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POLL: Where Is Your Short-Term Missions This Year?

Posted by Josh Griffin

We're putting missions on hold for a year in our youth ministry - but it triggered me to satisfy my curiousity of where exactly we're sending students on these short-term mission trips. Vote today on the trip you're taking this summer, fall or maybe already have been on this year!


GUEST POST: Recruitment Trial

Posted by Josh Griffin


Today is the day for you to recruit a new leader. Here are five ways:

#1. Start with your best current leaders. If you have some leaders that are doing an incredible job, they may be your best resource for finding more leaders. There have been times when I’ve approached an all-star volunteer and said, “Open up your phone. Scroll through your contacts. I need more leaders like you. Who are your best friends?” If it’s a couple, I ask them, “Which couples do you hang out with the most?” Most great people are great because of who they align themselves with. I want those people as leaders in my environment 

#2. Don’t be afraid to ask. I wouldn’t rule out the following people:

  • A mom or dad with four kids.
  • People with highly successful businesses.
  • People who travel as part of their business (one of my best former leaders was a pilot).

You get the idea. If you think someone would be great for your environment, all you have to do is ask. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. But don’t just sit around and wait on people to come to you. You make the first move.

#3. Cast vision like you’re life depended on it. When you see great people who you think would be great leaders in your environment—and you get an appointment with them—take it seriously. Now’s your chance. Don’t just talk about expectations. Don’t just talk about how fun your student ministry is. Talk about the heart of student ministry in general:

  • High school and middle school are crucial times in a person’s life.
  • As much as students put up a tough front, they are deeply impacted when they know an adult cares about them.
  • It’s extremely difficult to be a student these days. Imagine if there were a handful of students that knew you believe in them.
  • You have the opportunity to develop relationships with students, which will enable you to have influence in their lives.
  • Some of these relationships will last longer than just middle school or high school. If you do it right, you’ll be having conversations when they’re in college, and you’ll be a part of their weddings.
  • You will grow in your own faith. There is nothing that strengthens your faith like serving and leading others.
  • You will build awesome friendships with other leaders.

#4. Don’t get locked in to a certain “type” of leader.  There are two extremes when it comes to recruiting volunteers—a door that’s locked too tight, and a door that’s open too wide. I’ve talked to student pastors who were convinced they had to have all college students as small group leaders. That makes sense—college students are young and cool. On the other hand, I’ve met student pastors who allow anybody be a leader. The door is open waaaaaaay too wide!

You have to have standards. There is nothing more important than the quality of your leaders. But quality can be found in college-aged guys and dads in their 40’s. When I think about some of the best leaders I’ve seen through the years, there hasn’t been a predictable profile. It’s been about leaders who know and love their students. That’s about it.

#5. Pray, pray, pray! You may rotate the things you pray about concerning your ministry. One thing I’d make sure remains constant and consistent: praying for your leaders. Pray for the right leaders in your environment. Pray for enough of them. Pray for your existing leaders—their hearts, their relationships, and their walks with God. Pray for their relationship with new students and old. Pray for your relationship with them. And then—don’t stop praying!

So what’s your one step? Recruit a new leader.

Ben Crawshaw is a youth ministry thought leader, and a DYM resource author.

Summer Intern Video: The Amanda Wong Show

Posted by Josh Griffin

A fun video helping to establish our high school summer interns - and have some fun in prom season along the way!


Student Leadership Team Basics: Establishing Spiritual Goals

Posted by Jen Bradbury


One of the leadership axioms I adhere to is that leaders cannot take people further than they are themselves. In order for teens to consistently grow in their faith, student leaders must do so too.

To challenge student leaders to grow, ask them to establish spiritual goals. As part of this, talk about how good goals are tangible and measurable so as to allow teens to determine whether or not they've successfully reached them.

After establishing these goal-setting basics, challenge student leaders to set two or three spiritual goals for themselves – things they want to do outside of your youth ministry in order to grow in their faith. Give student leaders a definitive time limit in which to reach their goals. In my ministry, we typically do this twice a year: Once over the summer, when we set goals for September through December and again at the start of the new year, when we set new goals for January through May.

Because the broadness of this task can sometimes be daunting for teens, if you see teens struggling to come up with their spiritual goals, give them additional guidelines. For example: Ask student leaders to make one of their spiritual goals about reading scripture, one about praying, and one about serving.

After giving teens time to think and pray about their spiritual goals, ask them to write them on an index card along with their name. Then invite them to share their goals with one another. As they do, ask student leaders to explain why they chose their goals and how their faith might change if they successfully reach them. Doing so helps leaders articulate why their goals are important and how meeting them will help them grow in their faith.

