Selma Movie

InstaLife Bumper Video

Posted by Justin Knowles

We just finished going through InstaLife with our students. It was incredible. It is a such a great series and our students responded enormously to it. Emma Aungst, our service programmer, made this sweet bumber video that would be a nice addition to your service if you end up using it too.

6 Teaching Tips for Multiple Youth Group Services

Posted by Josh Griffin


My buddy was reading me a blog post he read on the subject of teaching multiple services this week and suggested I share a few thoughts on the subject as well. I speak at 4 high school ministry services here at Saddleback on a regular basis - 2 on Saturday night and 2 on Sunday morning. And while I'm not sure this will be that helpful to most youth ministries since few have multiple identical services, I think there's enough here to potentially be helpful if you teach every weekend, multiple times a weekend or just every once in a while:

Write out a full manuscript
The best way to make sure your delivery is on point every time is to script your message out completely. You'll never forget where you are in your bullet points or whether or not you've told that story this service (oh man that's painful) because you have a script. Manuscript also honors the art of preparation, and allows you to know exactly where you're taking the students in the talk. Of course, the script is meant to be a guide, not a performance.

Capture the ad libs
Give a trusted volunteer a copy of your manuscript message and ask them to jot down any thoughts you added during the message. You're skills are going to advance very quickly since you get to repeat the message a second time, and your new jokes, funny mannerisms, etc need to be added for the next delivery. There are times when someone ad libbed just cant be duplicated - and that's OK, too. You just have to let those go.

Debrief the first delivery
This is a very humbling experience the first time, I won't pretend that it doesn't hurt. But if you want to improve the next delivery, you have to talk about this one. Circle up your trusted friends and let them tell you the good, bad and ugly about the message. Accept criticism, don't be defensive and take what you believe God has for you in that time. Humility always wins.

Eat, drink and be merry
There's a certain bilogical preparation that needs to happen to deliver the same content multiple times - the most important one is to make sure you eat protein. And be hydrated. This all sounds kinda silly typing it all out, but I've spoken a 3rd service on just pop tarts and a caramel macchiato and it wasn't pretty. Treat your body right for a demanding speaking sequence.

Tell stories with the same energy of the first time
This one is tough - you've got to keep your energy up for the stories - the audience hasn't seen that powerful illustration or heard that great fail of yours, even if this is your fourth time telling it. Deliver stories with the same intensity as the first time. If you've done good preparation by manscripting, you should know just how to tell the story each and every time.

Trust God's Spirit to guide you
Every service isn't simply a carbon copy of the previous one - God will urge you and move you differently during each talk so don't be a robot when you get up there. Be filled with the Spirit! Lean into what He has for you to say to the students that are gathered there. 

What other speaking tips would you add to the list?


5 Thoughts On Making Changes In Your Youth Ministry

Posted by Justin Knowles

So you want to make a change in your ministry? Get ready! There is a ton of things that come a long with changing something in your ministry, some great things and some challenging things. We have just gone through a huge shift in our ministry, for the better, and just wanted to share some thoughts:

It’s an uphill battle. If there is a certain culture or thing that has been going on in your ministry and you want to change it, know that it is going to be an uphill battle. Programs can be easy to kill but a culture dies slow and fights hard. People get comfortable with status quo and change ruffles feathers. Just know it will be a fight.

Just because you are passionate doesn’t mean others will be. There have been things in life where I get really excited about certain things and when I tell others they are not nearly as excited, as I want them to be. If you want to lead a shift, you need to get others passionate about your version and start to help them see it like you do. You have to be a passionate leader who lays clear vision so others can effectively see the direction you want them to go.

You have to a broken record. Some of the greatest advice I have ever heard when it comes to casting a vision for change was: “When you start tot feel like a broken record because you repeat the vision over and over is probably the moment when your team is just now beginning to process the vision in general.” We have to be willing to be vocal and be consistent at it. A culture shift will take time.

We can’t change people. Only Jesus can. If we feel God is leading our ministry one way and we are seeking after Him and wanting to do what we feel he is calling us to do, the best first step is prayer. Pray for clear vision. Pray for clear communication. Pray for your team and their hearts. Pray for your ministry and your student’s hearts. If it is where God wants you to go He will begin to change the hearts of the people. Warning: this could take time.

It’s worth it. The uphill battle, the vision casting, sounding like a broken record, the hard work, the sacrifice, the constant conversations, the struggles, the fights, the hard conversations, the yelling, the praying, the struggle is all worth it if it is going to produce better disciples of Jesus in the end. 


Get 50% Off These ELITE 8 Youth Ministry Resources from DYM!

Posted by Josh Griffin


We're super excited about these Elite 8 resources we've put on sale for 50% off this week only in a continuatio n of te March Madness DYM Sale. This week only you can pick up these bad boys super cheap:


Southeast Christian Awaken Worship

Posted by Josh Griffin

My friends over at Southeast Christian Church had an amazing album release party tonight - their Awaken Worship just hit iTunes today and it is fantastic! You can see more on their official site, including guitar tabs, lyric sheets and more if you want to add these songs/arrangements to your youth group, too!


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

Posted by Jen Bradbury



One common question I get when it comes to Student Leadership Teams is, “How many teens should be on your student leadership team?”

My answer often frustrates people.

It depends. 

You see, when it comes to my student leadership team, I don't have a set number of positions.

This is an intentional decision on my part. When you have a set number of positions you risk having to fill them with someone – even if that person isn't necessarily ready for student leadership.

