A look inside the new Faith Out Loud

I’m so excited to share with you the new Faith Out Loud! FOL began in 2011 with the idea to develop a youth curriculum by Cumberland Presbyterians for Cumberland Presbyterians. Over the past 5 years, we’ve strived to create the best curriculum we can and that is still our goal. Over the past 6 months, I’ve personally reached out to many folks who use or have used FOL to get their feedback. Using that feedback and some new ideas I’m very excited to tell you about FOL Year 5!

This week we released to new FOL books:

Superheroes and Extraordinary

IMG_0873 IMG_0872

The previous Faith Out Loud lessons came in one book, each with 13 lessons. The new Faith Out Loud comes out in different books based on subject/topics.


FOL Superheroes contains 6 lessons and FOL Extraordinary Christians contains 6 lessons.

Lesson from FOL Superheroes on Batman and Punisher
Lesson from FOL: Extraordinary Christians on Corrie Ten Boom


Each lesson will begin with a title page that scripture and theme for that lesson.




Each lesson contains a leader portion that includes sections on Connecting to your Students, Explaining the Topic, Theological Underpinnings & Applying the Lesson to your Own Life.

A look inside the leader portion of FOL: Extraordinary Christians







Inside the lesson you will a Leader Prep section, including resources that will help you in preparing for the lesson.

A look inside FOL: Superheroes






The lesson itself includes Get Started section to help you kick off the lesson, Listen Up and Now What sections that help engage your students through scripture reading, discussion questions and relevant activities and Live It section that closes out the lesson.

A look inside a lesson in FOL: Extraordinary Christians
A look inside a lesson in FOL: Extraordinary Christians






Also, many of the lessons come with Just In Case and Digging Deeper section that helps you as the leader as you lead the lesson. We’ve also included a little area for you to add your own notes.


It's even a different size now!
It’s even a different size now!

Another big difference to FOL Year 5 will be the cost. We will be lowering the cost of individual books and our yearly subscriptions as well. We know budgets are tight and it’s hard to buy youth curriculum. So we are lowering the cost on our entire FOL curriculum. In the past, our yearly standing orders cost $215 for 52 lessons. Now, you can get all 8 books, 52 unique teaching lessons for your youth group for only $120! If you aren’t interested in FOL Year 5 subscription you will still be able to purchase all 8 books separately as well. All lessons are available for download as well.


Back cover of FOL: Extraordinary Christians
Back cover for FOL: Superheroes


We are so excited about the new Faith Out Loud and we hope that you will be too!




For more information about Faith Out Loud or to order the new lessons go to our online web store by clicking here.

Special thanks to Joanna Wilkinson for her beautiful design work and the writers of Faith Out Loud!

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A Free Discipleship Framework For Your Youth Ministry

Found at YM360

The process by which teenagers grow to become more like Christ looks a little different from church to church, doesn’t it? There are some similarities, of course. Some common elements you’d expect to find. But, the actual nuts and bolts of how this happens looks a little differently. But, we all want the same outcome. We all want to see students grow in their faith. We want them to become authentic Christ-followers. In a word, we want them to become disciples.

But what does a disciple look like? How would you define the end goal? The great thing is that we don’t have to try to pull this answer out of mid-air. The Bible has a lot to say about this.

A few years ago, we did a fun exercise. We read through the Bible looking for descriptions of disciples. We wanted to see the picture Scripture painted of what a Christ-follower looked like. As we compiled verses and passages, some common characteristics began to emerge. And as we distilled them further, we landed on six specific characteristics, or traits that all disciples have.

Over the years we’ve taught them in youth ministry workshops and in small groups, both with teenagers and adults alike. And these traits have helped us in our own lives think about our growth as Christ-followers. And because we think they’re a really helpful way to think about what we want our students to become, we want to share them with you, too.

