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12 Mar 2024

Empowering Group Leaders: Key Strategies for Ministry Success

By |2024-03-12T09:34:28-07:00March 12th, 2024|Youth Ministry Ideas|4 Comments

Group leaders play a pivotal role in the success of any ministry. They are the frontline ambassadors who carry out the vision and strategy, impacting the lives of individuals and families. However, to truly empower these leaders and ensure their effectiveness, it’s essential to provide them with clear guidelines on achieving success.

Here are 4 key elements we lay out for our leaders so they know if they are being successful:

  1. One of the fundamental aspects of effective leadership is facilitating faith conversations. Leaders must be encouraged to steer discussions back to matters of faith, especially in small group settings. By using provided discussion questions and consistently pointing students back to Jesus, leaders can create meaningful opportunities for spiritual growth and reflection.
  2. Follow-up is another critical component of successful leadership. Whether it’s reaching out to new students or responding to prayer requests, effective follow-up demonstrates care and commitment. By implementing best follow-up practices such as making personal contact after meetings, extending personal invitations for future events, and integrating students into group communication channels, leaders can foster a sense of belonging and connection.
  3. Building connections with students’ families is an often overlooked but impactful aspect of ministry. Leaders are encouraged to make intentional efforts to connect with parents or guardians, as they play a crucial role in students’ lives. Whether it’s through simple introductions, sharing positive feedback about their child, or engaging in social media interactions, these gestures contribute to building a supportive community and partnership.
  4. Engaging students beyond weekly gatherings is essential for building deeper relationships and fostering continuous growth. Leaders are encouraged to interact with students both in person and digitally throughout the week. By having faith discussions in various settings and leveraging digital platforms where students are active, leaders can create meaningful connections beyond traditional church gatherings.

Empowering group leaders requires providing them with clear guidelines and strategies for success. By emphasizing the importance of faith conversations, effective follow-up, building connections with families, and engaging students beyond weekly gatherings, leaders can make a significant impact in the lives of individuals and families. As leaders embrace these key strategies, they become catalysts for transformation and growth within the ministry, ultimately fulfilling its vision and strategy.

Need some resources to help empower leaders? DYM has got your back!

10 Feb 2024

SIDEKICK: Choose Your Own Adventure Game

By |2024-02-10T13:35:50-08:00February 10th, 2024|Sidekick Hero Blog, Youth Ministry Ideas|6 Comments

We played an INCREDIBLE game this week at church. It’s the combination of all things Sidekick – it uses ALL of the bells and whistles that make this new presenter great – Live Voting, The Wheel, Pick Me & MORE. It’s so fun … and in a couple weeks, it’ll be FREE in Sidekick. That’s right … FREE.

Pretty soon, we’ll have a button that says, “FREE STUFF,” and in one click, it’ll be yours.

The game was so fun – we pulled up 5 kids on stage and put them on stools to “go for a hike” and then suddenly, they discovered that they were lost in the woods. All sorts of crazy things happen – bees attack, so do bears, snakes show up, even a volcano erupts at one point. One by one, through the fate of the wheel or picker, or the vote of the crowd, the hikers get riddled away one by one until … the final 2 hear a helicopter. They flag it down, and then in a hilarious twist of fate – think of those old Oregon Trail games – everyone dies.

(click image to enlarge)

(click image to enlarge)

Our junior high students loved it – silly fun, easy to run, and definitely next level compared to just a regular screen game. Your students will love it, and it’ll show off the power of Sidekick for interaction, for sure. And … you can’t beat the price tag. And don’t worry, we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available to grab for FREE inside the new Sidekick in a few weeks!

JG

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:

30 Jan 2024

Numbers don’t matter. Until they really do.

By |2024-01-30T06:41:24-08:00January 30th, 2024|Youth Ministry Ideas|3 Comments


When I started in Youth Ministry 16 years ago, I had a really big aversion to counting the number of heads in the room. Some of that involved my senior pastor calling me into his office every Monday morning. When I was just starting out, I envisioned doing devotionals with my pastor. Maybe we would spend time praying for each other and our church congregation.

But that wasn’t ever the reason for the Monday morning meeting. He wanted to know how many students I had on Sunday morning. 

I dreaded that meeting because I didn’t enjoy letting him know how many bodies were in the room.

The amount of students I had didn’t speak to how many of them were reading their Bible throughout the week! Or how many of them had shared Jesus with a friend. Or how many of them were beginning to pray And begin their own spiritual journeys!

