In youth ministry we are constantly in search of great curriculum and lessons that will both engage our students with both mind and heart. I find that too often that is a very difficult and sometimes impossible task. In my early years of youth ministry I would often find myself reading books for my own growth and from my own interest, wishing that someone would have thought to make that book into a curriculum resource.

I remember feeling like most of the resources that were being doled out as youth ministry curriculum were too simplistic and too safe to challenge the students the way I knew they needed to be challenged.

So, I decided if a big publisher was not going to do it, then I would.


  1. Think about the books that you have read in the past few years that you found yourself wishing you could use for a small group study or as a worship series. Get these books off the shelf and skim through them remembering why they stood out.
  2. Figure out what the main thrust of the book is and how you want to communicate that to your students. i.e. Brian McLaren’s The Secret Message of Jesus would be something about The Missional Life that God Calls Us to.
  3. Go through each chapter and fill in this outline:
    • Title of Chapter– Keep it or Modify it?
    • Key Concepts or Learning Objectives– What are the 2-5 key concepts this chapter trying to communicate? These should be single succinct sentences so that the teacher can look back at them, and if communicated well, can know that they were successful.
    • On Ramp– These are the practical introduction stories that most chapters offer that will ease the reader into the lesson. These are not usually overtly religious. Their purpose is to help the reader engage in the real world applications before diving into the the more heady theological material. Format these as bullet pointed 2-3 sentence summaries with page numbers for reference.
    • Going Deep– This is where the meat of the chapter is brought in. Format it in the same way as the On Ramp with summaries and sentences. This section also needs to include questions of the text. In this section of most chapters you will find most of the material that you will want to push back on and question. List your questions of the material and encourage facilitators to do the same.
    • Landing Pad– Here you will want to pick a story or example that the author uses to land the plane. This will often times be anecdotal but will help the students see where the author wants to conclude their thought process.
    • Discussion– This is where you create 3-5 provocative questions from the chapter that will facilitate more discussion in and amongst the group. These questions should not be leading but open ended and provocative. You do not want to try to wrap it up and tie a bow around it. That will feel inauthentic and make the facilitator suspect in the eyes of the students.

Now go through each chapter of the book and repeat this same process.  I think you will be very happy with the results and will have some wonderful semi-homemade curriculum for your next great small group!