How To Earn A Parent's Trust

Posted by Josh Griffin

Courtesy of Vox Efx/Creative Commons License Courtesy of Vox Efx/Creative Commons License

I thought I knew it all about teenagers and their parents. I didn't realize how wrong I was until I became a parent. Granted I know there is still a lot to learn because my children are still small; however, one thing I do know is a parent's trust is essential. The reason my wife and I have chosen certain babysitter's, daycare providers and even certain children's products is because of trust. If there is no trust we will not invest our children with it or them.

A goal of every youth minister needs to be a trustworthy person in a parent's life. If you want your ministry to grow and go you need parent's behind you because they can be a very good reason why their teen shows or does not. Unfortunately, earning trust is not as simple as showing up, you need to:

  • Communicate Constantly: Parents are inundated with information and responsibilities, saying it once will not do the trick. Communicate your programs, your announcements and your vision over and over again. You can not over communicate to parents what you do and why you do what you do. The more consistency they see in your communication the more they feel like they can trust your word.
  • Stay Humble: Parents want the best for their kids; however, they also understand that you are human. If you make a mistake own up to it. If you don't know an answer don't make one up. A parent wants someone who is going to be honest and authentic and will be turned off by someone trying to impress them.
  • Show Them Your Presence: You are there to walk with parents, not replace them. Show them your support by listening, allow them to take out their frustration, fears and joys on you. Help them see that you are there for the journey. When they see you are on their side they'll see you as a major ally.
  • Help Them Grow: Your responsibilities for discipleship do not just happen within the church walls. Make sure you are encouraging the family to grow at home. That means equipping parents with resources, plugging them in to small groups, ministries and other opportunities that will help them grow confident in their relationships with Christ. When they see that you are helping them to grow, they'll know you are with them for the long haul.

Youth ministry focuses so much on the teens that it's easy to forget about the parents. You need the parents because they are essential to helping you grow disciples. Everything you do is a challenge and could be wiped away if a parent doesn't trust you. While you look to invest in students, look to invest in their parents.

How are you earning a parent's trust?

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, humility, trust, parents, communicate, parenting

Parent Newsletter Builder

Posted by Josh Griffin


I'm really excited about the parent newsletter builder we released this month for FREE for members of the Download Youth Ministry Membership. It is just version 1 and already pretty incredible. You get a chance to customize the parent newsletter with your church name, a welcome letter then hit "DONE" and presto-chango you've got a killer parent newsletter that could be emailed to parents or a stack of copies made on the back table in the foyer. Helping youth workers win is our tagline ... and this one really, really does!


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, parents ministry, parent newsletter builder, parents, parent ministry, communicating to parents, newsletter for parents, parent newsletter, youth ministry membership

Book Review: The Perks of being a Wallflower

Posted by Rachel Blom

book coverI didn't have much time to write blog post these last weeks, since my son was home on summer break and I really wanted to spend some time with him. But I did have time to read, so I've made good progress on my Top 100 of teen fiction and I'll be posting my reviews in the days and weeks to come.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower has gotten raving reviews. For me, it had to grow on me however. At first, I didn’t ‘get’ the main character and narrator of the story, Charlie. But slowly but surely I came to see the world through his eyes and the more I did, the more I got drawn into the story. And there was a lot of hurt.

It’s not an easy book, despite it being made into a movie. It’s written in letters that Charlie, a freshman and the main character of the book, writes to someone we don’t know. In these letters he describes what he sees, for he observes a lot.

He observes the kind of relationship his sister is in. He observes the lives of his newfound friends. He observes how other treat him, relate to him. And ultimately he discovers that he’s too much of an observer.

I won’t say too much about the plot, for it will spoil it. You’ll have to read this book for yourself to discover what’s the cause of Charlie’s hurt, the reason that he’s on the sidelines instead of fully participating. It was beautifully done, surprising and yet logical at the same time. What's unique, is that there are very few books that feature a male main character and while I am no boy, I feel like author Stephen Chbosky really got this voice of a teen boy right.

In terms of language and content: there’s some strong language in here, a few profanities, some sex and drugs. Nothing you wouldn’t come across in the real life of a high school freshman, but be sure to read the book carefully before recommending it to your teens. After they’ve read it, you’ll sure have plenty to talk about!

All in all, this was definitely one of the deeper and more literary reads in the Top 100 of teen fiction!

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, young adult fiction, teen fiction, top 100 teen fiction reviews

A Two For One Deal

Posted by Justin Knowles

Now you have to understand, I am not one to promote my own things on this site. But I don’t think this falls into this category per say. I only bring this up because a friend of mine told me they have used a product of mine for something I did not even intend it to do, but he said works really well. So I thought I would share.

I have been doing a series called “Teaching Outlines” were I just pull out Biblical truths from chapters of a certain book and create a basic teaching outline where you can place your own context of ministry within it and still get Biblical points from it. You can check out these outlines HERE.

