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Top 10 Youth Ministry Resources of 2013: #1-5

Posted by Josh Griffin

This has been an incredible year for Download Youth Ministry - we're so thrilled that you have jumped in as monthly members, annual members and picking up great youth ministry resources all year long. We're also thrilled to really see some standout tools to help youth workers, teach, train and laugh with teenagers in their ministry. Aside from the amazing membership deals, here are 5 of the Top 10 youth ministry resources of the year. If you haven't picked one of them up yet, know it is a winner waiting to happen!

  • Christian or Disciple? 1-off message
    This 1-off message from Doug Fields helps to bring a little clarity to what the word “Christian” actually means. For so many people, being a Christian has become nothing more than merely believing a few things to be true and if we believe those things … then we are “Christian.”
  • Games Bundle: Christmas Edition
    The following 5 games are including in the Christmas Game Bundle Extravaganza!
  • Instahack Youth Group Game
    Get your hands on the youth ministry game that will have your students hiding their phones! Instahack is a game where a contestant risks their Instagram reputation at the chance of winning awesome prizes by answering a series of multiple choice questions. If they get a question wrong, one of 9 awful things may happen to their Instagram!
  • Psalm or Crazy Bieber Fan?
    This is the game you’ve heard all about, where we show you a quote and you have to decide if it’s… a passage from the book of Psalms …or an actual Tweet from one of Justin Bieber’s 35,000,000 totally insane fans.
  • Lamentation or Taylor Swift Lyric?
    We show you a quote, and you have to decide if it is 1) a passage from the book of Lamentations, one of the more depressing reads in the Bible, as it details the destruction and demise of Jerusalem or 2) or a lyric from a Taylor Swift song, one of the more depressing songwriters of our generation, as she details every breakup and slight she’d ever suffered.


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, instahack, games bundle, christian or disciple, youth group games, christmas games, great youth group games, Taylor Swift, lamentations

DYM Annual Membership Extended for a Limited Time!

Posted by Josh Griffin


Last month was so much fun! As we wrapped up 2013, Doug, Matt & I decided to pull together a ton of resources from some of our friends and create a DYM Membership Blitz for the holidays. If you haven't heard of the details yet, we're giving away and additional 30+ freebies right up front in addition to the 8 membership items each month. People were talking about it (click here to read what a few of them said) and it was so much fun! All we want to do is Help Youth Workers Win ... and continually feel like we really get a chance to do that!

Well, we had a bunch of requests from youth workers hoping that we would extend the sale through a couple weeks in 2014. We're thrilled and amazed at the responses far and we're pumped to extend the deal for another week or so. So check it out and join in on the fun, check out all of the details right here!



Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, youth group resources, recommended youth ministry resources, youth ministry curriculum, youth ministry membership

New Year New Game Ideas!

Posted by Justin Knowles

It's a new year and it's time to spice up services with new games. I think everyone can agree, coming up with new types of games can get tough. This week I stumbled across Late Night With Jimmy Fallon"'s blog. If you have ever watched the late night show, they play some pretty sweet games with celebrities on the show. Now even though you won't have the celebrities, most of the games on his blog would make some fun, easy and exciting new games for your youth ministry, so I thought I would share.

Each game comes with a video of how they set it and how it's supposed to go. I'll admit it, I laughed at most of these. There are some games that you won't be able to play because of the content, but I'm sure you can adjust it to make it work for students.

If you want to check out the blog, click HERE, but below are some of the descriptions of the games.


Water War - Jimmy and Jason square off in thee traditional card game War, but the loser of each round is doused with water.

nbc_jim_hlt_s06e21_917_KaratePinata_Pt2_20131029-thumb-350xauto-36249Pinada Kirate - Karate Pinata is back! Jimmy welcomes three audience members who enter the fiesta ring to blindly kick rotating pinatas.

nbc_jim_hlt_s06e18_914_EggRussianRoulette_20131024-thumb-350xauto-36197Egg Russian Roulette - Out of a dozen eggs, 3 are not hard-boiled. Each person takes a turn to smash it on their heads. the one with the most smashed eggs on their head of the non-boiled eggs, wins. (We played this at our summer camp and it was so fun.)

So go on and explore and go have fun with your students! And, if you didn't know, DYM has a ton of great games to download on this site! Click HERE to check them out!



Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, New Year, games, student ministry, jimmy fallon, youth ministry, late night

Doing Ministry Between “If Only...” and “What if...?”

Posted by Duffy Robbins

It started with a conference (Christian Camp & Conference Association) back in early December. Not only was I one of the speakers for the conference, I was part of the team that planned the conference. And as we dreamed about what God might say to us at that event, we kept coming back to two phrases - one, a phrase of regret: “IF only...”, and the other, a phrase of expectation: “What IF...?”.

As I prayed and prepared for that conference, it dawned on me that most of my ministry happens between those two phrases, and God began me to prompt me to give that idea some thought. Somewhere between devotional study of the life of Jacob, and some sermon prep around disappointment with God (see 2 Kings 4: 1-7 and John 11: 1-44), I found myself coming back to this basic truth: We are not limited by our “If only’s…” and our “What if’s…?” are as limitless as the promises of God.

If you’ve spent much time doing ministry between “IF only...” and “What IF...?” I invite you to read what follows. It’s probably more of a poem, than a blog...and as you read it through, you’ll discover that it’s not much of a poem either. Whatever it is, my prayer is that you might hear it as a word of encouragement as we all start out a new year of life and ministry together:

We are not limited by our "if only's". And our “What If's” are as limitless as the promises of God.

"If only's" tell a lie.

  • They tell an incomplete story.
  • They point to a shortfall, a lack, a deficit.
  • They add up the circumstances and come up with a negative.

Because they don't add in God.

  • "If only" is Jacob scheming and conniving to get a blessing from God.
  • "If only" is Israel grumbling in the wilderness lost in disappointment.
  • "If only" is the spies who think Canaan can't be won.
  • "If only" is the army that cowers in the face of the giant.
  • or stops its march at the foot of the wall.
  • "If only" is the widow who has only one jar of oil (2 Kings 4:1-7).
  • "If only" is the counselors of Job giving easy answers to hard questions.
  • "If only" is looking at a multitude of people and a very small amount of fish.
  • "If only" is a beaten band of disciples locked behind doors of fear and discouragement (John 20: 19).
  • "If only" is saying, "Lord, you should have been here"...and you weren't (John 11:21).
  • "If only" traps up, slaps us, and wraps us in grave clothes of surrender and despair.

And it tells us a lie

Because with God...

"if only" is never the final word.

Our "If only"'s simply set the stage for God's "What if..."

What if God meets us in a place we don't expect,

in a whisper we weren't listening for,

with a gift we never expected,

through circumstances we would never have chosen

with a promise we don't deserve,

in a way we never imagined?

What if we changed our stories - so that instead of ending the story with "if only", we opened a new chapter with "What if?" What if we chose not to give in to hard questions ...

...big walls,

...small thinking,

...difficult people,

...dry places,

...tight spots,

....inadequate resources,

....unmet expectations,

"What if" we chose to believe that God isn't finished with us...

...with our families

...with our church

...with our ministries

...with our students?

What if we wait and watch and hope and believe for God's "What if"?

We are not limited by our "if only's…". And our “What If's…?” are as limitless as the promises of God.

This is my prayer for you (and for me!) as we begin the new year. Thanks for what you do, and for the privilege of allowing guys like me to share in your ministry!


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, New Year, if only, begin the new year, what if, 2 kinds 4, john 20, lies we believe, john 11

Youth Ministry and Humility

Posted by Josh Griffin

Humility always wins.

You can try to build a youth group on charisma, momentum and sheer force of personality ... and quite honestly, it will work for a while. You can build programs, events, services and but sooner or later it will implode. Humility builds other people rather than building our personal following. Pride builds a youth ministry around you at the expense of building it around Christ. Pride stunts growth. Pride is empty. Pride is lonely. Pride sucks us in then spits us out.

Let's start out 2014 with a commitment to humility this year!


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, PRIDE, humility, empty, fulfilled

POLL: Youth Ministry Mistakes in the Past Year

Posted by Josh Griffin

Been spending some time reflecting on 2013 - the good, the bad and the ugly. It was a good time, but also inspired this week's poll question. As YOU reflect on the past year, where did you mess up?


