Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review of YOUthork: Let God Use Your Influence by Don Pearson and Paul Santhouse

Youth work it a difficult job.  If you are not keeping a constant focus on how to do the job better it is easy to get lost.  It is for this reason that so many books are published every year on resources and ideas.  The fact is that many of these books contain lots of great ideas, but are so specific to the place the author is from that when one tries to implement them into their work, it fails.  Others feel as though the books coming out are simply a repackaging of older books and sold under a new title.  So as much as refreshing new content is needed there is really not much out there.  So when I picked up a copy of YOUthwork by Don Pearson and Paul Santhouse I was skeptical of it at best.  However within the first few pages I found myself quite excited that the book delivered on its promise to share, “99 practical ideas for youth workers, parents and volunteers”.  The book takes a no nonsense approach to these tips as well as keeps the chapters short and to the point.  Not every tip was a fit for my brand of youth work and style, but a great many of topics could be implemented into what I am doing or simply encouraged me to keep going as I am.  In my opinion there is a bottom line to simple effective youth work that is often overlooked due to the flash and pizzazz of youth programs.  I think that this book boils away all that fat and gets you right into the good stuff.  I recommend this book to anyone at any stage of their youth work journey.  A big thanks to Don Pearson and Saul Santhouse for their superb work on this collection of thoughts and ideas.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Music Bridges the Belief Gap

As I was reflecting on the power of music I remember one song that I heard on the radio a couple of years ago on a mainstream radio station by a band that I had never heard of.  I used the music video to convey how belief starts in a world of unbelief.  Please remember that most of the young people that I work with come from outside a church background and many are even hostile toward conversations having to do with God.  Music helps to bridge that gap.  The song is Called Rain Delays by Crash Parallel enjoy:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Youth Culture Update: Are The Machines Out To Get Our Youth?

In the movie series Terminator, and many others life it, machines are attempting to free themselves of their human oppressors.  In a technology saturated world we like to play around with the question “What if”.  We have become dependent on more and more complex computers and machines in our world.  When I was growing up getting a typed piece of mail meant that it was really important.  Today a handwritten letter conveys more importance.  While I don’t see that machines are trying to take over the world, we may be losing a battle with them anyway.  Various studies, such as the one featured in The Toronto Sun, have linked internet use with depression on teens.  While experts can’t pinpoint the exact cause there are many correlations that link use of technology to lack of sleep and eating disorders.  Imagine if one of these movies about the crash of technology came true – could we survive in a world without our computers?  In making our lives easier we may have put our future in great turmoil.  What do you think?

Youth Culture Update: Should Homophobia Be Addressed In Schools?

I was once asked by a group of teens if I would give them a ride to the local corner store.  I agreed on one condition.  That they share a story with me about themselves.  I wasn’t expecting the answer.  I was told about someone that visited my hometown on vacation.  I was about to say that is where I’m from when they went on to tell me how they were beat up by some local kids because they were homosexual.  This is not an isolated incident.  The amount of news being generated every week about violence and suicides as a result of homophobia is astounding.  Whatever your opinion on the topic of homosexuality may be, I hope we can agree that this is a terrible problem.  Some youth workers, such as William Field of Australia are trying to address the issues of homophobia by offering education based workshops on tolerance in the schools as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on Jauary 21, 2011. However there are arguments against such topics being featured in the school which I’m sure you are aware of.  Something needs to be done.  The question then is what can be done?  What should be done?

Youth Culture Update: Push To Put Driving Camera in Teens Cars

So here is an interesting tidbit of youth culture news.  There is a push to have cameras installed in cars where teens are drivers.  While it is all over the news I happened to read this piece in the Kansas City Star and the headline is accompanied with a picture of a young lady who was shown to be on her cell phone moments before a crash.  While it is a well known fact that accidents are a leading cause of death for young people I am not sure that this is the right move.  I can’t help but think of all the great things that young people are capable of in their passion and reckless ways that we as a society often forget when we are sitting in on the couch watching the evening news hearing about another loss of life.  I honestly think that young people get in trouble so much because we fail to give them real challenges – things that could really change the world.  Instead – we think that spying on them will help change the trends.  Somehow I doubt it.  What is your opinion?

