership conference tickets (including lodging/food)

–  ping pong/pool/fusball table

– pillows

–  music equipment (drums, guitar, bass, amps, etc.)

– chairs/bean bags

– tables


-movie tickets

– computer

– snack/beverage items

Once you have compiled a long wishlist for your youth ministry, get ready to send it out to the church.  Make sure to put your contact information on the list and don’t ask for money. Only ask for materials.  I found that church folk are more willing to give “stuff” to a youth ministry department rather than writing a check.  Church members like to feel as though they are literally “buying” into the youth ministry by providing actual and physical resources.  Plus what a great way for outside adults to contribute to a ministry in the church. The church members have the security that their junk is consider gold in the youth ministry department.

Action steps:

1.  Gather 3-5 key students and adult volunteers

2.  Dream big on what your youth ministry needs.  Make sure to have fun.  Think like this is your wedding registry or Christmas list.  You will be surprise what families are willing to give their youth ministry department

3.  Compile all parent and church members email address

4.  Email your youth ministry wishlist

5.  Don’t be afraid to say no to stuff you will not need.  This is NOT an opportunity for families to give you their junk away

6.   Make sure to give tax deductible receipts and thank you notes (explaining how their stuff helped the youth ministry) to those families who donated


What items am I forgetting?

What specific items does every student ministry need?

How do you get stuff for your youth ministry for free?

About Jeremy Zach

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

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  1. Great idea – I’d just add…. depending on your church governing structure, it might be appropriate (or even crucial) to first ask the elders/deacons/pastor/vestry/etc… before sending a mailing to the church asking for stuff. I’d hope they’d support the idea, but you can get in some hot water quick bypassing those in authority over you.

    Robert Austell
    Charlotte, NC

  2. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing
    this write-up plus the rest of the website is very good.

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