Instead of having to fill a specific number of slots, I instead want to be able to have the freedom to put together the best team possible. There have been years when this has meant having a leadership team of 5 students and other years where this has meant having a team of 10.

Having said that, there are a few general principles I use to guide my decision about the size of the team.

You (or other adult leaders) need to be able to disciple those on your team. If student leadership is really an avenue for discipleship, then it's size has to be conducive to that. And let's be honest, as much as we'd like to be able to disciple an infinite number of students well, we just can't. So follow Jesus' guideline: There should be no more than 12 students for every one adult leader you have involved in the team.

Small isn't bad. My student leadership team will shrink at the end of this school year. Despite the fact that we tend to measure our success in terms of numbers, I'm not ashamed to say that. We have a big class of seniors graduating this year. This means that our outgoing class of senior student leaders is greater than our incoming number of applicants. That's OK. It might even be good. Discipleship can often happen on a deeper level in smaller teams. Additionally, it's often easier to focus smaller groups of teens than larger ones. For that reason, some of my smallest leadership teams have been ones that have actually accomplished the most.

Your leadership team should be proportional to the size of your ministry. If you have a ministry of 10 kids, you probably don't want to have a leadership team of 8. You never want your team to be so big that those who aren't a part of it feel like the odd man out at youth ministry events.

So think about the size of your ministry. Then decide for yourself how big your leadership team should be. Ultimately, whether you have a team of 3 or 20, invest in the teens on your team, trusting that you as do, their faith and ministry will grow.

Other posts in this series:

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


2 Questions I Have Been Asking About My Leadership

Posted by Justin Knowles

I’m constantly learning. I know we all hear the saying, “All leaders are learners… etc.” I believe this to be true because as I find out as I am growing as a leader of a ministry, of people and of students I am finding out new things about myself all of the time. Lately, I feel I have been wrestling with two questions, in which if I am honest with you I am still trying to find the answers to and what works best for me as the leader. I thought I would share them with you as well so you can begin to ask the same ones and who knows, maybe you will learn something as well.

The two questions are:

How am I leading myself?

I know I can only take people as far as I have been. This is in all aspects of life and ministry. One of the best things we can do as leaders is lead ourselves and make sure we are spiritually healthy, relationally healthy and have people speaking truth and love into us. Be a healthy leader in every aspect and you should have a healthy team and ministry.

How am I being effective with the time I have with the people I have?

I don’t know about you but I have a lot of meetings. I could be a meeting with my supervisor, other pastors, with volunteers and students. Not only do I have meetings but I have a team (all who need some sort of time) and basic office things to do, as well as come up with a message every week. I have noticed that my time was not structured really well and I would have a lot of time but not getting much done. It was not until I was aware of it and started asking this question before I started to get a real hold of my schedule, what I need, who I need to meet with and get it all done so I can go home to my wife without bringing it all home to her, and started to become more effective and efficient with my time.

These two questions have helped me forward in many areas in life and ministry and maybe they can for you as well.





5 Ways To Invest In Leaders

Posted by Christopher Wesley

If you want more than warm bodies volunteering in your ministry you are going to need to spend time investing in them. You might feel like you don’t have enough time, but then again you can’t afford to take your ministers for granted.


When you invest in your ministers they will step up their commitment.  They will stand by your side and help your ministry succeed.  To get that type of return investment you need to:


Don’t be afraid to raise the bar.  In fact treat your ministers like they are paid staff. Create systems and structures that will dictate certain behaviors and then communicate it clearly.


The people who serve with you each week are giving up time, so make sure they feel valued.  When you show them that you care about what’s important to them they’ll return the favor.  They’ll see serving alongside of you as an opportunity to invest in you personally.


Your ministers will have specific reasons as to why they got involved, but does it match up with yours?  Any misalignment in vision can derail a program’s progress.

Clarify the “WHY?” through the vision and mission of the ministry.  Drill it into their minds.  Make sure your ministers know their purpose and why it matters.


Not only do you need to invest in ministers personally but spiritually as well.  When you challenge your team to grow deeper in faith they will see the deeper meaning to serving.

Connect them to small groups at your church. Introduce them to books and resources that encourage discipleship.  Remind them that they need God just as much as the teens they are serving.


A big way of investing in others is allowing them to weigh in on important decisions.  This isn’t for all of your ministers, but for the ones that you trust and believe have leadership potential.

Ask their opinion and invite them to meetings where strategy is laid out.  When they feel like they are a part of heavy decision-making they’ll have a bigger buy in.

Your ministers signed up for your ministry to be a part of something big.  If you want serious help growing your ministry invest in the men and women who have sacrificed time to be with you.  The time you spend on them is worth more than the time you spend on any activity or program.

What’s worked for you when investing in ministers?

Topics: investing in leaders

Download Youth Ministry Webshow: Episode 266

Posted by Josh Griffin

Welcome back, webshow fans! Here's another glorious episode of the Download Youth Ministry Webshow - this show we're in a temporary shooting location but think it turned out pretty great none the less.

This week we welcome back our new primary sponsor ORANGE also love our other great sponsors - Azusa Pacific University, Leadertreks and Youth Ministry 360. Join the team! Just enough youth ministry so you don't feel guilty for listening! 


7 Things You Didn't Know About Saddleback Church

Posted by Josh Griffin

A super fun video we made to celebrate the 35th anniversary of our church over the weekend. It was such a great time - enjoy!


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.

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.

Free Youth Ministry Ebook!
Download Youth Ministry Membership                

Follow DYM!