What Parents Don't Need From Your Ministry

Posted by Rachel Blom

If you didn't know it yet, Chris Wesley is a great youth ministry blogger. He blogs here on the DYM blog, as well as on his own Marathon Youth Ministry. On the latter, he wrote a solid post this week on what parents need from youth ministry: affirmation, other adults who care about their kids, and to be challenged in their own discipleship.

I agree completely with him, which is why I wanted to write a complementary post about what parents don't need from your ministry.


Parents don’t need guilt. My guess is, they experience plenty of that without you rubbing it in. Are you communicating about youth ministry related stuff in a way that encourages them, or in a way that makes them feel guilty?

Pay special attention to the tone of your messages – especially the written ones where you call upon parents to do something. My son is six and I get frustrated sometimes with the constant fundraising requests from his school. Every other week he comes home with something else we’re asked to do, collect, save, pay, sign up for, or whatever. Guilt. I don’t like it and neither do other parents.



Another thing parents don’t need from your ministry is extra stress. If serving parents is your goal, then truly serve them. Make their life easier and simpler. Serving does not mean asking their constant help or planning too many activities. Parents don’t like being forced to choose between for instance attending youth ministry, birthday parties, family nights/events, or sports for their kids.

I made this mistake with my small group once. We met every week on Sunday for dinner, even on nights when we didn’t have small group. Parents started to protest after a while and I didn’t get it. Didn’t they understand we just wanted to get to know their kids? Build a relationship with them? It wasn’t till later that I understood that Sunday night is often a family night (at least it is in the Netherlands where I did ministry back then).


One key focus of youth ministry should be to never undermine parents’ authority – unless there are serious issues going on (the most obvious being abuse and similar problems). We have to support parents in raising their kids and have to be careful not to go against their wishes, even when we don’t necessarily agree.

One practical way in which we did this, was a ‘rule’ that we had that we would not baptize students under 18 unless their parents agreed. If the parents did not agree to the baptism (for instance because they were not Christians themselves), we urged the student to obey their parents and wait till they were 18.

Another example that comes to mind was video games. We had a few parents who objected strongly against any kind of video games. Well, you have to respect that, even if you think it’s ludicrous. If you go against the parents’ wishes, you’re basically telling the student it’s okay to disobey parents and it’s not. You can sure try to talk to parents (although I’d even do that without the student knowing) but at the end of the day, it’s their decision.

Three things I think parents don’t need from your ministry. Do you have any to add?

[Image via Free Images, Benjamin Earwicker]

Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 266

Posted by Josh Griffin


Weekend Teaching Series: Shortcuts (series premiere, week 2 of 3)

Sermon in a Sentence: Cut out the sins in your life and live in a place of confession, authenticity and honesty.

Service Length: 78 minutes

This weekend Hannah Rich spoke to our students - she did a great job and really helped students understand sin, forgiveness and confession.  She told stories of her life and Scripture to show students a more difficult path, not a shortcut, to living a forgiven life in Christ. The most powerful part of the weekend was Clair, one of our student leaders, sharing her testimony this weekend in front of everyone. She talked about her struggle and secrecy with pornography, and everyone in the room was rapt with attention. Incredible brave honest moment in the service that pulled the message home for everyone.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we played Slothicopter, a fun new game that used magnets attached to a sloth headband. Contestants had to pick up items on the ground with their magnets and 

Music Playlist: Sing and Shout, Let It Be Known, Sinking Deep, Christ is Enough for Me

Favorite Moment: I'm so proud of Clair, it was an incredible story and so powerful for everyone!

Up next: Shortcuts (week 3 of 3)

Jesus & Small Groups

Posted by Justin Knowles

Jesus loved the huge crowds, he hung out in them, preached to them, did miracles in them. As a Christian we are to be Christ like. We are to mirror the image of Jesus and the ideas of how he did ministry. Jesus was a fan of small groups because with his small group of 12, it was the back bone of His ministry when he was not physically there anymore.

A majority of the time with his disciples. A group of 12 men. Even within the group, their was an inner group in which he would focus on. It’s just something that I noticed when reading. I’m not saying that every small group is like this but I look at mine, and I can see a very similar structure.

Jesus had a small group.

  1. The Crowd: Jesus preached to the crowd. Spent some time with them as a whole. This is our youth groups. What ever night you meet would be your crowd. You love them, hang out with them and know them by name. As the leader you need to spend time with them. Large group is important. Jesus would spend time on a midweek or weekend main service. We need to do the same and go all out to reach non-believers.
  2. The group: This is your group or your leaders small group of students that they spend their time with outside the crowd. This is the Bible study, the group of people they will “do life” with on a weekly basis. It’s not so general but its more specific on their lives and their lives with you in it. Jesus spent a majority of His ministry with his disciples. He knew them. He hung out with them. He had parties with them, laughed with them, ministered to them far beyond what we did with the crowd.
  3. The 3: Jesus had 3 men within the group he spent more time with than the others. Peter, James and John. These are the 3 he took with him on the mountain with Moses and would take to pray off to the side. This doesn’t mean that he loved them more or was playing favorites, he he invested more in these men because they later became huge pillars in starting the Church. We can do the same with our groups. There are students within the small group that come on a regular basis but miss here and there because of business or sports. But there are always a few that do not miss at all, who are there every single week, who ask you to hang out outside of group and you do. Those students you invest into because you simply get more time with them and you get to dig deeper into their lives.
  4. The One: John was the Beloved Disciple. He seemed to have this special relationship with Jesus that just clicked. He was the one that God revealed to him about Revelation and whom Jesus loved. There is that one student who you see that if you were to specifically and intentionally hang out with, they would be your one because you see the potential that they have in Christ. They tend to be your helper, the one who you might ask to help you out in ministry more outside of group. It’s the one that maybe take in your own footsteps.



