Selma Movie

GUEST POST: Breaking The Huddle

Posted by Josh Griffin

Here’s a post-program conversation I’ve had before: 

ME: “Taylor, what happened?”

TAYLOR: “What do you mean?”

ME: “You were supposed to come up and do the announcements.”

TAYLOR: “I was?” (Realization) “Oh, man, I’m so sorry! I totally forgot!”

45 minutes ago, Taylor felt significantly less panicked during that thirty seconds of dead air than I did. It would’ve been so much better to have that conversation pre-program than post.

Whether your crowd is big or small, whether your program is complicated or straightforward, I think production meetings are a huge deal. By the way, “production meeting” is just a fancy way of saying huddle up with key players and talk through the night.

Each time you meet, identify the people who play an important role in executing your environment (I use execute in the positive sense, not the negative):

  • People hitting buttons that cue videos, lights, and lyrics
  • People managing the audio (playlists, microphones, videos)
  • Speakers
  • Band members
  • Hosts, actors, characters, etc. 

I’m sure you could add or subtract from this list. If you have a small student ministry, I strongly suggest bringing your leaders and volunteers into the mix as well.

Here are the benefits of a production meeting:

  1. Transitions. Start at the beginning of your program and talk through the logistics step-by-step. You’ll find yourself reminding people of things like when to play certain audio tracks and when to put specific pictures on the screen. This is also the perfect time to talk through transitions. Why? So you can avoid the awkward moments!!! (Not sure why I used three exclamation points). If you’re fancy and sophisticated, use Planning Center and print out a schedule. If you’re not, write it on a napkin and make some copies. It makes no difference to me.
  1. Goals. Let people know what you’re hoping to accomplish today. What is the sermon about? What is the goal of small group time? What are you wanting students will walk away with? This is your chance to get everybody on the same page and pour some purpose into that particular program (alliteration, anyone?).
  1. Vision. This is your chance to cast vision and motivate. Let your key players know that today is important. Who knows what God will do? It could be a game-changer for someone (even if it’s a random overcast day in April). I use this time to encourage leaders to welcome new students, sit with their small group, and act like they’re excited to be there. I urge worship leaders to think about the students in the back with their arms crossed, not just the students in the front with their hands raised. Also, this is a great time to thank everyone for giving up their time to be there. 
  1. Prayer. I love this verse: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). In your case, “the house” is a great night—an effective, engaging program. Pray that God builds it so that your hard work isn’t fruitless.

So what’s your one step? Have a production meeting.

You don’t have to make it long. And you don’t need to ask people to get there three hours in advance. But you do need to give it a shot.

Ben Crawshaw is a DYM Author and Director of XP3 Curriculum & High School Camp at The reThink Group.

Great Summer Youth Ministry Resources from DYM

Posted by Josh Griffin


Download Youth Ministry Webshow: Episode 267

Posted by Josh Griffin

Another week, another episode of the Download Youth Ministry Webshow. Excited to have you aboard for this week and thankful for our sponsors: ORANGE and Leadertreks, YM360 (watch the show for a special promo code to their youth worker resource store) & Azusa Pacific University.


HSM Summer Calendar 2015

Posted by Josh Griffin


Here is the summer calendar for our high school ministry this next season of ministry. Really excited about a very relational schedule of events. Thought it might be interesting as you think toward summer, maybe to look at events or design. Yeah for summer!


Youth Worker: The Most Meaningful Job in the World

Posted by Josh Griffin

Forbes tells us what we already know today - youth ministry is the best job in the world! Here's a clip:

It’s been said that money can’t buy you happiness. It turns out it has similarly little affect on whether an employee feels their work makes a positive change in the world.
Each year, Forbes reports on PayScale‘s list of the most meaningful jobs that also pay well. But when the caveat of income is removed, medical professionals, criminal justice workers, and youth ministers still find their way to the top of the list, while some highly-paid jobs are found to provide little meaning to those that hold them.
Youth minister, the third party in this tie for first, pays the least by far–an annual median $35,000–but 100% of respondents still find strong meaning in the role.


Student Leadership Team Basics: Training Your Leaders by Reading

Posted by Jen Bradbury


Last week, we talked about how the fundamental role of student leaders is to create a culture of welcome. A common question I get in response to this idea is “How do you train and equip student leaders to create a culture of welcome?”

