Free Youth Ministry Resources

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In the 1990’s a youth worker in California searched the internet for free resources for youth ministry.   Disappointed that there wasn’t much “free” out there, Jonathan McKee created his own website called www.JonathanResources.com and posted the resources he had developed over the years.    His site became so popular that in 2002, McKee founded The Source for Youth Ministry.  This non-profit organization is focused on equipping youth workers and parents by providing free online resources.  On the website, McKee and his colleagues provide free discussion guides based on movies and music, free movie reviews, free weekly articles about youth culture, media and research about teenage attitudes and trends.   

sourceJonathan McKee does not shy away from acknowledging the explicit references to sex and violence in contemporary music and movies.  Instead, he addresses them tastefully so that youth workers and parents alike can be informed and equipped to discuss openly with youth the culture in which they live and the issues they face daily. 

Movie and music discussion guides provide open ended questions designed to draw out the perspectives and insights of teens.  Biblical texts along with related discussion questions give teens an opportunity to examine and grow in their faith.   

A popular feature on The Source for Youth Ministry website is the Youth Culture Window.  This section features articles that address aspects of youth culture as well as suggestions for how to discuss them with teens. Two sample articles are:

Face-to-Face on Facebook at http://www.thesource4parents.com/YouthCultureWindow/article.aspx?ID=224 
This article is about Airtime, an app that allows Facebook friends to connect with each other in a video-chatting format. The article is informative about what Airtime can do and suggests that youth workers and parents need to have an understanding of this app and conversations with youth about it.

Where Did God Go:  What the Church Can Do to Help Faithless Young People at http://www.thesource4parents.com/YouthCultureWindow/article.aspx?ID=225
Author David R. Smith uses Jay-Z and Kanye West’s song No Church in the Wild to focus on what the church could do to address the challenges of faithless youth.  His advice?  Put the church “in the wild.”  Take the Gospel to places that are scary, where people are broken and destitute.  The second suggestion is to teach youth about suffering so they have an accurate perspective on it and can explore their faith in light of it.

Over time youth workers using The Source for Youth Ministry began sharing the Youth Culture Window articles with the parents of teens.  It became so popular that McKee started a site for parents, www.thesource4parents.com, where he customized some of his movie clip discussions and music discussions so that parents could use them with their kids.  In addition the parents’ site contains reviews of video games and additional content directed specifically to parents.  The Source for Parents has a YouTube page featuring short videos addressed to parents.  This series is called R U Listening?  To get a sampling of the content you may wish to view the short videos below.
   
Watch This First:  What is R U Listening? 

This 57-second clip describes the R U Listening video series. 

How to Listen to Your Teenager 
This 3-minute clip gives parents advice in response to the teen perspective that parents say they are listening, but teens feel they are not really being heard.

The website has an open, hospitable tone.  It provides a plethora of resources to engage youth and help them develop in their faith.  The materials can easily be adapted to the unique context of your congregation and to your particular faith tradition.