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GUEST POST: A Step Worth Skipping in Discipleship

Posted by Josh Griffin

There's a constant agitating thought that occurs every time I think about youth ministry. It’s a thought that every youth pastor is plagued by. There are so many Christians in this world, but very few are disciples. I see a lot of students accepting Christ, but it seems like very few are taking the next step towards discipleship. Sometimes I feel like Elijah, looking around for leaders that are furthering the cause of Christ. I feel like I'm scrounging for disciples, and very few seem ready to take that journey. I want to be as transparent and honest about this as possible. I'm struggling, guys. I find myself wide awake at night thinking, "Where did I go wrong? Where is the boldness we read about in Acts? Why are the kids that call themselves 'Christians’ so apathetic about discipleship?”.  Am I alone at the top of this mountain, or are there leaders waiting in plain sight, ready to pursue this?  

The past few weeks, I've been praying for direction, praying about where I missed God's guidance on equipping the next generation. As I questioned every action, a single thought came to mind. I've been so caught up trying to invite my students to become Christians; I never thought to first invite them into discipleship.  

Go back and reread that last sentence. Seriously, read it. Meditate on it. Be captivated by it. Because when you first read it, you might be thinking "No duh." Discipleship is our commission; it’s a no brainer that we need to be inviting students into discipleship.”  Really think about all the programming and the conditions we've placed on our students to become disciples. Think about what you've been inviting your students into when you invite them to Christ.  

I don't know about you, but I've been creating an unnecessary step to discipleship. I've created a step that says, "Okay, you've accepted Jesus Christ as your redeemer, now wait a couple of years, hear a wisdom series every now and then, work on reading your bible more, start praying more, follow God, and when you've tested the spiritual waters of faith, a leader might see your character development and invite you into discipleship." This might be an exaggeration of what I've created, but you get the point. We've designed these little steps of improvement before a student gets an invite to go further. Why? So we can see that our time won't be wasted on someone who doesn't care? Where in the early church did we ever see the invitation to Christ portrayed as a delayed process of behavior modification AND THEN an intimate life changing walk with Christ? "Oh you want to acknowledge Christ as Savior? I'll see you in a year when you're really ready to follow him…."  

This isn't to put anyone down; this is revisiting what we may have lost sight of in our ministries. Jesus, John, James, Peter and Paul never created a step before discipleship, it was always a command, "Come follow me” (Matt 4:19), “Take up your cross and Follow Me” (Matt 16:24), “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1), “You have heard the gospel, but also with power from the Holy Spirit in full conviction. You saw who we were. And you imitated us and the Lord, for you received the word with affliction yet you received it with joy from the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:5-6). The first step to discipleship is simple. Follow Christ. Follow me as I follow Christ. Imitate his disciples and the Lord. Why add more work on a decision that's made in faith?  

What about the Cost of Discipleship? What about the parable of the tower and the army? What about the rich man that left disappointed, and the crowd that walked away freaked out when Jesus said, "Eat my body, drink my blood?"? What's so simple about that? How is that inviting? We look at Jesus laying out the cost, as if Jesus is complicating the process, but the cost of discipleship was not set in place to make life harder, it was an acknowledgment that life IS hard. These stories are a realistic look at what discipleship is like. It’s not about making good life choices, but taking on a lifestyle. The Cost of Discipleship isn't the step after salvation; the Cost of Discipleship is our step into salvation.  

Discipleship is knowing that life will throw everything it has at you once you take up your cross. It’s acknowledging the enemy has a bullet with your name on it. When you go against the grain of culture and rise above the human standard, people will notice and hate you for it because they are living in the same misery and torment that you're living in, but for some reason you're not shaken by it. Death, sickness, and persecution wait for you at every corner, but the Creator of the Universe is walking with you in every heart breaking moment. He is the comfort that will follow every tear, and just when you feel like you've lost it all, He whispers hope into your soul, and victory sparks in the midst of defeat. This is the cost of discipleship. It is a call to salvation, which is transparent about the odyssey unfolding before you. The first step of discipleship is simple. “Follow me”.  

What are your thoughts? What are the first steps you create for new believers in your youth? What are some challenges you face in creating a culture of discipleship? Agree? Disagree?

Sam Pettersen is a youth worker and a DYM Author - check out his resources right here!

GUEST POST: Safety > Privacy

Posted by Josh Griffin


Some of you might be reading this on your smart phone, or tablet, or maybe you're the kind of person that still uses a a desktop computer..... The point is, technology is apart of every aspect of our lives and so often our students know much more about the newest tech than we do. This time around we are talking about safety. When it comes to our students it isn’t so much a question of, “do we trust them?” But instead it is knowing how temptation works, and temptation goes hand in hand with technology.

