Download Youth Ministry WebShow #258

Posted by Josh Griffin

Another week, another episode of the Download Youth Ministry Show!

If you're new to the show, we talk about youth ministry for 45 minutes every week or two, your questions answered every time! Join Doug Fields, Katie Edwards, Josh Griffin and Matt McGill around our roundtable.This week Cathy is sitting in for Katie - good times! Just enough youth ministry so you don’t feel guilty for listening. As always, thanks to our amazing sponsors who help with incredible giveaways and keep the servers and the lights on each week:

Send in your questions to webshow@downloadyouthministry.com to be answered on a future show, too!



First 2 Years: 4 Best Lessons I Learned As An Intern

Posted by Colton Harker


I love interns! The fire and passion that they (hopefully) bring to a team is so life giving to me. I am endlessly grateful for everything that I was taught by my first mentors at my internship. With every new intern that works under me, I always make sure I try to teach the four of the best things that I learned during my time in their shoes:

Tasks Are Never Just Tasks. For such a long time, I heard “People always come before tasks.” And in thought that makes sense.. but the reality of ministry is that all tasks are about people. Everything we do from creating budgets, to shopping for events, to counseling students is all in the name of serving people. Tasks are not meaningless. They are never just tasks.

Draw Boundaries. Honestly, this is still one that I am working on today… but the lesson I appreciated was being aware of the problem in general. Too often youth pastors draw poor boundaries or have no boundaries at all when it comes to ministry and life. Sure, we will all go through heavy seasons where it will be impossible for there to be a healthy balance and light seasons where it seems effortless. But when your light seasons look too much like heavy seasons, you have a problem. Burn out is sure to be right around the corner.

Grow Your Strengths, Know Your Weaknesses.  You cannot be an effective leader if you don’t know your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t work on making your weaknesses your strengths, but instead grow your strengths and make them great. See where you fall short and build a team around you that can compliment you 

Work Hard. One of my favorite things that was instilled in me from the beginning of my ministry career is the value of working hard. Maybe I should further define “working hard.” I would say that working hard would mean making the most of your time. Making the most of your time in the office and making the most of your time with people. I will always appreciate how my first mentors taught me how to do that.

What were some of the best things you learned during your time as an intern?



Topics: interns, First 2 Years

Youth Ministry Q&A: When should I split junior high and high school?

Posted by Josh Griffin

YOUTH MINISTRY Q&A: When should I split my students into separate junior high and high school ministries? Maybe we should just stay together?

Splitting up is common practice in youth ministry today – and in most cases, I would recommend it. It allows you the opportunity to challenge high school students and speak to specific needs of that age group.

Split as soon as you can. The when is based on your time, your health and your resources, but it’s not appropriate to have 11 year olds hanging out with 18 year olds. It’s healthier when there are separate Jr. High and High School environments and leaders. I would try to split when everything is in place, but obviously the sooner, they better. You can still do some events together, (like a praise and worship celebration) but now you’ve got a chance to make sure events are more age specific. It helps with the maturity of your younger students and keeps your older students around because they feel like they are being valued. I've seen it work other ways for sure, but genuinely feel this is best!

One final thought: if at all possible I'd also make sure you hold both of the services on the same night so that you don’t have leaders or parents out on multiple nights of the week.



How To Be Relevant And Traditional At The Same Time

Posted by Christopher Wesley

My faith is like a relationship and my religion (Catholicism) is rich in tradition.  Both have their positives and to live those out personally can be tough.  

The tension between traditional and relevant youth ministry can be equally exhausting.  Anytime you try something new you are going to get pushback.  People will say:

  • You are focused too much on entertainment.
  • You are forgetting about tradition.
  • Teens need to know Truth.

When you move to be more traditional people will say:

  • You are being too closed-minded.
  • You aren’t addressing people’s needs.
  • The church needs to change.

It’s finding the balance between growth and maintaining a firm identity. We go through it as individuals and our youth ministries face this challenge as well.

No matter your church’s background there is a tension between the traditional and staying relevant.  To embrace that tension you need to recognize the benefits of both.  That means:

  • Recognizing The Journey: When you embrace tradition you recognize the sacrifice and hard work it took to get where you are today.
  • Embracing The Timelessness: There are parts of our faith that have transcended trials and tribulation.
  • Embarking On New Challenges: The world around us is constantly changing and the church needs to face those challenges. 
  • Focusing On Growth: As new challenges and obstacles approach us so does the way we approach them.

In the end your ministry’s health depends on TRUSTING God and the vision that He’s given you.

God is going to ask you to change when you need to change. And, He’s going t ask you to stay firm when you need to stay firm.  Knowing when your ministry moves and rests is all a part of knowing your vision.  

Live in the tension.  Spend time in prayer and listen to where God is leading you.

What the biggest challenge you face between traditional and relevant youth ministry? 