The Power of Music on Teens

I recently had a conversation with a new youth worker from Montreal that was telling me about the youth center that they were running for community kids.  He had an armful of CDs and a confused look on his face.  As a new Christian he had never heard of the bands like Skillet, Newsboys or Toby Mac.  He asked me what music would appeal to the kids that liked music like Green Day.  His boss wanted him to find music to play at the youth center.

I thought over his request for a minute before answering.  I had a flashback to my upbringing and my Mom’s warnings about filling your mind with whatever was good, beautiful and pure.  This is good advice that I still follow to this day.  I thought about a youth retreat I went to as a young youth pastor where the speaker would speak out lyrics to some rather offensive songs and the audience filled with thousands of church-going kids would cheer loudly as they began to fill the air with the songs that he was quoting.

Music is a powerful force in the world of teenagers.  I once saw a young teen who was in the midst of a drug induced hallucination and a spiritual attack of some sort who was calmed instantly through when a CD of worship music came on.  I also have seen God speak to young people through the music that I thought wouldn’t have met the Criteria my mom set in place for me.  One young person I know was compelled to stop walking on the fence of commitment and get baptized while listening to Good Charlotte.  I personally have come to respect some of these bands who tell it like it is in relation to the experience of the average teen.  Sometimes the drug references and swear words turn us off from the emotion contained behind the lyrics.  It is in those dark places that a lot of young people find themselves and this music has a way of getting through the masks and the walls that they put up around themselves.  It is no wonder that God speaks to them through this music, even though it can make some of us raised in a more conservative background quite uncomfortable at times.

To this young guy looking to me for advice I said that rather than limiting the choice to Christian music that he should get each kid to print out the lyrics of the song that is the most meaningful to them at the moment and that they should even listen to each song as a group and then have a discussion around the music that they are already listening to.  If wanted to bring in some of his Christian music and do the same thing that I thought this group would have a lot more respect for it than simply banning their music completely.  Some music is inappropriate to play, but having a discussion as to why is a lot better than a simple prohibition.

What are your thoughts? How should we filter what music is played at youth events?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Guest Post: Stoked. My Youth Work Journey

Me and the 17-Year-Old Version of J.J.
As I have worked with teens throughout the years there are a few that told me that they want to be a youth worker like me.  I find it very honoring that they would consider such a career as it means that I have made some sort of impact in their life, however few of these students have followed through on the thought.  Today I have the honor of introducing J.J. Johnson who not only has committed himself to youth work, but took over a job I had directing the youth ministry at a church when he was just 17.  He now is coming toward the end of a degree in Child and Youth Care at Douglas College.  I asked him to share a bit of his journey. I hope you enjoy it.

    I really fell into this whole ‘youth work’ thing. Wasn’t looking for it but I think it found me and it just won’t let go. The last two-and-a-bit years have taught me the most about my call to be with youth. It has brought many changes – from being on staff and leading a youth group in a church, to working frontline with youth in a city youth centre.

    Now, I don’t recommend that has to be the same pattern for everyone but for me, it was the wake-up call I needed. Instead of my love being in people, it had ended up in all the “other” stuff. Don’t get me wrong. I loved serving in the church, I loved helping but somewhere along the line, my true heart got lost in the mix. The outside looked healthy but the inside was sick. It was time for a break.

    Things are different now. I am a student in Child and Youth Care, learning to hone my skills, challenge my mind and to apply my heart in new ways as I work with youth. Here’s what I took away during my break:

    I have learned that secular and sacred are pretty artificial divisions. People are people; youth are youth (well, youth are people, too). We all struggle with the ups and downs, the hurts and the joys of this life. What a privilege and honour to come along side youth and listen to their stories. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

    I have learned that no matter where I am, I have a part to play in God’s awesome story. Though I don’t have the opportunity to openly ‘preach it’, God has forced me to find fresh ways to live out my faith that are radical and exciting. My identity before was based solely on my position instead of focusing on who I am and bringing my true self to the work.

    Now more than ever, I appreciate the role that I get to play in the life of a young person. Whether it’s making (and eating) pancakes, watching them to do some skateboard tricks (I can’t skateboard... but I’ve played Tony Hawk on Xbox), or just going on a walk around town, it’s all about creating connections and building relationship. It’s sometimes hard, but mostly fun. They are the reason I do what I do.

