I remember the day vividly in 1999. It was pre-Y2K, pre-iPhone, pre-Tim Bartman getting blamed for the Cubs Play-off-Flub and there still two tall twin buildings standing in New York. A group of us were sitting in a small room at Solheim Center, the swank sports complex associated with Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. The meeting was with Larry the White Guy (the world’s most effective youth pastor, in spite of lack of skin pigment and official Youth Pastor degree), an MBA student named Scott Greziak, Joel Hamernick, Don Stubbs and a few others. We were planning to kick off a new outreach program for the teens left in the crumbling Cabrini Projects a short walk from where we were sitting. The name of the outreach would be SLAM!, an acronym for Saving Lives in Athletic Ministry.
Ideas were blurted out by the guys on how to snag volunteers, what games to play, how to prevent gang tension and get donations. Then Larry asked, “Ginger, what are your thoughts?”
“We need to create curriculum for these kids.”
The words weren’t mine, but from God. I wouldn’t be so stupid as to commit to a task that enormous, not that God is stupid. But it was as if He had a gun to my head and said, “This is your ark, sweetie pie. Build it.
I left the meeting knowing that I’d make curriculum for inner-city ministry a reality. I didn’t know how, but I knew I would.
That was the beginning of TastyFaith.
Over the next few years, people downloaded order forms from the website and sent me envelopes of money. In return, I’d send them the first editions of SLAM! and Shortie Pages. The curriculum was riddled with errors, but the early customers overlooked the problems and focused on the strengths. Well, at least most of them did). Orders kept coming in and electronic methods of paying were added along with more resources, including Bible studies for teen moms. All the while, I kept approaching Christian publishers using my best persuasive skills with hopes of making the urban youth ministry materials “real”.
The amount of rejections was laughable.
The responses made it clear that the bottom line was more important to Christian publishers than changing lives. Creating materials for inner-city kids wasn’t on the radar. Publishing books featuring a hip pastor with a soul patch was.
I got pissed off, but allowed that anger to fuel my pen.
So fast forward ten years. Justin Beiber. Enron. Hurricane Katrina. The first black president. I moved to China to work with messed up missionary kids (And yes, they are messed up). But in Chicago, Cabrini is replaced with a Target Superstore and trendy condos. Steve Greziak becomes the head of GripYouth.com, changing lives all over Chicago. Joel Hamernick kicks butt at SunshineGospel.org. And Larry the White Guy is still loving the unlovable.
But as for more Christian publishers offering curriculum for urban ministry?
It didn’t happen.
The ball wasn’t dropped on creating more materials for urban youth ministry during that time span. It was never picked up.
In fourteen years since TastyFaith has been around, not one major Christian publisher has made it a priority to create materials for these inner-city kids. Sure, they might have created one or two resources but not the arsenal needed to help those in the trenches of youth ministry. If you don’t believe me, just google “Curriculum for Urban Youth Ministry” or “high risk youth group bible study” and see what pops up. TastyFaith.
Well, hang on tight, new resources are in the oven. Really new out of the box stuff like
Plus, kindle friendly versions of a few popular resources.