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Student Leadership Team Basics: Blogging

Posted by Jen Bradbury



In addition to requiring student leaders to read, another way I train and equip students for leadership and in particular, for creating a culture of welcome is through blogging. Blogging forces teens to intentionally think about their faith throughout the week. It also gives our team another avenue for communication and a vehicle for working through and making decisions throughout the week.

To be clear, I'm using the word “blogging” loosely. A more accurate description might actually be a discussion forum.

Regardless, to protect teens and make our blog a safe place for them to share, our blog is private – only our team can access it. Student leaders know they're expected to complete the blog – it's one of the things listed in our team covenant. I post blogs early in the week (on Mondays or Tuesdays). Team members can then answer them until Saturday at noon – a deadline that gives me time to pull together their responses for our face-to-face meetings each Sunday.

Each week, I post a blog prompt, typically in the form of 3 questions. I ask one question that has to do with faith formation, one about leadership, and one that is super practical. During the summer, as teens complete their required reading, both the faith formation and leadership questions are typically related to the book we're reading together. I then use teens' answers as a starting point for the week's discussion.

During the school year, faith formation questions might be some of the accountability questions they've designed or they might be related to spiritual goals they've set for themselves. They might also be a follow-up to a discussion we've had either in leadership or in our youth ministry, designed to get student leaders thinking about a particular subject or Scripture passage at a deeper level.

During the school year, questions about leadership might be based on a leadership quote or like the faith formation questions, drawn from the accountability questions we've chosen. Sometimes they're more reflective in nature, designed to help teens think about how well they functioned as student leaders at a particular event.

Practical questions are just that. They're insanely practical, designed to help teens either prepare for an upcoming event or to problem solve. Sometimes, they're stand alone questions, meaning we resolve them exclusively through our conversation on the blog. Other times, I use them as a springboard for an in-person discussion.

As with required reading, blogging is NOT my student leaders' favorite responsibility. Yet, it's invaluable for furthering our conversations, holding them accountable, and perhaps most importantly, teaching them that leadership is far more about being faithful than it is about getting glory. Sometimes the best way to learn faithfulness is by doing routine behind-the-scenes tasks – like blogging - that no one else knows about, week in and week out.

Download Effective Blogging

Other posts in this series:

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

Download Youth Ministry Webshow: Episode 268

Posted by Josh Griffin

Another week, another episode of the Download Youth Ministry Webshow. Excited to have you aboard for this week and thankful for our sponsors: Our primary sponsor ORANGE as well as Leadertreks, YM360 (as always, watch the show for a special promo code to their youth worker resource store) & Azusa Pacific University.

Basics To An Irresistible Environment

Posted by Christopher Wesley

How much does a youth space matter? We like to think it doesn’t matter as much as the curriculum or relationships.  But, the truth is that it matters a lot.


Your space and environments dictate the mood of your audience. It impacts how people engage the experience.  The good news is you don’t need a big budget for an irresistible environment. You just need to:


If a restaurant were filthy you wouldn’t go back or recommend it to a friend.  The same goes with your youth space.  If it’s dirty teens are going to feel uncomfortable. 

Treat your youth space like it’s your home. Each week you are inviting people to engage in something personal.  If they see something disorganized they are going to assume the same about you.


If the budget is tight that means each purchase matters.  Do the research before you make a purchase.  Be patient and find the best deal.

Invest in quality.  That might mean spending slightly more so that something will last. That’s okay because building the ideal space can take time.


You can’t create an irresistible environment on your own.  In fact what you consider irresistible might be plain old ugly.  To know what your audience needs ask others to share the burden.

Ask professionals (i.e. home stagers or decorators) in your church to help you out. They’ll know how to make moves that are significant that won’t drain the budget.

Creating an irresistible environment doesn’t have to break the bank.  It just takes some intention and creativity.  In the end your space will be a place where teens can engage and grow.

What are some steps you’ve taken to create an irresistible environment in your ministry?

Download Stress Makes Me A Mess!