Why'd you stay?

Posted by Jen Bradbury


I've been in ministry at my church for seven years.

One thing I love about having been in the same context for a while is that alumni from my ministry are starting to serve with me as adult leaders.

One of those leaders was a senior my first year at my church. That year was, in a word, ROUGH.

Recently, while hanging out around a campfire, my teens asked this young leader about what our youth ministry was like when she was in it.

She shared how she'd had a different youth pastor each of her four years of high school and talked honestly about how those constant transitions impacted her class and contributed to the difficulties we faced that first year.

After hearing about how hard that year was, several teens asked for my perspective. One said, “That sounds awful. So why'd you stay?”

Initially, I was intrigued to hear such a question from a teen. But then it occurred to me how much of this teen's life is fleeting. In so many ways, this teen is far more accustomed to people leaving than staying.

So I told him about how I believe the best ministry is long-term.

I told him how despite the struggles of that year, I cared deeply about those involved in our youth ministry.

And I told him about how I stayed because I felt supported by my colleagues and in particular, the pastors of our congregation. I then recounted how, in the midst of one of the roughest weeks of that year, our senior pastor called my husband to check in with him and see how he was doing. Because of that simple act, we felt deeply cared for and supported.

What's more, by that point, I'd worked at enough churches to know that no church was perfect. We knew that if I left my position, we'd simply be exchanging one set of difficulties for another.

What we didn't know is whether or not we'd find the kind of love and support we had in the midst of our current difficulties. That love and support was worth a lot to us. Truth be told, it's a big part of why I'm still at my congregation today.

And that's something I want my teens to know because one day, a church will frustrate them. 

And when that happens, they'll be temped to leave. 

As they consider whether to stay or go, I hope they'll remember a conversation from around a campfire in which their youth pastor talked about why she chose to stay at her church – despite the difficulties – and about how glad she was that she did.

Maybe that'll give them the courage to do the same rather than to set out in search of something they'll never find: A perfect church.

Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 265

Posted by Josh Griffin


Weekend Teaching Series: Shortcuts (series premiere, week 1 of 3)

Sermon in a Sentence: There are no shortcuts to our salvation in Jesus Christ.

Service Length: 77 minutes

This weekend our new HSM team member Leo Galarza spoke for the first time in HSM. He did a great job of teaching the simple plan of salvation and showed students the road to Jesus. It was a classic message and included lots of introduction to both the series and to him as a new leader in our ministry. So thankful to have him on the team!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had a fun going away game for Colton Harker, he took a position on the College Ministry team at the church and played his last game - Anything Can Happen 2! It is a hilarious game where ... you guessed it - anything can happen! It was absolutely hilarious, there was a mini-game called Kardashian Family Tree, T-Swift Karaoke and of course it all ended with the Blender of Doom. So fun, and a great sendoff to a great guy.

Music Playlist: He is Alive, You Are, Learn to Love, We Could Change the World

Up next: Shortcuts (week 2 of 3)

Stick To The Vision

Posted by Justin Knowles

Creating vision is easier than sticking to it, at least for me it is. When I first got here we met with all of our leaders at my house for a BBQ to get to know everyone, create community among leaders and to cast a strategic vision/plan for our ministry. I’m a simple man so our plan is simple but the task is hard. Here is a general overview of what I shared with our team:
  • Year 1: Year of Evangelism - Focus on making midweek services awesome. Work on providing a great atmosphere for students to be exposed to Jesus.
  • Year 2: Year of Discipleship - Focus on creating a healthy small group program. Focus on getting adults and students together in studying the Bible in homes.
  • Year 3: Year of Serving - Focus on integrating the heart of service within our students through small groups. Serving at different serve project and within the church.
There are obviously more specific details for each of these but so you understand the point, there they are. When it comes to setting vision, there are a few things that come to mind I think as leaders we need to keep in mind:

Have a Vision - If you do not have a vision or plan for the future of your ministry, I would get one. Knowing where you want to go is knowing what to pray for. I want to be constantly be pushing to where I believe God is leading our ministry and setting vision allows you to know if you get there.

Stick To Your Vision - If you been in prayer over the direction of your ministry and it lines with the values of your church, stick to it. Don’t apologize for it. People will always question the leaders decisions but if you have been going about it in a Godly way, they will never question your intentions behind the decisions. Stick to it. 