As teens share their goals with one another, offer gentle feedback where appropriate. In particular, be on the look out for unrealistic goals. While it's good (and even healthy) for goals to push student leaders, you want leaders to have a shot at realistically completing them in order to ward off perpetual frustration. For example: If a teen says their spiritual goal is to read the entire Bible, encourage them to break it into smaller chunks. Since most teens won't actually be able to read the entire Bible in 4-5 months, encourage them to instead establish a goal of first reading the New Testament.

Once all your leaders have shared their spiritual goals with one another, copy their index cards. Give them their card to take home and put in a place where they can see it frequently as a reminder of their spiritual goals. Then keep a copy for yourself. At least monthly, revisit your team's spiritual goals – on your blog, in your meetings, or both. Ask teens to share an honest assessment of how well they're doing with meeting their goals. As teens share failure stories, offer grace. Ask them to consider why they haven't been able to fulfill their goal and what they've learned in the process. Give them an opportunity to revise their goal if need be. As teens share success stories, celebrate with them and process. Again, ask them to consider what they've learned, how their faith has grown, and why continuing such a habit might be important to their spiritual growth in the future.

Over time, what you'll find is that the simple act of setting goals, writing them down, and frequently revisiting them will prompts spiritual growth in your leaders. When leaders are growing themselves, they'll be able to authentically challenge and encourage other teens to do the same. What's more, by working towards their spiritual goals, leaders will begin establishing spiritual habits that will help them sustain and strengthen their faith long after their specific goals are met.

Other posts in this series:

Student Leadership Team Basics: Celebrating Birthdays

Student Leadership Team Basics: Popsicle Stick Prayers

Student Leadership Team Basics: What to do at your regular meetings

Student Leadership Team Basics: Evaluating

Student Leadership Team Basics: Blogging

Student Leadership Team Basics: Training Your Leaders by Reading

Student Leadership Team Basics: The Interview 

Student Leadership Team Basics: How many leaders should you have? 

Student Leadership Team Basics: 3 Ways Not to Describe Student Leadership 

Student Leadership Team Basics: Why?

Student Leadership Team Basics: How to Choose Student Leaders

Student Leadership Team Basics: 6 things to look for in student for in student leaders 

Image Credit: http://www.thelivingleader.com/wp-content/uploads/leadership.jpg

Still Time to Get in on 2 Amazing Summer Student Events!

Posted by Josh Griffin

There is still time to get in on a couple of great student events this summer with your youth group! Check out both of these amazing events now or for sure next year:


DYM's Student Leadership Conference
The Download Youth MInistry Student Leadership Conference is an amazing event for your sharpest students. At the Student Leadership Conference we encourage students not to wait until they are adults to go after what God is laying on their hearts. Through hands-on leadership experiences, inspirational speakers, impactful worship and peer discussion, students are empowered to dream and plan for immediate leadership impact in their churches, schools, communities and beyond! It is an event that will give YOU a huge boost as students "get it" and go all in. [get more details here]


CIY Move
Christ in Youth puts on a fun summer camp/conference like event we do every year in our youth ministry, too. It is a great getaway to help encourage students in their faith and be challenged to be Kingdom Workers. One of the very best events in our youth ministry every year. [get more details here]


See you next year at one of these events - or if you don't have summer locked in just yet, join us NOW!



VIDEO: Technology and Family Dinners

Posted by Josh Griffin

Stumbled across this great video about family dinners and will use it in a future workshop or parenting illustration I think. Good stuff - thought I would share!


Don't Shy Away From Tension

Posted by Justin Knowles

For the most part, people try to avoid tension with others. What others think about us, or the ideas we have, is what keeps a lot of people from moving from the next level in leadership. They don’t like the tension that comes with it so they fall to it and back down. God has called them to do a certain thing but instead of fearing God, they fear man, and the result is a failed implantation of the God-given desire to take the ministry to the next level. As a result, people shy away from tension.

I like tension.

I think there can be a positive to it and I think when the tension is in its highest form, the true nature of everyone involved in the conversation comes out. From there, the vision can be carried forward.

When planning and talking about execution of an event, idea or vision, everyone involved is going to have his or her own opinion on how it should be carried out. The best thing is… the answer is in the room. There is gold in the tension. Tension can bring everything to the surface of what people actually think and everyone ideas will be shared. It’s like refining gold. The gold is put under extreme fire and it melts. Then the impurities float to the top where the owner scoops out all of the “bad stuff”. When it is left to harden back up, what is left is a more refined, solid, more valuable piece of gold. Tension is the refining process. People will get heated (or passionate as I like to say). The problems will come out. You can address the problems. Come up with the solutions and what is left is a more solid, pure, idea to move forward.

Getting the right people in the room to bring up tension should not be shied away from. Every good leader can pull out gold from tension and use it to the advantage of the ministry to carry out the vision God has laid out for you.





