Selma Movie

4 Things Growing Groups Have

Posted by Justin Knowles

Everybody wants to see their small group grow. Not only in numbers but in knowledge, prayer, leadership etc. Since the beginning of the year I have been noticing some groups growing more than others so I wanted to take a look at those groups and see if there was a common thing between them. Come to find out, there is. There is 4 things that growing groups all have in common. So if you want growing groups, they should have these things:

Caring/Fun- Why do I put these together? Groups that have fun together seem to be a little closer in friendships. Fun and laughter break down walls quicker than anything else and relationships with students and leaders become closer. Because of this, this allows groups to care for each other in a better, closer way when something within the group comes to a serious spot. Someone in the group is struggling with a sin, there is a death in the family, etc the group is already close and the care and compassion in the group grows as well. Groups that have fun, eat meals, genuinely care for their members grow.

They go out- A lot of people tend to think that small groups are inward focus only. I mean, that is part of it. It's a way to make the church feel smaller and to really get into some things. But groups that serve together stay together. Groups that are also outward focused are the groups that are growing numerically, spiritually and in leadership. These groups are attractive to students because this generation of students (whether you believe it or not) wants to go out and tangibly serve. If you are not serving with your group, you are missing out.

Empower students- True leaders don't do everything themselves. They empower others to lead as well. The groups that are growing are putting their students in charge of hosting group, leading the Bible studies, picking a serve project, organizing a fun day for the group and leading in prayer. Sometimes as the group leader we feel need to do everything, I dare you to take a step back and let your students lead some things and I bet you will surprised at how well the respond.

Prayer is strong- This might be cliché but it's true. The groups that have the most growth in all areas have a leader whose prayer life is strong. They all have leaders who constantly pray, have a quiet time, pray for the members in the group, pray for the group members during group and who pray for others outside the group. Because of this, they see more people come closer to Christ because they themselves are closer to Christ. Growing groups have prayerful leaders.

Now this is just looking and reflecting on leaders we have in our ministry, but I can almost be sure this will be common in any ministry out there. All have amazing leaders in our ministry that without them, we wouldn't be able to do what we do and reach as many students as we reach now. Let's make sure to honor them by using them as an example for growing groups and let's make sure they know we are thankful for them this week.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, Small Groups, life groups, student ministry, youth ministry, 4 things, have, growing groups

GUEST POST: Working Through Adversity

Posted by Josh Griffin

You do not have to be a youth worker very long before you’ll face some sort of adversity. The adversity can come from a direct report, a parent, a volunteer and it can even come from students. There are some places adversity comes from that hurts more than others and is harder I have Two Truth’s I remind myself about adversity, you WILL have adversity and you WILL have to handle it well.

Here are some suggestions as to how we as youth workers can handle moments of adversity directly related to ministry:

Do not react based on emotions:

When we are caught off guard, blindsided or wounded our reactions to people can be hostile, defensive and even full of non-graced filled moments. We do not have to be bullied and we don’t have to roll over, but we do need to be cautious with our response. Like it or not we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard of how we react. How we react always has a ripple effect to a larger audience and taking time to process how we should react may radical affect our ministry voice to a larger audience.

Be careful of the voices we listen to;

The voices that bring adversity to us are only one type of voice. Bring people into our life and ministry settings that can be honest & non-biased. Let them speak into the situation or circumstances we are facing and give us some broader perspective. The voice that is coming to us may be coming from a place of frustration, insecurity or even fear but they aren’t necessarily a reflection of what should be happening.

Our Pace of Life is important;

When we are trying to save the world, and let’s be honest we all get suckered into a place of trying to accomplish everything, we get busy and our priorities get out of line. We need to take a step back & take a breath. We need to breathe in the truth that God is still God and we are not. We need to take in a breath to remind ourselves that business does not equate health. We need to take in a breath and take in a breath often. Taking on adversity when we are stressed and overwhelmed is not a good recipe.

Jesus values us, even if we are in the wrong;

When the adversity we face is because of a mistake we have made it is hard to work through. But even in our own leadership or sinful mistakes Jesus has love and grace ready for us. We can learn, we can grow and we can continue to be transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Adversity will impact us at many points in a ministry year. My prayer is that you have the ability with key people around you to help you walk through it and remain healthy.

