10% of the Church Should be Made Up of Students

Posted by Josh Griffin


Have you ever heard this statistic before?

Youth group should be running about 10% of the whole church attendance.

Well ... it turns out to be a pretty decent rule of thumb. And while it certainly doesn't hold up in every case, there is a range that seems to work out in most churches. Tony Morgan has done some great research in this area, and come up with several observations about the statistics as well. Here's a clip, very much worth the effort to travel over that way for the rest:

Sunday Morning — It’s very difficult for churches to reach students if the programming in their Sunday worship services (teaching, music, media, etc.) doesn’t engage teenagers…and their parents.

Serving & Leading — Similar to adults, students will eventually checkout if all you expect them to do is attend “youth group.” Students will stick if they have opportunities to serve and lead.

Mimicking Services — On that note, it’s more challenging for some student ministries today. The teaching and music in many churches is strong on Sunday mornings. In those churches, you can’t just try to mimic the Sunday service on Wednesday night and expect students to show up…because they’ll probably get better teaching and music on Sunday morning. (Back when I was in student ministry, the better teaching and music was at youth group.)



Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, the numbers game, percentage of church attendance, numbers, youth group attendance, tony morgan, serving, church attendance

Pre-Service Music

Posted by Colton Harker


Spotify is has been a life-saver for our ministry. We use it every single weekend. For those who don't know, Spotify is a program you can download that allows you to listen to virtually any song. It doesn't let you own it, it just lets you stream it to your computer (or phone if you have Spotify Premium). The service is free if you don't mind a few ads. If you're like me and having ads is asking too much of you, you have the option to pay monthly for Spotify Premium which comes along with a ton of other perks. It is absolutely brilliant. It has everything—even gameshow music!

One of the main things we use Spotify for is our pre and post service music. We strongly believe that music helps set the tone and feel for our ministry, and because of that, we spent a lot of time putting together a fun/funky/cool/indie playlist. If you want to follow our playlist and see what we are playing, feel free to check it out!

Do you have a playlist for your youth group? Post the link below!

Colton [Email||Twitter]

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, service, Look and Feel, Weekend, saddleback hsm, music, Spotify

Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 222

Posted by Josh Griffin


Weekend Teaching Series: A Piece of My Mind (3 of 4)
Sermon in a Sentence: Samson and Delilah
Service Length: 77 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend 2 of our team taught through the story of Samson and Delilah. They worked through the storyline and shared principles of temptation, moral failure, surrender and redemption. This was one of our interns Daniela's first time speaking and she co-taught with Alaina who did the conclusion of the message. Both worked hard on preparing their talk and it was fun to see the teaching bullpen in action. The best part of the talk was a great illustration they used to talk about the mess we make in our lives with sin and how God forgives and still uses us.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Some fun elements this weekend and lots of student involvement. We had a fun video called Workout Tips with Billy Hinzo. It was hilarious and helped keep the element of fun we want in every service. Student greeters were on their A-game this week and did a great job handing out pens, programs and popsicle sticks.

Music Playlist: Hey There Dellah (Plain White T's cover), Let It Be Known, Overcome, Scandal of Grace, Closer, All I Am

Favorite Moment: I loved the object lesson that Daniela and Alaina used this weekend to talk about forgiveness. They used flash paper to illustrate our sins, then lit it on fire and it disappeared leaving no trace. Just like God's forgiveness of us - it is gone!

Up next: A Piece of My Mind (series finale, week 4 of 4)

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, temptation, saddleback hsm, zac efron, samson and delilah, alaina hart, forgiveness, high school ministry, small group, a piece of my mind, hsm weekend in review, sin, daniela nevarez

5 Lies Girls Believe - Part 1

Posted by Neely McQueen

Here's a bold statement: Every day girls are being told lies about who they are and every day girls are believing these lies.

These lies that girls believe determine the way they live.

Over the next few post, I want to take a closer look at the top 5 lies that girls believe about themselves and the world they live in.



Lie #1 - My Body Defines Me

Spend a few minutes watching TV shows that target teen girls or pick up a teen magazine and you'll be overwhelmed by the messages coming at young girls about their bodies.



(Don't even get me started on this cover and what is wrong with it!)

Studies show that girls get depressed within 3 minutes of looking at a "fashion" magazine.

92% of girls want to change at least one thing about their bodies.


(This was painted on a fence in my neighborhood. Seriously, everywhere they go...there are messages about their bodies.)

