Selma Movie

POLL: Working Out and Youth Ministry

Posted by Josh Griffin

No guilt or shame in this one - just looking to get an idea of how active we are in youth ministry. If you know me ... I go in spurts or working out, right now I'm on a pretty good one dropping some pounds and adding some muscle. Ask me in a year ... well, we'll see. How about you? Fairly active these days? Vote now


Restart of the DYM Book Club: Let’s start reading again!

Posted by Rachel Blom

I know, I know. It’s been waaaay too long since we did anything with the DYM Book Club. Completely my fault. I’m simply trying to juggle too many balls and as a result, I dropped this one. Luckily it’s not one that impacts anyone’s eternal destiny…I hope.

Anyway, the goal of the DYM Book Club was to read books together and discuss these, either in the comments here or in our Facebook group (which has been equally dead by the way). So let’s read some great books this month!

Here’s this month’s selection, handpicked by me because I wanted to start again soon. If you have suggestions for next month’s list, let me know!

As always, we pick four books from four different categories and you can read as many as you want…even all of them!

Young adult fiction: The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is one of the most popular young adult books from last year (and the year before I think) that has also been made into a movie. Haven’t watched it, haven’t read it yet :)

Simplify isn't technically a leadership book, but my educated guess is that the senior pastor of Willow Creek has a lot to teach us that we can apply to our leadership as well. 

Shaped by the Story has been on my book shelf for a while. Michael Novelli did an amazing workshop on this topic at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in 2013 and it inspired me to do more with Bible storying. Still, I never quite got around to reading this book, so this month it will happen!

Let me know your thoughts on these books!


5 Things To Keep In Mind To Keep Going

Posted by Justin Knowles

I was hanging out with of mine about youth ministry and were talking about the things in which we need to remember within leadership to keep going in youth ministry. Ministry can be exhausting (anyone want to give a testimony on that?) but it is so, so worth it when we see students finally grasp the Gospel for the first time. I heard someone say once, “I took up DIY projects and love them because there is a start and finish to them. We work towards something that we wont see the true end. In ministry our work is never finished and we will never see the end work on this side of heaven.” So how do you keep going? What are the things you need to have in the back of your head?

I’m sure there are a TON more but the five my friend and I wrote down are, what I think, some big ones to keep in mind.

Seek God – Seems standard right? You’d be surprised about how many people drift into doing whatever they are doing out of their own power and not seeking God in the process. We can all put on services and have a gathering of people and not seek God in the process. This is where burn out happens, because we rely on our own strength to keep going. Seeking God in everything aspect in your ministry is crucial to sustaining. Don’t let your ego get in the way.

1 Chronicles 16:11  - Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Have Grace – We work with broken people. We minister to broken people. Hurt people hurt people. It can happen where we get so frustrated with the people on our staff, on our volunteer team and our students and one of the best ways to minister to people is allowing them to watch how you react to certain situations. We need to show grace because God has shown us grace. So let’s minister with grace and watch what God does through it. If you don’t, you are going to be upset… a lot.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Have Fun – Stop taking yourself so serious. Some of us need to tell our faces we are having fun. I won’t write too much on this because my friend Neely McQueen wrote a great post on having fun. Click HERE to read it.

Proverbs 17:22 - A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick.

Keep Learning – Lots of people feel like they get “stuck” in ministry. I think when we are continually learning and challenging ourselves it allows us to think outside what we are currently doing and asking the question of “Is this what I should be doing?” Keep learning about God, keep learning how to be a better leader, keep seeking ideas from other youth pastors and learning what is working in other areas. It’s a dangerous place to be when you feel you “got it and sticking to it” because in an instant… it’s gone. Our ministries will only as far we the leaders are so if we keep learning, growing and expanding our ministries will follow.

Proverbs 18:15 - An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Keep Going – Ministry can be discouraging at times. Ministry can be a place where we sometimes wonder, “Am I even effective?” I believe this is the enemy seeping into your mind and feeding you lies. If you are called, you’re equipped. Keep going and be faithful because we serve a faithful God.

Psalms 119:90 - Your faithfulness endures to all generations;  you have established the earth, and it  stands fast.



Download Youth Ministry Webshow: Episode 265

Posted by Josh Griffin

Welcome back, webshow fans! Here's another glorious episode of the Download Youth Ministry Webshow - this show marks 265 episodes to date, far and away the longest running podcast in youth ministry history. Which is both awesome and sad.

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! 


Don't Forget To Have FUN!!

Posted by Neely McQueen

Busy is the norm in youth ministry. You work all week to create a great program on Sunday to start all over again on Monday, meanwhile you try to manage parents, leaders and students. There really is never enough time to get the work done. Don't even get me started camps, mission trips and outreach events.

Do you ever feel like you were tricked as a teenager to thinking being a youth worker will be all fun and games? Youth ministry is hard work...but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have any fun.

Thanks to five 7th grade girls I was reminded of an important element I had forgotten in the midst of the heavy work of ministry. We had one night to make memories and to celebrate their soccer team's victory at State. And I am going to be honest, we had one amazing and fun night.


We had so much fun and they made me laugh so hard. And they reminded me that having fun is good for our ministry.