Topics: environments

What Do You Do When You Are Running On Empty?

Posted by Justin Knowles

Without getting into too much detail let me just tell you the last few weeks have, well… sucked. It’s been a busy week trying to get ahead, a week of after service events and a week of draining family-type drama that adds onto the already craziness of student ministry. To say I’m tired, drained, exhausted, whatever adjective you want to use for “tired” is an understatement.

I’m running dry on sermon ideas. I am running low on energy. I’m running low on caring for my team and volunteers correctly. I’m running low on patients that all needs to come with all of it. Ever been there?

So what do you do? What do you do to get out of that low? What do you do to get out of that funk? I tried it this last week and it seemed to have worked for me and Im excited to make it a habit monthly, not just in times I need it.

Shut In – I don’t know what this means for you but in general it means get somewhere where you are undisturbed. Get somewhere where you know you will not run into someone and be interrupted in your time. There is a new local hole in the wall coffee shop right by my house that no one knows about yet and it is the perfect little get away. Shut in and focus on what is at hand. Shut in and spend some uninterrupted time with your Creator. It’s needed.

Shut up – Turn off the phone. Turn off the wifi. Turn off the podcast. Turn on the instrumental music (Deep Focus Playlist on Spotify is legit) and try and listen to the Lord. Henri Nouwen said, “A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear.”

Look Around – For me this means a few things. Look around and see how faithful God has been to you in the past because it reminds you how faithful He is to you always… even when we forget in the moment of emptiness and tiredness. Look around by reaching out to those outside your ministry for words of encouragement and prayer. Look around by reading things that are outside of your teaching, area or profession. For example, I will sometimes read CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia just to get my mind thinking of other things besides messages, students, leadership stuff or planning. It surprisingly helps.

Look Up – Pray. This seems like it would be obvious but it is crazy when we get caught up in the business of things or when we are tired, sometimes we forget. Prayer is the direct power source to ministry. Sometimes when you don't know what else to do the best thing is to shut in with the Lord, read His Word, and pray until you hear his voice.

If I can offer up any encouragement this week it would be this:

Keep going. You are right where you need to be. You have what you need to live out your calling. Eyes on the prize. God’s got this.

Hebrews 12:1-3 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


Download How to Keep from Quitting Too Soon



A 30, 60 & 90 Day Plan When Taking Over a Youth Ministry

Posted by Josh Griffin

I was talking to an incredbly sharp youth worker friend last week about a question he was asked during his interview process: what is your 30, 60 & 90 day plan for our youth ministry. Now, honestly, I think some of the motivation behind this question may be to get an idea of the growth an elder board/leadership they can expect from the new youth worker. 

But the question isn't a bad one entirely and honestly if you don't have a plan going in the first few months will be scattered and less impactful then they should be. Here's what I've lerned about some first steps when taking over a youth ministry program. They happened to start with "P" - a fact I discovered awkwardly while talking to this youth worker on the phone. Anyhow ...

Knowing the past of a youth ministry is incredibly important. Getting an idea of what they were good at, what they loved and valued, what happened to the last youth worker is essential when laying a groundwork for the future. Before you ever say "yes" to a new position/promotion you should be well aware of evey nuance of history.

Why does the youth group exist? An articulate purpose statement, and matching that statement to the past makes a lot of sense. If they don't have a clear purpose and set of passions, you'll need to make establishing one an early priority.

In the first 30 days, you've got to see who's on your team. Be warned about the first few people who befriend you, those are often times parents or volunteers ostircised by the last youth worker. Spend time with everyone your can possibly spend time with in your church - everyone will help you get context and start the foundation for the future.

As you head into the 60-day range, you've seen many of the ongoing programs. You can see what is working, what needs improvement and what needs to euthanized. Begin to formulate (but definitely not publicisze) your kiss, marry, kill list. 

This is your action plan. Aroung 90 days in, you should be able to articulate where you're headed and establish some priorities for the coming year. Good luck and God bless!

Remember, health takes time. Be careful about promising too much, and temper expectations as you start out. And come up with as specific as possible 


Download  The Youth Pastor!!

