GUEST POST: Am I Following God’s Plan?

Posted by Josh Griffin

Like most people, I have a plan for my life that I believe is God’s plan as well. I am headed in a direction toward seeing that plan turn into a reality. But how do I know it is in fact what God wants for my life? Do I just keep moving forward, trust He is leading me and thank Him for His guidance each day? The answer is YES! The same goes for you!

Just keep moving forward! If you are truly seeking the Lord and His plan for your life, He will lead you. He will gear you in the other direction if you head off track. That could mean you don’t get to go on that mission trip or it could mean you don’t get the promotion you’ve been hoping for. Or it could mean you are relocated to another town. God has a way of getting you where you need to be. He says so in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

Because He says so, you can trust He is leading you! No more questioning whether or not you are being led by Him or not. He is in ultimate control. “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21) To me this means, yes; we make plans, we can head in the directions of those plans, and if we are incorrect about it being God’s plan, He will direct you to His plan! So He is leading you even with you messing up and steering off course, how amazing that?!

Thank Him for His guidance each day! He is such a good God who wants what is best for you. He provides you with His word, the Holy Spirit and situations to guide you. He directs your path and is a sovereign God who loves you. A genuine thanks is all it takes to let Him know you truly appreciate His lead in your life.

So don’t get discouraged, God is God. He is in control of all things; including your footsteps. Just keep moving forward, trust He is leading you and thank Him for His guidance each day. “I trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. In all my ways I acknowledge Him and He directs my paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, proverbs 3, ashley fodinal, guidance, youth ministry calling, trusting God, guest posts, God's leading, God's guidance

GUEST POST: Why We Don’t Allow Parents to be Present During Small Groups

Posted by Josh Griffin

With small groups kicking off, we have had a couple instances of parents asking if they could “sit in” on our small group meetings. Because this is my first year supervising small groups from start to finish, I’ve never had to deal with this issue until recently. Obviously, the answer is no, but before I told the parents that (it was via email, thankfully), I had to think through why we didn’t want parents present during small group time.

After some thought, here is our “unofficial official” policy for this issue. We do not allow parents to sit in on small groups for two reasons:

  1. We have a church policy that requires all of our adults who are present during student activities to go through our volunteer application process, which includes an interview with a member of our staff and a background check. This is a non-negotiable policy that exists for the safety of our students. If you are interested in being a volunteer leader in our ministry, here is our application.
  2. We want small groups to be an environment where students are able to socialize, grow, and learn without the pressure of their parents being in the room. However, we do strongly encourage parents to discuss with their students what was learned at small group— on the car ride back from group, at home, etc. Each of our small group leaders has been instructed to keep parents in the loop about what Bible passages and topics are being discussed.

Instead of giving parents a flat-out “Negative, Ghost Rider,” I’ve found there is always an opportunity to generate a YES along with the NO. No, parents cannot sit it on small groups, but YES, you are invited to go through our volunteer application process. No, small groups are for students and their leaders only, but YES, be involved in the spiritual lives of your son or daughter during the week by reinforcing what they learned during group time.

You can never predict how parents will respond, but their response is irrelevant; what matters is upholding the ministry values that provide a safe and growth-conducive environment for your students.

Taylor Bird is the Director of Middle School Ministry at Southwest Church in Indian Wells, CA. He has been serving in youth ministry for just over four years.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, discipleship, spiritual growth, parents, no parents at small groups, Small Groups, life groups, youth group policies, guest posts, parents as small group leaders, parent ministry, taylor bird, small group

What to Do When Your Youth Group is a Mess

Posted by Rachel Blom

So your youth ministry is a mess.

Maybe you’re just started as a youth leader and you’ve inherited someone else’s mess. Maybe you’ve been too busy because you also had a ‘real job’ to take care of many things in your ministry. Maybe you’ve been sick or have let things slide for other personal reasons.

Whatever the reason, you find yourself in a mess in your youth ministry and you don’t know where to start. Here’s what to do: always start with the quick wins.