Danny Bowers oversees the student ministries at Mission Hills Church in Mission Viejo, California.Follow his blog and catch up with his Tweets, too.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, youth ministry life, healthy youth ministry, guest posts, value, adversity, danny bowers, jesus values, pace of life, gossip

How He Loves: A Story

Posted by Colton Harker

Whether it is the “sloppy wet kiss” version or the “unforeseen kiss” version, many of us are familiar with John Mark McMillan’s song, “How He Loves. ” Not many of us, however, are familiar with why the song was written or the real gravity of it. The video “How He Loves: A Story” is a mini documentary about the story behind the song. John tells a powerful story about his best friend dying in a car accident and what he learned about God and His love through it.

I have been talking about this video a lot with students. I love the way that he talks about us interacting with God loving us the midst of our brokenness, in the midst of our sadness, and in the midst of our resentment. I believe that it really brings home the point of what lamenting is and how God is there with us in those rock bottom, all is lost moments.

Thought you guys might find it interesting…

How He Loves : A Song Story from john mark mcmillan on Vimeo.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, video, Brokenness, Lament, How He Loves, John Mark McMillan

Interviews with the Saints

Posted by Jen Bradbury

Most in the youth ministry world are aware of both research and anecdotes suggesting millennials are leaving the church.

As a youth worker, this breaks my heart. I wholeheartedly believe you cannot be a solo Christian. The church is vital to our faith, to the formation of meaningful community, and for the betterment of our world. In order for students to learn this, we've got to regularly talk with them about why the church matters.

To do this, recently, I canceled our regular weekly youth gathering and instead, sent teens into the homes of the saints of our congregation. In preparation for this, I asked my colleagues for the names of people who they thought would be open to such an experience. I then reached out to these individuals, explained what we were doing and why, and asked if they'd be willing to participate. I made it clear they didn't need to worry about refreshments (in fact, our students brought them baked goods) or even chairs, that our teens were adaptable and could sit on the floor if need-be. I then worked with my student leaders to write interview questions. Writing interview questions created excitement for these interviews among my student leaders. Their excitement was contagious.

During our hour-long visits with the saints, teens asked them questions about their childhood, marriage, education, work, faith, and involvement in church. Connecting with saints on their turf allowed us to interview people who were no longer able to drive at night. It also increased their comfort level, making it easier for them to share their stories with our teens. As they shared, teens heard stories about how our church has changed from those who've been part of it since it's inception. They also heard about the connection between faith and the church from people far wiser than they.

When asked to describe her faith, one woman said, “I cannot imagine my life without it.” She then went on to describe how, during a family tragedy, our church rallied around her, offering her both physical and prayer support. This experience became this woman's most powerful encounter with Christ ever.

At the end of the night, my students asked this woman her hope for the future of our church. She shared how she hoped they'd remain involved in and committed to it.

These were powerful words from a woman who's own story showcased why such involvement and commitment to the church matters.

So often, today's teens are frustrated by the hypocrisy they sense within the church; By their suspicion that the church's main goal is it's own survival. Yet, through these interviews with the saints, my teens saw a very different side of the church: It's beauty.

They saw how life-giving and how life-saving the church can be. They left knowing the church matters – not just hypothetically, but because they'd heard it first-hand in the stories of the saints who'd been shaped by it their entire lives.

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, student leaving the church, inter-generational worship, jen bradbury, ymjen, interviews with older generation, faith, intergenerational church, older mentor the younger

Hunger Games vid

Posted by Matt McGill

Hunger Games from Luke St. Hilaire on Vimeo.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts

GUEST POST: Cooperation in Rural Youth Ministry

Posted by Josh Griffin

I live in Parke County, Indiana, a county full of rich history, tourism based around covered bridges, and home to a growing Amish population. Today, the largest town in the county is Rockville, the county seat. That almost didn’t happen. According to Indianagenweb, in the early 1830’s the towns of Bloomingdale and Annapolis were growing about as fast as any town in the county. Some in the area wanted to unite the two towns to ensure growing commerce and population. The leaders in Annapolis did not want to leave the area they had just settled. It proved to be a fateful decision, as the railroad went through Bloomingdale, and the riverboat traffic ceased to Annapolis at roughly the same time. Now all that is left is a small group of houses, a couple road signs and a historical marker about one of its famous former residents who was a congressman.

joe-cannonIf I could tell youth workers in Rural Communities one thing, here is what I would say. Cooperate. It sounds like something that is so simple we can (kind of) teach a four or five year old to do it. However, in the context of ministry, it seems so hard. We have all these obstacles that stand in our way called denominations, histories and grudges. However, it is not impossible. It just takes work. Once you latch onto this principle, it will become your lifeblood in rural youth ministry. If you fail to do this, it may be your downfall. Yes, it’s that important!