There are so many different reasons that we should be involved in the technology that our students are using and all of them revolve around the idea of safety and protection. Whether we are keeping them safe from those whose intent is to cause harm from the cyber world or attempting to keep them safe from their own sin nature and the temptation that comes from every corner of the internet, the ultimate goal is protection. According to http://www.nobullying.com as of February 11th, 2015, 

–  “25 percent of teenagers report that they have experienced repeated bullying via their cell phone or on the internet. Over half (52 percent) off young people report being cyber bullied.”

–  “Embarrassing or damaging photographs taken without the knowledge or consent of the subject has been reported by 11 percent of adolescents and teens.”

–  “More than half of young people surveyed say that they never confide in their parents when cyber bullying happens to them.”

–  “Victims of cyber bullying are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and to consider suicide as a result.”

Scary right? These are just a few of the statistics that this website has compiled that have to do with your students and how cyber bullying comes in contact with them, for a more comprehensive list of stats you can visit this website – http://nobullying.com/cyber-bullying-statistics-2014/.

I am not a parent myself so I am not here to give you parenting advice. However, I do know about technology and I would love to give you some advice on protecting your students from the harm of technology improperly used whether by others or themselves. With that comes our title, Safety > Privacy.

….sorry for the long introduction

When it comes to devices you are the parent, you are in charge. Whether it’s a cell phone, computer, tablet, iPod, or fax machine, I don’t care, YOU are in charge (however, your kids probably aren’t using a fax machine to send messages to each other… that would be really loud… and they probably don’t even know what a fax machine is…) That being said, I’m going to tell you about a few apps that your students will hate ME for, but will thank YOU for later in life. Some of these you will have to pay monthly for and there are some that will be free, you decide whats your students safety is worth :-)

1. SecureTeen Parental Control – iOS & Android Play Store

This app allows you to monitor basically all online activity that your students does on his or her phone or tablet. You can login via their web page and keep track of the different websites they are visiting, block keyword searches, and add enhanced protection. For a detailed breakdown of what this app does you can click on the links above to take you to the app store.

2. My Mobile Watchdog – Android Play Store

This app for Android allows you to see the text message history on your students devices. It can also allow you to block the downloading of new apps, use of the camera, block the use of phones at certain times, along with a wide variety of other functions. To see a full breakdown of all functions this app has you can visit the link above that will take you to the Android Play Store.

3. TeenSafe – iOS & Android http://www.teensafe.com

TeenSafe is known as the #1 iPhone tracker and from what I have seen it seems like it is worth the money that you pay monthly to use this app. Some of its features are; view text, view calls, see phone location, monitor social activity (including Facebook and Instagram – which is important, students live on Instagram), view messages sent through WhatsApp – a popular texting application, view messages in Kik, see web history, and view contacts. You can even see text messages that have been deleted from your students phone. Also a great perk this program gives you is that it can be used on unlimited devices, you can monitor all your students devices all from the same place. There is a one week trial and I highly recommend checking this out. Click the link above to go to their website and read all about what they do and how their product works.

I know what some of you are thinking, “I don’t want to budge in on my students privacy” or, “I trust them to use technology the way they should.” Like we said earlier, it isn’t always about whether or not you trust your students, it is about knowing how temptation can sink into their lives and that not everyone on the internet has the best intentions for them. Remember, you are the parent and you should know what is going on in your students life. In 3 John 1 : 2-4 we see John talking to his friend Gaius and he says, “Dear, friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling me how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

While Gaius is not the son of John he still chooses to say, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” That is something that we all want to say about the students in our life and if choosing that Safety > Privacy helps them to continue to walk in the faith long after they have left the grasp of you the parents, than it is well worth it. Protect your students from the dark corners of the internet, the people that don’t have their best interests in mind, and know whats going on in your students life, it’s really… really really important.

Remember Safety > Privacy

Logan West is a youth worker who cares about teens in the real world and in the virtual world as well. 

A Sneak Peak Of SHIFT Students

Posted by Justin Knowles


I have been at Christ's Church of the Valley now for 8 months. It has been so fun and so challenging. One of the things we have been working on is getting new footage of our Wednesday night program so we can have something on our website for any parents or new people to get a glimpse of what a typical night looks like. One of the hardest things when talking with new people is describing what a night looks like, so why not have something to show them. We will put it on our website and we will have it out on our patio tabel during the weekend services when we meet parents or new students as well.

I love updating our stuff and has been something we have slowly but surely moving towards. I think it's helpful.




