Download Youth Ministry Membership

When God Breaks Up Your Pity Party

Posted by Justin Knowles

So what I'm about to share with you is something I don't like to admit. I know we all go through it at times, if we admit it or not, but we know it happens and we know we at least think it. When I first started writing for DYM I told myself I wold be open, honest and transparent in hopes it could help another youth worker who might be going through the same thing. In all honesty, I don't write for anyone. I write because it helps me process out what's in my head and if it helps other people, awesome... I love it. 

But I had a pity party last night. You know what I'm talking about. It's the thoughts of, "Wow, I'm working my butt off and this is how many kids showed up?" Or, "God, I'm being faithful, trying to keep going and keep a positive attitude but this is what I get? How am I supposed to build something, build a program, build small groups, build a camp culture...". I was at an event and thoughts came rushing to my head and it wouldn't stop.

Ever had some of those thoughts? I'm sure you have. As we were in the middle of the event 3 points came to my mind, which I'm sure it was God speaking to me, challenging me, to get out of this mindset I was in. I thought I would share them with you:

The kids there are the ones who are supposed to be there: Yes, not as many students as I had planned showed up, but some students who I thought would never show up to anything (you know which ones I'm talking about, "those kids", the "why are you even here, you don't pay attention" kids) showed up. I got to have some amazing conversations with them and get to know a little of their back story. If more students showed up, I know it would be crazier and I would have not have gotten the time I did with them and we began to develop a deeper relationship (They are now on my dodge ball team for the tournament we are having Wednesday).

Be faithful with what I give you: I know we hear this a lot, but do you really believe it? I have been reading through Joshua and man, there is a ton of great leadership stuff in their. One of the things I wrote down that very morning of the event was, "Joshua was faithful in all the little things God told him to so it came to the major moves, he was ready." I felt like this was God saying to me, "Do you not listen to anything I am speaking to you?" I was convicted. We all want to build our students, program and effectiveness, it's natural. We want to see things grow and we need to continue to be faithful to our calling.

You build with what you have, not what you wish you had: This thought got me good. Just like anything, you only can build with what you physically have in front of you, not with things you wish you had. Same thing goes for student ministry. You build relationships with the students that show up, you build the program off the budget you have, the events with the resources provided etc. I always get into the mindset of, "If I had this, I would be set. Or if I had more students, then I can do this" and I love to dream and think how things could be, but we can't get into the trap of wishing how things could/should be and miss what is there now and build from it. Build with what you have, stay faithful, and every time in Scripture, God moves in ways we never would have expected. Same thing in our ministries. Build up from what you have and watch God move.




Your Blog Post Title Here...

Posted by Josh Griffin

MOVE 2015 CA1 Day 2pm Josh Griffin from MOVESermons on Vimeo.

I thought I would share a message I gave during CIY's MOVE Summer Event last month. It was a talk during their series on Daniel, focusing on fame and asking the question "who are you living for". Hope it is encouraging to you today, or inspires a similar talk of you own!


What is the perfect youth group order of service?

Posted by Josh Griffin

There is no perfect service order. But, I do believe that the perfect order does exist, but it is a case-by-case basis. Sure there are similarities in the order in which our ministry does things, but we like to see every program like it is its own monster. We first write out every element that we want to include in the service and then we put it together. Our average service contains these elements: a message, a funny video, an announcement video, an opening song, 1-minute meet and greet, worship songs, a game, and a welcome/announcements.

This is the order that we would most likely put it in:

  • Opening Song (cover of a popular song or song that relates to the message)
  • Funny Video (either one we made or one we ripped from YouTube)
  • Welcome/Announcements (2-3 announcements max/sometimes done through video)
  • Announcement Video
  • Game
  • 1-Minute Meet and Greet
  • 2 Worship Songs (usually these are fast and fun)
  • Message
  • 2 Worship Songs (slower and more reflective/Pray and dismiss)

That is our basic order or service. When putting our order together we always keep a few things in mind:

You always want to try to avoid any awkwardness during your services. Some of the most uncomfortable moments are when you are getting to the next element, like switching from band to announcements or announcements to game. We use program elements to serve as natural transitions. For example, we use the videos as time to switch people and sets on and off stage, same for the Meet and Greet. Bad transitions also happen when you make a sudden change in energy. Try to avoid going from a high energy moment right into a serious one. Ease it in.

Is it too long? Too short? Always plan out roughly how long your service will be. We are usually generous with our estimations because things usually take up more time than we originally thought. But stay somewhat true to your timetable. You never want your service to drag, so remind the people involved to keep it interesting but tight. 

Every innovative idea started with a risk. If we aren’t taking programming risks, then we we’ve settled. If you do the same order every time, your students will get bored and you will too. If you aren’t inspired by your program, they won’t be either.

