Mike had a post about saving money in your youth ministry budget, and he referenced my 5 Places to Find Free Youth Ministry Resources post. His thoughts are great. He includes this warning…

In fact, there are so many great freebies that a youth minister could simply use freebies and not do any work. I THINK THIS IS THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO – so be careful not to become dependent on using freebie lessons!

I agree with him 100%. Even if you do use freebie resources, there are some things you can do to adapt the lessons to your own group.

Four Ideas for Adapting Lessons for Youth Ministry:

  1. Don’t forget to study the passage on your own – don’t depend on the included background Bible study. You can use it, but don’t rely only on what the author of the study has done to interpret the meaning of the passage.
  2. Use personal experiences instead of (or in addition to) the provided illustrations – think through how you have lived the lesson, and don’t be afraid to include your own illustrations. They will probably resonate more with your students than the ones in the book (or downloaded from the internet).
  3. Think of your students’ life situations to think up application questions – If you really want to achieve life change, think about the lives you want to be changed as a result of the study.
  4. Actually study the lesson before you give it – sometimes lessons are not written using the same words you would use everyday. Be sure you have transitions and wording that matches your style of speaking.

What would you suggest? What do you do to adapt “canned” or “freebie” lessons for your church?

(Image by: Jonathan D. Blundell on flickr)