    Stay stoked and enjoy the journey.
If you would like to get to know J.J. Better you can follow him on twitter by clicking here

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What is the most effective way to reach out to teens?

What is the most effective way to reach out to teens?

With the rise of technology and advanced communication and the fact that you can’t drive two blocks without seeing a teenager walking around with their headphones in and their thumbs typing wildly over a cell phone keyboard lead many to believe that the most effective way to reach teens in through technology.  I have used many social media tools to connect with young people with some success, but as time goes by nothing can replace a face-to-face encounter with another person.  According to a piece on marketers have identified some myths when it comes to marketing to teens.  They are as follows: Myth 1: Texting is the way to teens. Myth 2: Teen Word-of-mouth happens online. Myth 3: If you build it, teens will come.  I think that these lessons can and should be applied by youth workers as well.  Those of us that think that we have a grasp on youth culture must realize that they are real people, not just objects to be studied.  Rather than market to them and expect them to engage with you just because you are “online” take the chance to engage with them in their environment.  Hit the streets and find out what is important to them.  You may find, that as awesome as your program might be, if it isn’t meeting a felt need – they won’t show up.

How do you reach out to teens and is it working?

Discover a great degree at paralegal certificates


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What the top 10 songs of 2010 communicate about youth culture

When I was training as a youth worker part of our weekly homework was to watch the top ten music videos of the week. Having grown up quite sheltered from the popular music scene there were times when I was quite shocked by the content, but other times I had what I have termed “soul encounters” with some of the music. Music can be a gateway to understand life and God. In so keeping with my training I wanted to show you the top ten songs of 2010 and some of the key phrases I have pulled out of each one of these songs. If we have a better understanding of what young people are listening too maybe we can have a conversation with them about the soul encounters they are having with their music be it lies or truth.

Top Ten Songs of 2010
Rank Song Title Artist
1 I Need You Now Lady Antebellum
It’s a quarter after one, I’m a little drunk and I need you now

2 California Gurls Katy Perry
Once you party with us you’ll be falling in love

3 Love The Way You Lie Eminem
Life aint no Nintendo game

4 Hey, Soul Sister Train
You see, I can be myself now finally, in fact there's nothing I can't be

5 OMG Usher
There are so many ways to love you

6 Dynamite Taio Cruz
Gotta let go I wanna celebrate and live my life Saying AYO Baby, let's go

7 TiK ToK Ke$ha
Ain't got a care in world, but got plenty of beer

8 I Got A Feeling Black Eyed Peas
Tonight’s the night, Let’s live it up, I got my money Let’s spend it up

9 Just The Way You Are Bruno Mars
When I see your face, There's not a thing that I would change, 'Cause you're amazing Just the way you are

10 Airplane B. o. B.
I could use a dream or a genie or a wish To go back to a place much simpler than this

What do you think, do these songs reflect the values of young people or is it just media driven drivel? I'd love to hear from some teens on this.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Youth Just Need Somebody To Talk To

Occasionally a teen will talk to me about a difficult experience that they have had and how they got through them.  This week I had a young person tell me about how the song: "Someone To Talk To" by This Providence did just that.  I've included the song and the lyrics below, but what is more cool is what this teen told me about the song. When they were listening to this song they knew, "that even though everything of mine was thrown away and that I am lonely, I can still rely on God to love me, even when I feel like no one else does."  This is from a kid that doesn't go to church.  God knows that teens need someone to talk to and he will you whatever means he can to be that person.  Sometimes through a youth worker, sometimes through a bible, sometimes through a a music video like this.  How has he communicate to you?    I need somebody to talk to
But I pushed you away
I need somebody who understands
But it doesn't look like you're coming back

My sins caught up to you
I said my sins caught up to you
I lost the best love that I've ever known
And it doesn't look like you're coming home

Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
You came through

I hate, hate, hate this place
I said I hate, hate, hate this place
But your attraction is still and cold
But I can feel the warmth of your grace
Yeah, I can feel the warmth of your grace

Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
You came through
Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
You came through

I believe in miracles
I believe in miracles
I believe in miracles
Yeah, I believe
(I believe in miracles)
I believe
(I believe in miracles)
I believe
(I believe in miracles)

Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
You came through, yeah
Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
You came through

Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
Even after all my mistakes
You were true

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A note from a teen highlights the highs and lows of youth work