Nobody likes cleaning up a mess, but if you’re responsible it’s your job unfortunately. But you’re not the only one who dislikes the state of your youth ministry. Chances are a lot of your volunteers are pretty fed up as well. So start with the quick wins.

Have you ever found yourself in a mess in your youth ministry? Have you ever found yourself in a mess in your youth ministry?

Here’s what you need to do:

Talk to everyone

As soon as you realize your youth ministry is a mess, start talking to everyone involved. Just make appointments for half an hour-conversations. Ask everyone the same question: what three things are bothering you the most right now?

Promise results

After they have answered your question, promise them results. Be honest and realistic about what they can expect, not everything may be sorted out within a month. Also make sure they understand that you won’t be able to fix everything and that you won’t necessarily give priority to what they think is important. But they should know that you intend to do something about the mess.

Identify quick wins and fix them

After you have talked to everyone, make a list of the issues most often mentioned. These are the ones you should focus on. Now identify a few on this list that are easy to fix and fix them right away. Maybe the light bulb in the ladies’ room is broken, maybe there’s a broken window in the youth room, or maybe two volunteers aren’t on the prayer list. Easy things to remedy, so fix them right away.

Fixing these quick wins will not only gain you valuable goodwill from your volunteers, but it will also help you see light at the end of the tunnel in cleaning up the mess.

Once you’ve fixed all the quick wins, you can continue with the other priority items, but you will have seen some real improvements already. It’s the first step in changing your mess of a youth ministry into a well-oiled, smooth, perfectly-run ministry…yeah, like that’s ever gonna happen!

Have you ever found yourself in a messy youth ministry? How and where did you start?

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, youth ministry management, leadership, personal skills, personal growth

What to Do When a Volunteer Messes Up

Posted by Josh Griffin

Work with a student ministry volunteer team for very long and you're bound to find yourself in a situation where someone messes up. Maybe it was a mistake out or ignorance, a youthful discretion or a flat-out screwup. Whatever situation you find yourself in, here's a few steps in the process to be sure to hit:

Immediately jump in
The worst thing you can do when you get wind of a situation brewing is to think it will go away. It might blow over ... but there's a greater chance it will blow up. If you don't jump into action, you might find yourself being asked questions you simply don't have the answer to. A good leader runs in when everyone else runs away.

Get the whole truth
If there's two sides to a situation, make sure you get both before you pass judgement. We all are guilty of skewing perspectives to gain an advantage - half truths always attempt to make the teller look better so if possible make sure you get someone's take on it from the other end.

Mess ups are subjective
First-time irresponsibility from a rookie volunteer needs to be handled differently than a veteran volunteer who knows better. At the same time a leader who "knows better" has to be held accountable for their actions as well. No matter the situation, always consider the source and show grace quickly and generously ... until it runs out.

Map out a timeline to return
If there needs to be a "season off" or some sort of tangible discipline, make sure you also draw a roadmap to return. Often times a leader realizes their mistake then is forgotten about as the ministry moves forward without them. If there is a chance for return, make it clear on the calendar the steps back into the trust of the ministry. If you're past the point of no return ... make that clear as well.

Dealing with volunteer issues isn't easy! But you can do it - it takes strong leadership and you have to be OK testing some friendships for the overall strength of the ministry. Share you learnings in the comments, too!


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, Volunteer Ministry, team, volunteers, leading a team, timeline to return, taking a season off, messing up, breaking trust, volunteer interview, truth

I Want To Want Those Things

Posted by Justin Knowles

I don’t feel like studying for my message.

I don’t want to do my quiet time.

I don’t want to hang out with students.

I don’t want to pray.

I don’t feel like seeking the Lord.

I do want to sleep.

I do want to go home.

I do want to have a “normal” job.

I am overwhelmed.

I don’t know if im truly making a difference in students lives.

