EDIT – 8.4.13 – I have a few copies of The Ideas Factory for sale here. These are sold at cost price to me – why not buy one for the youth worker in your life?!
Young people love stories, just as much as every generation before them. They might consume them in slightly different ways (YouTube clips instead of reading by the fireside, to generalise), but they still have that same primal desire to engage with compelling stories as everyone else. There’s lots to say about this with regard to youth ministry (which I’ve written about in two of my books, on which more in a moment), but essentially I’ve discovered this: stories are much more effective way of communicating messages to young people than simply listing truth, and getting young people to engage with those stories is far more powerful than simply telling them.
I think that’s why the most consistently popular resource in Youthwork magazine over the last 22 years has been the Ready-to-use Discussion starter. We provide a short story – either a true life tale or a simple piece of fiction – and then a series of questions to help youth workers unpack it with young people. There’s always a Bible passage provided, and another set of questions that link the two stories together. I’ve used the resources a lot in the last decade, and found them to be incredibly flexible and effective.
For that reason, I compiled two volumes of these discussion starters (some from the magazine, most of them original), both containing 100 stories each. I fleshed each resource out a bit so that there were more adaptable questions; specifically some that would engage young people with no faith background. The first book is The Ideas Factory, which contains 75 theme-based discussion resources (looking at every issue you can imagine from Abortion to Astro-science), and then 25 which can be used to lead young people through the over-arching narrative of the Bible. The second book, The Think Tank, is exactly the same, but instead of the Bible overview, contains 25 discussion starters based on clips from popular films (so you show the clip, read out a bit of text, and then answer the questions.
If nothing else, they’re great value for money. But while I’m prone to self-deprecation, I believe they are really useful, and I’ve had amazing feedback over the last couple of years from people running youth groups, Christian Unions and delivering ‘God slots’ in various contexts.
The great thing about these resources is that they both engage with young people’s thirst for story, and allow them to do most of the talking.