We recently conducted an online survey of some local youth.  Attached to the question: Do you have an adult you trust in your life?" was this note from a young person I have worked with in the past. 
 My relationship with [ these people ] has been very distant for the past couple of years due to certain actions that I have taken ... they reached out too me soo much when I was young and still in elementary school and helped me with so much and guided me and was there for me when I needed them and I feel like I have just lost touch with everything between us!!! I feel like I don't even know them anymore and that I'm not really accepted in their lives anymore! and yet that totally contradicts the question being asked; as I do still totally trust them but that is because they never failed me...not I guess I feel unworthy of them because I failed them [ along with myself ] too...
 This is the where the emotional balance as a youth worker is required.  On one hand I see the successes that we have had: despite this young person's choices we have communicated care.  On the other hand I see our failures as this teen feels so alone and isolated when they don't need to feel that way.  What keeps you inspired to keep on going with people when they give up on themselves?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Give Up Games in your Youth Ministry: Start Changing the World

A friend of mine travels the world speaking to young people about issues of faith.  He described the powerful ways in which teenagers as young as 13 are literally putting their lives on the lines to change the world because of crazy dreams and visions that they have had from Jesus.  I felt shivers travel up and down my spine as I heard of miracles and things that I would have described as impossible.  After he had shared these stories from the Middle East and Africa he went on to describe ministry here.  He talked about the typical youth ministry that works hard to entice kids to come by entertaining them.  These words hit home.  “While kids around the world are changing world history through their faith in Jesus – we are playing games. 

I took these words as a challenge and slowly over time I stopped running a youth group.  I didn’t know what to expect.  We just started having dinner together once a week with kids that we had met on the streets and at the bus stops.  These kids looked in awe at the table filled with food.  Several of them told me they had never eaten a mean around the table with their families before.  A few others mentioned that this was their first mean of the day (at 7 at night!).  We knew this was a group of kids that had no business hanging out in the same room.  We decided to help start the conversation off with an ice breaker as we ate.  I asked the question: “What is one thing that you would change about your week?” The girl on my right went first.  She had traveled over an hour and a half on the city bus system to be there that night.  We had made an impact in her life through a rec program we had run at her elementary school years before.  All we had done was showed up and played football in the parking lot, but apparently – that was enough.  I didn’t know what she was going to say as she opened her mouth, but I wasn’t expecting this: “I would change the fact my little brother was murdered this week.” 

It took me awhile to catch up with the fact that someone should say something in response to this bomb she had dropped in our lap.  It took me another moment to realize that needed to be me.  Something very real happened in that moment that set the course for this new group.  This week I was reading an article on about being trapped in a youth ministry mindset.  I would encourage you to read it, but more so I would say: don’t be content with playing games.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter wear may be warm, but may not be worth the loss of a look teens are going for.

If you know a group of teens it will not come as a surprise to hear that they will often not dress appropriately for the weather.  Many parents confess that they have given up on the battle on what to wear in the winter.  An article on The Washington Post website lists that the reasoning behind this is simply not wanting to be “uncool”.  I personally have a perverse hatred toward being cold that would never make this a reality for me, but it seems that cool or not, temperature just doesn’t seems to affect some people.  In spite of what the article states I have never met anyone that has actually developed a severe health problem because of their attire.  It seems to me that it may just be a matter of convenience.  Who wants to carry around a bulky jacket all day?

Have you ever looked at a teen and thought: Just get a Job?

Being from a family of entrepreneurs I have had to work long before I ever had to look for a job.  So sometimes when I look at the young people that are depressed and spend the majority of their playing video games and chatting on facebook my reaction can be: Just get a job.  Those that have ventured off the couch have often told me that “there is just no work out there”. I have a hard time with that.  I figure they are giving up to easily.  However Joe Weisenthal from has an article titled, “The Amazing Collapse Of The Working Teen” that may confirm that these teens may be right.  A CBC report from last April confirms a similar situation in Canada as well as the US.  There are concerns to the long term affects of unemployed teens will have on the economy and the work ethic of the future work force in North America.  What do you think can or should be done to generate work for teens?