We’ve put together an e-book that passes along these six discipleship traits and challenges you to consider how to implement them in your youth ministry. Our hope is that you can utilize this picture to see your grow closer to Christ, becoming more authentic followers as a result.

To download your FREE copy of The Six (Biblical) Discipleship Traits, simply CLICK HERE.

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The Pinch: We Need to Talk About Racism

The Pinch is a new segment on the blog that will feature simple lessons you can use in a pinch.


Picture by JamieSkinner00 on Flickr CC License 

From Ferguson, MO to SAE at University of Oklahoma, from #blacklivesmatter to #SAEhatesus we need to talk about racism in our youth groups.

In the youth ministries I’ve been a part of I’ve witnessed blatant racism by students. I’ve overheard “jokes” that students tell. I’ve also seen it be unconscious, not understanding that what they are saying is racist.

This one time at church camp, a white girl said in jest to another student, “Get your cotton pickin hands off of me.” She meant nothing by it and everyone laughed but when I mentioned to her the context of what she just said, she was horrified and apologized.

I’ve also witnessed students rally together to fight against racism. Just recently in Memphis, Central High School students gathered to march in commemoration with the 50th anniversary of MLK march in Selma, Alabama.

Our denomination is in the midst of discussions to unify our two denominations. One of the most glaring differences of these two denominations is skin color.

We need to talk about race.

It’s not enough to wish racism away, we have to be proactive with our groups and discuss this issue. You might even think about bringing your group to Memphis to experience the National Civil Rights Museum.

But this is the Pinch…so…

Below you will find several resources to help you talk with your youth groups about racism, prejudice and discrimination.

Do you have any good resources? Any comments? Share them in the comment section below.

Resources to use for lessons dealing with racism

Institute for Youth Ministry at PTS: Talking Race With Youth

The Source for Youth Ministry: All Equal in God’s Eyes

More Than Dodgeball: Stereotypes Part 1 & Part 2

Youth Worker: Blindside

Youth Ministry: District 9

If you are looking for a lighter introduction to your lesson think about using this video: Racist Coffee by Julian Smith

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The Pinch: From One Second To The Next

The Pinch is a new segment on the blog that will feature simple lessons you can use in a pinch.

From One Second To The Next is an haunting documentary by Werner Herzog about the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving is at the top or possibly the leading cause of deaths among teenagers. We don’t spend a lot of time discussing distracted driving in a real way but it needs to be something we talk about with youth.

Watch the documentary with your youth group and discuss.

If you are looking for a more formal discussion you can download a discussion starter over at simply youth ministry.

From One Second To The Next Discussion Starter

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In One Ear and Out the Other

Originally published at http://www.cymt.org/one-ear/; reprinted here with permission from the Center for Youth Ministry Training

Article by Taylor Young

When I began the journey of youth ministry, one of the first things I recall being told was that youth will more likely remember the times I (as a youth minister) was there for them rather than remember the lessons that I taught. I find it disheartening to validate this statement because it makes the effort of theological education, curriculum choosing, building, and teaching feel absolutely useless.

Don’t Blame the Curriculum

I am no stranger to having students complain to the “higher ups” that a lesson I taught was ineffective, or to having one just tell me, point blank, that he hated the current lesson that we were covering. In a previous church, a few of my most dedicated youth stared at me for quite a long time during a Sunday School lesson, and I noticed the atmosphere ran dry as we were going over the activities that the curriculum had planned for us. The morning went so slowly that I decided to wrap up the session early and send the kids on their way.

That instance turned out to be bigger than I thought. The next day brought an extensive meeting with a supervising minister to discuss how some of those most loyal youth members had come to him with disheartened complaints that they were not getting what they wanted from Sunday School. They were disappointed to the point that they felt disenfranchised enough to make the statement that would not be coming back to Sunday School any longer.