Topics: healthy youth ministry

Winter Retreat Promotion Video

Posted by Josh Griffin

I like this simple video with a little more heart than humor we made to help promote our upcoming Winter Retreat. I like the tone - we kinda default to funny, this is ultra clear and points people in the right direction!


The Best Leaders __________________

Posted by Justin Knowles

The other day someone asked me what I think makes some of the best leaders. Here is what I wrote down.
The best leaders:
Are students, not know it alls. They are in groups to learn themselves, not try to convince students they know everything. When they are leading a Bible study they are open to learning and are on a journey with students. Groups that grow together, stay together. 
Spark conversations, not dominate them. The soul job of a leader in a small group is to get students talking about their faith. The best leaders are the ones who know how to ask good questions to get students talking. Jesus was the best at asking questions and leaders need to follow that example. Poor leaders think this is the time for them to shine and let the students know how “theological” they are.  If they want to talk, they shouldn’t be leaders. 
Don’t have a “perfect” Instagram life. What I mean by this is for most people, they post the “highlights” of their life making it all good and no bad. The best leaders let students in on their dirt too. They are real, open and authentic with their life and faith because when leaders are, students will start to be real, open and authentic with their lives too. 
Want to multiply. The best leaders want their group to grow. They want to create a culture of inviting friends. The best leaders want to take on new leaders to train them up on how to create a learning, authentic, inviting culture that they would then go out and start their own group…multiplying themselves.
Not all your leaders will be these but even if you get a few of them to start, you will see your culture begin to shift over time. Find them, love them and multiply them because the best leaders create more “best” leaders. 



GUEST POST: Parents Should Be Students of Their Students

Posted by Josh Griffin

I have high hopes for the students I get the privilege of ministering to. I really do. Routinely I watch them serve in amazing ways all over our church campus on a Sunday morning: in our coffee shop, in the nursery, in the parking lot, and even running the projection program, lights and sound in the middle school room.

That’s right, every student I’m bragging on is 11-14 years old. They’re amazing.

But I really need to talk with their parents.

Not in a “Come to me office, you’re in trouble mister,” kind of way. Being a parent of three (smallish) girls has taught me a lot about how much I know about parenting teenagers.


But, being a student pastor, it’s certainly my job to ensure that parents are equipped to raise their kids well and set them up for success.

So that when an app known for:

1. Being used to send nude pics of oneself to friends/strangers
2. Leaking said nude pics to various websites and other willing participants
3. Denying that the purpose of their app is based in the idea that what is temporary doesn’t matter Says that they are adding on a new feature that allows cash transactions between their users, I cringe. The implications of that ability to pay someone for a pic are far reaching to say the least.

So, as a student pastor, I know it’s my job to encourage parents to talk to their kids about what’s going on. Let me be clear here to parents and students alike: I think you’re both really intelligent and capable. But parents, I wish you would be a student of your students. As in, study what’s going on in student culture and find ways to really get “into” their world by whatever means necessary.

Have conversations with your kids about what their internet habits are. Be in the know about what apps are on their phone. Don’t take a hands off approach here. There’s too much at stake.

Hear me, I’m not advocating taking away a kid’s smartphone because there’s “bad stuff out there.” That mentality leads to a life of fear and shutting kids away in their rooms with only a Bible and a TV loaded with the latest bunch of Christian movies. But what I am saying is do what it takes to know what’s on your student’s mind, their hearts, and yes, even their phones.

And students, know this: Your parents are smarter than you give them credit for. When they set rules and boundaries for you, 99 times out of 100 they are right on target and have your best interest in mind. And that last 1 time is the time when you should do what they say out of respect, even if you think they’re way off base.

My point here? Parents, talk to your kids about their hearts and their habits. Find out what they are up to. Be involved in their for real lives as well as their digital lives. And, coming from a former student who had parents and was quite capable of lying, don’t leave it at one conversation. Have conversations with your students about important things often. And sometimes, be a little pushy if you think they aren’t being 100% honest. They’ll thank you later.

Students, listen to what your parents have to say. Don’t lie to them. It’ll be better for you in the long run. And student pastors, do your part. Inform parents of what you’re learning about student culture. Challenge students to be salt and light in a dark world.

And for the sake of everyone, don’t send money over Snapchat.

Ronald Long is a youth pastor and DYM resource creator - check out his resources right here.




Posted by Josh Griffin

What’s your full name? Derry Cameron Prenkert

Where did you grow up? Wakarusa, Indiana

Tell us about your church: name, location, website.  Nappanee Missionary Church, Nappanee Indiana, www.nmconline.net  

What’s a nick name you’ve been given…but you hate. Why?  With the name Derry (pronounced Dairy) you can only imagine the amount of nicknames I've been given that I can't stand.

What’s your favorite TV show from the 80’s? (If you are too young to remember the 80’s, pick A.L.F.) I loved Knight Rider


Computer or TV? Yes.