Guest Post: When Should You Give Up On A Student

Being a youth worker can be a lonely job, but through mediums such as twitter and facebook I have been able to connect with quite a few other youth pastors, youth culture experts, social workers and the like.  I met Chris Burke in this way.  The crazy thing is we work for the same organization just on separate side of the country.  As we go through our days we often will find points of intersection from thousands of miles away.  Last week Chris posted that he had an experience that reminded him why he had become a youth worker.  I asked him if he would share that.  He agreed and I am thankful for it.  It is an encouraging story.  Enjoy:

I’ve been in youth ministry for about 8 years now.. and I’ve worked with a LOT of teens over those years.  About 2 years ago I found myself at a crux in my ministry.. I had been pouring a LOT of time and energy into students, and while it seemed like some of them were getting it, there were some that just wouldn’t go any further.  I sat down with my director, and told him that I felt like I had hit a wall.. and that if the ministry in this area was going to fo any further, either the person doing it had to change, or we had to change how it was being done.
The reason I felt this way was simply because I was tired of pouring literally hundreds of hours into particular students, and them just not going any further, be it growing in their relationship with Christ, or they weren’t having a relationship with Christ at all.  I asked many pastors “when do you just give up”.. many of them understood my questions.. it wasn’t that I was done with the kids, I was just tired of not seeing growth, and was ready to give up on particular students.  Everyone told me the same thing.. you should never give up on a student, but, you can change your relationship with them.. but never stop praying for them.
As a result of this, about 1.5 years ago, I changed a relationship with a student.  It was very hard to do.. I had spent 2 years pouring into this student, spending literally every moment that he wasn’t in school with him.. either him hanging out at my office, or at my house with my family.. he would come to the city with me if I was going shopping, or we would just go hang out and walk around together.
Then it happened.. I remember sitting down with him one day and telling him that he was at a point in his highschool career where he had to choose.. “do I give in to all the stereotypes that people are giving him (he was one of the only black kids in the school, and was a group home kid to boot.. so naturally everyone wrote him off as a “bad kid”) .. or he could rise above those stereotypes, and become the person God wanted him to be.  Sadly, he chose to give into all the bad things people were saying about him, and he hit drugs, drinking and every other stereotype that was giving to him.. and he hit them hard.
This was when our relationship changed.. I wanted to try and help him, but he didn’t want help.  So I let him go.. I let him do what he wanted, live the life he thought he needed to live.  It was easily one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.. All the while I prayed for this guy.. daily.. Every now and then I would send him a text, or a quick message on Facebook.. something simple.. “thinking about you” or something like that.
Last night was like any other night.  I was sitting on my computer, and decided to drop a quick message to this student.. pretty simple again.. just “hey, how’s it going.. haven’t talked to you in a long time”…. 2 minutes later, he logged onto facebook chat, and sent me a message.. it was our first contact in over a year.. he simply said “are you home for the next while” I said “yea, I’m just hanging out with my son”.. he then said the thing I was hoping for for the past year… “can I come over, I really need to talk to you about some stuff”.. naturally I invited him over.. and we spent the next 1.5 hours talking about his past year and how he realized that he really messed up his life.. he was tired of all the drugs and what they had done to him, and that his parents are kicking him out.  He wanted to talk to me because he knew that the only way he was going to stay clean was if he surrounded himself with the people who were good influences on him back when his life was clean.. people who would hold him accountable.
Did he decide to follow Jesus.. no, but its all a step in the right direction, I’m so happy that I didn’t give up on him totally, and throw him out.  I think I knew God still had a plan for him, and I wanted to be a part of that.
So let this be a encouragement for you.  Sometimes, students suck.. and they suck the life out of you.. they drain you for everything you have, and then they drop you.. but don’t be discouraged, keep praying for them.. if you don’t, who will?
 To get to know Chris better you can check out his website

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Release - Langley BC



YFC/Youth Unlimited in Langley is launching a program to assist jobless youth

LANGLEY, B.C. – According to a CBC report in April of 2010 the recent wave’s economic uncertainty across North America have affected young people from entering the work force. “Our youth workers have noticed the trend of under-employment rates locally as well,” Remarked Danny Ferguson, the Langley Area Director for Greater Vancouver YFC/Youth Unlimited, “being able to maintain a job in the teens years helps to build confidence and independence as well as to establish a continuing work ethic.”