Fun is good for students. There is a lot of darkness in the world of students.To have a few moments to laugh, to be reminded that there is goodness and joy is a gift for students. Having fun together is also part of the road that makes way for honest conversations. There is a vulnerability to being silly that is necessary for real connection. Fun is good for students.

Fun is good for your ministry. Fun is contagious...watch it spread and grow.

Fun is good for you. Despite the fact that I was exhausted the next day, I couldn't help but feel more passionate about my work. I love students, they make me smile, we can have fun and my desire for them to know Jesus on a deeper level grew after that night.

It doesn't matter how long you have been doing youth ministry or how old you are...Don't forget to have fun.

A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick. Proverbs 17:22

GUEST POST: Youth Ministry, Culture and That Dress

Posted by Josh Griffin

Attempt to listen to students tell you that what they post online doesn't make an impact. Tell that to tumblr user Swiked. Don't recognize that name?

How about this dress:


Yup. That's the dress.

On Wednesday, February 25th, this tumblr user posted this photo asking a basic question:

What colors do you see?

To use a phrase often associated with this news story "the collective internet lost their minds."

Some saw white and gold. Others saw black and blue.

Still others forgot what colors meant altogether.

On Thursday, February 26th the dress was all over the Internet. On social media it was everywhere.

Jokes were abundant.

Major corporations were picking up on it and using it to advertise.

Youth pastors everywhere praised the Lord for another illustration on perspective.

Bear with me as I go in another direction.

This silly dress was news!

On the way home from work on Friday, February 26th, NPR (yes I'm an old man and listen to NPR) was doing a segment on it.

The National Public Radio broadcast cared about this important issue!

To me that was beyond nuts.

But people make culture.

Read that again: People make culture.

The dress will be an old joke by the time you read this (remember how cool the Harlem Shake was?) and our students will have moved on. If you bring it up at the end of April, they'll probably moan and say "that's so old!"

But it shows us that people can decide what matters and what is our collective culture.

Leverage this truth with your students!

Using their social media platforms and their collective voices, our students that we minister to each and every week have the power to decide the culture around them.

Let's help them to shape it based on something much more lasting and important: The Gospel of Jesus!

How can you do this?

Why not give your students pictures to post on their instagrams that do more than promote your next event.

Why not get them to help make a quick video (20 seconds or less) that tells a story of transformation that happened in your group? Could you make a longer one to share later?

Why not get your students randomly encouraging friends on Twitter (more than man and woman crushes)?

I'm still trying to figure out how to leverage this new way we influence culture for student ministry.

What are your thoughts?

(PS - It's white and gold.)

Ronald Long is the youth minister at a church in San Antonio, TX. He’s married to Bekah and dad to Sophie and Penny. He blogs a bit at ronaldlong.org and tweets at @ronald_long. He also runs, plays video games, and eats Taco Bell. Check out his resources in the Download Youth Ministry store!

Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 270

Posted by Josh Griffin

Weekend Teaching Series: What If (series finale, week 3 of 3)

Sermon Synopsis: This weekend our junior high director Katie Edwards (of DYM Webshow fame as well) taught all students and all campuses from the video talk asking the What If question, what if I believed anything was possible. The whole video is above and she worked hard to teach students about the impossible strength of Christ. 

Service Length: 64 minutes

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We played Trivia Crack this weekend! It crushed so, so hard! It was incredible and you can grab it for FREE here on DYM. Do it now! Best game ever!! We also had a fun rap video, lots of music and students involved greeting, student band, etc as well.


Music Playlist: Made Alive, Sing and Shout, You Hold Me, How He Loves, Wake

Favorite Moment: I don't think we'll be doing another video series like this in the near future, but it was a noble experiement. Students paid attention to the video and there was certainly some positive decisions made for Christ, but I love the more age-specific content of a normal weekend.

Up next: Summer Camp Kickoff Weekend (1-off)

Trabuco Owns the Weekend Countdown Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

Thought this was a fun and clever way to start our You Own the Weekend series. Students made this time lapse video of a typical day at school. Nice!


Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 269

Posted by Josh Griffin

Weekend Teaching Series: What If (week 2 of 3)

Sermon Synopsis: This weekend I got to teach on David and Goliath based on the question, "What if I didn't care what people thought about me" and how David boldly stood alone for Christ in the face of extreme challenge. The talk is included in full above, or you can get it in teachable outline form for $3 on DYM.

Service Length: 63 minutes

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We played the now classic Jimmy Fallon game Box of Lies live on stage - to be honest it always plays a bit better on TV than it does in youth group. Still though, a fun game we'll probably do again in the next few months. We also heavily promoted the upcoming HSM Talent Show as well. Good, quick service this weekend!

Music Playlist: We Shine, Let it Be Known, Oceans, Forever Reign

Favorite Moment: It was weird being there and also being the teacher on video, but I have to admit it allowed me a ton of time to just be reelational and not concentrate on the talk so much. A nice change of pace!

Up next: What If (series finale, week 3 of 3)

Special Spotify Playlist for Anchored Youth Group Service

Posted by Josh Griffin


Here's a simple, and I think fresh idea!

We did a 1-off message called Anchored a few weeks ago and thought it might be a good idea to point our students toward some good music to encourage them to put into practice the message and mindset of the talk. A few people got together and put together a free spotify playlist for our students to discover and listen to. How great is that!? Steal this idea for your next series!


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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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