The Download Youth Ministry Blog/
20 May 2024

Launching Youth Ministry Seniors

By |2024-05-20T06:17:19-07:00May 20th, 2024|Leadership|1 Comment

May is a big season for youth ministries! Your seniors are graduating, and it can be a wild ride. These may be the students you’ve ministered to and spent time with over the last six or seven years. And you may be trying to figure out how to honor them and launch them into the next season.

And you’re also figuring out how to do that without making anyone upset or leaving anyone out!

What can you do?

Here are some ideas for honoring your seniors and even having them speak into the lives of the students who are coming behind them.

Have Seniors Speak at Youth Group

While not every senior can deliver a 30-minute message, you might be able to ask a senior to give the group following them some life advice. The high school pastor I worked with would do this regularly. He would schedule 3 to 4 seniors during a youth group program and have them offer advice to the next class. It was usually great to hear what the seniors would come up with and how they would take the lessons they learned in youth group and pass them down to the students following them.

Recognize Them on a Sunday Morning

On a particular Sunday morning, call up students who are graduating and have them stand on stage. It’s always a great moment to recognize them in front of the whole church! You can either hand them a microphone and have them go down the line saying their name, where they are from, and what their next season of life holds for them. Make sure you communicate in advance what this will be so that students and parents are prepared for it!

Get Them a Gift

Try to get students something to mark the occasion. Maybe it’s a Bible where their family and friends have highlighted verses to take them into the next season. Maybe it’s a devotional aimed at seniors so that they can enter this next season walking with God. Maybe it’s exclusive Youth Ministry swag that only graduates get. Whatever you do, think about how a student might look at this gift and remember their time in Youth Ministry fondly.

Set Them Up for What’s Next

Do your new seniors know how to look for a church? Do they know how to ask and get plugged into a new ministry? I know a youth pastor who would take his seniors to a couple of different churches during their summer after high school. He would have them learn everything they could about the new church on one visit and ask how to get plugged in. I love this idea because the youth pastor would go with them and help coach them through it! What a great idea to help students look for a new church since most of our seniors might be moving on to their next chapter in a new city and not know how to find a new community of believers!

How would you help launch seniors into the next season?

Want some help with having seniors tell their stories? Check out this resource!

17 May 2024

The National Day of Volunteer Youth Ministry SIZZLE Reel

By |2024-05-17T14:14:33-07:00May 17th, 2024|Youth Ministry Ideas|2 Comments

Let’s go!!! JOIN US THIS FALL … full customizable 1/2 of volunteer training – host it for others at your church, or just for your volunteers. The National Day of Volunteer Youth Ministry Training will have over 20,000 youth workers this Fall, the BIGGEST training event of the year. JOIN US!

Get all of the details at trainmyvolunteers.com

13 May 2024

Following Up With Visitors and New Students

By |2024-05-13T11:43:29-07:00May 13th, 2024|Youth Ministry Hacks|1 Comment

When you get a chance to hang out with new students, do you have a process of making sure you can follow up with them? Do you follow up with them?

If you don’t have a process, you won’t follow up with students.

Here’s my suggestion to you and it’s in three parts:

Get Their Info

Every time you meet a new student, get their information. You need four things:

First and Last Name

Grade

Gender

Contact Info

What contact info do you need? That depends on you. What are you more likely to use to follow up with a student? Their phone number? Email? Street address?

Whatever you use, get the same thing each time. And determine HOW to get that info as well. Is it a card students fill out? Is it an online form they scan with a QR code?

In our ministry, I had students fill out a card and they got a big candy bar from me when they turned it in. You may want to give them a cool t-shirt or even a gift box, but that’s totally up to you!

Whatever you do, do the same thing each time because of step two.

Have a Plan for Follow-Up

Do you text every student after they come to youth group? Do you send them an email with links to next steps? Do you send them something in them mail?

Whatever you do, have a plan! It’d be best if you had students know that you are glad they showed up and let them know they’re welcome back anytime!

It’s totally fine to have a prewritten text or email or letter to send out to students. You can make it personalized with a few extra words or not. That’s up to you!

Put Follow-Up on Your Weekly To Do

Following up with students SHOULD be important. But if it’s not on your weekly list of things to do, it won’t get done.