POLL: Using Bulletins/Programs at Youth Group

Posted by Josh Griffin

This great blog post last week from Justin Knowles made us think - how many youth workers use bulletins or programs at their youth service? Vote now and let's find out!


GUEST POST: We All Have Superpowers

Posted by Josh Griffin


I love it!

Just a reminder today student pastors: you have super powers! Your words can change a student's outlook on their entire week!

Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

How can you use your words to build up five students right now?

  • Text five students an encouraging Bible verse
  • Comment on five student's Instagram photos and let them know you appreciate them
  • Hand write (and mail) a two line "You're awesome because..." note to five students
  • Find out five student's favorite snack, buy them, and give them to them during your next meeting with a post-it note of encouragement attached.

Get out there and use your super powers. Encourage a student today!

Ronald Long is a DYM Author and youth pastor. Great words to live out today!

GUEST POST: Breaking The Huddle

Posted by Josh Griffin

Here’s a post-program conversation I’ve had before: 

ME: “Taylor, what happened?”

TAYLOR: “What do you mean?”

ME: “You were supposed to come up and do the announcements.”

TAYLOR: “I was?” (Realization) “Oh, man, I’m so sorry! I totally forgot!”

45 minutes ago, Taylor felt significantly less panicked during that thirty seconds of dead air than I did. It would’ve been so much better to have that conversation pre-program than post.

Whether your crowd is big or small, whether your program is complicated or straightforward, I think production meetings are a huge deal. By the way, “production meeting” is just a fancy way of saying huddle up with key players and talk through the night.

Each time you meet, identify the people who play an important role in executing your environment (I use execute in the positive sense, not the negative):

  • People hitting buttons that cue videos, lights, and lyrics
  • People managing the audio (playlists, microphones, videos)
  • Speakers
  • Band members
  • Hosts, actors, characters, etc. 

I’m sure you could add or subtract from this list. If you have a small student ministry, I strongly suggest bringing your leaders and volunteers into the mix as well.

Here are the benefits of a production meeting:

  1. Transitions. Start at the beginning of your program and talk through the logistics step-by-step. You’ll find yourself reminding people of things like when to play certain audio tracks and when to put specific pictures on the screen. This is also the perfect time to talk through transitions. Why? So you can avoid the awkward moments!!! (Not sure why I used three exclamation points). If you’re fancy and sophisticated, use Planning Center and print out a schedule. If you’re not, write it on a napkin and make some copies. It makes no difference to me.
  1. Goals. Let people know what you’re hoping to accomplish today. What is the sermon about? What is the goal of small group time? What are you wanting students will walk away with? This is your chance to get everybody on the same page and pour some purpose into that particular program (alliteration, anyone?).
  1. Vision. This is your chance to cast vision and motivate. Let your key players know that today is important. Who knows what God will do? It could be a game-changer for someone (even if it’s a random overcast day in April). I use this time to encourage leaders to welcome new students, sit with their small group, and act like they’re excited to be there. I urge worship leaders to think about the students in the back with their arms crossed, not just the students in the front with their hands raised. Also, this is a great time to thank everyone for giving up their time to be there. 
  1. Prayer. I love this verse: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). In your case, “the house” is a great night—an effective, engaging program. Pray that God builds it so that your hard work isn’t fruitless.

So what’s your one step? Have a production meeting.

You don’t have to make it long. And you don’t need to ask people to get there three hours in advance. But you do need to give it a shot.

Ben Crawshaw is a DYM Author and Director of XP3 Curriculum & High School Camp at The reThink Group.

Great Summer Youth Ministry Resources from DYM

Posted by Josh Griffin


Download Youth Ministry Webshow: Episode 267

Posted by Josh Griffin

Another week, another episode of the Download Youth Ministry Webshow. Excited to have you aboard for this week and thankful for our sponsors: ORANGE and Leadertreks, YM360 (watch the show for a special promo code to their youth worker resource store) & Azusa Pacific University.


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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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