GIVE or RECEIVE a DYM Youth Ministry Resource Scholarship

Posted by Josh Griffin


We're so proud of our youth ministry resources scholarships! The program has been in place since July 2013 and local businessmen have purchased youth ministry resources for hundreds of programs across the US and around the world. Here are just a few of the more recent stories from this month's receipents:

[CHURCH 1] Thank you so much, when I saw this it was just a prayer to answers. We really love all your resources. I showed our Junior High Pastor and she was loving it and we decided to split it and use it with both our programs. Tell whoever the gentleman it was to decided to do that, thank him from all of Pathways Community Church. Its awesome to see when people are blessed by God and they bless others, that's what its all about.

[CHURCH 2] I wanted to wait until I knew I had a few minutes to type out, as best I could, my gratitude for DYM and what you guys stand for. First and foremost THANK YOU! I received this email as I was dismissing small group and was able to share this news with all of the kids. They were pretty excited as well. These resources are so vital in a time where reaching a kid is no longer as easy as inviting them to pizza. We have to retain them and help grow their relationship with Christ after the pizza and that takes creativity; something I struggle to pull out of myself after a long day at the office but thankfully it's something you guys do flawlessly. A note for the giver: "A 'Thank you' is not a good enough repayment for what you have gifted to my youth ministry and the kingdom of God. To gift the ability to reach kids in a way that could lead them to a new and/or deeper relationship with Christ is priceless. Please know that your donation means the world to me and my fellow youth leaders. I pray God blesses you for being a champion for teens everywhere. Thank you for all you do..." Thanks again for everything, I hope to have the budget in the future for the membership. (it is, after all, the best thing since digital sliced bread!)

[CHURCH 3] Thank you so much for your donation. Ministry is very hard, and in low income and high refugee areas sometimes it feels almost impossible. I can't begin to describe the feeling of gratitude I have for you donation. I remember growing up in a low income family. My mom did everything she could to hid the fact that we were very poor. I always respected that about her. Now that I find myself working with students and seeing parents that are obviously struggling; I want to pay that forward. I hope my students never have to see another youth group and say "Why can't we have that?" With your donation we will be able to provided top programming for them. We have already seen such a growth, just one year ago our program had 1 student on Sundays and 15 in our after school program, we now have an average of 15-20 on Sundays and over 75 in the after school program. We have recently launched a large group service once a month last month we had about 6 and this month 12. With the resources from DYM we will be able to provided them with top notch programming and games. It's really going to help us provided an atmosphere that students will want to invite their friends. Thank you so much for helping us help students find their way back to God.

Do YOU need a resource scholarship? We can help! Check out the DYM Scholarships page to GIVE or RECEIVE.


Get Jim Burns' Grow on Your Own Bundle!

Posted by Josh Griffin


Special DYM Webshow: Where Hope Grows

Posted by Josh Griffin

We're excited for this special DYM Webshow promoting the new movie, Where Hope Grows, in theathers this week! Check out some great church and youth ministry resources here, too!


Intentional Sermon Series Planning

Posted by Justin Knowles

Yesterday I went out to lunch with a friend and we were talking about sermon series and how we plan them. I’m not trying to say there is one way to go out how to plan sermon series or what you should be teaching and how you do it but what I am saying is there should be some thought and strategic planning behind it. We were talking about we both knew people who say they just kind of teach things as they come up or what they feel their students need to hear and not give it a second thought.

We were talking about how there is nothing initially wrong with that just there could be a tendency to teach heavy in one direction without intentionally doing so. I know people who teach all topical and I know people who go verse by verse through a book and both are great, as long as it’s part of a thought process, strategic planning and it's the direction on which your ministry's vision is headed towards.

For me, our Wednesday night program is geared and programmed for students who want to invite their non-churched friends to. So we program games, fun things and events and our sermon series for that. I think we have a good system in order to make our place inviting for non-believers and expose them to Jesus and to also challenge the students who are believers.

Our sermon series plan is very simple and it’s fun for us. We do the following order:

  • Topical series - We do the typical dating/sex/relationship in February and things in culture our students are talking about. We did the Instalife series on DYM and it was a hit.
  • Go through a book in the Bible – Right now we are in a series called “Wizdumb: A Study Through Proverbs” where we are talking about friendships, pride, parents and broken spirits. It has been so fun.
  • Series on Jesus – When we get back from summer camp, all summer we are going to be talking about Jesus and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

For us, this system and rotation of intentional planning allows us to keep our vision of reaching the un-churched in our area alive but also make sure we are switching things up and making sure we don’t hit on certain things over and over again. Series planning is one of my favorite things to do as we look for God to guide us in the direction we feel He is wanting us to go with our students.

