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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!


4 Things To Spice Up Your Fall Planning Meeting

Posted by Justin Knowles

So today our whole student ministry team is getting together to talk about the fall. Not the Genesis 3 fall, but the fall season for this up and coming school year. This is a time where we will come together and talk about sermon series, events, fun items, fall kick off, videos, etc. Basically we are putting things on the calendar so we can begin to think and plan towards this new school year and be ready to take it on while in the midst of a crazy, busy, fun summer. Here are some thoughts on keeping your fall planning spicy and fun:

Everything is off the table - One of the rules we have coming into this planning meeting is that everything is off the table. Meaning, anything and everything we have ever done is not an option to do this fall. Any series, any event, any video is not allowed. This for sure spices some things up a bit because sometimes we love to get in a habit. We love to be repetitive. Sometimes repetitiveness kills creativity. Now this does not mean we won't do something if we have done it before, I just want to make sure we just do just to do it and we have some fresh ideas come to the table because something might be better. 

Do a meal crawl- We are taking the whole day for planning. A whole day in one place can be draining. So we will spend our morning at a local, good (key word is good) coffee shop and have breakfast. We will go to lunch and continue planning at our favorite local pizza place (where some of our volunteers and students work) and then we will end the day at a very generous family's house where we will finalize the calendar with a big cannon ball in their ridiculous pool. We will be planning, thinking, praying through everything all day but we will be alive and well and keeping the blood and caffeine flowing. 

Give people enough time to think- If you are anything like me, I'm not my most creative when put on the spot. I think people think best when they have some time to sit, think and ponder on things. When they let it stew a bit. So send out an email with the agenda of the day and what you expect to come out of the meeting with at least a week before you actually meet. This way, everything is coming prepared for the meetings with ideas already. Will ideas come on the spot? Absolutely. But at least everyone is coming to the table with something.

Make it fun - Besides the different locations and different foods we will be involving in planning, we will also be rewarding the best idea. Our team will vote on the best idea of the day and the winner will get a gift card to Starbucks as a little gesture of fun and inspiration to move our planning for the fall forward. I don't know what you would want to add, I'm sure there is a lot of different things, but just making it fun will help ideas keep flowing and the team happy and engaged. 

Planning meetings don't have to be boring. Spice it up a little bit. Make it fun. Make it engaging. What do you do for your big planning meetings? How do you spice it up?



DYM Membership

VIDEO: Street Luge Announcements

Posted by Josh Griffin

We're trying to have a little fun with the announcements this summer - loved this idea we used last week. Silly fun! No summer interns were hurt ... very much ... in the making of this video!


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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.

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).

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