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26 Jan 2023

3 Signs You Need to Slow Down

By |2023-01-24T13:41:32-08:00January 26th, 2023|Help Me With..., Parents, Youth Ministry Hacks, Youth Pastor Life|2 Comments

As youth pastors, we often find ourselves in a whirlwind of activities and events. We’re planning the next sermon, scheduling meetings with volunteers, and running from one event to the next. It can be hard to pause and really take a moment to rest.

But rest is essential for our physical, mental and spiritual health. If we don’t take the time to rest, we won’t be able to give our best to the ministry. With that in mind, here are 3 signs that you need to slow down and rest once in a while:

1. When You Feel Overwhelmed – If you’re constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it’s a sign that you need to take a break. Feeling overwhelmed could be a sign that you’re taking on too much and need to re-evaluate your priorities. It’s important to take a step back, assess the situation, and find ways to reduce your stress. We can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure to take time to fill it back up and rest. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

2. When You Feel Disconnected From God – When we’re too busy, it’s easy to become disconnected from God. If you’re feeling distant from God, it’s a sign that you need to slow down and give Him your full attention. Rest is a vital part of our spiritual walk, and it’s important to make time to spend with God. As Psalm 46:10 tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” Taking the time to be still and rest in God’s presence will help us to reconnect with Him.

3. When You Can’t Focus – If you’re having trouble focusing, it’s a sign that you need to take a break. When we’re tired, our minds can’t focus, and we can’t do our best work. Take a break and use that time to pray, read Scripture, and rest in the presence of God. You can also take a walk, journal, or spend time with friends and family. All of these activities can help you to relax, refocus, and gain perspective.

By taking the time to slow down and rest, we can be better equipped to serve our ministry and glorify God. Remember, it’s ok to take a break and rest once in a while. Make sure to honor God by taking time to rest and recharge so that you can serve with a renewed spirit.

Need something to send to parent that sends the same message? We’ve got a great resource for you!

PARENT RESOURCE: 4 Signs You Need to Slow Down

We are all aware that life can be busy. Our calendar is jam-packed each week with work, kids, school, sports, and friends. Our culture moves quickly and keeping up can be so exhausting that it hurts us. This new year, you may need to slow down. Here are 4 signs your fast-paced life is killing you.

How to use:

1. Attach to your next parent newsletter

2. Print and have available at your next parent meeting

3. Create a resource hub in your space for grab and go parent resources

4. Create a monthly “parent equipping” (separate from newsletter) video explaining how to use the tool.

Gold members got this for free this month. Want to get free stuff? Become a Gold Member today!

17 Nov 2020

Jessica Sanchez: Why Celebrate Advent in 2020?

By |2021-05-18T14:19:16-07:00November 17th, 2020|Help Me With..., Leadership, online youth group, Small Groups, Uncategorized|5 Comments

I’m not sure about you, but I wasn’t raised in a faith tradition that observed Advent. I heard about Advent, yet never learned what a Christian is to do during Advent or what this season actually represents for followers of Christ.

But a few years ago, I was introduced to the rich history of the Church calendar. A friend shared with me that the focal point of Advent was waiting. I had been in a long season of waiting that year and Advent sounded interesting and mysterious. I decided to jump in and see what taking part in Advent would mean for me. 

Many of you may already be familiar with Advent, but for those of us who aren’t, Advent is a season of the liturgical year observed in the Church as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the birth of Christ at Christmas and the return of Christ at the Second Coming. It’s a time set aside where we remember both God’s faithfulness in sending us His son, while at the same time leaning into the hopeful expectation of our reality as followers of Christ: we still await the return of our Messiah; the world is yearning for Him.

The season of Advent lasts for 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas. It begins on the Sunday that falls between November 27th and December 3rd each year. Advent 2020 begins on Sunday, November 29th, and ends on Thursday, December 24.

For more information regarding the history of Advent, I found this article super helpful: https://www.christianity.com/christian-life/christmas/what-is-advent.html

So…why observe Advent this year?