This works for us. It might not work for you, but what does for you? How do you plan out sermon series? Why do you do it that way? We would love to hear.




Student Leadership Team Basics: Popsicle Stick Prayers

Posted by Jen Bradbury


Some of my good friends are long-term medical missionaries in Nepal. Every once in a while, I'll get an e-mail from them saying, “We popsicle stick prayed for you this morning!”

Every day our friends – along with their three young children – pray for those who support them. To do this, they've written their supporters' names on popsicle sticks, which one of their children then pulls from a cup. They cycle through these several times a year as a way of ensuring they're routinely praying for those who are also praying for them.

Upon hearing them describe this ritual, I thought, “That's brilliant! I can use that in my youth ministry!”

And indeed, I do, specifically with my student leadership team. In fact, as part of our team's weekly prayer time, we use this popsicle stick prayer idea.

At our first meeting of the year, my team takes one of our youth ministry's rosters and writes down everyone's name on a popsicle stick. Since we do so before the year begins, we don't yet know who will be active in our youth ministry. That's intentional because it means we routinely pray for all the teens connected to our church's ministry – regardless of how frequently or infrequently they actually attend our youth ministry. In other words, our prayers for people are not conditional upon their attendance.

After writing everyone's name on a popsicle stick, we then put them in a bag or a cup. Each week, as part of our prayer time, each student leader draws a popsicle stick and prays aloud for the person whose name is written on it. In doing so, student leaders learn how to pray not just for their friends, but also for peers that they may not know well. I also encourage student leaders to continue praying for the person they drew throughout the week. Beyond that, I challenge them to let that person know we've been praying for them and ask them how we might continue to pray for them.

Once we've prayed for a teen, their popsicle stick is moved to a second container until we've prayed for everyone. After all the popsicle sticks are transferred to the second container, we repeat the cycle. In this way, our student leaders routinely pray for everyone in our youth ministry.

By making this prayer ritual a consistent part of our leadership team meetings, student leaders learn that one of their roles as a leader in our ministry is to consistently pray with and for others. Beyond that, this simple prayer ritual teaches teens to notice others. It also helps them create a culture of welcome within our ministry. You see, if a teen who's not regular attender suddenly walks into our ministry, our student leaders already feel as though they have a relationship with them because they've been praying for them regularly. What's more, by regularly praying for everyone connected to our youth ministry, I've watched God change the hearts of some of our student leaders, softening them toward others they've struggled through conflict with. Finally, this kind of consistent prayer ritual helps student leaders understand that prayer isn't just an afterthought for our leadership team. It's a critically important part of what we do together. In fact, it may even be the most important thing we do together.

Download Leaders Show Compassion

Other posts in this series:

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



National Youth Workers Convention 2015

Posted by Josh Griffin

We're excited to be back at Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention - Doug Fields will be teaching a general session and DYM will have a booth in both locations. You've got to join us! Here's a great highlight/preview of this coming year's event. Awesome!


DYM Author Spotlight: Kimberly Bowers

Posted by Josh Griffin


What’s your full name? Kimberly Bowers

Where did you grow up? Aurora, CO

Tell us about your church: name, location, website. First Baptist Church Harvester in St. Charles, MO www.fbch.com

What’s a nick name you’ve been given…but you hate. Why? I can't stand being called Kimmy

What’s your favorite TV show from the 80’s? (If you are too young to remember the 80’s, pick A.L.F.) hmmmm in the 80s I was watching sesame street

Computer or TV? both

How old were you when you first felt called to ministry? When I was in middle school

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

Have you ever left a kid on an event/camp/retreat/missions trip/etc.? Have you ever wanted to? no but I have wanted to leave a leader

What do you enjoy doing outside of youth ministry? cooking, hiking with my family, photography Are you a good dancer? oh yeah

What color shoes are you wearing? not wearing any, but I did wear my vans earlier today

What’s the worst injury that’s happened on one of your event/camp/retreat/missions trip/etc.? In Uganda, Africa 2 leaders and I spun out on a motorcycle and one of the leaders had a few deep gashes that probably needed stitches.

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) 10

How good are you at keeping receipts? Does your church administrator love or hate you? I'm good at keeping them in my wallet.  

What would you do if you could be invisible for one day? watch people without my presence

Mac or PC? mac

If you had a pet sloth, what would you name him/her? syd

What is your favorite lunch meat? turkey

Thanks, Kimmy (hahahhaah) ... be sure to check out all of her resources on DYM right here!


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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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