Download Youth Ministry Membership

3 Thoughts on Mentoring Students

Posted by Josh Griffin

So you just signed up to be a small group leader. You got a little training, probably from someone who is just a little older than your children – and the first meeting of your small group is next week. This might help get you thinking about the kids God has trusted to you in this next season. I want to highlight a way of connecting with students – Doug Fields has always called it the 5-3-1 Rule. Here’s my take on it:

Care for all
You’ve been given somewhere between 5 and 12 students — and we’re asking you to care for all of them. Simple stuff really, just know their names, be involved in their life and connect with them on a weekly basis. We divide up the large group into small groups so all can be cared for. This is where you come in – be a minister, think of yourself as the pastor of this little church within a church.

Pour into a few
There’s a few of the students in your small group you immediately connect with. Maybe it is a share interest or a similar story — either way, you just click with them. So pour into them a little more than the others. When you’re running an errand, ask one of them to join you so you can turn the mundane into ministry. When you happen on a day you can sneak away from the office, try to sneak by and catch the end of their swim meet or pick them up for a life conversation over a Coke.

Mentor one
After a few weeks, ask God to show you the student who you believe He is calling you to mentor. Pray for them, give them extra challenges, ask them to step up and lead the group one night when you’re gone. Connect with them outside of group, meet regularly and share what God is teaching you. Allow God to speak through you to shape them into a great minister and future small group leader. Maybe it’ll be the church kid who needs you, maybe it’ll be the unexpected fringe kid. You’ll know!

Blessing as you serve students in your small group!


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, leadership, caring for students, small group leaders, youth worker training, Small Groups, life groups, 99 Thoughts, volunteers, 5-3-1 rule, volunteer training, Doug Fields, social media, twitter, mentoring

How To Reach "That Kid" In Your Ministry

Posted by Justin Knowles

I know you know who I am talking about when I say, "That kid" in your youth ministry. Am I right? They come but you sort of don't know why. They sit in the back, on their phone and seem to not pay attention. You are usually surrounded by the students who come all the time because they actually engage in conversation so you sped most of your time with them, not really paying attention to "That kid" who doesn't seem to want to be there anyways. I used to (and still sometimes catch myself) do this all of the time. But I read this story about Jesus and it convicted me so I have been trying to make it a point to reach out to "that kid" because they need Jesus just as much as I do.

You know the story of Zacchaeus. The regions tax collector and was hated among the people. He was on the outside, not in the "in crowd", not in the religious know. People knew he was there but did not engage him in conversation. Yet, he was still there and people didn't know why. He just wanted to see Jesus. He was short so he climbed a tree to see Jesus. What Jesus did next is a lesson we all can learn in youth ministry about those kids who are "that kid" in the back and how to react to them:

Notice them.- 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately.

  • Jesus interacted with them. He was surrounded by a huge crowd yet he took the time to stop and engage in a conversation with him. He need to do the same. Trust me, I know its way easier to talk to the students you already have a relationship with. But if we are to follow Jesus and how he interacted with the fringe people, we need to be intentional with knowing them.

Get to know them. -I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

  • Maybe they are "that kid" because simply because you don't know them. Jesus invited himself over to his house. Zacchaeus didn't seem to mind. He seemed a little shocked and welcomed it greatly. I would imagine that every kid who just seems to come to come and not be involved wouldn't mind being invited to Chick-fil-a or Starbucks after service if you are buying simply because you want to get to know them better.

Others have ignored them and might not get their "normal time" with you. -7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

  • The Pharisees were a little upset Jesus chose to hang out with a "sinner" rather than them. I would think some of your regulars might be mad if you have a tradition after services and you interrupted it to hang out with a new student. I would encourage them to invite "that kid" to come with. How will our students know how to reach out to new people if we as their leaders are not showing them how it's done?

Change happens because you show them Jesus. - 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

  • We don't know the conversation Jesus had with Zacchaeus to make him change his heart. We just know Jesus spent time with him and he was changed. I know when we reach out to students we are showing them the same love as Jesus would have shown them. I know we can't change people, only Jesus can, but when we spend time with students like Jesus spent time with people, they see Jesus, they want to know more of Jesus and they keep wanting to come to your service to learn about Him. Life change happens this way. It's what Jesus does. It's what I want to be addicted too.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, relationships, Zacchaeus, evangelism, Small Groups, notice them, reaching out, that kid, Jesus

Great Youth Group Game: Egg Roulette

Posted by Josh Griffin

This week we played one of our favorite summer camp games at our youth group. It was so great - if you haven't seen Egg Roulette, yet, watch this fun clip from host Jimmy Fallon and celebrity guest Tom Cruise. Makes for a great youth group game ... but be careful to turn the egg correctly so it breaks easily because the other way will give you a knot on your forehead ... just ask my friend Justin Knowles. Ouch!