My first reaction to this criticism was to blame all printed Sunday School curricula. I’m not too far off but I also can’t say the answer is that easy. There is no great or even good curriculum that you can use straight out of the box to engage your youth. I have even written curriculum for my denomination and that holds true for the lessons I wrote. All of it is bad because it is typically written out of generalized assumptions about a wide variety of youth, and the people who wrote it do not know your students.

The fact is that Sunday School material elicits Sunday School answers. Even the life application parts of the lesson are intended to fit the curriculum flow, not actually speak to the lives of your students. A curriculum does not care about your kids. It’s your job to care about your kids. According to Pat Wolfe, “Two factors strongly influence whether the brain pays attention to a piece of information: 1. If the information has meaning. 2. If the information causes an emotional response” (7). It is nearly impossible to elicit meaning and emotions to a piece of curriculum that has asked questions with an assumed set of answers in response to what it is asking. Youth find no meaning when they are forced to regurgitate that Jesus loves them and not explore the intimate “whys” and “hows” of the fact that Jesus loves them.

Engaging in Meaningful Discussion

When youth find those examples of the way that Jesus’ love has darted into their lives is where it becomes meaningful. According to Judy Willis, “When students are experiencing a lot of stress, often from a lesson that is overly abstract or not understood by students as relevant to their lives, teachers need to find ways to make the lesson more personally interesting, relevant, and motivating” (61). It is the art of finding the moments where those hypothetical scenarios on the page become tangible to the youth who are listening. It is hard to break youth in to the habit of really finding meaning in the discussion or activities that you may have programmed for them. That’s why it is important to get the youth thinking about the ways in which they might personally be invested and engaged before the lesson has begun.

There might be an experiential or visual way to get youth initiated in to what is going on in the youth time together. Find out what works and what doesn’t work for your group. I have learned that sometimes pictures or anecdotes can stimulate interest in a lesson to my high schoolers, whereas story writing, skits, and physical activities can seem completely elementary to my group in particular. According to Willis, a teacher should “use multisensory avenues of exposure to the information that result in multiple connections and relational memory links to existing memory circuits to increase recall and memory storage” (30). There needs to be a way to engage the senses but bring a true sense of meaning with the introduction because it will set the tone and atmosphere for the rest of the time. Some ways of engagement just don’t work for your kids. Figure those out so you cant stop trying to use them.

Even though some curriculum makes the best attempt it can for a multisensory way to engage the participants of a youth lesson, and the curriculum may very well claim it is intended for high schoolers, the reality is that it may be far beneath the spiritual and mental levels of the youth. Willis also says, “Patterning is the process whereby the brain perceives and generates patterns by relating new with previously learned material or chunking material into pattern systems it has used before. . .Whenever new material is presented in such a way that students see relationships, they generate greater brain cell activity” (15). Think through every portion of the pieces of your lesson because they can each be used as tool of patterning when they feed in to each other. This can happen from one part of a lesson to the next and even from one lesson to the next but it is all a loss if the youth do not understand why they participated in each part.

Check for Understanding

The ability to check for understanding is needed to improve the transition of your lesson, because frustration may develop if there are chunks of information missing about why youth participated in a conversation or activity. According to Wolfe, “Understanding must be checked frequently to ensure that the rehearsal is correct” (8). Ask questions to clarify that people understand the meaning of something that is being explored. It is impossible to make sure that youth apply a biblical concept in a certain way but there is room to check and make sure that they understand what the concept initially is.

Finally, take time to evaluate the effectiveness of each lesson with the youth and provide space to enhance and build on the next thing that comes around. Youth do not fit a mold of one-size fits all teaching styles. Youth must be understood as individuals with unique capacities for learning and applying. Invite them in to the process of teaching and learning with their perspective as the person being engaged.


Willis, Judy. Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 2007. Print.

Wolfe, Pat. “The Adolescent Brain –Learning Strategies & Teaching Tips.” Brain Matters: Translating the Research to Classroom Practice. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 2001.

– See more at: http://www.cymt.org/one-ear/#sthash.bcLOU2hb.dpuf

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