Stop The Download – For Now

Stop the download – for now! Are you tired of always looking for a lesson or sermon series to download? 

Determining what you teach in youth ministry can be more than just finding the next easy and budget-friendly lesson to download. For instance, let’s consider this scenario.


Determining what you teach in youth ministry can be more than just finding the next easy and budget-friendly lesson to download.


Meredith walks into your youth room. She has been an active participant in your youth ministry for several months. You know she has a growing relationship with Jesus. Now, what do you teach for Meredith? 

Sure, you could find a lesson on spiritual gifts or about God’s work in the life of Moses. These are excellent and necessary lessons to discuss. But why did you choose those? Do you have a reason beyond it was easy to purchase the pre-packaged series that you found on a popular website?

Do not misunderstand me – I like using a curriculum. I believe a curriculum has its place in our ministries. I just wonder, do you know the why behind that specific series you chose.

Can we make these choices with more intentionality?

Two Types Of People

It seems to me that many people fail to choose their teaching topics in advance, with a purpose, for two different reasons. Either they are way too busy, or they feel overwhelmed by the idea of creating a teaching calendar.

The group that is way too busy knows what this looks like in their life.

You have a huge to-do list that never gets smaller. Those parent newsletters need to get created. A stack of medical forms from last weekend’s retreat stare back at you and dare you to file them away. 

Before we know it, it’s hours before students arrive and we are scrambling to figure out what sermon or discussion we will lead.

The overwhelmed group feels like starring at a blank calendar or document and lacking the confidence to type or write even a single word. Maybe you get the header on the page that looks something like this, “Our Spring Teaching Topics.” But after the header, you have nothing. The flashing cursor or the blank calendar reminds you of just how underprepared you feel.

In seasons of my ministry, I have been in both of these places. I understand the challenge of planning ahead when you can barely plan your day. I also know the feeling of under-preparedness.

Two Ways To Teach With Intentionality

Teach From Your Mission

Your ministry’s mission statement may be the best place to begin. 

Let’s consider a mission statement like this one: “Reaching Out, Looking Up, and Reflecting Inward.”

If you happen to run a ministry that divides their calendar into three seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall), then using this mission becomes easy.

Your spring season becomes lessons that focus on “Reaching Outwards.” Lessons on Evangelism, bringing others to Jesus, and inspiring an outward-focused perspective becomes the theme.

Your summer season is focused around “Looking Up.” Maybe you theme your summer around the Psalms and acts of worship throughout the entirety of Scripture. Teaching spiritual disciplines may become part of your gatherings.

Finally, fall becomes a season of reflection upon our brokenness and need for God’s grace. You may teach about repentance, the act of Jesus on the cross, or even the work of the Holy Spirit. 

I would also suggest finding ways to engage your games, activities, or even trips around your themes for the season.

When you use your mission to guide your teaching structure, you are focusing your efforts towards a goal. Your teachings reinforces the very reason you exist.


When you use your mission to guide your teaching structure, you are focusing your efforts towards a goal. Your teachings reinforces the very reason you exist.


Teach With Your Leadership

Your senior leadership may have already planned out the year. So why not join them?

Ask them for the Scriptures they will be using. Ask them for series titles and themes. Better yet, ask them for objective statements for each series or lesson.

If you can teach in line with the entirety of the congregation, then families will have more to discuss together. Parents, students, and children can share what each learned that day. The lessons will vary slightly, but the themes will be similar.

Strategically Download Your Lessons

Making strategic decisions about what you teach doesn’t mean you can’t use a curriculum. It means that you know why you are choosing each set of lessons. 

Knowing these reasons make you more confident, moves your group forward with a purpose, and exposes your students to a variety of topics.

The Merediths in your group need you to be more focused and strategic. It doesn’t have to be complicated. 

So consider, what is your mission? What is your senior leadership teaching? Use these to your advantage and take your lesson planning to another level.

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