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, egg roulette, games for youth groups, saddleback hsm, youth games, youth group games, tom cruise, programming, Justin Knowles, jimmy fallon, fun youth group games, teenagers

GUEST POST: The Stigma of Curriculum

Posted by Josh Griffin

This week I engaged in some conversation online with other youth pastors and it went similarly to conversations I’ve had before.

“ What do you think of this curriculum? Have you used it?”- they ask

-I respond about the curriculum

“ I just want you to know normally I like creating my own stuff, I just am so busy and need to use some curriculum to help me out.”

It’s after these conversations I walk away asking myself why everyone has the same response.

If you use curriculum there is something I want you to hear today:

There is nothing wrong with you for using curriculum! It doesn’t make you a bad pastor, in fact it could even make you a great pastor. You don’t need to come up with your own materials.

Each of us is uniquely gifted and for some of us creating content comes easily, for others of us it doesn’t. Each of our ministries is different, some have huge teams where people can focus on specific roles while others are struggling to get everything done by themselves.

Curriculum is a tool, it is published by individuals for you to use. And I believe that as long as you are putting the best time and effort you can into prepping and delivering the most God-honoring curriculum you can.... then you are doing your job. If you are really strong at spending time counseling students and that is how God has gifted you, be an excellent counsellor and do your best teaching you can. If you are great at evangelism but struggle with teaching all the nitty gritty bits of faith: Share and bring others to Christ and use tools to help guide them.

There should be no stigma associated with using curriculum. The only time it becomes a problem is when you use it to cut corners. When you let it do all the work and you don’t dedicate any time to it. But if you are using it to help you whether you need to free up time for a season, or whether you just need help teaching because you are gifted in some other way....please don’t feel guilty! You are doing the best with what you’ve got and God will honor and bless that. Besides its the Holy Spirit that does the heavy lifting anyways we are all just his tools.

So be blessed as you prep your lessons this week, this month, this winter no matter how you do it!

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years and blogs exclusively here on He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. Hit him up on Twitter @CorbinKyle

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, recommended youth ministry resources, guest posts, CURRICULUM, small group curriculum, kyle corbin

GUEST POST: 10 Key People in Rural Church Ministry

Posted by Josh Griffin

Welcome to Rural Youth Ministry. The boxes are unpacked, the church fellowship (or pitch-in or potluck) is over, now it’s time to get to work. You may be in a new community or part of the country asking yourself “where do I even start?” Here are 5 of the Top 10 people you need to get to know as you get started in rural youth ministry:

10. The Church Treasurer - This person or team can be one of your biggest allies or headaches. You want them as an ally. They sign your paycheck, they write reimbursement checks, and in some cases, can help you navigate the youth budget.

9. A High School/Jr High School Teacher or Coach that does not go to your church - It’s easy to stick with the teachers/coaches that go to your church in building relationships. You are “their” youth worker. Build a working relationship with a teacher/coach that has no vested interest in sugarcoating anything. Their interest is you helping them by being a positive impact in students lives. That is messy kingdom work.

8. Someone who frequents the place where all the old guys go drink coffee - I know. You are doing YOUTH ministry, but hang with me for a minute. These are the guys who seem to know everything that goes on in town, everything that is going to happen, and someone who can find anything you would need. An odd tool? They know a guy. Need something fixed for a reasonable price locally? They know someone for that too...

7. The School Secretary - This person is a wealth of information and a powerful partner in your ministry. They hold the key to a treasure trove of information that will be ever so useful to you. It is pure insanity to even try and schedule a youth event during the school year without help from the school secretary’s calendar.

6. The person who owns the local hardware store - You will want to get to know this person for two reasons: 1) You are in youth ministry...with teenagers... Something is going to break, and you’re going to need to know how to fix it (maybe quickly). and 2) This person has access to all the resources necessary for just about any crazy game or object lesson you could think of.

To be Continued...

Brent Lacy is the Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church, Rockville, Indiana. He is the author of “Rural Youth Ministry: Thrive Where You’re Planted”. He blogs with other Rural Youth Workers at

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, church relationships, relational ministry, key people in the church, rural youth ministry, brent Lacy

GUEST POST: How Is It With Your Soul?

Posted by Josh Griffin

Today I had a terrifying realization. More on that in a second.