But I kept on going to those Monday morning meetings and telling my senior pastor how many kids had showed up. 

Maybe you’ve got a similar aversion to talking about numbers in your youth group. You don’t wanna brag about how many kids are coming or, just as likely, maybe your number of regular students seems pretty low when you compare it to the church down the street or the really active youth group on Instagram.

I would agree with my younger and much less mature self. The number of students inside the building doesn’t say how spiritually mature they are, or whether or not, they are actually doing something with their faith beyond youth group programming.

But do play a role in helping you Assess some parts of your Youth Ministry.

And can even be a small part of determining health in your ministry.

Let’s look at a couple ways numbers can actually help you out.

Percentage of your church that’s student ministry

Let’s say you have a student ministry of 20 kids. But you have a regular church attendance of 150 in your church. You have a little over 13% of your church attending student ministry. A stat that gets thrown around that comes from Tony Morgan is that a healthy church should have about 10% of regular church attendance (that’s adults, kids, and students all combined). It holds water. It’s USUALLY a good stat. But take into context a few things: Is your church primarily young families or all retirees? If so, your pool of students may be low. Give yourself some grace. If your church is LOTS of middle-aged families with teens, but you’re just running 8% of the attendance, there may be something you need to look into.

Decrease or Increase Year Over Year

Again, let’s say you have a youth group of 20 kids. And you’ve had 20 kids on average for the last two years. If, during the spring, your weekly average drops to 15 and stays there for a couple months, it’s time to see what’s going on. If it doesn’t jump back up in the fall, when students normally dial back into involvement, you REALLY need to ask what has changed and what needs to happen.

On the other hand, if you start averaging 25 or 30 and the church continues to run 150 to even 200, that’s a BIG reason to celebrate! Be excited and ask for a bigger pizza budget.

Hey, we can all dream.

Volunteer to Student Ratio

For you personally, it’s good to have a team around you. It will increase your longevity, your joy, and your ministry!

Do you have one leader for every ten students? In your youth group of 20, that’s you PLUS one volunteer. I would encourage you to get some help! Having at least two to four OTHER volunteers in your ministry is such a good idea. It helps your accountability, allows people to have life come at them, and does not rock the ministry. I would encourage you to keep getting volunteers until you have at

Students Attending vs Students on the Role

I grew up Southern Baptist. We were BIG on keeping people on the “role,” meaning the list of students who have visited the church, attended at any time, or lived close to the church.

It could get out of hand, honestly.

We had students on the role who had attended VBS in 3rd grade and just got moved up each year, but really, they had no connection to the church. If you’ve got a role, clean it up and get it down to the students attending regularly or are at least really connected to your church.

Then, see how many of them are coming to the youth group! If it’s a healthy percentage, maybe 75% to 100%, awesome! Keep at it! If it’s less healthy, maybe 50% to 25%, it’s time to see what keeps those students away from the youth group.

Numbers are a resource. Not THE resource.

Really. Numbers can be helpful. If you use them well. Don’t get discouraged when numbers don’t match what you’ve hoped and prayed for. Use them as a tool to see what could change and what has worked in the past.

God gave you THESE students at THIS church for a reason. Lean into it! Learn your community and your church culture and reach who God has put in front of you!

You’ve got this!

9 Jan 2024

Sidekick Poll to Kickoff our “So You Got a Phone for Christmas” Junior High Series

By |2024-01-12T14:31:48-08:00January 9th, 2024|Sidekick Hero Blog, Youth Ministry Ideas|7 Comments

This week, we kicked off a brand new series in my junior high ministry – So You Got a Phone for Christmas – a series to help students think through a biblical lens about the newfound technology in their pocket. The point was that the whole world—every thought, every person, good, bad, and UGLY—are now just a tap away. It was fun to kickoff the series, and in the coming weeks, we’ll cover what we listen to, what we watch/stream, and what we post/comment/share.

(click image to enlarge)

To kickoff the series, in my first message called Screens Are Everywhere, I started things off with a Sidekick poll so we could put all of the new iPhones to the test. Just how many screens do you have in your house/world? The answer may shock you!

It sure did for me! We have 5 services, so the answers were slightly different in each service, and of course not everyone in JH has a phone, so it’s not scientific, but it sure was fun!

I can’t believe I did this, but I also showed my “Screen Time” to be honest with students about how adults deal with these same issues as well.

Sidekick makes it so easy to takes phones … remember, our students digital natives and have never known life without them 😳 … and embrace them to help students engage with the message even more. Already excited for next week!

