Batman is by far the BEST superhero! “Why?,” you may ask. Is it his intimidating demeanor, spectacular costume, or impressive rogue’s gallery? Sure, those all contribute. But what makes Batman truly set apart is his ability to prepare for every scenario. No matter the situation, Batman has the right tool for the job stashed safely in his utility belt.
Similarly, we as youth pastors and leaders must have a utility belt filled with the necessary resources for the scenarios we will inevitably face. Youth Ministry simply cannot be done by ourselves with our own fortitude. Such a perspective quickly leads to being overwhelmed and stressed, which is a slippery slope to becoming completely burnt out. Thankfully, in the technological world today, many resources can be offered to assist the youth pastor or leader in their daily (and albeit busy) endeavor to minister to today’s youth. Here are just a few resources that I believe every youth pastor or leader should have in their utility belt:
#1 – GROW Games – https://games.stuffyoucanuse.org/
- Picture this: it’s youth group night, and you still haven’t picked out the game. You’ve already played 296 games, so where in the world are you supposed to find more? What do you do when the ideas have run dry? Enter GROW Games. This is a free website/app that provides a plethora of various games for any occasion. Gross games, circles games, outside games, screen games, stage games, GROW has them all. All you need to do is read the instructions, download the slide, and your game is off! GROW also has additional tools on the app such as a stopwatch, scoreboard, polls, icebreakers, and more! Truly, GROW Games is a fantastic help for relieving the stress of the always impending gametime.
#2 – AXIS Resources – https://axis.org/resource/
- Axis is a resource that not only assists the youth pastor, but also enables and equips the parents. If we’re honest, our teens are affected by the culture. They simply cannot hide from it. Therefore, we are tasked to help our teens process the culture from a biblical lens and to give a God-glorifying response. Axis helps in this endeavor through sending out a weekly cultural translator. In this email, Axis explains the current trends in a youth’s world and provides a connection point for both leaders and parents. Sure, some of the updates are just the new song trend. But others deal with issues and controversies that many teens are aware of but unsure how to think through. In addition, Axis offers numerous conversation starters and articles for helping parents converse and ultimately disciple their teens. I personally need to utilize Axis more, especially regarding equipping parents. Our student ministry parents are in fact the teen’s primary discipler.
#3 – Sermon Notebook by Matthias Media – https://matthiasmedia.com/products/sermon-notebook
- We’ve all been here. You’re listening to sermon (a good and biblical sermon in fact) and your mind just continues to wander. Or even worse, you are 10 seconds away from drooling and snoring. Thinking specifically of teens, they sit in classes for hours a day at school and then come to church to sit again. Certainly, lesson time is essential to their spiritual formation. But it is truly difficult to sit for another 30 minutes to an hour, much less focus and think deeply. The Sermon Notebook by Matthias Media allows for students to record notes during a sermon to help keep them engaged and involved. But what I love about this Sermon Notebook is that a few questions are given afterward to help the teens process and apply the information given. If utilized fully, teens learn how to listen, explain, and directly apply the sermons throughout the week. Notes truly assist the teens in seeing lessons not as mere lectures but applicable instruction on living a biblical lifestyle.
#4 – Foundations – Teen Devotional by Robby Gallaty – https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/foundations-teen-devotional-P005791600
- Teens need to be discipled (Can I get Amen). But discipling simply cannot occur without a firm footing in God’s Word. As we help our teens train for godliness, we must train them in how to read the Word daily and intentionally. Foundations provides a 260-day reading through the Old and New Testament. But instead of merely reading the chapter, students will be asked to think through the passage by utilizing the H.E.A.R method (Highlight – Explain – Apply – Respond). Sure, this process takes extra work and dedication. But your students will quickly see that Word is alive, active, and necessary for their everyday life.
#5 – Canva – https://www.canva.com/
- If you told me how much I would be designing in youth ministry, then I would have taken a graphic design class in college. Because let me tell you, I am not artistic or creative. But thankfully with Canva, I don’t have to be. Canva offers an ever-flowing cascade of templates for nearly every occasion (even your nerf noodle war night). You can utilize their design or change it up to match your aesthetic. And awesome news! The premium version of Canva is free for nonprofits. Humans are like moths; we are attracted to pretty and bright colors. Canva certainly helps in grabbing attention and making your announcement more memorable.
#6 – The Word of God
- Certainly, the Word of God is not a mere tool. The God-inspired Scriptures are an essential lamp to our feet and weapon for the battle. His Word provides believers with everything needed for life and godliness. You could have the biggest, coolest, and most attractive utility belt, but true change, impact, influence, and discipleship only occur with the Bible. His Word is sufficient to grow both us and our students. May we never ever diminish the time in the Word for anything else. 2 Timothy 3:17 sums it up perfectly: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
As we all know, these resources are not a cop out for commitment and hard work. But instead of constantly trying to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch, let’s use the resources before us. I firmly believe that a proper application of these resources will allow for more intentional time in interacting with and ministering to our teens. So put on your utility belt because Gotham needs saving!