Mix it up, have fun, keep it tight!

JG & Colton

Download Youth Ministry Webshow: Episode 273

Posted by Josh Griffin

Another episode of the Download Youth MInistry Podcast. Enjoy the show - and please be sure to visit and thank our sponsors Orange, Leadertreks, YM360 & Azusa Pacific University. Just enough youth ministry so you don't feel guilty for listening!

POLL: Best Social Media Platform for Student Ministry

Posted by Josh Griffin

We've been debating a little bit lately about social media and effectiveness - first off, Facebook is dying for teenagers and has quickly become the best place for parents. Who knew? Instagram has always been good and is getting even better, and Snapchat can certianly be fun, too. All of that to say - which of these social media outlets is working best for your students? Vote now!


Day 4: HSM Summer Camp 2015 Highlight Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

Final days at camp - it was SO awesome. Teaching this weekend then getting ready for week 2. Nuts!


Day 3: HSM Summer Camp 2015 Highlight Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

Day 3 at HSM Summer Camp - continues to be SO awesome!


Day 2: HSM Summer Camp 2015 Highlight Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

Day 2.5 ... HSM Summer Camp is going strong! 


7 strategies for working with helicopter parents

Posted by Jen Bradbury


Last week, we looked at 3 types of parents that you'll work with as a youth pastor. Starting today, we'll look at strategies for dealing with each type of parent. To begin, here are 7 strategies for working with helicopter parents, those parents who hover over their child, dangerously close, never letting them gain any age-appropriate independence.

  • Anticipate their questions. When planning an event, think like a helicopter parent. These are the parents who are prone to worry and as such, anticipating their questions and concerns will help you plan and execute your event well and reduce their worries.

  • Give them lots of information. Much of what drives helicopter parents is fear. To combat this fear, one of the best things you can do is preemptively disseminate information – especially information that addresses the questions and concerns you know they have. The more information helicopter parents have, the easier it will be for them to trust you with their teen.

  • Read information like a helicopter parent. Before you send an e-mail, text, or mailing, read through it through the lens of a helicopter parent. What red flags does the information raise? Taking time to address those red flags now will save you time and energy in the long haul.

  • Help them serve... In other ministries. Because of how involved they are in their teens lives, helicopter parents are typically some of the parents who are most invested in your church and ministry. However, their desire to hover over their own child typically makes it difficult for them to serve in youth ministry. So work with them to identify their gifts and find appropriate areas in your church to utilize them. If they must serve in youth ministry, find ways for them to do so behind the scenes, away from their own teen, who will likely clam up or act out if their parents are present. Additionally, always check with teens BEFORE inviting their parent to be involved in your ministry in any way. Doing so tells them that you have their back and that you care more about them than pleasing their parents.

  • Never run. As a hiker, I know that one of the most dangerous situations I could find myself in is getting caught between a mother bear and her cubs. A mother bear will do ANYTHING to defend and protect her cubs. So, too, will helicopter parents. This means that you'll likely have more interaction – and more confrontation - with helicopter parents than with other type of parents. Just as you'd never turn your back on a mother bear and run, you never want to run away from a helicopter parent. Instead, listen to them, even when they're criticizing you. Try to find a nugget of truth in what's being said. Ask good questions to try to find out what's at the heart of their concern. Then address that.

  • Affirm them. All parents appreciate hearing good things about their kids. This is especially true of helicopter parents. So when you notice their teen doing something good, take time to make a phone call, send a text, or write a note and tell their parents. Doing so will help them relax (ever so slightly!) and learn to trust their teen more and more.

  • Affirm parents to their teen. The relationship between a teen and their helicopter parent is especially complicated since teens are often resentful of their parents' hovering. As a result, teens who have this type of parent often see their parent negatively. Whenever possible, affirm parents to teens to help them see their parents in a more positive light.

As you work with helicopter parents, no matter how overbearing they may at times become, remember that they love their kids and want what's best for them. In fact, they love their kids far more than we ever will as their youth pastor. Because they do, it's important that we gain their support and have their back. Helicopter parents are not our enemies; They, like all parents, are our partners in ministry.

Image credit: DYM Membership

Day 1: HSM Summer Camp 2015 Highlight Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

We're up at HSM Summer Camp this week - a wee our students look forward to every year. It has been incredible to far! Here's the Day 1 1/2 highlight video - in the thick of it all this week. Yeah!


Subscribe to Email Updates

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.

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

Colton Harker

Colton Harker serves college-age students at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He loves Jesus, people, life change, and Netflix.

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

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).

Free Youth Ministry Ebook!
Download Youth Ministry Membership                

Follow DYM!