Curriculum is nothing more than a plan for how to spend time together. For youth ministry, it tells you what you’ll do with a group of 20 junior high youth on Sunday morning for a month or three high school students for a year. It could be scribbled on the back of a worship bulletin or photocopied from a published unit, but if you don’t have a curriculum you don’t have a plan, and youth ministry without a plan is very frustrating–for everyone involved.
I’ve been laboring under the assumption for awhile now that I should be designing my own curriculum. For the Sunday morning youth groups, for our retreats and mission trips, for lock-ins, I feel an obligation to be the one giving thought and structure to what happens, down to the last detail. Two things are challenging that assumption.
- The stuff I’m coming up with isn’t working very well. At least some of it isn’t. I’m not leading it, but writing it for others to lead, and I’m sensing that it’s a different ballgame when you’re creating lessons that others–who aren’t you–are going to have to lead.
- We’re using a printed curriculum for Our Whole Lives, and it’s terribly, terribly liberating. Because of the subject, I am relieved to defer to the thoughtful and experienced hands behind the writing and editing. I have never successfully taught this subject without a curriculum designed by someone else.
In the balance of all the youth ministry you’re doing, maybe you don’t need to come up with all the curriculum. Maybe you can buy one for Sunday morning groups and design your own for retreats. Or maybe you design the weekly youth group lessons but use someone else’s for a mission trip devotional.
Maybe doing curriculum well, on the whole, means not trying to do it all.