When You Get Off Track - Get back on it. Right now I am in need to fully stick to our plan of year one. I know the need of discipleship and that is where my heart is and it is my tendency to jump to that. I have been doing this recently and I have been getting over worked. There are things that need to happen in our ministry before we tackle discipleship head on, and I need to stick with my vision because I know the infrastructure we have now won’t be able to hold. This is what year 1 is about. Now is there discipleship happening? Of course. We have small groups now just not in a solid structure in which I hope to bring next year. The important thing is to realize when you get off track and stay the course. Be in prayer, keep your team accountable and keep fighting the good fight reaching students.

DYM Author Spotlight: Aaron Helman

Posted by Josh Griffin


What's your full name? Aaron Michael Helman

Where did you grow up? South Bend, Indiana

Tell us about your church: name, location, website. I'm at Clay Church in South Bend, Indiana; a multi-site congregation that's enormously committed to youth ministry.

What’s a nickname you’ve been given…but you hate. Why? Sometimes people call me the A-Train.

What’s your favorite TV show from the 80’s? (If you are too young to remember the 80’s, pick A.L.F.) I loved Perfect Strangers.

Computer or TV? Neither

How old were you when you first felt called to ministry? 20

Would you rather kick a puppy or make a baby cry? I make babies cry all the time, so I'm used to it. No, you can't have a donut. You're eight months old.

What’s a recent EPIC youth ministry mistake? Thought I fired a volunteer; apparently didn't make it clear enough to the volunteer.

Have you ever left a kid on an event/camp/retreat/missions trip/etc.? Have you ever wanted to? One time on a bicycle trip, we loaded everyone up to head to the Y for showers and it was halfway through the shower that we realized someone was missing.

What do you enjoy doing outside of youth ministry? I ride bicycles.

Are you a good dancer? Depends who you ask. (If you ask me, yes. If you ask anyone else, no.)

What color shoes are you wearing? Black, white, pink.

What’s the worst injury that’s happened on one of your event/camp/retreat/missions trip/etc.? Broken arm at JrHi Camp. Kid tried to surf the slip-n-slide standing up. He wasn't standing long.

What’s your position on infant baptism? Just kidding, nobody cares. Oh okay.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you hate ALL NIGHTERS? (1 = stab me in the eye and 10 = stab me in the eye with a spoon) I hate them as much as anyone could hate a thing.

How good are you at keeping receipts? Does your church administrator love or hate you? I've never lost a receipt in ten years. Seriously. Seriously.

What would you do if you could be invisible for one day? This is exactly how I felt every single day of middle school.

Mac or PC? Macs, but my church won't let me have one!

If you had a pet sloth, what would you name him/her? Slothra.

What is one of your irrational fears? Needles

What is your favorite lunch meat? Expensive salami.

You can check out all of Aaron's great resoures, including the memorable and best-selling Taylor Swift or Lamentations, right here!

5 Things I Look for in a Student Ministry Intern

Posted by Josh Griffin

We’ve turned down more potential interns over the years than we’ve let into our church’s internship. So I guess I’m picky … and thought I might share some insight into what I’m looking for that might also help you as you look for staff, team members or interns yourself. Oh, and if you’re interested in becoming an intern with HSM at Saddleback, I’ve got one spot open right now! Email me! 


Someone with a Big Heart for God
This is where it begins and ends every time – I’m looking for evidence that the potential intern spends time and talks with God. The pace of ministry is fast and the expectations are high, so a dependence on God is crucial for any kind of success.

Someone with a “Follow the Leader” Attitude
While there is plenty of room for leadership on the team, I’m looking for someone who will trust my decisions and trust that I’m being led by God’s Spirit as I lead them.

Someone with a Strong Work Ethic
The team carries many responsibilities, so multi-tasking and managing multiple top priorities are common. I have to see evidence of someone who can get stuff done, all while juggling the many hats of youth ministry.

Someone who is Willing to Learn
An intern doesn’t have to know everything … in fact, that’s dangerous because a) you don’t know everything, and b) what would be the point of an internship since you already know everything? Being willing to learn is a key factor in deciding if you’ll join us.

Someone who will Fit With the Team
The sometimes barely tangible “fit” matters a ton to me – this is the “it” factor of someone who is likable, easy to be around and their maintenance level. All interns require a more active leader and management, so the key is to gauge how much you have in you and how much will be required.

What do you look for in a potential intern?


IMPACT SPOTLIGHT: Grocery Giveaway Highlight Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

One of the keys to building momentum in an area is visibility and celebration. Here's a litle of both in this week's Impact spotlight serving video featuring our Grocery Giveaway event from last week.


POLL: How often do you teach youth group?

Posted by Josh Griffin

This week's poll question was inspired by my teaching calendar this fall - I taught all of September and some in October - but am taking November off. How about you? Letting others speak in your youth ministry this season? Vote today telling us about how often you teach youth group. Vote now!


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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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