Planning Our Youth Ministry Calendar

Posted by Josh Griffin


I love Google Maps.

When you load the homepage the default view is zoomed way out showing you the whole United States. Type in an address and it zooms in quickly to show you a specific region. Click “street view” and BAM! you’re looking at things as if you were literally walking through the neighborhood by foot. Kinda creepy since Google is secretly stalking us, but kinda awesome at the same time. And a great example to how we typically plan our youth ministry calendar.

We first take a look at the big picture of our ministry, then zoom in on the season ahead, and finally get s street view all of the way down to the current teaching series and events. Let me explain in a bit more detail:

It is a wise idea to get away for the day and get a big picture of your ministry. Take a break from the pace of ministry and the distractions of email, voicemail and the persistent nagging of Google+ and wrestle with an overview of your youth group. Summer is the perfect time for this! Now for some this is a simple task because they live in the world of ideas and vision – for others it will be challenging to stick your head up over it all and get a glimpse of the whole.

Key questions to ask yourself at this big picture stage:

  • Where you think God wants to take students in the next year?
  • What worked well last year, and will it work again?
  • What annual events would be effective again this year?
  • What needs to get the axe?
  • Have I blocked out my week of vacation?
  • Where are we strong and where are we weak?
  • Is there a good balance of God’s eternal purposes for our ministry (evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, worship)?

Paint in broad strokes what your youth ministry year will look like at this point. Lots of prayer – ask God for discernment. Use pencil.

You’ve now got an idea of the big picture of your youth ministry – now it is time to specially plan the next season. There are lots of ways you can do this – right now I like to divide the year into 3 unequal parts – Fall, Winter-Spring and Summer. This is the time to start to really firm up specific teaching topics, series and events. You probably already locked up some bigger things like summer camp, trips and retreat locations, but now is the time to make final decisions.

Key questions to ask yourself at this season stage:

  • What needs to be cut?
  • Am I keeping this program to satisfy a parent/vocal students or because it is what is best for our ministry?
  • Where do I have momentum naturally and where is it lacking?
  • What are the teaching topics for this season?
  • Who is the best person to teach?
  • Has my spouse seen this before I go public?

What looked good in the big picture view might be too much now that you’re zoomed in a bit closer. You are still flexible enough at this point for an audible. Use the eraser now if needed, but definitely not on your vacation time.

The closest we zoom in for planning is the current month. You’ve planned everything from a year out, you firmed up much of those plans in your season overview, now it is time to lock everything down and walk into what you’ve planned.

Key questions to ask yourself at this season stage:

  • What adjustments do I need to make based on circumstances that have come up since we planned the year/season?
  • Am I balanced and healthy with this calendar?
  • What can we do make our youth ministry even better next year?

I’m in the thick of planning our Fall planning right now! May God bless you as you serve students and plan your youth ministry calendar, too.


The Benefits Of An Organized Ministry

Posted by Christopher Wesley

We’ve all heard the terms RELATIONAL MINSITRY and ORGANIC MINISTRY.  It’s the idea that youth ministry shouldn’t be a rigid structure.  It should have fluidity, even if that means being a little messy. 



And while youth ministry is messy it doesn’t mean you can’t be organized.  An organized youth ministry allows you take on the challenges that come with relationships.   It gives you margin and endurance.  To keep your ministry organized you’ll need to:


Everything from the top of your desk to the folders on your computer needs order.  The more time you spend looking for things, and adjusting your surroundings the more time you waste.

Sounds simple; yet, it’s so overlooked. Take time to clear your desk, and empty out your inbox.  If you are going on vacation do yourself a favor and make sure you walk back into a clean office.  You’ll thank yourself.


There are only a few tasks that you should be doing. It’s not that other responsibilities are beneath you, it’s just that you only have the capacity for a few things.  To make sure you are doing the right things:

  • Sit down and write out a list of your responsibilities. 
  • Put whatever is most important and only can do at the top.
  • Take the rest and start handing them out to your team. 

By organizing your responsibilities you allow yourself to become more efficient as a leader.  If you struggle with delegating, get someone to help you out.


Just as you wouldn’t drive at night without headlights, you shouldn’t go through the week without a calendar.  Your calendar is a schedule that allows you best use your time, energy and emotion.

Take time either at the very beginning of the week or at the end of the one before to map out what you have going on.   It will give you emotional and physical margin.  You’ll have less surprises and more confidence on what needs to be done.

Organizing your time, environments and responsibilities take discipline but the payoff is worth it.  Find accountability to help you succeed, but remember, that organized ministry leads to peace of mind.

Where do you struggle the most to organize your ministry?

Topics: organization

5 Summer Fun Games - Just $10

Posted by Josh Griffin


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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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