The 100 Best Websites for Youth Ministry
This is just what we say it is: no bells, frills or whistles attached. Just our favourite youth work veteran and web expert John Allan’s run down of the most useful websites for youth ministry. Enjoy.
Every day about a billion new pages appear online. If you wanted to read them all you’d be absorbing 69,000 pages a minute, with no coffee breaks. Or sleep.
So, in my search for the hundred best website for youth ministry, I may have missed a few! You may be astounded to find that some of your favourites don’t feature. If so, write in and tell us about them. Also, I’ve omitted the ‘obvious’ ones that youth workers use all the time, such as Google, Facebook and YouTube… and that includes Youthwork magazine’s website (even though there probably isn’t a site anywhere which is more packed with appropriate stuff for a youth worker’s needs). I’m assuming you know all about these biggies, but don’t forget them… especially Youthwork.
I’ve grouped websites in categories, just for your convenience, but obviously some could fit into several categories. If some categories look a bit thin, that’s simply because I couldn’t find much that was truly excellent in that group. If some amazing youth organizations aren’t mentioned, it’s because their work may be great but their website isn’t as valuable as others. Oh, and all the resources mentioned are freebies; there are lots of great websites that involve paying out money, but they’re not mentioned unless they also contain
a fair chunk of free stuff. I am Scottish, after all.
So here we go. Out of the hundred million domain names registered since 1985, who’s made it on to the one-in-amillion list? Let’s have a look…
INFORMATION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
Great advice pages keeping young people safe online. Everything from cyberbullying to sexting.
2 National Youth Agency
Offers help to teenagers – particularly young carers – and links to other helpful places, including stuff on young people’s legal rights.
Their tagline pretty much sums it up: ‘YouthNet is the UK’s leading online charity, providing advice, information and support to young people aged 16 to 25. We are a one stop shop for every issue.’
4 The Site
YouthNet’s version of Childline for the next age group up.
5 Youth Access
Supplies important links for teenagers, parents and youth workers alike.
YOUNG PEOPLE AND SPIRITUALITY
6 Christianity Explored
This isn’t a youth site specifically, but it’s a great introduction to Christianity for many teens.
7 Gospel Journey
Explains the gospel, and offers a chance to respond, in clear, striking, uncompromising style.
8 Word 4U 2day
A simple online daily Bible reading system for young people. Includes an optional read-it-in-a-year scheme.
9 Soul Survivor
Also challenges you to read the Bible in a year – and the resources are very youth-friendly.
Scripture Union’s daily Bible reading scheme. Ok for some teens if not all.
11 Tear Fund’s ‘Rhythms’ website
All about ‘taking actions to change the way you live so that together we can change the world’. Registration needed.
13 24-7 Prayer
Provides lots of ideas and resources for making prayer an exciting adventure for young people – even at school.
Resources to help un-confident teens learn skills in sharing their faith with others.
15 New Generation
Offers help, resources, advice and inspiration to get CUs started and flourishing in UK schools.
Supports Further Education college and Sixth Form Christian groups, with tailor-made Bible studies, programme suggestions and evangelism ideas.
THINKING ABOUT YOUTH WORK
Will stretch your thinking – it tries ‘to provide a space for people to explore the theory and practice of informal
education, social action and lifelong learning’.
18 Youthwork Summit
Features all the dynamic minitalks from Britain’s amazing TED-like youth ministry forum. (And while you’re improving your mind don’t forget www.ted.com either – not often Christian ideas, occasionally even hostile, but still valuable to chew over.)
Produces free weekly youth lessons (with hand-outs) and a magazine. Useful page surveying what youth
workers are currently blogging.
20 We Love Our Youthworker
What should the deal be between a youth worker and a church?
21 Youth Specialties
Hosts several categories of useful articles for youth workers.
22 Frontier Youth Trust
Always features valuable resources for your thinking about youth work.
23 Rethinking Youth Ministry
A lively blog-style exploration of many topics.
Solid facts; many links; brilliant 144-page PDF that everybody should have for reference.
The premier Christian name in child protection issues, with lots of valuable documents to download.
BIBLE AND REASONS TO BELIEVE
Annoyingly clunky but contains most Bible study tools you’ll ever need to teach a passage responsibly.
35 Best evangelical RE site
by miles is ReJesus www.rejesus.co.uk.
Clear explanations, lucid arguments, and attractive presentation – not just to be used in the classroom.
36 Faith questions
From the Faraday Institute, Test of Faith (www.testoffaith.com) helps young people approach scientific questions sensibly. It looks great too.
37 Great blog by a top Christian scholar:
Ben Witherington often deals with wild claims about Jesus in the media, giving facts calmly and clearly. He answers readers’ questions too.
38 And another:
Valuable archives of past blog entries giving important evidence about the reliability of scripture and the identity of Jesus.
39 Creative Youth Ideas
www.creativeyouthideas.com says, ‘I’m offering the best youth ministry ideas including games, icebreakers, teaching ideas, illustrations, devotionals…’ Registration needed.
www.youthpastor.com – stacks of free resources since 1997.
41 Jonathan McKee’s The Source
www.thesource4ym.com deserves its great reputation. All the usual stuff, just more of it, and better.
www.rodschristiansketches.co.uk has a sketch for every occasion.
Lots of the resources can be used outside of school too. They’re cracking.
This regularly saves my life. You can make crosswords, word squares, and other puzzles with one click, and print them out straight away.
45 Jonny Baker
Down with all things worship-related. (Look especially for his ‘worship tricks’, but read the whole blog – always engaging and thought-provoking.)
47 Construct your talks with Talkbuilder
Why has nobody thought of this approach before?
You pay for it – but there are lots of giveaways and it’s great. From Urban Saints.
