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GUEST POST: Teenagers Are Searching for Acceptance

Posted by Josh Griffin

Being a teenager is hard.  I mean, it can be really, really hard.  In the rush of all the physiological, emotional, and social changes going on around them, it is a daunting task to attempt to fit in with a certain group.  Sometimes its just easier to hang out with people who won't judge you in any way.  

This is one reason for they party scene is always so popular:  instant acceptance.

Most of the time, human beings gravitate toward a social circle that has the path of least resistance, and most of the time, this approach has devastating consequences:  instead of choosing a circle of friends based on the content of their character, the decision is made on shared interests, who is cool, or who has the most "fun".  

Furthermore, with the rise of social media and less physical human interaction than a decade ago, it can be easier for a teenager to engage with their phone than with another human being.  

I remember a few years ago a young man visited our youth group for the first time, and upon seeing that he knew no one in the room, immediately looked at his phone and made a bee-line for the bathroom, all in the span of the first 10 seconds of him entering the church, before we even had a chance to welcome him.

How do we make teenagers feel completely at ease and welcome?  For one, our greeting has to be immediate, prayerful, warm, authentic, and led by teenagers AND adults.  (a side note:  the "Door Holders" at Passion City Church in Atlanta are the best I have ever seen at this). 

Secondly, our welcome has to be more than words.  A pastor may say "welcome" from the front of the congregation, but if the whole church doesn't back it up, those words mean very little.  Its one thing to say you're welcoming, its quite another to actually do it. 

Its much like a greenhouse:  you cannot "make" things grow, but you can create an environment where growth occurs and is fostered.  We cannot make anyone choose Christ, but we can be faithful in our preparation, our presentation, our welcome and trust God for the results. 

As Henri Nouwen said, “Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines."

Perhaps a ministry goal for us all is this: to be progressive in who we welcome (meaning: EVERYONE), and yet traditional in what we teach.  

Ministries that are traditional in who they welcome (i.e. selective) and traditional in what they teach miss the heart of Jesus: too much truth and not enough grace.  Likewise, churches that are progressive in who they welcome and progressive in what the teach also miss the heart of Jesus:  too much grace and not enough truth.

I've noticed that the most effective and Christ-centered ministries in the world are progressive in who they welcome and unswervingly traditional/biblical in what they teach.  They realize that this is how God loves us, and they respond in kind.

This balance of grace and truth is not an impossible balance to strike.  With the Spirit's help and guidance, may we all offer this Christ-like welcome in our ministries. 

Clark Chilton is a student ministries youth worker in Clemmons, NC.

Don't Let Business Let You Forget The Little Things

Posted by Justin Knowles

I’m coming up on 6 months in my new position as the Lead Next-Gen Pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas. It has been a pretty incredible journey. I left a great place at Saddleback (click HERE to read that story, it’s a good one) and entered into the unknown journey of leading my own team of people, two hefty ministries, and a whole lot of students. God is good; let’s just say that.

In the hustle and bustle of ministry, trying to cast new vision, getting to know the new volunteers and students, and sitting on our senior leadership team of the church, it can be overwhelming. It also can get to your head (thankful for my wife to bring me down to earth). It has been quite a journey and at times I have loved it but other times I have had the thoughts of, “Am I even cut out for this?” I’ sure we have hit the highs and lows of ministry. We also know ministry can be very draining and complex but it seems the easiest things are the things people most care about and remember about your leadership.

This is a list in which I think when we lead we need to remember that it really is the little things that make a huge difference. It’s something I need to remind myself:

  • Your quiet time is the most important part of your ministry. You will not exceed your potential if you don’t pour out everything you have to the Lord in devotion.
  • Prayer can’t be overlooked. You might be busy, you might have a lot on your meeting agenda, but do not start one meeting with your staff/volunteers without prayer. It makes a difference.
  • Remember names. Remembers names of students who come for the first time is almost a sure fire way they will feel known and loved and most likely will come back.
  • Your one-on-one time with your volunteers will go far beyond you think. For them to get to know you and you them will give them what they need to keep serving in your ministry.
  • Take your job seriously but don’t take yourself so seriously. We have a job to do yes, but don’t be “that guy”. Have fun. Fun breaks down walls with your staff, volunteers and students.
  • Be on time. Valuing the time of whomever you are going to into a meeting with is huge. It will give you good clout with your staff and your teams.
  • Don’t let the programming side of you get in the way of the pastoral side of you. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to minister to a student because you need to turn down the music or something.
  • Any time with your senior pastor is valuable.
  • Clear communication will save you a lot of pain and having to backpedal when moving forward.
  • Junior highers should not be thrown (as much as you want to do so sometimes).
  • Making your team and volunteers feel like they have a voice is powerful.

There are probably more but all of these things are simple things I tend to overlook sometimes when leading but they are powerful. What else would you add to this list?

NFL Bad Lip Reading 2015 Super Bowl Edition

Posted by Josh Griffin

Step 1: Watch this amazing video above - NFL Bad Lip Reading 2015 Edition
Step 2: Buy The Big Game Event kit from DYM

Have the best youth group party ever!