There are three things I use to train and equip students for leadership and in particular, for their role in creating a culture of welcome: Required readings, blogging, and weekly evaluations. Today, we'll explore the first of these methods – required reading.

Since student leadership is really about discipleship, we have to build time into our schedule for training student leaders. To this end, my student leadership team meets approximately 6 times over the summer. Because these meetings are focused almost exclusively on training students for their role as leaders, this gives us plenty of time to equip student leaders for their role in establishing a culture of welcome before our program year begins in September. To facilitate this training, I require student leaders to read and discuss a book together.

Since a student can be a leader in our ministry for at most three years, I have a three-year cycle of books we use. The first year, we read a book specifically focused on leadership. The second year, we read a book about Jesus, who is the ultimate model of servant leadership. We also read a book about Jesus because student leaders cannot take teens deeper than they are in their own faith. As a result, I want to push student leaders to grow in their faith, even as they help other teens do the same. The third year, we read a book about the church. We do so because as student leaders, I want teens to understand and appreciate the church as well as their role in it. I want them to understand how our youth ministry fits into the bigger church. I also want to challenge them to find a spiritual community long after they “graduate” from our youth ministry.

Though I use a wide variety of books, in general, I look for books that are

  • Thought-provoking: Often, this means I don't agree with everything the author says. However, disagreements with an author's opinion or even with their theology make for great discussion fodder. Such discussions expose teens to other viewpoints and give them the opportunity to really wrestle with faith-related issues.

  • Accessible / Relatable: As you can see from the list of books I've used with my teens (below), most are not specifically geared to teens. Yet, all are accessible for them. To that end, I've found that teens relate best to memoir – to seeing and encountering God through another person's story.

  • Reasonable length: I won't give teens a 500 page book on the theology of the church. Instead, I tend to choose books that are 200 pages or less. I then divide the book up between our six summer meetings so that by the time school starts, teens will be done with their required leadership reading.

  • Applicable to leadership: Clearly, the books we read and discuss about Jesus and the church are not as obviously tied to student leadership as the book specifically about leadership. But by selectively choosing books about Jesus and the church, I can pull nuggets from them that relate to our broader topic. I then tailor each meeting's discussion so that we not only talk about the book, but we do so in a way that specifically pertains to a teen's role as a student leader in our ministry.

Though there's a wide-assortment of books that could work well for discipling student leaders, here are the ones I've used:

Leadership books: Help! I'm a Student Leader! by Doug Fields (It's the only book I've ever used in multiple cycles.)

Jesus books: Relearning Jesus: How Reading the Beatitudes One More Time Changed My Faith by Matthew Paul Turner; Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough by Jefferson Bethke 

Church books: Reluctant Pilgrim: A Moody, Somewhat Self-Indulgent Introvert's Search for Spiritual Community by Enuma Okoro; Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

Trust me. Regardless of what book you choose to read with student leaders, they'll initially moan and groan about having to do so. But I've lost track of how many teens have told me – years later – just how much a particular book that we discussed in leadership influenced them. What I've found is that well-chosen books help student leaders to actively engage in discussions about their faith and leadership and in the process, grow in incredible ways in both areas of their lives.

Other posts in this series:

Student Leadership Team Basics: The Interview 

Student Leadership Team Basics: How many leaders should you have? 

Student Leadership Team Basics: 3 Ways Not to Describe Student Leadership 

Student Leadership Team Basics: Why?

Student Leadership Team Basics: How to Choose Student Leaders

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

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











Posted by Christopher Wesley

It’s easy to forget that we are not the only ones who face the battles of youth ministry.  Serving the next generation is a battle for you and your volunteers.


They will be tested and tempted. Personal life will conflict with their time serving teens.  As their leader you need to make sure you are pouring into them consistently by:


Even if you are a social butterfly it’s important for you to schedule time where you sit down and talk about ministry. It doesn’t have to be a formal meeting, it just needs to be intentional.

Ask them what’s working and what isn’t. Give them permission to be honest and open.  They’ll appreciate the fact that you are giving them your time to invest in them.

When a volunteer is ill equipped he or she is going to feel overwhelmed.  As a youth minister you need to provide opportunities for your volunteers to grow in their craft.