All of the things above I have uttered in my mind or even out loud. Let’s just be honest, you probably have to. There are times in which I feel like I am in a dry spell and I have no desire to seek after God, read, study for a message, counsel a student, or pray. But I always WANT to want to do those things, even though I don’t feel like it.

You know what I am talking about?

I want to want to pray.

I want to want to study.

I want to want counsel another student.

I want to want to have a quiet time.

So I have to remind myself, it’s okay. Tell God how you are feeling. Ask Him to make you WANT to do those things and out of obedience to Him keep doing them... and I am telling you, your heart will begin to break out of whatever dry spell you are in.

Out of obedience of doing for God comes a passion that overflows from Him for what you have been called to do.

Recently I have been praying this simple prayer and listening to this David Crowder song from Passion 2013. It’s simple, but it has been helping me get through the dry spell I am in through obedience to who God is. The song simply says, “Here’s my heart Lord. Speak what is true.” I listen to it when I have been in my office over and over making it a prayer.

My prayer:

“God. I don’t feel like doing anything. But I want to do those things. I am going to pray (read, study, etc) out of obedience to you, but I pray you help me WANT to do those things so I can do what you have called me to do with a passion. Here’s my heart, Lord. Speak what is true.”

Some of us need to pray this right now. Make this your prayer and listen to this song and make it an anthem for this week.



Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, God, i dont want to, prayer, hsm, obedience, student ministry, quiet times, passion, student pastor

Fundraising Opportunities with Humankind Water

Posted by Josh Griffin


We're so thankful for one of DYM's sponsors, Humankind Spring Water. They are an incredible startup organization that was started this past year by some youth workers back east. It is a terrific idea and worth checking out, there's some great opportunities for fundraising, too:

Humankind Water exists to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in need. 100% of the net profits fund water projects for those suffering without clean water all over the world. Nearly one billion people on this spinning planet lack access to safe drinking water. – That’s one person in seven. – Half of the hospital beds IN THE WORLD are filled with someone either sick or dying from lack of clean water or sanitation. When buying drinkable water your choice can make the difference, by choosing Humankind Water you will be helping us to build wells in communities that only have contaminated water to drink. please join us and help us by spreading the word.



Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, spring water, HumanKind Water, fundraising, water with a cause, charity water, fundraiser ideas

True Move Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

Taught on the Good Samaritan this past weekend, wish I had found this video before the talk! Great piece about helping others and how those that have been forgiven much, forgive much. From the same director who gave us Silence of Love, too. Wow.


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, love, videos, silence of love, good samaritan, programming, true move, GO

Our "Boy Becomes a Man" Trip

Posted by Josh Griffin

A couple of years ago I took my almost-10 year old son on a special trip - I was hoping to recreate a fun rite of passage my dad did for me at about the same age. I was speaking at an event in Dallas (the D6 Conference) and I paid for my son to join me on the trip. He was eager to go and miss a few days of school. But the big excitement was that after my responsibilities at the youth ministry training event were over ... we were going to do dude stuff:

Dude stuff like eating nothing but baby back ribs, chicken wings and anything else we could straight off the bone for one whole day. This was the origin of "all you can meat" - a tradition I'm hoping to pass on to men worldwide. Dude stuff like talking about girls, respect, integrity and sex. Dude stuff like watching UFC and going to a late night movie. Dude stuff like a Cowboys game on a Sunday Night (cue Faith Hill right about this point). Dude stuff like all-u-can-play arcade games and go karts. Dude stuff like a dad talking to his son about what is really important in life and all that stuff that dads don't normally have the guts to say or make the time to say it. Dude stuff, for 4 days straight.

This Saturday I leave with my second-born son! We're headed to Dallas to speak at the same conference in the same city. He has been buzzing about it for months. It is going to be epic. I'm excited to share with him God's plan for his masculinity, sexuality and leadership. He is going to be a great man. He is going to far eclipse his old man. And this is one small piece of making sure he knows the path I pray every day he'll stay on.