51 Simply Youth Ministry
Click on ‘Freebies’. Simply loads.
Has a superb Culturewatch podcast (and much more). Stay up to date with what’s happening around you. Much of this site you pay for, but the free bits are great.
Lets you DJ online without any gear! Instant youth club fun.
54 KOR Emedia
Some astounding video resources, and showcase them
55 Viral Friday
Keeps you abreast of the top video clips everybody’s watching. A weekly summary.
GAMES AND RECREATION
56 Simply the greatest Egad
Helpfully categorised into indoor, outdoor, large group, small group and so on.
57 Youthwork Practice
2000 games from Germany. Also includes intriguing stuff about the theory and purpose of games… worth
The unique specialists in start-up games for all occasions.
59 UK Campsite
This has a terrible design format, but contains authoritative articles and an indispensable campers’ checklist.
60 Card games: www.pagat.com/
alpha/. For board games see www.boardgames.about.com/od/rules/Rules_and_Instructions_for_Board_
Games.htm. Indispensable for those awkward what-do-we-do-next house-party moments.
61 Definitive rules for sports?
Sports Know-how: www.sportsknowhow.com/rules/index.html Claims (probably correctly) to be the only place to go for other producers too. Lots here you could use, and often updated.
COUNSELLING AND ADVISING YOUNG PEOPLE
62 Living Life to the Full
Brilliant life skills help from a Christian psychiatrist.
63 Mind and Soul
Churns out acres of useful practical stuff on churches, Christians and mental health.
Stores every note you make, instantly, in your own online notebook. (Use it with www.resoph.com on your computer, or www.notational.net on a Mac – everything’s synched instantly!)
A brilliantly simple way to store and transfer stuff online. Like having a massive extra drive on your computer!
When you save a webpage, turn it into a PDF first. Makes it much easier to store and read!
This has got to be the ultimate task manager and to-do list-er. Turn e-mails into tasks with a click!
www.doodle.com lets your team set up meeting dates online – saves ages in committee meetings, and
71 The “Swiss Army knife” of websites
You won’t believe all it does www.1dl.us.
Hello makes sharing files with friends simpler than you’d ever believe.
Lets you publish anything you like online - instantly, perfectly, easily. Everything from a paragraph to your life story!
Creates databases for addresses, books or equipment lists faster than you can dream them up.
AUDIO, VIDEO AND ARTWORK
Creates logos and ‘word clouds’ quickly and easily. Impressive artwork without really trying.
www.creatly.com Is great for instantly making stunning diagrams, but it has rivals: www.smashingapps.com/2011/08/26/45-free-onlinetools-
For those tired of Powerpoint - this is the future.
Helps you to download and convert YouTube videos. Alternatively try Keepvid www.keepvid.com. If you use Firefox, try DownloadHelper www.addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/video-downloadhelper You pay for
some features but the basic ad-on is free and stupendously powerful.
80 ‘Think of Spotify as your new music collection,’
they urge www.spotify.com. Millions of tracks, there online for you to pick up and use. Nearly as good: Last.fm www.last.fm and Grooveshark www.grooveshark.com.
83 At Slideshare
www.slideshare.net you can store your Powerpoints and you’ll always have them available. (Plus everybody else’s too… Some interesting stuff to plunder for your own purposes!)
www.indezine.com from India stands supreme among Powerpoint resource sites. Free templates, new software, training and tips.
www.voicebase.com lets you store your talks, podcasts and audio files safely online. You can even record
stuff directly to the site – audio or video. What nice people. (Just a thought: don’t miss www.eyejot.com
for making instant, simple videos. If you have a webcam you’re sorted in seconds.)
www.impressive.sourceforge.net makes an instant slideshow presentation from PDF pages or a bunch of photos.
87 Open Doors
www.opendoorsyouth.org is best for the persecuted church but I also like www. persecution.tv. Great videos
which bring important stories to life for young people.
Both alerts you to breaking issues, and provides something you can do immediately.
90 Stop the Traffik
Sensitizes kids to the evil of people trafficking. Many resources (including film and Powerpoint) to launch youthful participation in campaigning, and www.startfreedom.org to keep kids
www.ekklesia.co.uk will make you think about issues in the news and their biblical bearings. You needn’t
share their basically Anabaptist stance to benefit enormously from the questions they raise.
YOUTH WORKERS TALKING TO YOUTH WORKERS
The legendary Mark Oestreicher’s blogthoughts.
93 US youth work blogger Patrick
www.adventuresinministry.com is great, and there’s also veteran Walt Mueller www.learningmylines.blogspot.co.uk, Canadian Danny Ferguson www.proyouthworker.blogspot.co.uk or the voluminous Life in Student Ministry www.studentministry.org.
94 One of the first and best UK bloggers, still going, still enormously relevant: Ian Macdonald www.youthblog.org.
95 Schools and Sixth Form workerTim Abbott is always reflective and profitable to read: www.timabbott.co.uk.
96 Mike Capener gets youth workers discussing key issues at www.talkingyouth.wordpress.com.
98 Chris Kidd www.chriskidd.co.uk thinks more deeply and widely than most of us – but his heart is in youth ministry too.
99 Jon Jolly www.jonjolly.com digs up some surprising (and very rewarding) topics.
SOURCES OF MORE USEFUL WEBSITES
100 Finally, if this wasn’t enough Internet candy for you, try Steve Hayes’ great collection at www.myfishbites.com/ , or Youth Ideas www.youthideas.co.uk/yw/links/index.shtml. Because even beyond
our top hundred, you’ll find gigabytes upon gigabytes of useful youth worker websites.
Just make sure you switch off your computer occasionally and put some of it to use in actual youth work!
John Allan is the chaplain of Exeter school and a regular contributor to Youthwork.