The soul is the capacity of the Christian. If the Holy Spirit is the juice, the soul is the battery cell. Worn-out batteries lose the ability to hold juice and can no longer carry out the purpose for which they exist, and so are thrown away. Worn-out Christians who don’t care for their souls lose the ability to utilize the Spirit and no longer carry out the purpose for which they exist, and so their hopes and dreams become impossible.

Our capacity to work with students can only go so far as our soul’s capacity to pour out the Holy Spirit. And our soul’s capacity to pour out the Holy Spirit rests on the care we take to keep our souls healthy.

This is what I realized: there is a possibility that, some point down the line in my ministry career, I could have a broken-down soul, but as long as I “perform” my role well, no one would ever know.

How is it with your soul? We don’t often hear that question in Christian circles. In ministry, we tend to gauge our spiritual effectiveness on external qualities: the busyness of our schedules, the size of the crowds in our services, the scope of our spheres of influences. In his book Replenish, Lance Witt writes, “We have neglected the fact that a pastor’s greatest leadership tool is a healthy soul.”

It’s not vision. It’s not leadership ability. It’s not ministry experience, or charisma, or innovative thinking that makes a healthy ministry. Powerful, earth-shattering, life-transforming ministries happen because they are led by men and women who take care of their own souls.

Who in your life is asking you how is it with your soul? And if they did ask you, what would you say? I’m afraid to admit that if I’m not careful, in the future I might be able to slide by the accountability of others and do ministry on abilities, ideas, and experience alone— for a season, until the fumes of exterior ministry run out and the nakedness of the interior, decrepit soul expose me as a fraud.

Students don’t need a visionary. They don’t want someone who pulls off massive programs with ease. Those things are important and valuable, but the fundamental responsibility of the youth worker is to be spiritually healthy. It’s about being God’s person instead of doing God’s work. You have to focus on knowing Jesus better before you strategize about showing Jesus better.

I want to lead a thriving youth ministry. But first I need a thriving prayer life. I want God to give me growing responsibility and growing influence. But he won’t unless I commit to growing myself.

How is it with your soul? The potential of your ministry is totally dependent on the answer to that question.

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

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, leadership, soul searching, youth pastor life, soul care, lance witt, guest posts, replenish, SOUL, broken people broken-down soul, taylor bird, battery

Youth Pastor Stereotype - Disorganized and Flighty

Posted by Leneita Fix

This past summer my ministry hosted some national churches to come and do some post Sandy hurricane work. I was discussing some of the details with the sending missions organization when the director made this statement.

“Have you ever worked with youth pastors? They can be disorganized and flighty.” Ouch.

He laughed when I shared that I was a youth pastor, pleasantly surprised that I din’t fit the “stereotype.” Some of you are giggling nervously right now as you know the description is you, while others are livid it’s the label we “bear.”

Plan your work. Work your plan. It’s not leadership genius. Goals and planning are the anthem of every January. Then something happens, maybe the “cold vortex” freezes us out but it happens: our best ideas never become a reality. Then, we use a lot of excuses to back up our inability to follow through.

People who know me are often surprised that “administration” is usually my lowest score on any personality or spiritual giftings test. It has become a learned behavior, which keeps me sane. Somewhere along the way I learned that organization and strategy helps me focus MORE on the students.

So what do you do?

Find Something That Works FOR YOU
Almost two weeks into the New Year, you are over-inundated with blog posts about the best way to set goals and meet them. Know yourself. What can you set up that you will STICK to? You may to take one nugget from here and there. Stop thinking you have to be everyone else and DO SOMETHING.

Set Yourself Up For Success
Start with a few things that you can achieve quickly and easily. Once you feel the wind of accomplishment in your face it will build momentum. If you have a long-term goal for the year how can you break it down into “edible” pieces? Build one step onto the next.

Embrace Process
I love items like volunteer manuals, forms and consistency. When we hold everyone accountable to the same guidelines then we don’t have to keep “making it up as we go.” Did you ever realize that “shooting from the hip,” actually eats more time? You can always “bend the rules” if you need to as you go, however, process actually helps your team, students and families know exactly what to expect.

Plan With A Willingness to Throw It Out
I once heard a pastor tell me that he details out every sermon and then gives permission to the Lord each week to throw it out in the pulpit. God is a planner, just look around at the intricacy of creation. Pray about your plans, be close to Him, and listen for the times when He says, “Do this different.” However, don’t use God as an excuse to avoid goal setting.

Start small. Make a calendar and stick with it this month or even today. Ask yourself, “If I ran into a student in 10 years, who would I want to meet up with?” Then write down details of what that looks like. Start with one step towards the part you play in that answer.

Just start.