Make it happen at the same time each week. Like every Thursday after youth group night. Or every Monday after Sunday is over with. Whatever you do, make sure it happens each week at the same time.

That will help you recognize when you have visitors and when you don’t. Knowing that will let you see if your group is inviting in friends or if they aren’t.

And if they aren’t, then you can learn what you can do about it!

Any extra thoughts? I’d love to hear them!

6 May 2024

How to Change Your Culture to Something You Desire

By |2024-05-06T03:50:50-07:00May 6th, 2024|Leadership|3 Comments

I have been in my current position for a few years now. Recently, during a conversation with one of our youth leaders, he remarked, “It’s like we have a whole new group of people and values.” Indeed, the atmosphere has shifted significantly compared to four years ago, and this transformation has been intentional. Throughout the year, we have diligently worked towards altering the culture of our Wednesday nights to one that actively seeks Jesus, embraces committed leadership, and fosters a spirit of enjoyment. Our efforts are beginning to yield results.

So, how did we achieve this? Reflecting on the steps our team took to implement change within our group, I’d like to share them.

  1. Prayer: Our team dedicated time to prayer together. We gathered to envision and articulate our values and aspirations for our ministries, surrendering them to God. While individuals can influence culture to a certain extent, the profound change we sought for our students could only be realized through divine intervention.
  2. Observation: Initially, I spent four to six months simply observing. I meticulously took notes, scrutinizing every aspect from technological setups and stage arrangements to program content, volunteer engagement, and job roles. After gaining insights into our existing systems and their outcomes, we systematically addressed areas for improvement.
  3. Gradual Implementation: We began by making superficial adjustments to enhance the flow and aesthetics of our services. These changes involved aspects such as graphics, social media presence, sermon illustrations, music selection, and recreational activities. Changing culture is not a hasty process; it requires grace and patience as people naturally resist change. Once we achieved the desired service environment and struck a balance, we progressed to addressing personnel matters.
  4. Volunteers: Recognizing that people differ from programs, we consistently communicated our vision from the outset. Some individuals naturally aligned with our vision, while others required candid discussions to reassess their involvement. Reiteration of the vision is crucial; when you feel fatigued from repeating it, your volunteers are just beginning to grasp it. While adjusting the vision for existing volunteers is possible, recruiting new leaders who resonate with the new direction proves invaluable. These leaders, fully immersed in the envisioned culture, serve as conduits for its transmission to students.
  5. Relationships: Empowered by our shared vision and understanding of success, our leaders engage with students in purposeful relational activities. Events such as park outings, beach trips, and summer camps, led by vision-aligned leaders, have cemented relationships within our core student group. With this foundation, we are poised to establish small groups and expand our outreach to students seeking spiritual fulfillment.

The journey to reshape your group’s culture may entail various strategies, tailored to its unique dynamics. Nonetheless, I have found that prayerful, gradual, and intentional efforts can foster a culture where leaders inspire, collaborate, and empower others.

29 Apr 2024

Gradutation and Moving Up Gifts

By |2024-04-29T05:44:39-07:00April 29th, 2024|Leadership|2 Comments

May is just around the corner! That means seniors are moving on, 7th-grade students are going into high school, and 5th or 6th-grade students are getting ready to enter youth group!

With all this change? What should you get each grade or class to help them mark the occasion?

Bibles for Seniors

I love gifting Bibles to students moving out of the youth group and into the next season of life. Even better, though, is giving them a Bible with highlighted verses and notes written from the important people in their lives. You can do this all in one go at a Senior focused youth group night or hand the Bible to parents to have them run it around to family. Whichever direction you take, write your own note and highlight a few verses.

Those can be treasured Bibles that can help guide them to their next season! Just make sure you reach out to the seniors on your list and ask if they will be around for it. It never hurts to have a couple extra on hand, just in case.

T-Shirts for Incoming Students

Every student could use a Bible when coming into the youth group. So don’t hear me say DON’T get an incoming student a Bible. However, I love to help new students feel a part of the group and special at the same time. I would usually get a t-shirt made up special for the students coming into the ministry. It would be our logo on a t-shirt that ONLY the new incoming students get. That way they get some cool youth group branded stuff AND feel some connection to the other students moving in with them.

It’s been cool to watch students keep wearing those shirts over the years too. A little bit of class pride, yeah?