The University of Colorado did a study of teenage girls and found that most feared "being fat" more than cancer, nuclear war or the death of their parents.

Why the fear?

As far as the the world is concerned, a girl is her body. Talented and brilliant women are defined by their weight and appearance...Adele, Christina Aguilera, Condoleezza Rice...to name just a few.

The standards are unrealistic and unattainable without the help of computer touch-ups. It is impossible to feel like you will ever measure up.

If my body defines me...and my body will never measure up...than I will NEVER measure up. The lies we believe define the way we live. If girls believe this lie it can lead to "self-harm" behaviors or the pursuit of approval for their bodies in inappropriate ways.

What can we do? How can we be different?

1. Tell the truth

If the world's lie is that their body defines them- we tell the truth- that they are so MUCH more than just a body. That who they are is really about what is in their heart, soul and minds. We counter the lie. We acknowledge the lie...and we tell the truth. Once a year, we try and do a girl only service or event where we can address these lies...we spend a majority of our time on this topic.

2. Be aware of your words

We need to be mindful of the way we casually throw words around in front of our students. Words like fat, hot, skinny or ugly can be painful reminders to girls that they don't measure up. Let me be clear...most girls...even the most petite ones, view themselves as fat and ugly. Be careful how you use your words.

3. Redefine Beautiful

I think churches, especially youth ministries, should redefine beautiful. Let's start talking about the beauty of a servant's heart or a friendly smile. The words we use to define it MUST BE ATTAINABLE for everyone. Make it attainable and them help them attain it!

4. Include parents in the conversation

Girls need to hear the truth in their homes. Most parents want to help but they may not realize the full pressure girls are facing each day. We can help girls by including their parents. Help them understand by providing resources for them. Create opportunities for them to have important conversations.

Every interaction with girls is another chance for us to counter the lie that their body defines who they are by speaking the truth in love. What about you...what are others ways you have helped girls overcome lie #1?





Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, youthmin, teaching, ymin, Neely McQueen, girls, lies, student ministry, youth ministry, teenagers

3 Ways to Develop New Teachers in Your Youth Ministry

Posted by Josh Griffin


I'm consciously developing new teachers in our ministry - how about you? Maybe you've got an intern or a key volunteer who you feel would do well on the stage. And believe it or not, it isn't that difficult to help them take their skills to the next level. Here's my simple formula to do just that:

Let them teach small
Give your inexperienced teachers a small venue for their first attempt to teach. Praise them, pray for them and prepare them. Consider bringing a couple of small groups together for one night for a smaller setting to help them get acclimated to the idea. Another great way to help them is to provide a basic outline for them to build on rather than just giving them an open topic with little or no guidance. Sometimes the freedom can be constricting!

Let them teach medium
A solid next step in developing teachers is to let them have a workshop or retreat devotional. Give them a chance to test our their skills on a slightly larger group, and again help them rise to the occasion. Maybe in the middle of one of your messages you can have them come up to teach a point. Maybe there's a way for them to teach just the guys/girls or even divide up the group by class for a night. Either way, show them the next step and if they do well, invite them to the next level, too!

Let them teach big
They've passed the test of the small group and the workshop - now it is time to put them in front of the whole group. Once again your feedback is crucial to their success, so prepare them in advance that you'll be talking with them at a quick debrief afterwards. If you don't warn them, it may hurt a little bit more than you intended so make sure you give them a heads up. Give them the platform, maybe on a holiday week at first, then eventually give it to them a prime slot. Watch them shine. Praise them over and over again. Use them over and over again!

Now I realize this isn't the most revolutionary process, but it has worked over and over again with the leaders I've worked with. What would you add to the list?


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, teaching, Small Groups, teaching youth, Speaking To Teenagers, preparing a youth talk, developing leaders, speaking to teens

The Danger of Consumer Driven Ministry

Posted by Josh Griffin

I'm confident in saying that the majority of our students who come to our weekly program are there by choice. Granted a few of them have been "strongly encouraged" by parents, but for the most part they are owning it. I wish I could say that was true about all aspects of our ministry. When it comes to sacramental preparation there is a huge consumer mindset that we battle. We have a decent number of parents and teens trying to check the box of things they "have to do".

Doesn't matter the denomination or the style of your youth ministry consumerism is a problem that all youth ministry's face. It happens when:

  • People feel the pressure to reach certain milestones in their faith.
  • Students become too comfortable in your ministry.
  • Events have outlasted their purpose.
  • You're changing the paradigm of your ministry.