I talk about this rite of passage all of the time with people - it seems to come up often and quite honestly I don't do everything right as a dad ... but think this is one of those things that is easily transferrable to other dads, too, and an important memory we'll both hold for years to come. Here's a few more details in case you want to dig into a trip of your own:

  • preparing_for_adolescenceWe set a budget for the trip, then plan together what gets spent where. Helps him learn how to handle money and do some logistics, and also helps him really enjoy whatever he chooses. In this case we found an average hotel with free parking so we could spend more money on food. This kid is just like his father.
  • We use the curriculum Preparing for Adolescence by Dr. James Dobson. It has served us well - we did the audio CD's and workbook, and used most of it for a springboard for our own conversations, too.
  • After the trip, my sons get to enjoy some newfound benefits: he gets their own Axe Apollo deodorant, his own Surf Gel, can play T-rated videogames and we play through the Halo series on Xbox (with his dad for continued bonding time) on co-op on Saturday after HSM services.
  • We watch their first PG-13 movie on this trip as well, something like Transformers, Avengers or Star Trek. It is a BIG deal to them since we're very strict on what they watch!
  • This isn't our only conversation about sex - this isn't THE TALK ... it is ONE of the talks, definitely a key one, but one of many we'll have as he grows up. My wife is a nurse and hasn't been afraid to talk about everything by it's proper name since day one anyhow. Ha!

Happy to answer questions in the comments - fire away!


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, boyhood, father and son video game time, guys trip, dr dobson, saddleback hsm, talking to your kids about sex, man trip, talk about sex, manhood, is halo OK for my 10 year old, james dobson, boy becomes a man, preparing for adolescence, dude time, the talk

A New Kind of Modesty

Posted by Duffy Robbins

I’ve been thinking lately about modesty.

I know: after the Miley Cyrus episode on the MTV Awards, we’ve all been thinking a little bit more about modesty lately!

But, I’ve been thinking about a different kind of modesty.

I had been scheduled to speak at a large youth event out west, and about two weeks prior to the event I received a phone call from a woman on the design team who wanted to review with me some basic details of conference schedules and travel plans. All in all, it was pretty routine.

That was when she added, without any hint of irony, this additional word of direction:

“Please, when you give your talks to the kids, we’ve decided as a design team to ask that you not mention the Name of Jesus. We don’t mind if you talk about God, in fact, we hope you will. But we hope you’ll understand that talking about Jesus will offend some of our young people, and we don’t want to do anything that will make them feel uncomfortable....”

I tried to imagine a doctor who refused to tell her patient of his disease because it might upset him. Or, the spelling teacher who didn’t have the heart to tell his students that they were consistently misspelling certain words because she didn’t want to discourage them. Or, the traffic cop who couldn’t bring himself to ask the driver to please keep his truck off of the sidewalk because he didn’t want him to think policemen unfriendly. We can almost imagine the furrowed brows as this Design Team wrestled with what they must have considered “the Jesus problem”.

A New Kind of Modesty

In an age in which modesty seems as out of date as Pong and penny loafers, in an age in which no topic is taboo, no indignation un-televised, no truth held back, it is striking that we, in the church, have finally found a modesty that we can feel good about: We can be modest about Jesus.

Now, please understand, I am completely sympathetic with the motives that must have led these good folks to “design” The Designer out of their youth event. After all, they wanted to make the conference a safe place for kids to ask questions, to feel accepted, to feel comfortable. I agree with that. That’s important. But just because we want all patients - no matter how sick - to be welcomed into the hospital, that doesn’t mean that we have to be hospitable to every sickness and germ, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we have to be modest about the cure.

It was supposedly an Archbishop of Canterbury who commented several years ago that the Church of England was “dying of good taste”. I hope it isn't in poor taste to say so - and it certainly isn't often that youthworkers are accused of exercising too much good taste - but sometimes I feel like I see the same thing happening on the youth ministry landscape.

