Plumbing the Depths of the Youth Ministry Archive

One afternoon into sorting through the library I inherited, I have a few comments to make:

  1. If you are a publisher of youth ministry items, DO NOT put pictures of teenagers in your materials, especially in the handouts. A picture of a guy with a curly mullet wearing tight short shorts circa 1979 will be the source of so much amusement to the teenage audience of 2006 that they will pay no attention to the content, however good it may be.
  2. Likewise, take care with the use of hip, with-it language. You see, I am not all that old, but I already am out of touch enough that I don’t know what the going slang is (reference my sorry attempt above, or, better yet, my inability two years ago to have any idea what one of my students meant when, in the computer lab, she yelled out, “Ms. Schemper, my computer’s tweakin’!”). I’m convinced that teenagers are not really so interested in the adults in their lives understanding the current slang as they are with someone who will listen to them and take them seriously. They know we adults are older and have our hopelessly uncool moments.
  3. Do most youth group members really enjoy handouts? That seems like school to me. I’m all for learning in youth group, in Sunday School, but handouts are so often just time-fillers.
  4. How about more Bible? So many of the resources I looked at today were “contemporary” topics (inevitably becoming dated within a few years) with a little Bible tacked on the end. What if we trusted the intelligence of youth group members enough to hand them a good working knowledge of the Bible and let them do the life-application themselves, rather than starting with the topic and feeding them the applicable verses.

And yet, I am a bit scared to get rid of things. What if I need it later? What if I discover that my youth group really wants to do a unit on “What to do if a white supremacist group comes to town”? Maybe I do need to read all three books about building group dynamics through outdoor adventures and ropes courses.
For now, I need a break from the resources. And so I plan to sit on the couch, watch  a few episodes of “Six Feet Under,” and be entertained by the gymnastics that the baby has been doing all evening.

One Response to “Plumbing the Depths of the Youth Ministry Archive”

  1. John Jacobsma Says:


    Kathy and I were looking over your blog to get a better idea of who you are, when our 15 year old daughter wandered into the room and asked us what we were doing.

    She thinks a pastor having a blog is “cool” (that’s slang from my generation that she’s appropriated). Kathy pointed out item #3 (anti-handouts), and now Dorothy “looooves” you.

    Good start!