When I train youth workers, I tell them to take a lesson from your students. They do not refuse to play on a sports team because of teammates with differing religious views. They don’t typically refuse to sit at a lunch table with someone from a church on the other side of town. We must realize that as workers in God’s kingdom, he has assigned us a purpose and a function as a part of the overall body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).

In many places we look at “the body” and see what is very unhealthy. A foot over here, a hand over there, both detached from their respective legs and arms. Youthworkers, we need to see this for what it is. It is unhealthy. God does not desire this. He desires us to come together for one purpose. To see people in our communities transformed by the message of the Gospel of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Rural youth workers (and all youth workers), find places to cooperate and share resources. It may be through networking or simply planning a couple events together per year. Start small. Trust me, in many communities, it will be noticed when youth workers begin to work together.

Go build relationships with those you are working with on the front lines to change your community in the name of Christ!

Brent Lacy is a Rural Youth Worker at FBC Rockville, Indiana where he lives with his Wife and three kids. He is also the author of Rural Youth Ministry:Thrive Where You’re Planted. Brent blogs at MinistryPlace.Net with some other great Rural Youth Workers.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, train youth workers, rural youth ministry, brent Lacy, rural ministry, bloomingdale, guest post, 1 corinthians 12

Watch the LIVE Stream of Youth Specialties' NYWC

Posted by Josh Griffin

Not here in Nashville for the Youth Specialties Convention? Tune in right now to enjoy the Live Stream of the youth ministry training event. So great!


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, youth ministry training event, NYWC, Youth Specialties, YS, training event, youth ministry conference, national youth ministry conference

GUEST POST: Seek God’s Love

Posted by Josh Griffin

It is hard choosing to someone who doesn’t love you back but so easy to love someone who already loves you. As I sit back and observe, I witness this happen far too often. Our flesh is naturally drawn to people who already love and accept us. But we are not called to be loved by people. We are loved by God, called to love people.

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16) Our trust is in His love for us. We should be eager for God’s love and for a relationship with Him. Every day, we should open our Bibles to read about the love He has specifically for you and me. His love is eternal, forever more. He is our creator and has designed us out of love. He is love.
Once you grasp this, you will realize that even though people may fail you, people may not be kind to or like you, God still loves you! The creator of the entire universe…loves you. And when He is on your side, there is not one single person (who likes you or not) that can obstruct God’s plan for you! He is the almighty, sovereign One and you are His precious child whom He loves.

We should seek God’s love before going into the world to love others. Love will overflow from our hearts and reach the unloving. We will no longer seek love from others, but seek to give love to others. And that’s what it’s all about…LOVE! “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:12) And the way to do that is to seek God’s love first!

I challenge you to get so filled up with the love of God that His love overflows into the lives around you and touches them in a mighty and powerful way!!

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

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, relationships, loving difficult people, i john 4, ashley fordinal, guest posts, John 15, love god love others, God's love

Youth Worker Attempts to Meet 730 Of His Facebook Friends

Posted by Josh Griffin

Thought this story from this week's Daily Mail was interesting. Sounds like something a youth worker would do, right?

  • A real social networker! Youth worker embarks on year-long mission to meet 730 of his Facebook friends in person
  • Daniel Shaw plans to meet 730 of his 1,103 Facebook friends in one year
  • Youth worker set himself challenge after being bet he 'didn't know' all his virtual friends
  • The 38-year-old is raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association
  • Mr Shaw has so far met 129 friends in Manchester, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, friendship, social media, facebook, friends

The Real Purpose of Small Groups

Posted by Justin Knowles

I don't think it comes as a surprise, but I think small groups are great. There are a ton of reasons why students join a small group. It could be just the thing to do at your church. It could be because their parents are making them. It could be because a leader a student has a relationship with invited them into the group. It could be because a student has seen the life change it causes and invited a friend to it. It could be because a student wanted a community around them so they just joined one.

Either one of these reasons are great. I approve. I want all students in a group. But I think there is one reason we as leaders should have a purpose for small group ministry.

Last weekend I was talking to a student about her small group and she hit the main reason right on the head. She said, "I joined the group at first to have community, but as I kept going I realized I really joined because of my need to repent of my sins and learn how to follow Jesus fully."

BOOM! I was so proud in the moment that this student realized this on her own. What she meant was that she decided to let God control her life and she should stop running it. Her joining the group was the first step to letting that happen. She knew that the community around her would help her understand the studies, she knew the group would pray for her, encourage her, help keep her accountable.

But the main thing was to repent. And this will be an ongoing process.

Healthy small groups of God's people are instrumental in bringing life change . . . repentance . . . transformation.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, leaders, Small Groups, repent, the real purpose, healthy small groups

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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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