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that, “there is now a very real concern the recession will produce a ‘lost generation’ of young people with slimmer, long-term, job prospects” (
There are several local organizations that have focused on assisting young people in finding jobs and improving their skill base. All these can be found at

Ferguson and his team at YFC/Youth Unlimited have chosen to address the issue from a slightly different angle. “We believe that these young people won’t be unemployed forever, but the youth themselves have a hard time seeing that. “ Says Laura Manca who has developed a short-term student leadership team with YU to help young people fill their time between jobs and build into themselves at the same time. “We are calling this program “Illuminate” precisely because we want to shed some light into the lives of young people when things look dark to them”.

Illuminate is a six week program that will leave young people with 20 hours of volunteer work as well as an emphasis on developing leadership, listening and problem solving skills. The program begins on February 2nd and runs until March 16 with weekly meetings happening on Wednesday afternoons and volunteering on Friday evenings.

There are still spaces available. If you are interested in nominating a young person to attend the program, YFC/Youth Unlimited is hosting an information night on January 19 at the Willoughby Rec Center in the Langley Event Center at 7pm.

For more information please contact:

Danny Ferguson
Langley Area Director
Greater Vancouver YFC/Youth Unlimited

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why am I a Youth Worker?

Why am I a youth worker?  

I ask myself the question as I lie awake in bed
I wonder what else I could do instead
I think of all the faces of the teens I've walked beside
I reflect on all the techniques and methods that I've tried

Why am I a youth worker?

I ask myself again
As if repeating the question will bring some sort of zen
It isn't that I am questioning the skills that I pocess
It is more that my effort at times seems meaningless

Why am I a youth worker?

Only to watch in vain
As the kids I've poured my life into have flushed life down the drain
I'm in my warm house with the people that I love
while they are on the streets feeling abandoned from above

Why am I a youth worker?

The words are now my prayer
I take a breath and continue - it just isn't fair
The things that happen to kids these days
Make me question the fabric of mans ways

Why am I a youth worker?
 it is not for the applause
it is not for the pay check I think with great guffaws
it is not for recognition, power or fame
it is not for building for myself a name

Why am I a youth worker?
Although I’m not always sure
I know that God has placed me hear of that I am assured
Success can’t be a goal of mine – it is impossible
I’m only to be willing to serve and be faithful

Why am I a youth worker?
I guess by job title alone
I think my real defining traits are much more ingrown
I am an ambassador of the king, a messenger you could say
I am to love and care and hold – no matter what the day

Why am I a youth worker?
With that perspective in mind
I think that I can carry on with my brain and heart aligned
To be a youth worker give me the opportunity
To share life with people that most of the world doesn’t see

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review of Parent Taming By Sandi Hunter

As a youth worker I am frequently interacting with young people about their frustrations of dealing with their parents. That is why I was drawn to read Sandi Hunter’s book titled “Parent Taming”. In this book Hunter focuses on helping young people come to understand their parents from a different perspective. This begins by analyzing different personality types and effective communication skills. The book is centered on a concept called transaction analysis, which define three major ways in which people interact with each other: as a parent, as a child and as an adult. Hunter finishes off the book with a push to equip teens with the some basic tools for mediating potential conflict and finding resolutions that can work within the family.

These are all concepts that I talk about regularly with young people as they work through the process of moving from a dependent child to an independent adult. The title seemed be supporting a bit of a self serving attitude of getting what the young person is entitled to but the actual material is working on self analysis and communication skill development. Whether the young person comes from a laid back or an intensely volatile home increasing the communication skill base can put them miles ahead. Some of the supporting concepts of transaction analysis seem to based in a subject view of human psychology such as Eckhart Tolle that may make some readers uncomfortable. The material reads to an older audience even though it is packaged for teens. I would recommend this book as a resource for youth workers who are interested in family mediation more so than handing out copies to young people to read by themselves. Of course the book is really intended to work alongside the Parent Taming and conflict resolution courses offered by Hunter. For more information on these courses or to order a copy of this book, go to: the

What would the it cost to build the Tabernacle described in Exodus?