I won’t go into all of the reasons why this year has been hard; it just has been. Personally, the hard parts of this year have exposed the frayed and underdeveloped parts of my character. I notice this in my response to last minute changes, small annoyances, and, what feels like, unending tension in the world.

Corporately, we’re all exhausted. It feels as though we have spent the entire year waiting. Waiting for local restrictions to be lifted, waiting for permission to re-gather as a Church, waiting for good news to come regarding Covid numbers, waiting for resolution after a tumultuous election cycle, waiting for a sense of normal to return to our lives…waiting.

Advent invites us to lean into the waiting. It beckons us to remember that the Israelites waited, too. They held onto the words of prophets like Isaiah who assured them that the Messiah would indeed come. We stand in a very similar place today; we are waiting for Jesus to return and make all things new. 

This is what we do in Advent – we remember, but we also wait with hope-filled expectation. 

There is so much that God does in the waiting.

How am I observing Advent with my students in 2020?  

I’ve decided that rather than only practicing Advent with my own family this year, I’d also introduce my small group of high school girls to it. There is deep value in learning what it means to wait on and with Jesus, and I can’t think of a better year to guide them through what that looks like.

If it’s helpful to share specifics with you, my plan is to download and print The Stories of Advent resource from the Download Youth Ministry store. This social media-ready devotional is making it super easy for me to have a ready-made resource to hand to my small group. I’ll give them the printed read-along devotional and walk them through the meaning and significance of Advent at small group the week before Advent kicks off (our group meets on Wednesday nights, so we’ll do this the day before Thanksgiving). From there, my plan is to assign each girl in my group a day of the week where they will film themselves (selfie-style) reading the devotional for that day. They will be responsible to text our group the video of the devotional on their assigned day (with a few reminders from me, I’m sure). 

My hope is that this will keep the girls engaged all month and if they miss reading the devotional on their own, they have a friend reading it to them in the video (which they can easily play while getting ready or doing their chores). Every week at small group my plan is to start our time together by having them share any insights, questions, or thoughts from the devotional. It’s okay if they skip a day or “get behind”, the goal is to simply help them open to God and see what He has for them in a season of waiting. I’ll also use the social media graphics included in the resource to post on my Instagram account (which all of my small group girls follow) to serve as an encouragement for them throughout the month. If a devotional is out of sight, it’s out of mind, so my goal is to sprinkle reminders of Advent for them via text, on social media, and at small group.

In light of the year we’ve faced, I’m choosing to enter into this holiday season with hope-filled expectation. I encourage you to take part in Advent this year and receive the gifts that God has for you, and your students, in the waiting.

Check out Stories of Advent on DYM!

Searching for Youth Group Games? Discover thousands of turn-key resources at Download Youth Ministry.

31 May 2019

Four Weeks of Programming Done For You!

By |2019-06-01T00:50:54-07:00May 31st, 2019|Help Me With..., Membership, Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Uncategorized, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources|2 Comments

Every season of Youth Ministry includes programs and events, but none is quite as busy (and, often, crazy!) as Summer. The end of a school year leads right into a new routine/rhythm of events, camps, and (hopefully somewhere in there) a week to breathe before Fall planning begins.

Often, weekly programming can falter because of the influx of tasks in your head.

We get it. We’ve been there. And we’re here to help!

On the first of the month, every month, DYM Members receive a digital delivery of new, top-of-the-line programming elements. Gold Members get a new video, game, Sidekick file, Student Leadership resource, and Mystery Item every month. That’s about $25 of free resources every month, not to mention an additional $20 Store Credit they receive every month, and the discount of 35% OFF store prices every day! (Not yet a Gold Member, try it free for 30 days–no credit card required–and you’ll get access to all of these resources, discounts, and $5 Store Credit!)

A handful of new resources can feel a little overwhelming if you’re not sure quite how to plug them into your weekly program. So, this month, we’re helping shoulder some of the heavy lifting with a curated month of suggested programming combining the June 2019 Member Items with some of our favorite resources in the DYM Store.

**Already have your series for this month? No problem! Download the member items now and use this programming plan another time!

Let’s start with the Series:
Blood & Guts by Sabrina Hadro.
(FREE to DYM Members this month as the Member Mystery Item! Log in now to download this free resource.)

