Selma Movie

Restored You Own the Weekend Bumper Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

Restored- Capo Owns the Weekend from Mikaela Mulhall on Vimeo.

This is one of the sharpest videos we've ever had students make for You Own the Weekend - it is SO great! They also reused the R-E-S-T-O-R-E-D letters as part of their stage decoration as well. They did SUCH a great job. Proud of this one. Wow!


Who Are The Youth In Your Neighborhood?

Posted by Leneita Fix




They were on the edge of their seats. Students at the youth camp I spoke at this past weekend came ready to have fun, but more so to grow in Christ. From my first moment as their central speaker they were engaged, active and wanting to learn. They soaked up all I said, and while I would love to say it was because of my mad skills, I really think it was more that they came looking for more.

 As I got to know them I was struck with how easy it is to judge a book by its cover. Most of these students came from small towns, suburban college towns and some would even say their home was “rural.” When I asked the question, “How many of you have grown up going to church?” most hands went into the air. All except a very small handful regularly attend a churched function now, after all this was a denominational event. There wasn’t a lot of multi-ethnicity in the group at all, and by “not a lot” I mean there was one bi-racial student. My point is that it would be easy to look at the sea of eagerness and make lots of assumptions.

Interacting with students at meals and free time I got to hear their stories. There was the girl who has all of the material items anyone could ask for, while she feels cast aside by her parents. Mom and Dad are divorced, and she never sees Dad at all. Mom just broke up with a boyfriend of 6 years and now is trying to “find herself.” There was the boy being raised by his grandparents because both of his parents are in jail. The young woman who was adopted by a family member at four because her birth Mom was a prostitute and dad was gone. The young man who lived across the street from drug dealers with his Mom’s third husband who was, “better than the other two guys.” They were so matter of fact about sharing details about their lives. Yet, below the surface I witnessed an ache that circumstances could be different.

One of the youth leaders shared that many of her students have parents in jail. While they live in a small town, it also happens to be a major stopping point on the drug route to Detroit. We live in an ever changing world where the other side of the tracks is now on our side of town. Churches are struggling as the community they once knew is a mix of churched, and unchurched with all of us on the messy side. I live in an inner city neighborhood so it often comes under scrutiny for it’s issues that make the news. Too many youth workers say to me, “Well you understand why your students are this way, but you don’t understand MY situation.” I wish this was true, but I also spend time working with students at a local Christian school. More of them come from what you call, “Good homes,” and yet they have the same issues as anyone in my hood. I think to navigate the current sea of students we have to do two things:

Stop Thinking No One Else Understands

When you say to me, “ No one else gets it,” I understand your heart. You are really saying, “I am overwhelmed and isolated and I am not really sure what to do to help these kids.” In the youth min world we promote a picture that the “successful” are multi-site churches with families that are sort of with it. These are the ones that appear to only cater to kids from the with it families. This is simply not true. In my back yard I have one of those churches that makes the top 10 biggest lists annually. I have sat and chatted with various staff members. Their community has moved to include more depressed areas and they are trying out the church. I was recently asked, “How do we address parents that are cohabiting but not married?” The same problems are creeping in everywhere. We get caught up in the picture of the circumstances. Sin is sin no matter how you package it, and it is insideous. When we get stuck in “no one understands” the trouble is just that we get stuck. Let’s start asking others to go beyond the surface to the deeper heart. Perhaps the book has a different cover, but the words are the same.

Stop Pretending “This Isn’t Happening Here”

The issue isn't that communities aren’t dealing with the same junk. The issue is that we want to think it’s an anomaly. Your students may come from homes full of all the stuff they could ever want. It doesn’t make it a healthy home. They may come from homes where they are being raised by their grandparents, it doesn’t mean they aren’t pursuing Christ. We need to constantly assess the community that is part of our church. It will change. Ten years ago one neighborhood I served in was primarily African American, today everything has changed. The names on the shops and the restaurants make it obvious it is a community of Mexican immigrants. Maybe it isn’t that drastic. It could just be that a developer put “affordable housing” across the street. It could be that it became that stop on the drug route. It could be it's not in your church but in the houses in your backyard.

There are so many reasons why, but to do effective ministry we need to start being honest about our areas, churches, and people in our community. I think the question we really must ask is, “Do we want to see a generation transformed in Christ?” If we do, then we will do whatever it takes to help them see His face. This starts with understanding more of us are alike than we realize. Let’s stop saying, “That doesn’t happen here,” and start seeing the ways we connect. The more we can pull together, the more we can act like a body, the more we will be in awe of the way God shows up. Let’s remember that no matter how bleak or strange our student’s lives look, Jesus is no respecter of circumstances. He only wants to restore the ultimate broken relationship and He’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen.