To combat the consumerism you need to change the focus and mindset. That means reminding people that it's not all about them, it's about God. To change the mindset you need to:

  • Set Clear Expectations: People will come to their own conclusions on what your ministry does or who they serve if it isn't clearly explained to them. That means laying out what is expected of them, what they can expect from you and your ministry. Get everyone on the same page and you will find less people marching to their own drum.
  • Focus On The Relationship: Consumerism comes from the idea of, "What's best for me?". Ministry needs to be what is best for our relationship with Jesus Christ. When it comes to "Check Box" items in your ministry you need to make sure people are trying to rush through it. By making it relational you encourage people to slow down and evaluate how well it is they know Christ. When someone is focused on Christ they realize it isn't about them.
  • Evaluate The Purpose Of Your Programs: Your programs could be creating consumers because people have become too comfortable. Everyone desires comfort and they'll do what it takes to make sure no one changes that. Consistently review and analyze your ministry to avoid this path. Make sure you are taking risks, thinking outside the box and looking to grow disciples. You'll experience conflict, but that's normal because you are asking people to change.
  • Check Your Own Mindset: If you are a consumer driven leader you'll create consumer driven disciples. Make sure you are not making your ministry about what you want or what you desire. Work on your personal relationship with Christ so that you continue to follow His lead. Growing disciples means growing as one yourself.

A consumer driven ministry is key to burn out and a waste of your stewardship. It'll drive you crazy because keeping up with the demands of the consumer is impossible. Shape the way by changing the mindset to contributor. A contributor driven ministry will constantly hit new heights because it's focused on Christ.

What do you see as consumer driven in youth ministry?

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, Christ-centered, consumer, focus, consumerism, contributor, ministry health

How To Begin Being a Relational Giant

Posted by Justin Knowles

Over the past few weeks I have talked to some of our newer volunteers about they can make sure they are connecting relationally to our students. A lot of them say they feel like they are not making the connections that they thought they would be. They asked me how I relate and start up conversations with students I meet for the first time.

Here are some things I told them about how to become a relational giant:

Push past the awkwardness- Meeting new students can be awkward. They don’t know you, you don’t know them. So the fact that an adult is coming up to them and they do not know you, it can be awkward. It’s okay, it’s normal. Push past it. It gets better. Keep your cool.

Be you- One of the many reasons I think we have such amazing report with students is because we have a ton of different and awesome volunteers. I tell newbies, don’t be me, and don’t be josh, be you. Students will like you once they warm up to you.

Smile- It’s amazing what a smile can do. If you are standing in a room full of students and you have a mean mug on, no one is going to want to talk to you. A smile breaks down the walls and lets the students know, “Hey, I’m friendly. It’s okay to talk to me.”

Act your way into feeling- I have heard it been said, “It’s easier to act your way into a feeling rather than feel your way into acting on it.” It’s true in student ministry. Something might not be what you like to do or be involved in….but its not about you. It’s about your connections with students in the ministry. Which leads me to the next point.

Be all in- Plain and simple. When you act all in physically, you will be all in mentally. Hold nothing back. You will find that when you go all in and be wild, crazy, dumb, or even calm and in conversation, students will be all in right behind you.

Play 20 questions- When you are in and talking; I tell newbies to play 20 questions. Of course the students don’t know I’m playing it with them, but I’m asking them questions about themselves. “What school do you go to? What grade are you in? What is your favorite TV show? What’s your favorite food? Do you play any sports?” etc. Once I find something they say more than two words about because they are passionate about it, I stick to that and let them talk. If you didn’t realize, students love to talk about themselves. So play 20 questions.

Be present- The more you are around, the more familiar and the more safe you will become. Just being at as many events as you can be, at as many services you can be, and be consistent with it, students will come to know you as a regular and you can keep on making connections with new and older students because you are now a regular face there.

Being a relational is huge when it comes to youth ministry. It’s all about making connections with students because when you make connections with them they are then open to you when you speak into their lives. When we speak the truth of God, they will be more inclined to listen because they now know whom you are.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, relational giant, relational ministry, student ministry, student connections, relaltionships, connections, youth ministry

3 "Carpe Diem" Moments that Build Deep Relationships with Parents of Teenagers

Posted by Josh Griffin


Relationships grow one small interaction at a time.