Building around this series…


Message: Blood and Guts Week 1: Jesus’ Divinity and Humanity // Bottom Line: Jesus was fully God and fully man

Welcome Video: we suggest Service Welcome Video OR grab this WELCOME VIDEO 4-Pack and use a new one each week of the series!

Icebreaker/Mixer: we suggest Extreme Row Makeover Volume 2 (Or check out Volume 1 rated 4.5-stars!)

Game: Hot Hands (FREE to DYM Members this month as the Member Game! Log in now to download this free resource.)



Message: Blood and Guts Week 2: The Old Testament Sacrificial System // Bottom Line: Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament law

Icebreaker/Mixer: we suggest Find 2 (DYM Members got this video pack for FREE in February 2019. Try DYM Gold Membership FREE!)

Video Illustration: we suggest supporting the bottom line of this week’s message with Magic Illustration: Jesus Took Our Place

Game: we suggest Will It Burn: Summer Edition



Message: Blood and Guts Week 3: The Hall of Faith // Bottom Line: It takes guts to change the world

Icebreaker/Mixer: we suggest One-Question Interview

Video: We suggest you kick-off your service with the finest bad jokes around: Bad Joke of the Day or Vol 2 or Vol 3

Game: we suggest Blender of Doom (included in the 45 file starter kit that comes with Sidekick!) 

Response Element: we suggest challenging your students to serve their family and community with Wheel of Service



Message: Blood and Guts Week 4: Perseverance & Hope // Bottom Line: Don’t quit—hope has come and will come again

Sidekick: we suggest adding a little flavor to your announcements with Announcement Roulette (included in the 45-file starter kit that comes with Sidekick!) 

Game: we suggest Nailed It or Failed It: Pool Party Edition (or Cat Edition Vol 1 or Vol 2, or Marriage Proposals… Honestly, you can’t lose with any Edition.)

Creative Programming Element: we suggest Ultimate Escape Room. A tangible lesson in perseverance and not giving up!

Video: we suggest this Countdown Video Ft. Party Llama (Hilarious and FREE in the DYM Store!)


Looking for a little more to round out the month of programming?

• Add The Retro Animation Transition Videos each week to create continuity in your program throughout this series. (FREE to DYM Members this month as the Member Video! Log in now to download this free resource.)

• Grab this Countdown Video 3-pack and kick-off each program with energy! (DYM Members got this video pack for FREE in June 2018. Try DYM Gold Membership FREE!)

• Use these summer-themed Instagram images. Giving new meaning to ‘insta-content’.


If you’re using this plan in June, add a top-rated Father’s Day to Week 3: Dad Texts Real or Fake, My Dad is Smarter Than Your Dad, Who’s Your Daddy?

Planning ahead? Here are some 4th of July games loved by the DYM Community: Crowd Charades: United States EditionUnited States Citizenship Test, ‘Merica Trivia Volume 2, (or Vol 1)

19 Aug 2018

Help Me With… Small Groups

By |2018-08-20T11:37:45-07:00August 19th, 2018|Help Me With..., Small Groups, Training, Volunteers|0 Comments

There is no end to the list of the way God can use a small group leader in the life of a student. If you grew up in youth ministry and were to name a leader who impacted your life and your relationship with Jesus, chances are, that relationship was fostered in the context of a small group.

We’re given such a unique opportunity to walk alongside teenagers as they begin their faith journey, and we hope to steward that time and authority well.

Our DYM Team searched through thousands of resources, blog posts, and podcast episodes to bring you only the best to help you train and equip your small group leaders to succeed in this new school year.

Leader Training

Leader Tools

Kick-Off Curriculum 

Blog posts to help you with all things small groups…

We combed through our blog to find the posts that we thought would be most helpful.

Podcasts to help you with all things small groups…

We combed through the podcasts in our network to find the episodes that would be most helpful.