Josh

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:

25 Dec 2023

Merry Christmas from DYM

By |2023-12-25T05:16:46-08:00December 25th, 2023|Youth Ministry Ideas|0 Comments

Dear youth worker, 

We know the Christmas season is a wild roller coaster for most pastors. From hosting events to corral and youth, to making sure that nobody steals any of your decorations to incorporate into the Christmas pageant, the holiday season is a little crazy.

We know that you are ministering to kids who are hurting because they’re disconnected from their parents or don’t feel seen or heard anywhere else but in youth group.

We know you are trying to string together a family Christmas on a Youth Pastor salary and budget.

We know you’ve got your things that you are working through as a follower of Jesus.

As we celebrate the birth of our savior, and what it means for our faith and our students, know that we are thankful for you.

You who creatively seeking out ways to minister to students. You who make the Bible come alive to those who have never heard it before. You who deal with staff drama and that angry parent and the youth group kid who still won’t wear deodorant, we see you.

But more importantly, God sees you. He loves you. He knows how much he loves students and want them to follow after Christ. Your passion matters to us.

So no matter where you are, what Christmas party you’re cleaning up after, what family drama you might be going through right now, or how many text messages you’ll get from students this Christmas, know that you are loved, and we are rooting for you!

Merry Christmas from DYM 

18 Dec 2023

Take a 30 Minute Christmas Break

By |2023-12-18T11:23:23-08:00December 18th, 2023|Youth Ministry Ideas|5 Comments

Christmas is a crazy season for any pastor! You’re more than likely in the middle of planning or executing 12 different Christmas services or parties. You have either received or are ready to send 1 billion Christmas cards. There’s a high probability that your church office is packed with baked goods. These are either ones you plan on giving out or have been dropped off at the church for you and other staff. 

Your to-do list is miles long, and it might feel like you are drowning in all the responsibilities of the season. 

Oh yeah, and we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus. 

In all of the planning and the crazy and busy season, it can be so easy to be all about serving others, planning events, and getting all the Christmas done that we don’t get an opportunity to practice what we preach.

Let me challenge you to do one thing. 

Sometime in the next week, give yourself 30 minutes of uninterrupted time with God. Do whatever refreshes and rejuvenates you. Listen to worship music. Read scripture. Sit alone in silence and pray. Go to coffee with a dear friend and share all God has done over the last year. 

Whatever it is, plan 30 minutes where you reconnect with God in this crazy, busy season! 

I know you’re serving. God knows you’re serving. 

You can’t serve out of an empty cup. 

Give yourself just 30 minutes sometime this week to pour a little back in. 

You never know what God might do with the time you invest in reconnecting with Him! 

11 Dec 2023

How a Silly Idea Called Llamabucks Changed Our Youth Group This Fall

By |2023-12-11T23:47:43-08:00December 11th, 2023|josh griffin, junior high, junior high ministry, Mariners Youth Ministry, Youth Ministry Hacks, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Ministry Resources|7 Comments

Last week I had 11 students tell me last week’s memory verse from youth group.

Now, maybe that’s not the most incredible thing in your context, but I added a memory verse to our program over a year ago and this was exactly 8x the most we’ve ever had recite a verse from memory. Now, you could certainly chalk up part of that to poor leadership on my part for the past 365 days, and that’s certainly a contributing factor. But what accounted for the change?

Enter: llama bucks.

Back at Fall Kickoff we introduced a new currency in our youth group, playing off of a llama theme that has kinda taken over. No more prizes, just llama bucks. Serving? Get a llamabuck. Ask a great question in your small group time? Score a llamabuck.

SAY A MEMORY VERSE? Get a llamabuck.

And this thing has taken on a whole life of its own. Despite us having a really horrendous resume and zero experience in distributing an internatioal currency and inflation … we’ve given out thousands of llama bucks. And they can be used in two key ways:

  1. Use them in small amounts right away in the llama store outside the youth room to grab some Nerd Ropes or a Liquid Death (it’s just water people) or some JHM merch.
  2. Save up for the Llama-auction on January 13th, 2024. We have a big event planned with lots of fun, big items (most requested was an eBike, we’ll see, sounds expensive) but we’ll have fun items for students to bid on to use up their bucks.

Reward what you want to see happen in your youth ministry. Not a new idea, just our spin on it … and it’s crushing right now.

