What To Look For When Buying Resources

I have a problem.  I have way too many resources at my disposal.  I know, it’s not that big of a problem, but it’s starting to feel like my office is shrinking.  I’m someone who desires to be more organized and right now this compilation of junk is killing me.  But, then again all this junk is useful, because it’s helped me move the ministry in which I serve forward.
So, why do I have all these resources?  Is it because I can’t write any of my own material?  Is it because I have to have the newest resource?  Is it the pretty packaging?

Yes, I like the packaging, but the reason I have all these resources is because:
Adaptation Is Essential To Building Margin 

Have you ever spent hours pining over the perfect illustration or the perfect theme for a message or small group discussion?  Yeah, so have I and it stinks.  I don’t know when we started buying into the myth that everything we produce needs to be original, because if you think about it not much is.  That’s not saying we can’t create our own, it’s just that we shouldn’t kill ourselves trying to come up with something out of the blue.  So, rest assure youth ministers, next time you are stressing over what to teach your students just think OUTSOURCE.
But, before you start Googling Youth Ministry Resources.  Here are a couple of questions I ask when deciding on the right youth ministry resources:

Do they give you permission to adapt?  Most do, but don’t assume.  Some great and wise people put some hard work into what they do, so if they haven’t given you permission to duplicate, redistribute, edit and mutilate, then don’t.

Do they have moveable components? I look for videos that can stand on their own.  If it’s a multi week series I look to see if I can eliminate or rearrange a week.  If the resource has structure but the flexibility to adapt to your style of program then use it.

Is it timeless or time limited?  Content that will expire: videos and pop culture references.  While materials based on those principles can be effective, some times they aren’t worth the investment.  Look for material that can withstand time.

Can it be personalized?  Sometimes the resources we find are designed for the youth ministries that created them; therefore, adapting them to your teens, your church, your community, your local culture is more difficult than writing your own material.  Make sure you understand your teens before you blindly look for resources.

Other things to consider is how it applies to your denominational values and the cost of materials, but in the end you really want to look at flexibility.  Again I’m not saying you shouldn’t create your own material, I’m just saying that outsourcing can save us time and energy.  But, what should you do when they begin to take over your office and shelves?  Give them away to neighboring youth workers.

What are some of the things you look for in a resource?

And is anyone against outsourcing? If so why?

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  • Becky Durham says:

    I always have to adapt materials–I want it to fit my group the way it should, fit our schedule, fit in with whatever else we are doing. I look for materials that can flow with all of this.

    Good post–thanks!

  • Becky,
    I know how you feel. Our adult worship does message series and one thing we like to do is to follow their pattern, so I’m definitely interested in material that is flexible in that arena.
    I recently was asked whether I prefer 4 wk or 12 wk Bible study curriculum, I thought that was a good question, what do you all think?