Invite them to conferences or host a training of your own.  Find out specifically what they are facing and help them find the information to tackle it.


It’s difficult to get your life in order when you are constantly moving. If a volunteer is struggling personally or professionally let them know it’s okay to take a step back.

When you give them the time make sure you are laying it out as an opportunity to reflect and refocus.  Remind them it’s about getting healthy and not just getting a job done.


Take the time to intentionally pray for your team. If possible get specific. Ask them what’s going on in their lives. You are not the only one in a spiritual battle.  Remind them that they are not alone.

In order for your team to commit for the long haul they need to know you are there with them in the trenches. They’ll trust that you have their back and that you are returning the investment they’ve poured into you.

How do you build a healthy volunteer culture in your ministry?  

Topics: volunteers

Do You Use Bulletins During Your Message?

Posted by Justin Knowles

Something we integrated into our ministry a few weeks ago was bulletins. Our church culture does not use bulletins so they don't really do them but it was something I learned from Saddleback HSM and I loved it. We are 6 weeks into making, printing and handing them out and I love the impact they have had. They are super simple. It's just a landscape 8.5"x11 piece of paper with two outlines on them and we cut them in half. Despite the fact that some students use them to write notes for each other or leave them behind for us to clean up, the good outweighs the bad (and the cost to print) for me. 
Here are just some of the reason I love bulletins:
  • It gives them something to do during your message. Even though some might messa around, a majority of them will take notes with you as you go.
  • It helps them write stuff down and it helps them remember. Writing down helps you remember stuff better... it's science.
  • It gives them Scripture in hand. as much as we would like it, they don't bring their Bibles (most students). This gives them something in hand to look at and follow along with as you go through passages and go through your points.
  • They can take it home and look it it later. Granted, not all students do but those few that do are all in and have something to remember what they learned from. I have a few students who have said they have kept everyone in a folder to go back to. That's awesome!
  • For those who do take them home, parents see. That is always a good thing.
  • I feel they take the professionalism to that next level. Maybe it's just me, but I think they look good and they lok like we put effort into them.
  • When students are engaed, they listen. The attention span has gone up since we started doing these. quite noticably I might add. They want to fill in every blank so they pay attention.
  • I truly do think they learn better. That's why we do it.

Again, you may or may not do them. I love having them and these are just some thoughts on why I love it. Something we are going to move to is put announcements on the back. That way it also comes an "in-hand" flier and reminder of up and coming events. I'm excited for that. Do you use something similar? Why or why not?

Infinite Bumper Videos

Posted by Colton Harker


Our ministry recently did a series called, "Infinite," that discussed the infinite traits of God and the infinite life He wants us to live using space as our theme. Normally, our bumper videos would be quick 30 second videos that would be the same throughout the series... but this time we decided to be more creative.

Each week we made a new video that drew a parrellel between something from space, to our topic. They turned out pretty well and our students really responded to them. This is for sure not an every series thing, but it was fun to put together!







DYM Book Club: April picks

Posted by Rachel Blom

Another month means four new books to read for the DYM Book Club. One of our members suggested we’d look at what was available for free on Kindle unlimited and I thought that was a good suggestion.

If you haven’t heard of Kindle Unlimited, it’s Amazon’s ‘Kindle membership’ where one flat fee per month (it’s $9.99 right now) will allow you to borrow a bunch of books and read them. Not all books are available obviously, as a matter of fact I’ve found that not many bestsellers are included. But it’s a nice way to read more for little money. So this month, we’ll do two Kindle unlimited picks and two others.

In the category leadership, we’ll read Doubling Groups 2.0: How Andy Stanley and a whole generation of churches are exploding with doubling groups and the power of hospitality. which is technically not a leadership book, but speaks to youth pastors I think (haven’t read it yet). Our youth ministry pick is Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World by Brock Morgan. I’ve just finished this book and it’s a challenging, inspiring read. Both these books are free with Kindle Unlimited.

For personal growth we’ll do The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out, written by Brennan Manning—which is a classic and one of the best books ever written about God’s love for us. And for young adult fiction, let’s read If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, which is still on the NY Times Bestseller List and has been made into a movie.

If you have any suggestions for great reads, head on over to the DYM Book Club Facebook Group and let us know!


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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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