Leneita Fix co-founded Frontline Urban Resources to help equip, coach and speak into the lives of those working with families living in a “survival mode” mentality. They refer to this thinking as the “new urban.” You can see her resources on DYM right here.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, just start, New Year, lenita fix, willingness, embrace, new years resolutions, plan your work, work your plan, stereotypes, frontline urban ministry, starting out right, youth pastor stereotypes, start now, success

GUEST POST: Helping Others to Achieve Success

Posted by Josh Griffin

It’s hard not to want to share the taste of success when you become successful yourself. You want others to feel the happiness you feel and see the greatness you see that God has made available to every one of us. Besides, success is so much sweeter when you bring someone with!

Since true success is found through Jesus, the way to bring people with you starts by pointing them to Jesus through your words and actions. They will find success for themselves by watching and learning where success begins from you. “Be and example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Pick a handful of people who are dedicated to becoming successful, and pour your life into them. Hold them accountable to their actions and help them stay on track. You know, I talk about accountability all the time because it is so often overlooked, many do not realize the need for it, but everyone can benefit from it. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)

Encourage those people by speaking words of life and hope into them. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:21) The words you speak can build people up and give them the push they need to keep moving forward.

Sometimes we all could use an extra push to move forward, that’s why God gave us each other. He wants to see us all succeed and become the best us we can be! “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

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

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, dedication, guest posts, 1 timothy 4, proverbs 18, proverbs 27, success, ashley forinal, jeremiah 29

Intergenerational Starts with Me

Posted by Jen Bradbury

I'm an introvert. I love people, but I hate large groups and I despise small talk.

This means that my least favorite time of Sunday mornings is “coffee hour”. I dread this time so much so that most weeks, I make a mad dash from worship to the Youth Room, skipping over the hated coffee hour all together.

I justify this by saying that as the youth worker, in order to make students feel welcome I have to be in the Youth Room early so that I can greet students as they arrive. What's more, I know that unlike downstairs during coffee hour, upstairs in the Youth Room, I routinely have meaningful conversations with teens.

And while all of those things are true, this year, my student leaders and I set some God-sized goals for ourselves and our youth ministry. Among them: To better connect with others of all ages in our family of faith.

To this end, this year, we interviewed some of the saints of our congregation to find out why church matters. I also intentionally attended a host of holiday parties and open houses (An introvert's nightmare!) in order to deliberately cultivate relationships with people from my congregation who are not in some way involved in my youth ministry. Yesterday, I even spent time sharing about our youth ministry with a circle (an earlier, perhaps more social form of a small group) of women, most of whom were probably in their 70s and 80s.

I did so because I know that intergenerational relationships matter.

In fact, according to Sticky Faith, they matter a great deal.

I've known this for quite some time, even dating back to the power of intergenerational relationships I experienced in my own life during high school.

But after 12 years in ministry, what I'm embarrassed to admit I'm just now learning is that intergenerational ministry takes more than intentionality; It also takes me.

Intergenerational ministry starts with me. Students learn how to engage with others who are not like them by watching me do it. They learn how to step out of their comfort zones by watching me.

And that's why come Sunday, you'll find this introvert lingering at coffee hour rather than racing upstairs to the Youth Room.

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

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, guest posts, intergenerational worship, jen bradbury, Sticky Faith, ymjen, introvert, intergenerational, intergenerational church, Kara Powell

Why you should stop using this word

Posted by Rachel Blom

We use this word so easily, often without thinking about it, but we really shouldn’t. As a matter of fact, we should consider banning this word from youth ministry altogether. You wanna know which word?


Every time someone tells me I ‘should do’ something, or ‘should read’ this book, or ‘should consider’ this or that, I mentally cringe. Most of the time, people mean well, but they don't realize the emotional effect this word can have.

‘Should’ is known to invoke two powerful negative emotions:

  • a sense of inferiority (or superiority in you), because you’re telling someone else something they need to do
  • a sense of guilt, especially when ‘should’ is used with ‘have’ (‘you really should have invited him’)

Both aren’t emotions that are conductive for an open and honest conversation. On the contrary, these emotions will cause many people to mentally shut down and close off for anything you have to say. And if they do listen to your advice, they may be doing it for a completely wrong reason, namely out of guilt.

My advice: if you want teens or anyone else to take your advice, avoid the ‘should’ construction. You really should.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, failure words, could have, should do this, bad words, should have, should do that, words you shouldn't use, would have, dont use this word

Subscribe to Email Updates

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.

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

Colton Harker

Colton Harker serves college-age students at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He loves Jesus, people, life change, and Netflix.

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

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).

Free Youth Ministry Ebook!
Download Youth Ministry Membership                

Follow DYM!