A Plant

Go with me here. Moving from middle school to high school is difficult. It can be one of the toughest moves a student makes. We don’t often recognize that in our ministries, which should change! I love getting my students something that symbolizes growing into the next season of life.

A succulent (read: a plant that doesn’t die very easily) can be a neat gift to show students you see them and remind they that they are still growing! It’s a little reminder that can encourage them to continue to make their faith their own AND, hopefully, encourage them to continue to grow in grace and love.

You can probably think of a few other things you could grab for a student moving from one season to the next. Celebrate the moves and the changes! Whatever you do, acknowledge that God is at work in their lives and that you’re excited about what He has in store for them!

23 Apr 2024

Encourage Your Volunteers!

By |2024-04-23T10:36:35-07:00April 23rd, 2024|Leadership, Volunteers|3 Comments

Springtime might be tough for a Youth Pastor, but it can also be difficult for a Youth Ministry volunteer! These are the people we rely on to help make ministry happen. We can’t do this thing by ourselves! So, how can you show volunteers appreciation and ensure they feel valued as a part of your team? I’ve got three quick ideas!

  1. Send them a text

Sending a quick text message to a volunteer is a great way to show them you appreciate them! Normally, we text volunteers when we need supplies for a game or for them to put out a fire in the youth room. But if you spent the next 10 minutes texting your volunteer team, you could show them that you were thinking about them, appreciate their support, and give them a small encouragement that might carry them through the week! Something like:

“Hey Susan! Thanks so much for being on the team. I saw you having a great conversation with Samantha last night. I’m glad you’re doing Youth Ministry!”

“Hey Scott! It’s always great to see you throwing football and chatting it up with the dudes. Glad you’re on the Youth Ministry team!”

  1. Grab Them a Snack

Ask your volunteers what their favorite snack is. And then next time you meet, have it ready for them. We do this with students all the time. Why shouldn’t we do this for our volunteers? It’s a great way to show them that we know them, we love them, and we were thinking about them. It doesn’t even have to be in the Youth Ministry budget for you to show this type of appreciation! Once you know their favorite snack, you can get it for them again! Think right before the retreat happens or at the end of the school year. You can show your volunteers appreciation just by running to the store real quick.

  1. Sing Their Praises

Maybe not literally singing, but think of it this way: every time you get a microphone, it’s a chance for you to talk about how great your volunteers are. Maybe it’s when you’re making an announcement at church in service or before you break up for small groups. Make sure you tell your volunteers you appreciate them in front of people! It’s definitely not the only way to show people that you appreciate them, but it’s a great way to remind them that you are on their team and you are thankful for them! The next time somebody hands you a microphone, take 30 seconds to talk about how great your Youth Ministry volunteers are!

Did I miss anything? Is there anything you would add to the list? I’d love to hear about it!

15 Apr 2024

New Feature Alert: LOOPING SLIDES & VIDEO CONTROLS!!

By |2024-04-15T13:15:06-07:00April 15th, 2024|Sidekick, Sidekick Hero Blog|4 Comments

In October 1911, Roald Amundsen set out on the first-ever expedition to the South Pole. It took him and his team almost 2 months to make the journey, and when they got there, you know what they saw?

Snow… They saw lots and lots of snow.

Well, our developers have also been hard at work over the last 2 months, and quite frankly, we think they have a little more to show for it than tiny bits of frozen water. That’s right, today is the day that we proudly announce TWO MAJOR UPDATES to Sidekick!

The first new Sidekick feature is one that youth workers have been asking for since we first unveiled Sidekick back in December (we can’t believe Sidekick only launched a few months ago!). That’s right, we’re talking about…

LOOPING SLIDES!!

Now, Sidekick users can choose any section in their Sidekick presentation to auto-advance and repeat automatically! Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of LOOPING SLIDES in action!

But that’s not all!

In addition to LOOPING SLIDES, our ever-vigilant team of developers decided to bring you another highly requested feature:

ENHANCED VIDEO CONTROLS!!

Now, Sidekick users can set the starting position for any video (yes, this new feature works for your own videos that you upload and videos that are streamed from YouTube and Vimeo) and once a video has started, you can jump to any specific timecode!