There's a very important and a very fine line between being bold to speak the truth and speaking the truth in such a way that we just sound rude and cranky. I suspect that's what Paul had in mind when he asked his friends in Colossae to pray that he would proclaim the Word with clarity, "as I should", he wrote (Col 4:4). But, he also counseled them to "Be wise" in the way they act toward outsiders - to "make the most of every opportunity" (Col 4:5).

Paul doesn’t want to sound rude and cranky, but that doesn’t mean he wants to sound sweet. What he wants is to sound clear.

For Paul, good teaching was a combination of grace and salt (Col 4:6), and for good reason. Salt without grace has a bold taste; but it can be so strong that not many "outsiders" will come back for more. On the other hand, grace without salt is sweet and appealing - everybody loves it - but it isn't a clear proclamation.

Lord, keep me from being "modest" when I ought to be bold. And may my "boldness" never provoke outsiders with over-exposure (Think: evangelistic twerking). I want to be gracious without being sweet, and salty without being sour.

Which tendency is greater in your own teaching?


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, colossians 4, modesty, evangelism, twerking, miley cyrus, evangelistic twerking, youth ministry modesty

4 ways to navigate change in your youth group like a champ!

Posted by Josh Griffin


Not long ago, I was in a crazy car accident. Now I know any car accident may appear to have craziness included in the definition, but this was the very essence of the word “crazy”!

First of all, the car in front of me shouldn’t have slammed it’s brakes on at the exact second the noise from the construction site distracted me. I just remember turning my gaze back to the front and thinking and possibly even saying out loud, “Oh crap!” before the sound of the front of my van disintegrating reached my ears.

What do you do with that? 30 years of driving without one accident and nobody tells you what you do next. I didn’t even know airbags really stink once they deploy. But, boy , do they! And did you that you partially lose your sense of hearing?!! Nobody told me to expect that either!

It happened so fast. So very, very fast. Life does that, you know. Changes fast.

It’s kind of like what can happen in your youth group. Things can change and change fast! Like a car accident, I don’t know if you can ever really be prepared fully for these kinds of things. An upset parent, your pastor resigns, your best volunteer needs to take a break, or even the death of a teenager in your youth group are all reasons why it is important to acknowledge that things are going to happen.

Are you going through a big change right now? Here are 4 ways to navigate change like a champ:

Pay attention. There are so many distractions out there that get and hold our attention away from what is really important. I have a friend that has a saying that we have adopted in our family. “Focus on what is permanent and not just important.” Important things change, where permanent things will stay the same. What are the permanent aspects of your ministry?

Don’t forget. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed when circumstances change drastically in our lives or in the lives of those around us! We have to remember that God promised us grace for today only. Tomorrow is His and yet we try to figure it all out for Him, don’t we?

Learn from the change. You can bet your sweet bippy that I don’t get within a hundred miles of the nearest bumper anymore! I have learned. And you will learn to. You will learn what works and doesn’t work. You will learn how to comfort and counsel better. You learn how to be a better youth worker. But first you have to be willing to just learn.

Lead through change. You can bet that if you are freaking out about the change your ministry is facing, then the folks you lead are also shaking in their boots. In the midst of chaos there is a desperate need for leadership. God has given you the honor of leading the ministry you serve. I wish you could just lay on the floor and freak out over the change you are facing, but you don't have that luxury as a leader. Take some time to personally deal with the change, and then it is time to rise and lead those that are depending on you.

Unfortunately for my van, it is no longer with us. Unfortunately for my budget, I have a new car payment. But because of God’s grace, we were all ok. Now I am on my way to get my daughter’s driving permit. Somehow, I’m just not feeling it!

Shellie Hochstetler encourages parents of teenagers daily at www.ParentMinistry.net and www.Parentzilla.com. She has survived raising 4 teenagers and in her own words, "they are extremely awesome". She describes parenting as "terrifying but fulfilling, lonely while extremely loud, and completely exhausting while in the same breathe exhilarating!" Shellie lives in her dream home in Nashville, TN with her husband, kids, a horse, and some chickens.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts

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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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