“We Write All Our Own Stuff”

9

Dreamstime _xs _16169461It seems to have become a badge of honor. “We don’t
use any outside resources.”

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Some people in ministry have decided to go it alone. They now
spend a sizable chunk of their time creating their own curriculum,
Bible studies, teacher guides, devotionals, messages, music, video
and artwork.

I’ve heard a variety of reasons for this shift to homemade
stuff. Such as:

  • “Nobody knows my people like I do. They have unique needs. I
    need to create material that is uniquely suited to them.”
  • “My church expects me to create everything from scratch. If I
    don’t, they’ll wonder why they’re paying me.”
  • “Our church creates everything internally and brands it with
    our church name.”
  • “I like being creative. This is my creative outlet.”
  • “We can’t afford professional materials.”
  • “The Bible is all I need. Give me the Bible, the whole Bible,
    and nothing but the Bible.”
  • “All the stuff on the market is garbage. I’m forced to create
    my own.”

Though I understand some of the rationale, I’m concerned about
the final outcomes and some of the side effects of being a Lone
Ranger resourcer. And I’m concerned not just because I lead a
publishing company. Sure, I’m interested in seeing our resources
widely used. But I have a deeper concern and love for the effective
work of the local church throughout God’s Kingdom.

I too am a consumer of resources in my work and ministry. I
appreciate the perspectives, expertise, and hard work that others
build into their resources. I learned a long time ago that I can
get a lot more done and accomplish my mission better when I rely on
others to supply me with what they do best.

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That’s true in my work, and it’s true in virtually every other
line of work. Successful professionals everywhere look to outside
professionals to provide the tools they need to accomplish their
mission. You don’t find many doctors concocting their own
pharmaceuticals. You don’t find many carpenters making their own
lumber and nails. You don’t find many airline pilots refining their
own aviation fuel.

Yet some in the church feel compelled to attempt to do it all
themselves. And it’s distracting them from what they’re really
called to do. Their justifications for shunning outside help could
use a re-examination.

“Nobody knows my people like I do.” That
may be true. But in a largely homogenous society with access to
mass communications, your people share more similarities than
differences with the rest of the population. In the larger
landscape, today’s national brands, mass media and franchises
effectively connect with people in every community nationwide.
Similarly, a good ministry resource connects with people in your
church as well as people in thousands of other churches.

“My church expects me to create everything from
scratch.”
 If that’s true, it may be time to clarify
your written job description-to focus it on ministering to
people.

“Our church creates everything internally and brands it
with our church name.”
 Shunning anything that is NIH
(not invented here) is less about excellence than it is about
pride. As powerful (and ugly) as pride is, nobody comes to your
church because you do your own manufacturing. They don’t care about
your branding. They just want to experience God.

“This is my creative outlet.” Hopefully,
your ministry isn’t about you. Find ways to exercise your
creativity that do not deny your people of more effective
resources. Remind yourself of that desperate yearning to escape
when you endured another homespun song that Devin felt “led” to
share with the captive congregation. Don’t be Devin.

“We can’t afford professional
materials.”
 So you spend countless hours building
your own. What’s your time worth? Help your church prioritize its
stewardship toward those efforts that directly affect your people’s
spiritual growth.

“The Bible is all I need.” If that’s
ultimately true, your people don’t need you; just hand them a Bible
and go home. However, it’s better to follow Jesus’ example. He used
a variety of ideas, people and things to bring scriptural truths to
life.

“All the stuff on the market is
garbage.”
 I understand. We’ve all been disappointed
by inferior work. The world of ministry resources, like most other
endeavors, includes a wide range of quality. There’s some poor
work, but there’s also good work. Don’t let the lackluster stuff
keep you from finding and using good resources that will help you
accomplish your mission.

The best ministry resources are created by gifted servants,
pre-tested with actual participants, re-tested, refined, polished,
and produced by seasoned teams of dedicated professionals. They’re
specialized members of the Body of Christ, who do their part so
that others can do their part on the front lines of ministry.

And that’s the true essence of the biblical picture of the Body
of Christ. Each part does what it does best. “If the whole body
were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body
were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has
placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted
them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?” (1
Cor. 12:17-19)

God doesn’t call any one of us to do it all, to be proficient at
everything. He simply calls us to be the part of the Body he
created us to be. And to let others be the parts of the Body he
created them to be. So that, together, the Body can accomplish the
mission.