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, polls, youth ministry messups, mistakes, youth ministry poll, regrets

Top 10 Youth Ministry Blog Posts of 2013: #1-5

Posted by Josh Griffin

There are over 1,970 posts here on the Love God, Love Students blog on DYM. What a year it has been! As we countdown the year together, I thought it might be fun to post a few of the Top 10 posts of the year (read #6-10 here). Enjoy the list ... and if you haven't read these posts yet, they are some of the best of the best:

  • The 40-Year Old Youth Pastor
    Looking back, I thought they were the golden years of youth ministry for me….I was close in age with the students and was often confused for being a teenager by parents. I thought this is it…it will never get better. I related to their world and I didn’t have to try hard to be cool…I was cool (notice the past tense.) Now as I prepare to celebrate my 40th birthday…I can’t help but feel that I am a better youth worker than I have ever been.
  • Fun Free Youth Group Game: Jiggapuff
    One of the best new games we’ve done in a long time – Jiggapuff! The premise is simple – don’t do the same pose as the person running the game! You don’t need props or prep – just announce the game, show this slide on the screen and you’re all set!
  • Being an Introvert in Youth Ministry
    As I would eventually find out, there was a name for my disposition. There was a diagnosis for my condition. I was an introvert. And the reason I struggled through youth group was that it had been cultivated in an extroverted culture— or so it seemed. The energetic, small talk-heavy, high-octane world of youth ministry clashed with my reserved, reflective, one-word-at-a-time disposition.
  • Getting Stronger Speaking
    Writing a message is one thing; however, to deliver it is a totally different skill. Speaking is important in ministry because it’s how you can motivate your teens, parents and volunteers. It’s how you cast vision, encourage and challenge them to grow in their faith. While some people are naturally talented at speaking others have to work hard at it.
  • Take Your Kids to Camp
    My kids know camp. My kids love camp. They should… they are children of a youth pastor. They tagged along to camp before they could walk and have seen just about every time of camp/mission trip/overnighter there is. I loved having them there and they loved being there.


Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, 40 year old youth pastor, youth ministry blog, jiggapuff, Summer Camp, youth ministry blogs, introvert in ministry, taking kids to camp, top youth ministry blogs, youth group games, introvert vs extrovert, top youth ministry blog posts

First 2 Years: 4 Secrets to Listening Better

Posted by Colton Harker


I’ve been really passionate about listening recently. Mainly because there aren’t that many people that do it. One problem is that I don’t think people know how to listen well. The other problem is that I don’t think people understand the power of listening well. I used to think that I was a great listener until I had two incredible and life-giving conversations with a mentor of mine that changed everything for me. Not just in how I encountered my own brokenness, but in how I encountered the brokenness of others. Here are four of the qualities I have noticed in great listeners:

Be slow to speak. We are in ministry for a lot of reasons, one being our addiction to life change. We love seeing students' testimonies unfold before our eyes. But the problem with that is we sometimes try to cut corners and expedite the process. When students tell us about an issue, we can be quick to give life advice and layout a plan to make it all better. But most times, people are just looking for someone to listen to them. Let them ask you for advice. Have them talk far more than you. Some of the best conversations I’ve had were with people that spoke maybe 15% of the time.

Make them your world. One of the most valuable things you can give someone is your time, but we cheapen that gift when we aren’t fully present. Whether it is checking your phone every five minutes or thinking about what you need to get done next, it can be such a struggle to make someone our world for just an hour. You want someone to open up to you? Be all in.

Ask Questions. Two of the biggest needs teenagers (and people in general) have are to feel known and to feel understood. One of the best ways to help meet these needs is to ask intentional questions. Ask questions that lead to discovery and for you to better understand them and for them to better understand themselves. In the midst of tragedy most people aren’t great at identifying their thoughts and feelings, so ask questions that help navigate them towards some kind of clarity.

Find the “why?” There is always a reason behind what we do. Never settle for what’s on the surface. It is impossible to compartmentalize our lives. Everything is connected to everything. So when something like an anger issue surfaces, the actual problem isn’t the student acting out, the real problem is something much bigger. Find that “bigger” thing.