How old were you when you first felt called to ministry? 19.  My Freshmen year of College.  Sensed a clear burden to help students caught in religion to truly experience a relationship with Jesus. Crazy thing... I've spent the past 18 years ministering to students in the same religious community (church on every corner) as I grew up in.

Would you rather kick a puppy or make a baby cry? Make a puppy cry.

Have you ever left a kid on an event/camp/retreat/missions trip/etc.? No, but we left a leader who ran back for Starbucks on a pit stop.  Have you ever wanted to?  Too many times to count

What do you enjoy doing outside of youth ministry? I'm a Disney World nut.  Love planning and going on trips.

Are you a good dancer? So horrific I'm entertaining.  

What color shoes are you wearing?  Barefoot (I'm actually filling out this questionnaire naked... not really, but wouldn't that be hilarious?!?)

What’s the worst injury that’s happened on one of your event/camp/retreat/missions trip/etc.?  At a Junior High Outreach, a student broke his arm in two different spots. 

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you hate ALL NIGHTERS? (1 = stab me in the eye and 10 = stab me in the eye with a spoon) 15

How good are you at keeping receipts? There have been multiple "rules" instituted because of me.

Does your church administrator love or hate you?  I was her youth pastor and my wife mentored her... she has to love me!

What would you do if you could be invisible for one day? Walk around our schools to see how students are living out their faith.

Mac or PC? Mac.

If you had a pet sloth, what would you name him/her? Proverbs 19:5 (Proverbs for short)

What is one of your irrational fears? Some would say my fear of clowns is irrational, but I find it completely rational.  A person who paints his face in order to play with little kids?  Call CPS!

What is your favorite lunch meat? Steak

Check out Derry's resources right here!


Topics: 000 hours

Before You Offer Help Remember This

Posted by Leneita Fix



This is that time of year when we are told time and again that giving is better than receiving. We hear over and over that this is a wonderful time to serve the least, the lost and lonely. I work for a church and non-profit that serves this specific demographic in an inner city setting. This time of year is also heartbreaking with the phone calls we receive of those in need of help. Desperate people share their desperate stories of ways they are struggling. I wish we could  genuinely really reach everyone who is hurting in a practical way.

Lately, I have also been put in a position where I am coordinating several outreach type endeavors in our community in a variety of ways. As I have been working with families, serving agencies and neighbors I have had some revelations on when help is helpful.

Here are some things to consider as you, your youth and church get involved in “loving your neighbor” through projects and organizations:

Be Informed

There can easily be misconceptions about certain parts of town, people groups or ministries because of what the news or rumors tell us. Most ministries in these areas have safety measures in place and reach out in a way that keeps everyone cared for. Don’t make presumptions because other people tell you to “avoid that area.”  Ask questions from the ministry or project you are serving about the truth of what happens there. Fear can be eradicated with knowledge.

Don’t Ask Them to Do This “Just For You”

Perhaps, when you are honest with yourself the time or location of a service project won’t work this time around. That’s fine.  If you call the ministry and don’t like the location, project or way something is set up please don’t ask them to make an “exception just for you," in the way they handle things.  There is a reason behind the way they have set up doing what they do, and the way they go about it. If you genuinely don’t feel comfortable with a situation it may be best for you, your family or your group to find another place to give your time. If ministries made concessions for every, “just this time,” both in who they serve or the way they do it, they would only ever making exceptions to their rules.

Who Is This REALLY Helping?

Everyone who wants to give has their heart in the right place. Yet, there are also times when we say we want to help more than we actually do. Schedules don’t always work. I'm not saying not to have a crazy idea and bounce it off the ministry. Yet, what is our response when they say, “If you want to help, you have to do it this way?” Do we start bantering to get our way? Do we start asking for them to change all the rules onour behalf? Is our attitude that they NEED our help? If you come with an idea that involves going above and beyond to help, then go above and beyond. Don’t ask the ministry to lower the bar so you can look more like a hero.


I have worked with several groups who just don’t have the bandwidth to get everyone together to serve on site. This time of year especially can be crazy busy for everyone. Be creative in ways you can financially support a local group. Don’t underestimate that finances are a very genuine way of aiding  ministries. What about supporting some staff of a local non-profit? Could you bake them cookies or show them some love? They are the ones who come everyday to give and probably rarely feel “thanked.” Could you hold a coin drive or something simple to help out? Two years ago a friend of mine wanted to help our ministry. At their youth group Christmas party he asked for gift cards to be donated  as the "price of admission" that could be sent to us to give to families we serve.  Several thousand dollars in cards were given to reach over 300 families.

Thank you for those of you who want to help. It’s important to think outward. You may have decided this year that more of your energy is going to serve those in your own congregation. WONDERFUL!  The point is to serve. Just help, then when Christmas is over, keep loving your neighbor as yourself.

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Frozen Voiceover Promo Video for Winterfest

Posted by Josh Griffin

Here's a really fun little voiceover promo video we made for an upcoming event called Winterfest. I loved it - made me laugh every service, and students were totally in. So fun!




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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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