First, let’s look at how to adjust the starting position for any video:

And then, let’s look at how to jump to any point in a video once it’s already playing:

We’re super excited about both of these updates, because they’re a direct response to feedback we’ve gotten from Sidekick users just like you!

And I can’t wait to tell you about what’s coming next… No, seriously, it’s pretty exciting… But you’ll just have to wait… Because I can’t tell you about it… Yeah… Even though I really want to…

We’ll be posting more about other new features in the coming days, but in the meantime, feel free to keep exploring Sidekick! And if you have any ideas for features that you think we should work on next, you should head over to our Feature Suggestion Page by clicking the button below:

Request a New Sidekick Feature!

That’s all for today, but if you’d like to see the other blog posts in the “How Do I…?” series, you can do so here: How Do I…?

If you’re using Sidekick and you run into any issues, or if you just have a question, please feel free to reach out to our support team at: [email protected]. Or you can check out other helpful articles and walkthroughs at the Sidekick Help Desk by visiting https://help.sidekick.tv.

Finally, if you choose to use the new Sidekick… let us know how you do it and what types of polls you do because we want to highlight you. Our goal is to highlight a youth worker every week with different ways they’ve used Sidekick to help their students engage. If you’re interested in being recognized as a Sidekick Hero, just click the big red button below:

If you’re using Sidekick and you run into any issues, or if you just have a question, please feel free to reach out to our support team at: [email protected]. Or you can check out other helpful articles and walkthroughs at the Sidekick Help Desk by visiting https://help.sidekick.tv.

Finally, if you choose to use the new Sidekick… let us know how you do it and what types of polls you do because we want to highlight you. Our goal is to highlight a youth worker every week with different ways they’ve used Sidekick to help their students engage. If you’re interested in being recognized as a Sidekick Hero, just click the big red button below:

15 Apr 2024

Getting the Most out of Youth Pastor Conferences

By |2024-04-15T08:14:57-07:00April 15th, 2024|Youth Ministry Ideas|1 Comment

Hey there, youth pastor! So, you’ve got a conference coming up, huh? Awesome! These events are like fuel for our ministry engines—full of ideas, inspiration, and, let’s be real, a little bit of overwhelm too. But fear not, I’ve got some tips to help you rock that conference like a pro.

Take Notes: Scribble, Type, Whatever Works!

First things first, bring something to take notes with. Whether you’re a pen-and-paper purist or a digital note-taker, just make sure you’re jotting down those gems of wisdom that speakers drop, those lightbulb moments during workshops, and maybe even the occasional doodle (hey, creativity knows no bounds, right?).

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Listen, we all want to be superheroes and implement a gazillion new ideas the second we get back to our ministries. But reality check: that’s just not feasible. So, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all. Pick a couple of things that really resonate with you, and focus on those. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your ministry be transformed overnight. It’s a process, friend.

One Big Action: Keep It Simple

Alright, so you’re jazzed up after the conference and ready to conquer the world. But here’s the deal: pick one big action to take when you get back. Just one. Whether it’s launching a new small group series, revamping your social media game, or finally getting that coffee hangout with your youth group rolling—choose something and go all in. Trust me, simplicity is key.

Embrace the Vibes and the Community

Last but not least, soak it all in. Connect with your fellow youth pastors, swap stories, share struggles, and lift each other up. You’re not in this alone, my friend. And remember, it’s not just about the sessions and workshops—it’s about the relationships you build and the community you’re a part of. Soak up those good vibes and let them fuel your journey.

In a nutshell, youth pastor conferences are like a buffet of goodness for our souls and ministries. Take notes, be kind to yourself, focus on one big action, and soak up the community vibes. You’ve got this! Now go out there and rock that conference like the youth ministry ninja you are.

Looking for a youth pastor conference? We’ve got a great one for you! Check it out below:

11 Apr 2024

Free game in Sidekick! – Cereal Killer

By |2024-04-11T09:10:14-07:00April 11th, 2024|Youth Ministry Ideas|1 Comment

Have a cereal night at youth group with this fun, 6-week cereal elimination bracket! Use one poll each of the next 6 weeks to reveal the final top 6 cereals in your youth ministry. Be sure to write down the winner each week so you can input them into the Grand Final week 7 poll … to reveal the best cereal of all time!