Here is the product definition for this Sermon/Series:

This is the book of Colossians teaching outlines. It will give you a general outline of the main points and passages from each chapter with helpful notes throughout that gives you a solid outline that allows you to fill it in with your spice, stories and context for ministry. It is a great deal – only $1 a chapter!

Each teaching outline includes:

Suggestions for a good opener or illustration

2-4 main points from the chapter

Passages of Scripture

Action Steps

Thought for the Week

Questions about the study for after

Here is what my friend has been using it for:

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 10.03.40 AM

The picture above is a screen shot from one of these outlines. He has been using them for his small groups. He has been printing out the notes, making copies, and giving them to his small group leaders so they have a guide to cover all the big points in each chapter. There is practical application, a thought for the week. and discussion questions for after finishing the chapter.

He said it has been a great resource for his small groups as a guide to go through each of these books in a way that is easy for his leaders and students to understand but get great Biblical definition and discussion about what it is teaching in each chapter. He uses them as a guide to walk them through the particular chapter in a practical way.

Now, take it or leave it (I hope you take it ha!), but I thought I would share of an alternative way to use this resource. You get two in one! It’s a steal!

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, book outline, hsm, Small Groups, two for one deal, small group outline, student ministry, teaching outlines, DYM, youth ministry, deals

5 Lies Girls Believe- Part 4

Posted by Neely McQueen

We're digging into the 5 most common lies that teenage girls believe. To find the other lies- click part 1, part 2 and part 3. When girls believe these lies they live life according to what they hold as truth.

This lie is practical. And sometimes we, as youth workers, forget how important it is for us to speak to the practical.

Lie #4- I am safe online


I think most teens "know" of the dangers online but the majority seem to believe that these dangerous things will never happen to them. No one believes they are the negative statistic. So, teenagers make themselves more and more vulnerable online.

1 in 3 girls are victim to online cyberthreats or bullying.

1 in 5 teens have been solicited for sex last year (Only 25 percent of the youth who were approached told a parent).

1 in 8 youth ages 8-18 discovered that someone they were communicating with online was an adult pretending to be much younger

47% of teens post pictures online for others to see without any privacy settings. (This is an older statistic- before Instagram)

1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras

About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others


When you have a young girl struggling with the lies about who she is and what defines her and than you add in the online dangers, what you have is constant vulnerability. Vulnerable girls with access to danger at their fingertips.

In your youth ministry and in my youth ministry are girls who are part of these stats. We have girls being bullied online and we have girls who are having inappropriate relationships online with dangerous people.

As youth workers, what is our role in this conversation?

1. Stay informed. Know what the trends are online in your area. Ask your students, they are more then willing to give you an education. In our area, there was a rise in our students creating these "ask me" pages. These pages are huge avenues for bullying. Being informed help me take the next steps to care for the girls in my church.



2. Keep Parents Informed. When a new trend comes along online, tell your parents. The more they know, the better they can care for their kids. Communication strengthens our partnership with parents.

3. Intervene When Necessary. If you see or hear about a student making decisions online that are making them vulnerable, then it is time to intervene. Connect with the student or if needed with a student and a parent. The internet is just too dangerous for us to not take action.

Two years back there was a young girl in our ministry who started corresponding with man online. It went on for awhile until her older brother find out and went to her parents. One year after her parents found out, she was back online posting pictures on Instagram to over 1000 "friends". Friends whose name alone on Instgram communicated that they were not safe people. Because we knew her history and we stayed informed in her life, we got to intervene through a partnership with her parents. Fortunately, she is making way better decisions online now and is actively serving in our ministry. She shared her story in our ministry a few months back.

This is why as youth workers we sometimes have to dive into conversations that don't seem to be super spiritual. We are shepherds. We are to care for our flock...and to help protect them from danger. The internet is a dangerous place for insecure and struggling girls. Let's walk with them in life...on and offline.

What are the online trends of your students? Do your students think they are safe online?


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, youthmin, ymin, online, Neely McQueen, bullying, girls, internet, parent, lies they believe, youth ministry

POLL: Taking the Summer Off

Posted by Josh Griffin

I was emailing back and forth with a youth worker recently who wanted to talk through the pros and cons of taking the summer off. I think it makes sense to keep going - even increase some of programs and relationship opportunities since students have more time. I totally understand church cultures that say just the opposite as well! Wondering what you do in your youth ministry context, vote now!


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, programs, summer ministry, polls, summer programs, summer events, youth ministry calendar, taking the summer off

Be a Good Dad

Posted by Josh Griffin

Needed this little reminder: Be a good dad.