I have been reading through Exodus and as the Tabernacle is being described and built I found myself wondering what the cost of such a structure would be. Consider this my market evaluation. According to the Easton Bible Dictionary the metals used in the tabernacle were as follows

29 Talents 730 Shekels of Gold
100 Talents 1,775 Shekels of Silver
70 Talents 2,400 Shekels of Brass (which most scholars believe to be copper)

First of all, I had no idea what these measurements meant. I found a handy sight that did conversions of these measurements into modern usage. According to this site:

1 Talent = 75.40 pounds
1 Shekel = 0.025 pounds

I’m not a math wizard but this seems like some pretty basic stuff. That would be equivalent to the following:

2204.85 Pounds of Gold
7584.38 Pounds of Silver
5338.00 Pounds of Copper

This was starting to compute to me as a lot of precious metals. This was on top of all the other gold that they had wasted on the golden calf and such. Seeing as this was their offering they must have had plenty more. This helped me understand why the Egyptian army would pursue the Israelites after they had been released. Not only were they losing their free labor they were also out lost out on a lot of coin. I found a site that listed the current metal prices. It is 2011 and with the US in a bit of an economic slump the prices are down from what they used to be. As of January 4, 2011 here are the prices on the materials used in the Tabernacle

Gold $ 1382.96/oz
Silver $29.80/oz
Copper $0.28/oz

It would be a sacrifice for me to buy even an ounce of gold let alone the amounts that we are talking about here. A quick conversation from pounds to ounces:

35,276.73 Ounces of Gold X $1382.96 = $48,786,306.52
121,350.08 Ounces of Silver X $29.80 = $3,616,232.38
90,445.90 Ounces of Copper X $0.28 = $25,324.85

Total = $52,427,863.75

Now that was just for the metals. Now the next item of consideration is the number of textiles used in the construction of the tabernacle cover. The biblical account calls for four cover layers:

One layer of linen stitched with scarlet
One layer of goats-hair cloth
One layer of rams skin
One layer of sea cows skin (which I was informed was a badger although it sounds more like a seal to me)

There was enough to cover the structure of the Tabernacle itself which was about 45 feet long, 15 feet wide, and fifteen feet tall which makes the structure about 675 square feet. You would need at least double that amount in fabric to cover the building which would be 1350 Square feet. The price of linen varies a lot depending on the quality. I’m guessing it would have been pretty good stuff for the time and if this was being reconstructed I’m sure only the best materials would be used.

The top Italian linen sells for $55 per yard that is 60 inches wide. That works out to be approximately $3.67 square ft. So approximately $4954.50 in Linen.

I have no idea how to gauge how much goats hair cloth would be. For the sake of an argument let’s say…a quarter of the price of linen or $13.75 per yard or $0.92 per square foot, so $1242.

My next question would be how many rams and badgers would you need to get 1350 square feet of usable skin material to make this cover? I did find a site that says that humans have about 20 square feet of skin. Goats and badgers are about a third the size of humans right? That would bring that number to 6.6 square feet per animal. I’m not sure how much of that is usable, but we will say 5 for easy math. Therefore my guess is that one would need 270 goats and 270 badgers for the job of constructing the two layers. Let’s assume that a pure bread goat cost $300 each and a badger costs $500 each. (as a side note I found it is illegal to own a badger in England. Who knew? That would make the total cost of those two layers about $216,000 Maybe we could get a deal on bulk goats – I’m not sure how that would work. Anyway, we're looking at a grand total of $222,196.50 for materials alone.

Acacia wood must cost around the same as oak I imagine. The current price on the best stuff is $5.24 per board foot. Just accounting for the walls of the tabernacle and not the wood used in all the furniture and such – we would probably spend about $5000. Although this is already processed lumber - theirs would not have been. 

Lastly, there is the labor. From the designing, collections of materials, to dying, weaving, sewing, stitching, gold and silver smelting and craftsmanship, construction, and project organization you are talking about a massive workload. We don’t know how many people were involved in the work but It was constructed in 7 months. A conservative number on the labor costs would be 3 million.

So by my estimates if the tabernacle were constructed today it would cost in the neighborhood of:

$57 Million Dollars. That is $57,000,000.00

Should we even stop to consider the relative cost 3000-4000 years ago? What is the inflation rate over 4 millennia? Probably astronomical.

I’m not sure if anyone else will find this interesting or not, but I spent the past 3 hours typing this up – I have to share it with someone.

EDITING NOTE:  Several people have commented on the price of silver not being added correctly.  I have corrected the math in that section. Also - this post gets a lot of attention, but this site is not regularaly maintained or updated.  If you are interested in more of my process around biblical studies, I regularly post my reflections on my bible study at: