Friday, March 4, 2016

How Dare You!

How dare you!  You teach other people’s messages?  My answer is “yes” and “no”.

I realized a long time ago a few things:

1.  Other people write great messages and have great ideas.

2.  There is nothing new under the sun. 
3.  My time is limited.

I’m not the only one that comes up with great message ideas for youth group.  There are thousands of us out there writing our messages and curriculum for our student ministries.  There are men and women out there writing some great stuff to teach students.  Just because I think “this is original” doesn’t make it so.  If I’m going to teach on stewardship I’m pretty sure there are great messages out there about stewardship.  I created the title “Hang Time” as the time at youth group when everyone just hangs out together.  I thought I created it.  Since then I’ve seen many different student ministries using this term.  Did they get it from me?  No.  They either thought they had an original thought or “stole” it from another youth group.

I never create anything new.

If I do something “new” chances are someone else is already doing it in student ministry and probably they got it from someone else.  There is nothing wrong with learning from each other.  Does this mean everything youth group A does will fit and work with youth group B?  No.  But God’s word appies to all of us.  So while programs, strategies, message deliveries may vary God’s word remains the same.

You, like me, probably sit down each week and stare at a blank page on the computer screen.  You know your topic or you know the scripture you want to teach.  So we start researching.  When we read something in a commentary and use it we are basically doing the same thing we could do with another youth leader’s message.

There are times that teaching a series created by someone else can free us up to do more in ministry to students and with students.

 Does this mean I get to slack off?   No way.  I never just download a message and print it off and then step up to the music stand and teach it.  I always tweak the message and work on it.  I may add some scriptures to it, add a point or two or even delete a point or two.  I don’t use the authors personal illustrations I use my own.  I take the message and make it fit how I teach and to fit our student ministry.  I create Powerpoint slides, student hand outs, small group discussion all based off the message I have tweaked.

When I’m using a series someone else has written it allows me to work on an “original” series of my own, to work on what is coming next.  Example:  While I’m teaching this series we are in now I am actually working on the next series.  This allows me to plan out several weeks in advance the direction we are going.  This coming Sunday, Ramon, one of our volunteers, is teaching on dating boundaries.  I was able to hand him an outline as a starting point and then he will craft the message to fit.  So this week I’m using the time I would usually use for message writing to work on our evening devotions for our mission trip coming up next month.  The combination of a series and someone else teaching this coming Sunday frees me up to get some much needed work done.

If I was a volunteer youth leader working a 40 to 50 hour a week job and then putting in many hours volunteering at my church I would use a “pre-fab” message every week and I would make it fit our context and who we are.

Where do you find these series?  I use the following resources and find them all trustworthy and Biblically solid:  LeaderTreks, Simply Youth Ministry, Download Youth Ministry, Group Publishing and Youth Specialties.

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