From Youth Ministry Hacks:

From The DYM Podcast:

Videos to Help Train Your Leaders…

The DYM Leader Training Library is full of 10-15 minute videos designed to help you train and equip your volunteers as they care for the students entrusted to them. Here are a few we think might help as you prepare your leaders for another year of small groups:

Students spend their days trying to fit into their group, class, culture or school… and in doing so they try to push down or stifle the uniqueness God has put in them. Imagine if we, as shepherds, we’re able to know and call out that uniqueness in each teenager. Heather Flies gives 4 easy-to-remember steps to help each of us identify and call out a student’s individual gifting so we might better help each student discover and embrace who God created them to be.

Doug Fields teaches leaders to consider 3 very important questions as they disciple, lead small groups and mentor teenagers. Do you care about me? Can I trust you? Do you know what you’re talking about? The answers to these questions are essential for all caring adults.

We all want to grow ministries and students that are rooted in God’s Word. In this short, 10-minute training video, author and professor Crystal Kirgiss, offers three levels at which students can engage with the Bible and easy steps leaders can take to help them dive deeper.

Click HERE to see more from the Help Me With series!

6 Aug 2018

My Fall Programming Picks Bundle

By |2018-08-06T15:59:07-07:00August 6th, 2018|Games, Help Me With..., Teaching, Teaching/Programming, Uncategorized, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources|5 Comments

Hey friend!

I’ve done Fall planning in youth ministry for more than 20 years. Summer is over and I even managed to sneak in a few days of “staycation” – it’s time for Target “back to school” sales and Old Navy’s endless ads. I’m excited about what God did at summer camp and watched students grow, and I’m now asking God’s Spirit to guide me as I set the course for the Fall.

There’s a lot to process heading into this season—and a lot of opportunities and obstacles to be aware of. Here’s what I feel like learned over the years about heading into Fall:

Back to school means back to Jesus
Many students take off in the summer months or their schedule is just so random with vacations, sports camps and beach days that they can’t always be counted on to be a part of our youth ministry. My own kids experienced summer school, a first job and intense sports camps the past few months making for a crazy, always-running house. But going back to school is the grounding force that brings everyone back and the more formal schedule allows church to be dropped into the mix and a priority once again.

Momentum for the whole year starts in the fall
Momentum is a fickle thing, so the start of the school year with a big Fall Kickoff or Back to School bash feels like a good chance to rally students together and encourage them to make the right friends and participate in the right community. So I carry over any momentum from summer (a great camp, baptisms, etc.) and go right into a big Kickoff event and felt-need series to get everyone back in the groove. I want to launch small groups or mentoring around this time to keep the momentum rolling through Christmas to get to the New Year.

Familiar themes work great in the fall
I like to focus on some familiar themes in the Fall. They’re timeless… Honestly, I can get tired of teaching the same things every year, but they are too important to pass up – so I find a way to “reskin” these themes every year: purpose/identity, relationships and spiritual growth.

So having done this more than 20 times, I thought it might be fun to show you a plan for what the fall could look like, and wrap it up in one sweet bundle if you want to a) get a great deal and b) let me do the planning for you.


  • Weirdo (1-wk series)
  • T-shirt Frenzy (Sidekick file)
  • Locked Up for What (Game)


  • Swipe Right (a completely revamped version of Facebook Official: a 5-wk series from me and Doug Fields)

Pair it with these games with an easy connection to a biblical truth from a purity/relationships series.

  • Maybe Baby Game
  • Ice Cream or Nail Polish
  • Who’s the Baby Daddy?
  • Birds Bees and Other Animals


  • Charged (2-wk series)
  • Week 1 game FAIL GUESS 2 (Sometimes we start a spiritual habit and fail. Enjoy some other failures!)
  • Fun countdown video Simon Says False Facts (The Bible is always true, when things all around us aren’t!)


  • Instagram Story Icons (to help take your social media to a new level for Fall)
  • Parent Texts (Helping bridge the connection between your ministry and parents)

All of these resources have been written and created by youth pastors and trench-tested. That’s what DYM is all about! This is a great deal–$97 worth of resources for just $50–BUT if you become a yearly DYM Gold Member, you’ll get this bundle for FREE. We already call the Gold Membership ‘The Greatest Deal in the History of Youth Ministry’: (a new game, video, student leadership lesson, and mystery item on the first of the month every month, PLUS monthly store credit and DAILY discounts) but adding an additional $97 of free resources? That’s just too good to pass up! Click here to find out more about becoming a Gold Member.

