Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien. This book was one of the best books I have ever read when it comes to the topic of reading the Bible. The author’s goal in this book is to help Western readers understand how their Western context impacts the way the interpret the Bible. They point out that often we miss things (some small and some big) in Scripture that people in Eastern cultures as well as during the time when the Bible was written wouldn’t have missed. The authors chose to focus on nine major differences between Western and Eastern cultures that impact the way we read and interpret Scripture. By doing this they help the Western reader understand the Bible in the culture it was originally written. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to grow in their understanding of Scripture and how to read it well.
The Self-Aware Leader by Terry Linhart. As a leader there are times you need to step back and evaluate yourself. This book was helpful to me in doing just that. As I lead others I often neglect myself and who I am as a person and a leader. I’m glad I took some time to read this book as it served as a helpful tool is evaluating myself and helping me grow. In this book Linhart helps leaders see the blind spots they often miss. He covers areas like the leader’s past, temptations, emotions, pressures, and more. In each of these areas he helps leaders see where they can go wrong but also how they can manage them well. I really liked how there was a focus on Scripture and what it says about leadership and these blind spot areas. I also liked the practical “self-check” sections inserted throughout the book to help the reader think about and apply what they are reading. I’d recommend this book to anyone who finds themselves in a leadership position.
Facing Messy Stuff in the Church by Kenneth Swetland. Churches are messy because people are messy. Sin has caused major brokenness and people bring that brokenness into the church. In this book Swetland provides several case studies to help pastors and churches think about how they should deal with messy situations. Each chapter is it’s on case study and provides no instruction on what a church should or shouldn’t do. This allows the reader to think about their own situation and how they should handle in within their own church context. There are helpful questions at the end of each chapter to guide this process. The topics covered in this book through the case studies are – depression, sexual harassment, gambling, pornography, divorce, suicide, AIDS, grief, abuse, alcohol abuse, adultery, child molestation, homosexuality, miscarriage, murder, and abortion.
One other book I read recently I chose not to review was A Little Book on the Christian LifeA Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin.
Even though our student ministry writes and prepares the majority of our curriculum in house, I’m still a big fan of using pre-made curriculum from time to time. There are some great ministries out there creating great youth ministry curriculum that sometimes works better than if I sit down myself and make my own. However, when a youth pastor starts to research youth ministry curriculum they will easily be overwhelmed with how much there actually is out there. With so many different choices and avenues a youth pastor can go with youth ministry curriculum, how do they know which curriculum is the best? How do they go about finding the right curriculum for them. Let me suggest a few things to look for when your trying to find a good youth ministry curriculum for your ministry.
1. Scripture Content. Obviously the first think you need to look for is Scriptural content. Whether its an expository curriculum that goes through a book of the Bible or a topical curriculum that covers a topical idea, it needs to be based on Scripture. Not only based on Scripture, but Scripture should be the main point and majority of each lesson. I’m not against illustrations and application, but Scripture comes first and is the most important. Don’t settle for a curriculum that doesn’t have a large amount of Scripture. Youth pastors must teach students the Bible and good curriculum will make that possible.
2. Practical Application. Even though a curriculum should be Scriptural, it should also have practical application. A good youth ministry curriculum will balance both Scripture and application. One without the other is not effective. Look for curriculum that has application that flows out of Scripture. Once Scripture is explained and taught, application should follow to help students apply what they have learned from God’s Word.
3. Graphics. Not only will a good youth ministry curriculum have Scriptural content and application, it will also have graphic resources. Not all curriculum will have graphics with them, but the majority of good ones will have them included with the curriculum. Finding curriculum that has good graphics will save you time because you will not have to make them yourself. Most good curriculum now come with backgrounds, posters, countdowns, videos, and much more.
4. Ability to Edit. Even when you find a good curriculum make sure it has the ability to changed and edited based on your ministry. Good curriculum will always come in a format that makes it possible for the youth pastor to edit and use how he sees fit for his ministry and students. Many times you will need to add Scripture, change illustrations, or change the format of the lesson. Having a curriculum that makes this possible is a good thing to look for.
These are the things I look for in good youth ministry curriculum. What are some things you look for when your searching for a youth ministry curriculum?
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to teach a Bible survey seminar to some of our community group leaders. I want to share the presentation I used for that seminar with you as a freebie! You can use this different ways, but it makes for a great resource to teach new believers and current volunteers more about the Bible. One of the major things I focused on in this presentation was the central theme of Jesus throughout the Bible. That is, redemption of man is what the Bible is all about. That redemption comes through Jesus who is the hero and central theme of all the Scripture. Throughout the presentation that was the focus. However, I did spend some time on things like inerrancy, how the Bible was written, how to interpret imprecatory Psalms, how to handle Law, and other various issues that arise throughout Scripture. The community group leaders enjoyed this content and I believe this resource could be a great help to your ministry. Below you will find a link to download this presentation. I have included two links. One that is a PowerPoint file and the other which is a Keynote file for Mac users.