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About Author

Thom Schultz

Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.

9 Comments

  1. You forgot the "our church matches the sermon" category. In our case, we are striving for the kids to learn the same concepts taking place in big church. that isn't usually possible in a box kit. On the other hand, we don't shy from borrowing what already exists on the internet. An interesting concept would be to put together lessons for the whole Bible (I do mean whole!) and allow consumers to purchase the "professionally" done ones that fit their sermon topics or set of topics. Now THAT would be awesome and save a lot of work.

  2. You forgot the "our church matches the sermon" category. In our case, we are striving for the kids to learn the same concepts taking place in big church. that isn't usually possible in a box kit. On the other hand, we don't shy from borrowing what already exists on the internet. An interesting concept would be to put together lessons for the whole Bible (I do mean whole!) and allow consumers to purchase the "professionally" done ones that fit their sermon topics or set of topics. Now THAT would be awesome and save a lot of work.

  3. You forgot the "our church matches the sermon" category. In our case, we are striving for the kids to learn the same concepts taking place in big church. that isn't usually possible in a box kit. On the other hand, we don't shy from borrowing what already exists on the internet. An interesting concept would be to put together lessons for the whole Bible (I do mean whole!) and allow consumers to purchase the "professionally" done ones that fit their sermon topics or set of topics. Now THAT would be awesome and save a lot of work.

  4. I am ministering in a foreign country, and most of the American material is irrelevant to our situation. On top of that, because many of the U.S. churches' children's ministries have the kids 2-3 hours on Sunday (children's church and Sunday school), the prepared curriculum has a lot of "fluff" to keep the kids busy. Although I've only written my own curriculum a couple of times over the years (because I couldn't find a prepared curriculum that covered the topic in the way I needed it to), I usually take prepared lessons from various places, put them together and adapt it for our group. Curriculum is a great tool–but even the experts can't foresee or know about each church's particular need or situation. I think there is a balance somewhere between producing your own curriculum or buying it–it isn't an "either/or" situation.

  5. I am ministering in a foreign country, and most of the American material is irrelevant to our situation. On top of that, because many of the U.S. churches' children's ministries have the kids 2-3 hours on Sunday (children's church and Sunday school), the prepared curriculum has a lot of "fluff" to keep the kids busy. Although I've only written my own curriculum a couple of times over the years (because I couldn't find a prepared curriculum that covered the topic in the way I needed it to), I usually take prepared lessons from various places, put them together and adapt it for our group. Curriculum is a great tool–but even the experts can't foresee or know about each church's particular need or situation. I think there is a balance somewhere between producing your own curriculum or buying it–it isn't an "either/or" situation.

  6. I am ministering in a foreign country, and most of the American material is irrelevant to our situation. On top of that, because many of the U.S. churches' children's ministries have the kids 2-3 hours on Sunday (children's church and Sunday school), the prepared curriculum has a lot of "fluff" to keep the kids busy. Although I've only written my own curriculum a couple of times over the years (because I couldn't find a prepared curriculum that covered the topic in the way I needed it to), I usually take prepared lessons from various places, put them together and adapt it for our group. Curriculum is a great tool–but even the experts can't foresee or know about each church's particular need or situation. I think there is a balance somewhere between producing your own curriculum or buying it–it isn't an "either/or" situation.

  7. I am ministering in a foreign country, and most of the American material is irrelevant to our situation. On top of that, because many of the U.S. churches' children's ministries have the kids 2-3 hours on Sunday (children's church and Sunday school), the prepared curriculum has a lot of "fluff" to keep the kids busy. Although I've only written my own curriculum a couple of times over the years (because I couldn't find a prepared curriculum that covered the topic in the way I needed it to), I usually take prepared lessons from various places, put them together and adapt it for our group. Curriculum is a great tool–but even the experts can't foresee or know about each church's particular need or situation. I think there is a balance somewhere between producing your own curriculum or buying it–it isn't an "either/or" situation.

  8. I agree completely with both comments. I pull from many sources to create the unique approach that I need. Most curriculum do not address the need of 1 class, 1 teacher, many ages. I also have some curriculum that gets stuck on one kind of craft. That bores me, so I know it would bore the children.

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