What are you doing to embrace your own community?

Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 272

Posted by Josh Griffin


Weekend Teaching Series: Summer Camp Weekend (1-off)

Sermon Synopsis: This weekend we shared videos, testimonies, music and games from summer camp past, present and future. It was a great weekend that allowed students to share their experience of life change and also marks the kickoff for summer camp registration this year. It was a powerful message, students shared on stage their confessions, moments of life change, baptism stories and found community in front of their peers. It was so, so great! Made me want to go back to camp right now!

Service Length: 74 minutes

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we went overboard with extra music, including new camp songs, fun camp games like Egg Roulette (see the pic above of one of our leaders with egg all over her - such a good sport!) and Jiggapuff, as well as made some summer camp videos that were a hit as well. The HSM Summer Camp through the Decades was the biggest hit of the weekend for sure.

Music Playlist: The Way, He is Alive, Savior of the World, Fortress, Made Alive

Favorite Moment: I am a sucker for student stories. I LOVE when students share, and that was the whole point of this weekend. So powerful, so awesome. Yeah!

Up next: Workshop Weekend (1-off)

There Is Hope Mental Health Youth Group Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

This video was from the Anchored series we did back in January. It was the sermon bumper we wrote and had made especially for this weekend. There is hope! Feel free to rip/download and use it for free if it would be helpful for your church or youth group!


Student Leadership Team Basics: 6 things to look for in student leaders

Posted by Jen Bradbury



During my first year in youth ministry, the thing I looked for most in student leaders was spiritual maturity.

Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding teens who you could call spiritually mature.

This makes sense when you realize high school teens are still developing in every way – including by growing in their faith.

Having realized that, I no longer think spiritual maturity is the most important thing to look for in student leaders. Instead, I now look for these 6 things:

A growing relationship with Jesus. Rather than look for teens who are spiritually mature, I want student leaders who are actively growing in their relationship with Jesus. This is, in part, because of where teens are developmentally. It's also because teens consistently tell me that being on our leadership team is the thing that had the most impact on their faith during high school. As a result, a teen's desire to grow in their faith is now far more important to me than how “spiritually mature” they are when they apply.

Teachability. When it comes to student leadership, the worst mistake I ever made was putting a teen on our team who had his own agenda. This was a kid who knew what youth group was supposed to be. Unfortunately, his definition differed drastically from mine. So we spent the year battling each other. This experience taught me that student leaders have to be teachable. They have to come in with an open mind, willing to learn all they can about their faith, leadership, and youth ministry. To this end, I've often found that the best student leaders are the ones who come in a little unsure of themselves, more confident in their willingness to learn than in their ability to lead. Such teens are moldable, eager to learn, and willing to accept feedback that helps them become better leaders.

Commitment. Since you can't influence people you don't know, student leaders have to be committed to your youth ministry. For this reason, when choosing student leaders, I look for teens who are active in our ministry and beyond that, who engage in our ministry whenever they're present. Additionally, since youth ministry is but one part of a larger church, I also look for teens who are involved not just in the youth ministry, but in the church as a whole.

A servant's-heart. Since Jesus modeled servant-leadership, when choosing student leaders, I look for teens with a servant-heart. Servant-hearted teens are often those who shy away from the spotlight but who can be found after an event, rearranging chairs or picking up trash. Teens with a servant-heart also tend to get excited about service projects. They're aware of the marginalized in any setting and eager to talk with those who others often ignore.

The willingness to take risks. Failure produces growth. For this reason, when choosing student leaders, I look for teens who are willing to take risks. To be clear, I don't want student leaders to be reckless. I do, however, want student leaders to regularly step out of their comfort zone because when they do, they'll be forced to depend on God in news ways. I also want student leaders who aren't content with doing things the way we've always done them. This requires a willingness to experiment, even if we – or they – fail.

A positive attitude. Student leaders set the tone for your ministry. For this reason, I look for teens who are positive to serve as student leaders. I want to know that even when plans go awry, my student leaders will be flexible; That they'll willing go with the flow and in the process, find God in unexpected places and ways.

What qualities or characteristics do you look for in student leaders?

Other posts in this series:

Student Leadership Team Basics: Why?