You could also easily modify this to play all in the same service or at an event as well!

Sidekick is DYM’s brand-new presentation software! With interactive elements like live voting, name picker, wheels, and weekly free premium content, Sidekick is the future of presenting! Plus it’s cloud-based, so you can build your presentation at home and find it ready to go wherever you log in.

If you’re using Sidekick and you run into any issues, or if you just have a question, please feel free to reach out to our support team at: [email protected]. Or you can check out other helpful articles and walkthroughs at the Sidekick Help Desk by visiting https://help.sidekick.tv.

Finally, if you choose to use the new Sidekick… let us know how you do it and what types of polls you do because we want to highlight you. Our goal is to highlight a youth worker every week with different ways they’ve used Sidekick to help their students engage. If you’re interested in being recognized as a Sidekick Hero, just click the big red button below:

If you’re using Sidekick and you run into any issues, or if you just have a question, please feel free to reach out to our support team at: [email protected]. Or you can check out other helpful articles and walkthroughs at the Sidekick Help Desk by visiting https://help.sidekick.tv.

Finally, if you choose to use the new Sidekick… let us know how you do it and what types of polls you do because we want to highlight you. Our goal is to highlight a youth worker every week with different ways they’ve used Sidekick to help their students engage. If you’re interested in being recognized as a Sidekick Hero, just click the big red button below:

11 Apr 2024

Helping Youth Workers Win This April!

By |2024-04-11T09:05:06-07:00April 11th, 2024|Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources|0 Comments

AMAZING DEALS ONLY IN APRIL!

Our team at DYM is made up of youth workers! We have hundreds of years of combined experience and a heart that wants to make your life easier and better. Andt that’s not all. We want to save you time so you can do what we can’t do: disciple your studentscare for your parents… and spend time with your volunteers.

We’ve combined some of the best deals we’ve ever had and we’re offering ALL of them to you in the month of April! We’re here to help you win!

Check Out All Of Our April Deals Here

We’ve made the DYM Membership EVEN better.

Gold NOW gets 25 voting connections in Sidekick (previously 5!)

A NEW monthly countdown video added to member downloads (in addition to the normal membership video!)

AND, get 20-50% off in-person events (new this year!)

Check Out The Memberships Here

Super Summer Mega Pack? Yes, please!

$200 worth of epic, time-saving summer resources for only $99!

Plug-and-play games, complete teaching series’, graphics, videos, summer camp resources, themed events, and 2 high-quality summer calendar designs to choose from – it’s all included! You have to see it to believe it!

Check Out the Summer Mega Pack Here

We’re launching Coleader Year 2 in May, Save BIG in April!

Subscribe to Coleader Premium+ (or extend your current Premium+ subscription) during April and get 20% off! That gives you an ENTIRE YEAR of curriculum, games, countdowns, and events for only $320! That’s about $6 per week for a fully complete program.

CHECK OUT COLEADER AND USE CODE: WINNING2024 AT CHECKOUT

Buy the National Day of Volunteer Youth Ministry Training, get YMU for ONLY $99 (that’s a $150 savings)!

If you sign up for the National Day of Volunteer Youth Ministry Training(either to host it or to own it) we’ll give you complete access to 125 video courses on YMUniversity.com for the renewal price of only $99.

Your volunteers can get world-class training on their device of choice 24/7 all year long! Check it out here!

Check out the National Day of Volunteer Youth Ministry Training Here

Become a Platinum Member and get a $100 Starbucks card on us!

Platinum Membership has everything you’ll need for the year (Coleader access, YMUniversity, Events, 50% discounts from the store, etc…).

Join in April and we’ll personally send you a $100 gift card to Starbucks so you can have a relaxing beverage on us throughout the year… we know you need it!

Check out the Platinum Membership Here

Get $50 Off a DYM Southern California Event This Fall!

You’re the leader, you need some rest and training and networking and learning and fun! We have all that waiting for you this fall at our events in Southern California.

We’d love for you to join us for Your First Decade in Youth Ministry Conferenceor DYM100: Roundtable Conversations Conference. We’ve got a $50 discount for you if you sign up this month!

Check out the YOUR FIRST DECADE IN YOUTH MINISTRY CONFERENCE HERE
Check out the DYM100: Roundtable Conversations Conference Here
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