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, extra gum commercial, be a good dad, videos, father's day, parent ministry, parenting

Free School Year "Read Thru the NT" Plan for Students

Posted by Josh Griffin


Got this great freebie today from Ken Leslie (one of DYM's Partners, you can check out his great resources here). It is a 2013-14 School Year Reading Plan for your volunteers and/or students. Here are some details about it:

I made a Bible Reading plan for my adult leaders (and possibly some students) to read through the New Testament throughout the school year. Its kinda unique because I tried to make it very easy to accomplish. Its scheduled for every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and has multiple "Catch up days" and holidays off. Plus it is arranged to coincide with Christmas and Easter holidays. I arranged it so a person would read a Gospel, then some letters, then back to another Gospel, then some letters, etc. Also, I combined authorship, such as Luke to Acts, and John to 1-3 John, etc.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, quiet time, read thru the nt, bible reading plan, student devotionals, ken leslie, devotions

What I Wish My Senior Pastor Would Have Done

Posted by Jen Bradbury


My first year in ministry, I was 22 years old.

I was young and naïve, incredibly passionate and excited to be in ministry. I was also arrogant, convinced I was God's gift to the church (or at least to the particular church I was serving in).

Despite my arrogance, my first year in ministry was incredible...Until 11 months in when everything fell apart. Three months later, I left my church, bruised and battered, questioning my call and my place in the church.

At the time, I blamed much of what happened on my senior pastor.

Recently, though, as I purged my office of some decade-old papers, I found a report this senior pastor had written after everything started to disintegrate. I read the report, fully expecting my decade-old rage to return.

It didn't.

Instead, as I read this report, now as a veteran in youth ministry, I saw this man's wisdom. Much to my surprise, this revelation saddened me. I realized that had things been different, this was a man from whom I could have learned much. I only wish that had been possible.

  • I wish that rather than leave me alone until things started to fall apart, this veteran pastor would have taken the time to intentionally disciple me from day one. I wish he would have spent time investing in me, explaining the major theological tenets of the congregation and facilitating conversations with it's saints in order to teach me about it's history and culture.
  • I wish this senior pastor would have attended our youth ministry, not with any regularity, but enough to know first-hand what was happening in it. I wish he would have used that first-hand knowledge to give me a six-month evaluation. Such an evaluation would have enabled me to strengthen my weak areas and in so doing, grow as a youth worker and increase the effectiveness of our youth ministry.
  • I wish that rather than simply smile at the increased amount of youth suddenly attending our church, this senior pastor would have taken time to actually get to know me. I wish he would have gently and lovingly drawn attention to my weak spots, including the fact that to succeed in ministry over the long-haul, I'd need to replace my arrogance with humility.
  • I wish that rather than joke about how the congregation got a “two-for-one” deal with my husband and I, he would have instead helped us establish healthy boundaries for a lifetime together in ministry.
  • I wish this senior pastor would have taught me how to choose my battles; That not everything is actually worth fighting.
  • I wish that when things got bad, this senior pastor would have stood by me, publicly supporting me while lovingly helping me to correct the things that had gone wrong.

And when things were irreparably broken, I wish this senior pastor would have helped me to leave well.

Certainly, I cannot return to my first year in ministry but what I can say is this:

Rookie Youth Workers: Value the wisdom of your senior pastor. Seek him out. Ask to be discipled. And then willingly learn from his experience in ministry.

Senior Pastors: No matter how competent your new hire seems, take the time to disciple her. Do the things I wish my senior pastor would have done my first year in ministry. If you do those things, my hunch is you won't need to worry about helping your youth worker leave well. Instead, she'll likely stay for years, allowing your congregation to reap the fruits of a long, sustainable youth ministry.

Jen Bradbury has been in youth ministry for 11 years. She’s the youth director at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. Her writing has appeared in YouthWorker Journal, The Christian Century, and Immerse. She blogs at ymjen.com

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, leadership, senior pastor, jen bradbury, veteran youth ministry.

GUEST POST: Training Is Necessary

Posted by Josh Griffin

I have heard mixed views on the value of training. One view being that if you are truly doing what God has called you to do then you don not need training and the other, to be the best God has called you to be, training is necessary. I believe that it is necessary. But why?

I have hit a stump in my ministry and have requested training because I know that we were not put here to do what God has called us to do alone. We were made to learn and grow from each other. Therefore, it is necessary for us to have accountability and partnership with other leaders.

When you receive training, you share ideas and as you talk and interact, new ideas arise. You and the one training you grow in those moments. Each week, you come back with a new, exciting and fresh idea and the people you minister to are being pumped up, fueled and charged, ready for whatever comes their way!

Sharing your passion with what God has called you to do with someone else who is passionate about it strengthens your passion and keeps the fire burning. When my friend was helping with children’s we strengthened each other; we grew strong together. We were training each other as we shared our passion.

I have watched as someone pours all they know into another’s life and both people grow tremendously. Then I have watched as someone had no one to stand beside him and teach him; he soon faded away with no one there to pick him up. Therefore, I believe training is necessary. Without it, we cannot grow to be the best God has called us to be.

Challenge: What area do you need training in? Seek out someone in a position to train you!

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

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, learn from each other, leadership, spiritual growth, learning, made to learn, mentoring, training, youth ministry training

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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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