But the depth of a relationship multiplies in certain key moments. A youth minister that has a desire to grow relationships with Parents of Teenagers would be smart to recognize those moments.

Here are 3 "Carpe Diem" Moments to Look for in the Lives of Parents where you can Earn their Trust

Triumph- Just about every parent thinks their teenager is pretty amazing. But when someone else notices that their teenager is special it goes a long way to encourage them. Find small but significant ways to recognize the achievements of your teenagers. When they win a big game, make a the dean's list, or simply overcome a struggle make sure to be a cheerleader to both the student and their parents.

Transition- Change is hard. When families go through major change it is a great time to build relationship with them. Take time to notice if a student's older sibling moved off to college, if a student changed schools, or if something occured in the life of a family that is a big deal to them. One great relationship to build is with the local real estate agents in town. They are constantly working with folks in transition. There might be a great opportunity for you to partner with them to help families in your community who are experiencing major change.

Tragedy- Sickness, Death, and Divorce are realities that families with teenagers sometimes face. There is nothing more important than making time for families who are hurting. Show up during a tragedy, and you will build trust with teenagers and their parents.

90% of ministry is just showing up and being available. Keep your eyes open and be ready to seize the moments that open the door for a deep and meaningful connection to the families you serve.

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, shellie hochstetler, parent ministry

Metal Rock

Posted by Neely McQueen


I am not really a metal rock fan. In fact, until about 4 weeks ago I didn't even know what it was. Well, I had an idea but I just imagined Metallica...and I am not sure that is correct.

Here is what I do know, there a few of the guys in my youth ministry who are REALLY into it and they want me to like it too. So, one day at camp I sat down with them and they gave me a lesson. It was rather impressive! Did you know there are several kinds of metal rock? Yeah, me neither. They played a variety of songs and types of metal rock. I tried to understand it...I even maybe tried to appreciate it...but it wasn't going to happen. I asked lots of questions and I tried to sing like they do in metal rock. We laughed. We had kind of a cool moment. I am pretty sure for these guys, I communicated more love than I had ever before because I sat and listened.

While there music sounded like clanging cymbal to me, it reminded me of what Paul said about love.

If I speak in tongues of men and angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

So, here's a Monday morning thought...

It doesn't matter how sweet my programs are, how great our worship is...or what kind of amazing youth room we have...or how gifted I am as a speaker...IF I don't love my students then to them I sound like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I sound like Norwegian metal rock (yeah, there is such thing...I just found out!).

Somedays I forget to do just that...to love.

I am inviting you to start this Monday, this week, this season with love. Ask God to fill your heart with love for the students in your ministry, church and community. May his love for us overflow our hearts so that we might love our students better.

As we love our students may God's love for them transform their lives. Because isn't that why we do what we do?

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, youthmin, metal rock, prayer, love, student ministry, monday thought, youth ministry, 1 corinthians 13, teenagers

My 3 Favorite Ministry Moments This Summer

Posted by Josh Griffin


Just doing some reflecting this week over the incredible summer in our youth ministry. I'm exhausted, and sometimes when I need a push to the finish line I'll reflect on what God has done - nothing like that for a little inspiration as we head into fall. So ... here are my top 3 moments from ministry this summer:

Summer camp baptisms
I love baptisms! And summer camp always is one of the most special times of the whole summer where Life Group leaders and cabin leaders all jump in the water and participate in this special picture of Christ's forgiveness. So special! Then seeing the pictures on Facebook and Instagram for the next several weeks ... incredible.

Guys trip conversations
I'm just coming off of our guys trip just this past week, but the conversations were absolutely incredible. Get guys alone for a few days and they open up big time. Walls come down, defenses crumble and masks come off. Really, really special times of counsel, prayer and love. LOVE those guys.

Seeing our summer interns grow so much
Every year we bring in 3-5 homegrown interns in for the summer and this year they were absolutely astonishing. We had 3 of the 5 that were already feeling called to ministry, and the others cemented their decisions to use their lives in service in some way to teenagers. Quite honestly, not all of my plans for their intentional development worked out, but they grew and learned so much as they went ... and managed to teach me a few things along the way, too.

So, those are my highlights! What was your favorite ministry moment this past summer?


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, summer highlights, guys trip, summer ministry, Summer Camp, summer events, baptisms, ministry highlights

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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 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 also blogs regularly at 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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