Group is an essential tool to keep on your bookshelf if you're a Christian youthworker. This magazine is geared towards program planning, and is full of the latest ideas in youth ministry. If you're looking for ideas on spiritual refreshment for yourself, check out Youthworker Journal instead, but for planning youth group, this magazine is the one you want. I love the pull out cards with real-life examples of activities. It has great tips and tricks from youthworker veterans if you're a newbie, and if you're a veteran yourself, the magazine has new ideas and the latest trends in ministry. This was one of my most-used resources as a youthworker, and I look forward to it's arrival every month.
Group comes with complete lesson plans on relevant topics...several in each issue. These lessons seem to need less re-working than those in many curriculum books, which is nice when you're short on planning time. Often, the magazine includes lessons based on current music (both Christian and secular), video games, and other topics that are significant to teens, helping them to distinguish what the message of the topic is, and what a Biblical view on it would be.
The magazine also features real-life experiences of youth groups and youth workers. It's nice to read about things that really work, and to learn about the experiences of other youth workers- their triumphs and trials.
The only downfall of Group Magazine is that it tends to focus on the larger, well-funded church, and to treat the small church as a mission opportunity. As a youthworker in a small church, this is often frustrating, since lessons are geared towards groups of 20 or more students, "small group" lessons are aimed for groups of 5-10 - our usual weekly attendance. This made it harder to make use of the games and some of the lessons. It would be the nice to see Group talk to the small church youth worker, since the majority of churches are in fact small, and their youth programs relatively poorly funded.
Overall, the magazine is an excellent resource. As a youthworker, it was often a last minute lifesaver for quick lesson and game ideas, as well as a place to learn from veteran youth workers. I highly recommend this magazine - a youthworker shouldn't be without it!