Praying for an incredible fall!
Josh Griffin

20+ years youth pastor

Co-founder, Download Youth Ministry

P.S. – ADDED BONUS: Fall is also THE key time to train your volunteers, so I’m tossing in a $25 off code to unlimited, on-demand video training courses for you and your team on Download Youth Ministry University. It’ll revolutionize the way you train your leaders! https://www.dymuniversity.com/ (Psst! If you go Gold, you’ll save $50 on DYMU!)

29 May 2018

Help Me With… Camp

By |2018-05-25T16:28:51-07:00May 29th, 2018|Help Me With...|0 Comments

Summer Camp holds some of the funniest, most encouraging, and biggest life-change moments we encounter in youth ministry. The kid who drank the entire pitcher of leftovers in the cafeteria, the leader who broke an ankle taking rec a little too seriously, and the girl who was so angry at her mom for signing her up accepting Christ during night three chapel. God uses camp in a really unique way to draw His kids close to Him.

The impact camp makes is undeniable. We’ve all seen it–and many of us have experienced it ourselves. But the orchestration of an amazing week often requires months of planning.

To help you take this year’s camp to the next level, here are some resources to add to your program as well as lessons and insights from our decades of camp experience:

The Details

Cool Countdowns

Next Level Fun

Blog posts to help you with all things camp…

We combed through our blog to find the posts that we thought would be most helpful.

Podcasts to help you with all things volunteers…

We combed through the podcasts in our network to find the episodes that would be most helpful.

From The DYM Podcast:

  • Episode 52 (start at 30:12 for tips on how to keep camp costs down)
  • Episode 87 (start at 19:18 for tips on student freedom at camp)
  • Episode 125 (start at 27:56 for tips on running your own camp)
  • Episode 138 (start at 7:09 for tips on activities for camp)
  • Episode 157 (start at 28:29 for tips on the cost of covering your own camp)

From Youth Ministry Hacks:

From 15 Minutes with Frank:

Videos to Help Train Your Leaders…

In this video from DYM’s Leader Training Library, learn from Doug Fields and help your leaders maximize every minute God has gifted them with the students He chooses for your next trip.

15 May 2018

Help Me With… Volunteers

By |2018-05-11T15:57:14-07:00May 15th, 2018|Help Me With...|0 Comments

We know full-well how important volunteers are to our ministries. These leaders are how we multiply ourselves so each student has a caring adult in his or her life. These are the people who show up early and leave late, who are willing to take a pie in the face for the team, who know students’ stories and are on a first-name basis with parents.

At least, that’s the dream…

Recruiting and training new leaders, helping them catch the ministry vision, equipping them to lead small group, camp cabins, and ministry teams…all the while caring for, supporting, encouraging and inspiring them to show up and keep showing up (especially during that seemingly never-ending period between spring break and summer) — it’s all easier said than done.

We get it.

Let us help you create a volunteer culture that’s as legendary as you are!

Along with our Leader Training Library and DYM University, we’ve gathered up some of our downloadable resources, blog posts, and podcast episodes to help you win with volunteers.

Build A Vision

Build Your Team

Train Your Team

Equip Your Team

Blog posts to help you with all things volunteers…

We combed through our blog to find the posts we thought would be most helpful.

Podcasts to help you with all things volunteers…

We combed through the podcasts in our network to find the episodes that would be most helpful.

From The DYM Podcast:

From Youth Ministry Hacks:

From 15 Minutes with Frank:

Videos to Help Train Your Leaders…

In this video from DYM’s Leader Training Library, learn from Karl Romeus about how to help your leaders “set the temperature” of the room so students have a personal encounter with Jesus.

Be on the lookout for more Help Me With posts in the future!

