In Search of Buried Treasure: Secrets of a Resource-A-Holic

Shaun Sass
October 7th, 2009


I admit it. I’m a resource fanatic. I love tracking down old, out-of-print, cheap resources for my library and using them to help others in youth ministry. So here are a few places you might look if you want a boost for your resource library—especially if you don’t have a rolling-in-the-dough budget. (Just be sure to pass these ideas on to your volunteers! A comment I frequently hear from unpaid youth workers is, “I just don’t know where to find good ideas.”)

Local Churches
Your best resource source is often just down the block. Get to know other youth workers, Christian educators, and volunteers in your area-then get together for a resource share-and-swap day! Also, no denomination can publish every resource youth workers might need, so call other churches in your area to borrow their denominational catalogs and magazines.

Used Bookstores or Book Outlets
Check the religion and education sections of half-price bookstores and other book nooks. Not only are you likely to find theological classics at cheap prices, you may occasionally come across some great youth ministry resources.

Your Church Library
Who knows what previous youth workers or librarians left there?

Christian Colleges and Seminaries
Many schools have resource centers full of books, videos, magazines, and other items from a variety of publishers and some allow churches to check them out. At the very least, go and browse with pen and paper in hand. (And while you’re there, don’t forget to browse their library and bookstore, too.)

Resource Lists
Check the appendices of youth ministry and education books—you’re bound to find resources you never knew existed!

The Internet
If you’re not using it to get free youth ministry stuff (and there’s a lot of it in cyberspace), it’s time to start your search at www.youthpastor.com orwww.YouthSpecialties.com (Warning: Set yourself a time limit before surfing!)

Christian Bookstore Employees
Don’t just browse the shelves—ask the worker bees for their help and knowledge. And don’t be afraid to ask about merchandise samples, or posters or demo tapes, either! They might give you some for free-or sell cheaply when the store’s finished with them.

Store Rejects
Most Christian bookstores have returned or damaged items in back storage rooms that they can’t resell. (For example, paint stores usually have gallons of mistinted paint they’re anxious to let go.) It never hurts to ask, and stores are often eager for the tax write-off.

Public Libraries
Keep up on teen culture, borrow videos and CDs, do research on the Internet-just go (and go frequently)!

Youths and Parents
Why buy a volleyball set when you can borrow one from a parent? Ask parents regularly what resources and skills they have or can recommend (such as speakers on a particular topic).

Bonus! Four Great Resources You May Have Never Encountered…

  1. Visual Parables is a monthly review of current and past movies, written by a Presbyterian minister. Besides plot summaries, the magazine provides ratings of the sexual, violent, and language content, discussion questions, ideas for using movies in talks and sermons, and more. $25/year. 800/528-6522

  2. EcuFilm is a wonderful source for dozens of thought-provoking, theologically rich videos for youth and adults. 800/251-4091

  3. Alternatives for Simple Living provides resources for all ages on topics that few other religious-oriented outfits explore in-depth: Justice, simplicity, non-commercialized Christmas celebrations, peace, stewardship, and more. 800/821-6153

  4. Wild Frontier’s Statistical Collection provides regularly updated stats and quotes for youth ministers to use in talks, lessons, et cetera. Just what you need to stay in touch with our culture, by fax or mail. 703/490-0497
Shaun Sass

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.