Student Leadership Team Basics: How to Choose Student Leaders

Image Credit: http://www.thelivingleader.com/wp-content/uploads/leadership.jpg



Are You An Isolated Leader?

Posted by Justin Knowles

I love being a leader. I really do. I get to hang out with, talk ministry with and do ministry with some pretty great people. But as we grow as leaders some have the tendency to become what I call:

Isolated Leaders.

What do I mean by that?

Many leaders are the ones who lead because they have authority and they pigeonhole themselves because they are the one who makes all of the decisions and all of their ideas are the ones being used. This is why I love this quote from Simon Sinek that says, “There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us.”

Good leaders are developing a culture of people who are constantly being inspired to come up with great ideas and ways for your ministry to be moved forward, using the gifts God has given them to propel spiritual growth in volunteers and students. As leaders, we should be reproducing leaders who can replace us without the fear of being replaced. If you’re scared to train your replacement because they will replace you so you hold onto all the power, then you’re mindset needs changing. The best leaders duplicate themselves because they know they will be more effective in ministry. Great leaders give away power and help others be leaders themselves.

Life always produces more life. Real leadership produces more leadership. Don’t fall into the lie that you need to make yourself indispensable but instead focus on making yourself be repeatable and give yourself, your leadership, your ministry away to your team, your volunteers and your students and watch what God through them. It will be more than what He can do just with you.

You Own the Weekend Youth Group Series Kickoff Learnings

Posted by Josh Griffin


We're in our 7th year of the amazing students-do-everything youth group teaching series You Own the Weekend. It was a huge success! My friend Jessica was the adult mentor for students this past week and wrote up some of her learnings for the other adult mentors for the rest of the 7 weeks in the series. I thought they were helpful points for anyone empowerng students in ministry, especially if you are considering doing a You Own the Weeend of your own. Check out the resource right here to help guide you through it!

Trabuco Owns the Weekend was a great experience and we had such a wonderful time coaching the students who we a part of it! We also learned a few things through this specific year and group of students that we’d like to share with you…
#1 Communicate expectations often and clearly.
When you think you’ve been clear about expectations, deadlines and requirements, say them one more time – you can never over communicate with students because they have a lot on their plates and forget things you’ve told them.
#2 Invest most of your coaching time on the sermon prep.
We spent countless hours re-reading/editing sermon drafts and meeting (face to face) with our speakers as they developed their message. It was a lot of work but we really think it payed off because the Gospel was clearly communicated and the students walked if feeling extremely confident! *this doesn’t mean you don’t invest in other areas, but truly, the sermon is the area students are least experienced in and it’s the key element of the weekend for visitors coming to faith in Christ.
#3 Work really hard on your actual weekend so that it’s effortless for everone else.
You have to be the one to be on top of things on your actual YOTW weekend. Of course, you are only one person, which means you will need help (someone helped us teach a student where the kitchen was so they could make lemonade, someone picked food up for us during Comedy Sportz, etc) - but ultimately you should be aware of everything and oversee the program elements. Lean into the team in small ways but don’t assume anyone else is taking care of things that are you responsibility – if you need help, ask, but the help should be minimal because you are aware and well prepared for your weekend!
#4 Be your students’ #1 fan!
Cheer them on, celebrate them every step of the way and help them constantly. Be positive on their weekend, even when things don’t work out the way they hoped they would, remind them (and yourself) to: HAVE FUN!

This is my favorite ... and our very best series of the year!


Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 271

Posted by Josh Griffin


Weekend Teaching Series: Anchored: because the struggle is real (1-off)

Sermon Synopsis: This weekend was a special one that we had been planning for months. Because of the leadership of our senior pastor's wife, Kay Warren, we took on the topic of mental health and included things like suicide, depression, anxiety and more. I shared the teaching time with our college pastor Mike Brook, who shared his story as part of the lesson. It was a great weekend, students responded in droves and many found some first steps for hope and help in the darkness of their hearts and minds. We specifically pushed students to our program (Celebrate Recovery for Students) called The Landing and to some new Anchored support groups we kicked off last week.

Service Length: 88 minutes

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This was one of the most powerful weekends we've had in a long time. We did very little programming, but had great music, lots of students serving, and some solid videos. We also introduced the Prayer Cove, a spot in the back of the youth room for students to come on any weekend and get prayer about anything in their life. It had some good traffic and I was proud of students responding to the message.