27 Mar 2018

Help Me With… Student Leadership

By |2018-03-21T15:40:45-07:00March 27th, 2018|Help Me With...|0 Comments

I can vividly remember a handful of times in junior high and high school when a leader looked me in the eyes and told me he or she believed in me. They saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. They let me take risks. They gave me responsibilities and watched me succeed… and sometimes they let me fail. They walked with me through my moments of great celebration and coached me through moments of embarrassment.

The time they took to develop me as a leader not only made me feel loved and valued… it was also instrumental in developing my walk with Jesus.

When we as youth workers invest in students and give them opportunities to lead, we spark something in them that has lasting results. We at DYM know Student Leadership is a time-consuming venture, so we want to equip you with tools and tricks to invite students to lead, set you up for successful student leader meetings, and offer some ideas for projects to get them dreaming.

Even if you don’t have an existing student leadership program, there are students in your ministry just waiting for someone to pour into them. Below are some of our favorite downloadable resources, blog posts and podcast episodes to help you take your student leadership program to the next level.

Nuts and Bolts

Leadership Experiences

Teaching Series

Individual Teachings

Blog posts to help you with all things events…

We combed through our blog to find the posts that we thought would be most helpful.

Podcasts to help you with all things events…

We combed through the podcasts in our network to find the episodes that would be most helpful.

From The DYM Podcast

  • Episode 106 (start at 5:13 for an inside look at the Student Leadership Conference)

From Youth Ministry Hacks:

From Mentor Me:

PLUS we just released this NEW DYMU Course, Developing Student Leaders with Doug Franklin, President of LeaderTreks, designed to help you and your adult leaders feel confident to develop student leaders in your ministry!

20 Mar 2018

Help Me… Talk to My Students About Sex and Dating

By |2018-03-16T11:40:20-07:00March 20th, 2018|Help Me With...|1 Comment

The quickest way to get a room of teenagers giggling and squirming in their seats is to mention the word sex…or anything to do with sex…or anything that even sort of sounds like the word sex.

In the sexually-charged culture we live in, students are exposed to many points of view on the subject and we, as youth workers, want our students to hear God’s truth–to help guide them towards His best for every area of their lives, including their sex life, sexuality, and sexual desires.

And we know teenagers aren’t the only ones who might be a little uncomfortable talking about sex, we rounded-up some of our favorite downloadable resources, blog posts and podcast episodes to help you tackle this tough topic. 



Complete Programming

More Help

Blog posts to help you talk about all things sex and dating…

We combed through our blog to find the posts that we thought would be most helpful.

Podcasts to help you talk about all things sex and dating…

We combed through the podcasts in our network to find the episodes that would be most helpful.

From The DYM Podcast:

From Youth Ministry Hacks:

From 15 Minutes with Frank:

Be on the lookout for more Help Me With posts in the future!

13 Mar 2018

Help Me With… Events

By |2018-03-12T17:19:03-07:00March 13th, 2018|Help Me With...|0 Comments

Every moment we spend with students is an opportunity to create a memory. As youth workers, we hope the memories that stick are of those in which they felt loved and known, but we know that it’s often laughter that helps us break down walls and build trust that leads to the vulnerability which results in life change. Which means that, sometimes, the starting point for a student being open to receiving the gospel is watching you get hit in the face with a dodgeball.

Fun is essential to great youth ministry, but it it’s easier said than done. Let us help you round-out your Spring (and maybe even Summer!) calendar with trench-tested events… without shouldering the creative process alone!

We gathered up some of our favorite downloadable resources, blog posts and podcast episodes so you can spend more time perfecting your bob-and-weave and less time mapping out the court. 

Already have your calendar planned?! Way to go! Check out tips and tricks from the DYM Bloggers and Podcast Hosts for making the most of every event–from planning to execution!

Event Nuts and Bolts

Big Events

Fun Nights

Worship Nights

Guys/Girls Retreats

Blog posts to help you with all things events…

We combed through our blog to find the posts that we thought would be most helpful.

Podcasts to help you with all things events…

We combed through the podcasts in our network to find the episodes that would be most helpful.

From The DYM Podcast:

From Youth Ministry Hacks:

From 15 Minutes with Frank:

Be on the lookout for more Help Me With posts in the future!

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