Church-Approved Dance Moves Countdown Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

This fun video is just to great not to share. Hahahahah!


Why Accurate Communication is Important

Posted by Jen Bradbury


I like to think that I'm pretty good at communicating with the parents of teens in my youth ministry. I send out a weekly e-mail filled with details about upcoming events. I make sure to include announcements in our Sunday bulletin. I post updates on both Facebook and Twitter. I even write regularly for our congregation's monthly newsletter.

Yet, in the last week, I've been reminded twice that I'm not always as good at this as I like to think I am.

Here's what I mean. In last week's e-mail to parents, I mentioned that we'd begin preparing for Youth Sunday at our next weekly gathering. I promptly got a message back from a freshman parent saying, “What's Youth Sunday?”

I was stunned by this. Youth Sunday - the Sunday each year when our high school teens lead every aspect of worship - is a tradition that began LONG before I arrived in my congregation seven years ago. As a result, I honestly assumed everyone knows what Youth Sunday is. So I didn't bother communicating any basic information about it.

Clearly, I was wrong.

In that same e-mail, I also included a packing list for our high school ministry's winter retreat. I promptly got a response back from the parent of a senior saying, “You usually stop for dinner on the way to the retreat and lunch on the way home but I don't see meal money listed. Do kids not need money this year?”

Oops. In my haste to get the information out, I failed to include this vital piece of information.

I quickly corrected both things. I sent out a packing list addendum and changed my weekly e-mail to include a brief explanation of Youth Sunday.

Because of how simple these things are to fix, it can be tempting to brush communication faux pas off as “no big deal”.

The problem is that communication failures actually are a big deal.

When communicating information about our youth ministries to parents, accuracy matters.


Because it builds trust.

While occasional mistakes and omissions happen, we have to intentionally take steps to make sure such things don't become our ministry's norm. After all, if parents can't trust the accuracy of our information, how can they trust us with the safety of their teens?

Over communicating details is also important because as anyone who works with children or teens knows, no one hears (or retains) everything the first time.

What's more, never assume everyone knows something. When you make that assumption, you inevitably create insiders – those who actually know what you're talking about – and outsiders who are clueless. Taking the time to communicate information – even information you think everyone probably knows – creates a welcoming environment for parents and teens alike.

Take it from me. Accurate communication with parents is important – not just for the information you're giving but for the values you're communicating.  

Read the Full Article: 5 Things To Know Starting in Youth Ministry

POLL: Which Youth Group Presentation Software Do You Use?

Posted by Josh Griffin

We use Propresenter in our youth room these days - but most of the youth workers I speak with on the subject use PowerPoint. Steady and true (and better than ever) PowerPoint seems to still be the go to presentation software. Still true for you? Anyone make the jump to Keynote or Prezi? Vote in this week's youth ministry poll!



Youth Group Talent Show Audition Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

We did a silly audition video to encourage students to participate in an upcoming talent show our youth group is hosting. I'm not sure if this video helped or drove people away - ha!



Rick Warren on Church Size & Influence

Posted by Josh Griffin

I liked this simple clip of our pastor talking about church size, influence and platform of church leaders. Such good stuff from Pastor Rick! 


Download the 7-Week Series: Focused

Share the Love for DYM with Party Llama Banners and More!

Posted by Josh Griffin


We're SO thankful when we hear about youth workers spreading the word about Download Youth MInistry and today launched a few new banners you can use on your blog or website to help link other youth workers back here. Thanks for spreading the word!



Book Review: Teaching Teenagers in a Post-Christian World

Posted by Rachel Blom

This brilliant book by Jake Kircher is a game changer for anyone interested in teaching teenagers. We all know that the standard three or even five-point sermons aren’t working anymore. Not only do they fail to hold students’ attention while you’re talking, they can’t remember much afterwards even if they did attempt to listen.

Even students involved in youth ministry often miss a basic understanding of the core of the Gospel and don’t know much about the Bible. Not only that, but many teens who claim to be Christians don’t lead lives that are different from their non-Christian friends. And there’s no need to mention the all-too-familiar problem of students walking away from their faith in college.

Welcome to a post-Christian world.

Book cover

In his book, Jake shows how the way we teach can make a difference. He challenges us to think hard and deep about why we teach, what the point is of teaching students about Jesus. Is Jesus Himself truly front and center of our teaching? That’s a question in this book that challenged me deeply.

He also stresses the importance of exploration, instead of providing students with (easy) answers. For many of us, this is not easy. If we’ve found the answer, we want to share it. The truth is that asking questions is better than answering them nine out of ten times.

In my favorite chapter, Jake shows what exploration looks like and what learning styles have to do with this. For some of you, this may be a complete 180 from how you’re used to teaching. Prepare yourself, because it’s gonna be messy!

There’s so much food for thought in this book, I guarantee you that reading it once won’t be enough. You’ll want to read it again. And then once more, because you’re ready for the next level of understanding.

I read a lot of books – by a lot I mean well over 150 books in 2014 alone – but I don’t come across game changers that often. Teaching Teenagers in a Post-Christian World is one of them.

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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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