Music Playlist: Go, Flaws (Bastille cover), You Are, Grace, You Hold Me

Favorite Moment: I was particularly proud of one of our students, Sarah, who shared her story via video. It was a powerful message about depression, eating disorders, and more. She was so brave! Students were glued to the story and it was helpful to make people aware that church is a safe place to let people see the real you.

Up next: Summer Camp Kickoff Weekend (1-off)

POLL: Working Out and Youth Ministry

Posted by Josh Griffin

No guilt or shame in this one - just looking to get an idea of how active we are in youth ministry. If you know me ... I go in spurts or working out, right now I'm on a pretty good one dropping some pounds and adding some muscle. Ask me in a year ... well, we'll see. How about you? Fairly active these days? Vote now


Restart of the DYM Book Club: Let’s start reading again!

Posted by Rachel Blom

I know, I know. It’s been waaaay too long since we did anything with the DYM Book Club. Completely my fault. I’m simply trying to juggle too many balls and as a result, I dropped this one. Luckily it’s not one that impacts anyone’s eternal destiny…I hope.

Anyway, the goal of the DYM Book Club was to read books together and discuss these, either in the comments here or in our Facebook group (which has been equally dead by the way). So let’s read some great books this month!

Here’s this month’s selection, handpicked by me because I wanted to start again soon. If you have suggestions for next month’s list, let me know!

As always, we pick four books from four different categories and you can read as many as you want…even all of them!

Young adult fiction: The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is one of the most popular young adult books from last year (and the year before I think) that has also been made into a movie. Haven’t watched it, haven’t read it yet :)

Simplify isn't technically a leadership book, but my educated guess is that the senior pastor of Willow Creek has a lot to teach us that we can apply to our leadership as well. 

Shaped by the Story has been on my book shelf for a while. Michael Novelli did an amazing workshop on this topic at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in 2013 and it inspired me to do more with Bible storying. Still, I never quite got around to reading this book, so this month it will happen!

Let me know your thoughts on these books!


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Josh Griffin


Josh is the High School Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co- founder of DYM and is the father of 4 who speaks a little, writes a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot.


Doug Fields

doug_fieldsDoug Fields is a 30+ year youth ministry veteran who is the Author of 50+ books, Founder of Simply Youth Ministry, Speaker, Pastor, Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth & Family at Azusa Pacific University, and a Partner in DYM.

Rachel Blom


Rachel Blom is from The Netherlands originally and has youth ministry experience in several countries, both as a volunteer and on staff.

Matt McGill


Blogging with eternal wisdom. Matt McGill is the visionary behind Download Youth Ministry. He convinced his 2 friends Josh and Doug to partner with him and create this whole place.

Justin Knowles


Justin Knowles is the Lead Next Gen. Pastor of Christ's Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. He oversees Jr. High, High School and College ministries at the church.

Colton Harker


Blogging about his First 2 Years in Youth Ministry. Colton is just starting out in youth ministry and blogs about what he is learning along the way.

Christopher Wesley


Blogging serving at a Catholic Church. Chris Wesley has been in youth ministry for over 9 years as the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Maryland.

Jen Bradbury

Jen-BradburyJen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus and her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. She also blogs regularly at www.YMJen.com

Neely McQueen

Jen-BradburyBlogging about girls' ministry. Neely McQueen has been working with students for over 15 years. She works in Student Ministries at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA.

Laneita Fix

Jen-BradburyAuthor, Speaker, Director Ministry Development for Asian Youth Ministries. Love 22 years of working with youth and equipping others in the trenches in youth ministry.

Geoff Stewart

Jen-BradburyGeoff Stewart serves the Jr/Sr High School Pastor at Peace Portal Alliance Church in Surrey B.C. and doesn't appreciate the jokes about being Canadian (unless they are funny of course).

Kara Powell

Jen-BradburyDr. Kara E. Powell is executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. A 20- year youth ministry veteran, she speaks regularly at youth ministry conferences and is author or co-author of a number of books and volunteers in student ministry at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, CA.

Walt Mueller

Jen-BradburyBlogging about youth culture and current events. Dr. Walt Mueller is the founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, a non-profit organization serving schools, churches, and community organizations across the U.S, Canada, and worldwide in their efforts to strengthen families.

Duffy Robbins

Jen-BradburyDuffy travels the world speaking to teenagers and people who care about teenagers. Both in the classroom and in camps, conferences and seminars, he's well known for his insights, inspiration and humor.

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