What are some qualities that you would add to this list?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, discipleship, First 2 Years, listening, pastoral care, Bring Present

3 Idols That Detour Small Groups

Posted by Justin Knowles

Every group has the potential to fall into lifting up idols. Now most of the time we do it without even noticing it but some small groups unintentionally head towards some unhealthy practices that steer away from the original purpose of what a small group is about... Jesus. Sometimes because we have such a good thing, we rely and only look at these certain things that take priority over letting Jesus be the center of our groups. I bet over time you will see groups lean towards one of these 3 things but if we are aware of them, we can help correct the course sooner rather than later.

I see 3 main areas that groups create idols of in small group settings:

  • The Leader- Every group has a leader. The leader is the one who pushes the group and creates discussion. Sometimes the leader plays god thinking they need to fix everyone in the group. Sometimes the leaders puts himself on the throne and sometimes the group members do it, either way, this is not the leaders place. The leader is not the center of a Christ-centered group and the leader needs to know it's not about them leading the group to change, but allowing God to use them to create opportunities for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of the group members. Sometimes the students rely too much on the leader and not God. the leader needs to be a "pointer", someone who points everything to God but walk them through it WITH them and not FOR them.
  • Curriculum- Now it can sound weird (especially for me because I love it), sometimes curriculum is a huge idol. Curriculum can help us be focused on Christ but sometimes curriculum, if we are not careful, can be the focus of everything. Sometimes we stick so close to what curriculum says that we don't go with where the Holy Spirit is leading the group for discussion. We fall into the "If it's not on the paper we can't talk about it" mentality. This is a sneaky one, but we need to be aware when we do slip into a curriculum-centered group and not a Christ-centered one.
  • Community Idol- We want groups to be a great community. I mean, that is their purpose. But sometimes I see the group becoming too much about the community and not much about Jesus. Sometimes students and leaders just hang out, all of the time, the whole time and call that small group. Granted, community is why student small groups is successful but when we get off of the reason in which this community exists, it can be a great idol. Create a great community, but create one that is constantly pointing back to, talking about and learning about Jesus. Because of this, your community will be great.

Don't let your groups fall into idol mentality. Constantly look at your groups and notice if any groups fall into this thinking. We want groups to know Jesus and these 3 things can detour us away from just that.

Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, Small Groups, life groups, idols, student ministry, youth ministry, watch out

Top 10 Youth Ministry Resources of 2013: #6-10

Posted by Josh Griffin

This has been an incredible year for Download Youth Ministry - we're so thrilled that you have jumped in as monthly members, annual members and picking up great youth ministry resources all year long. We're also thrilled to really see some standout tools to help youth workers, teach, train and laugh with teenagers in their ministry. Here are 5 of the Top 10 youth ministry resources of the year. If you haven't picked one of them up yet, know it is a winner waiting to happen!

  • Dumbledore or Proverbs Youth Group Game
    In this game where we give you a quote and the contestants have to tell us if it’s a quote from the book of Proverbs or a quote from Dumbledore. It’s harder than it looks. Trust us, Harry Potter himself would be stumped by some of these, and so would most of the elders in your church. It’s super-easy to drag these into your presentation software, and the best part is that this game is as much fun to watch as it is to play!
  • Games Bundle: Volume 1
    Get these 7 games in a single bundle!!
  • Making Announcements Awesome
    People like to laugh. Comedy grabs the attention of audiences like nothing else. Advertising agencies spend millions of dollars to create that 30 second spot on television that will make us laugh and hopefully remember their product. There seems to be something about comedy that causes us to pay attention.
  • Instalife 2-week series
    Another series from Josh Griffin, High School Pastor at Saddleback Church. This series was a huge hit with our students and easily the best-received teaching of the year. If you’ve never used one of Josh’s resources before they are full manuscript outlines and ready for you to edit and teach immediately.
  • 186 Great Youth Group Games
    I believe in games. The Greek philosopher Plato once said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of discussion.” Laughter and recreation break down walls and open opportunities to build relationships and share biblical truths. The purpose of this resource is to help you build relationships with students that will result in an open door for you to speak truth into their lives. The book is organized according to four stages of group building. The portability of the book and bag makes it easy to use in youth meetings, small groups, mission trips, summer camps, or keep in the church van for road trips. 186 games are ready to go with all of the necessary supplies at your fingertips.



Topics: Youth Ministry Posts, recommended youth ministry resources, digital youth ministry resources, instagram series, CURRICULUM, great youth group games, instalife, top youth ministry resources, youth group curriculum

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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.

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 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).

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