Josh

6 Dec 2023

My Initial Reaction to the Sidekick Launch LiveStream

By |2023-12-12T19:52:42-08:00December 6th, 2023|Sidekick Hero Blog, Youth Ministry Ideas|4 Comments

Doug and Josh hosted a Facebook live event and asked me to simply jot down my thoughts and reactions to what they shared. So here we go…

Initial Thoughts

They started off by sharing what the new Sidekick looks like, and let me tell you, it is amazing! Not only was there a whole lot of hype about how youth pastors will be able to use phones to engage students instead of trying to fight against students using their phones, but there are some pretty significant giveaways going on as well!

Also, Josh was drinking something yellow and weird out of a suspicious-looking water bottle… but I don’t think that had anything to do with Sidekick 🙂

The Big Reveal

The big news is that Sidekick has been rebuilt from the ground up!

Instead of having to download a program onto every computer, you plan on using it with, Sidekick is now a browser-based web program! So you can design your youth program in your office and walk over to the youth room and load it up without having to ask anyone for their permission to put a new program on a computer (for some of us, this is a BIG DEAL).

Bring on the Phones!

You can now use Sidekick to engage with students by having them answer multiple-choice questions on their phones! Wild! 

Speaking of phones, you can CONTROL Sidekick on your phone, laptop, iPad, other computer, anything you can log into the web and see the internet. This is a SUPER BIG DEAL! Now, you can make each slide appear as soon as you want it to and not necessarily wait for your computer person who may or may not be tuned into your lesson (we’ve all been there, right??).

The Giveaways (…it is DYM after all!)

There are also some MAJOR giveaways going on with the launch of Sidekick! If you sign up and use Sidekick three times or more during the month of December, you’ll be automatically entered into a giveaway for an iPhone, Xbox, or a $500 Slurpee gift card. These are some exciting times! Get in on this right away!

Questions

As I was watching the live stream, there were a few questions that kept coming up, so I reached out to my friends at DYM and asked if they could help me answer some of those for you here.

  • What about CCLI Worship Licenses? Yep! CCLI SongSelect is integrated directly into Sidekick. That means you can import any of SongSelect’s 100,000+ songs directly into your presentation without having to type out every word!
  • If we have Coleader and/or DYM Gold, will there be any retro for us to change to DYM Platinum? You bet! If you’re in this boat (or if you have any issues at all with your membership), just reach out to [email protected], and they’ll help you get your Platinum Membership up and running!
  • So with DYM GOLD+, how many members can I have on my team? With DYM Gold+, you can have 10 users under one account.
  • So if 50 voters is the base, how do you upgrade to the larger tiers? You can find all the info about upgrading to more connections here: https://help.sidekick.tv/en/articles/8673101-getting-more-phone-connections-on-sidekick

How Do I Rewatch the LiveStream?

Well, obviously, the Sidekick Launch LiveStream was a HUGE deal for youth workers, so if you missed it, here’s how you can watch:

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:

6 Nov 2023

Creative Ideas for Indoor Youth Ministry

By |2023-11-06T06:58:45-08:00November 6th, 2023|Youth Ministry Ideas|10 Comments

As it gets colder outside, you probably are going to start thinking that doing indoor events is the way to go. You’ve had your fun fall festival and annual bonfire, but now it’s just too cold to be outside! Or maybe it’s been snowing in your state for the last two months. I don’t know how snow works; I live in Texas. If you do find yourself retreating indoors because your students complain about the cold, here are some tips on how to have some great indoor events!

Learn to be creative with your space

If you were lucky enough to have a youth room, think of some ways that you can spice up your space for an event. Maybe you can move the orientation of the room. Perhaps you could put a projector on a different wall than normal. You might even ask a couple of adults to come in and decorate the place for you. Whenever you do an event that’s outside your normal programming, it could be a chance to make your space feel really different. Go for it!

Take what you do before youth group and AMP IT UP

Do your students like playing video games before you get started? Do they go play nine square in your church gym? If you’re looking for an idea of an event to host, maybe you could take one of those things that you normally do and really amp it up to make it a big deal. My students were constantly asking to have a Smash Brothers tournament. What a great event to really buy into what students were excited about. Or maybe you could play volleyball if you’re one of those lucky youth pastors who have a gym to meet in. You can think of a whole bunch of different ways to make volleyball crazy and exciting. Use a giant 6-foot-wide beach ball. Make it teams of 20. You’ve got a lot of options!

Meet in a different spot in your building

If the event you’re trying to do can take place in a different space in your building, why not take advantage of that? Instead of meeting in the youth room, consider meeting in the fellowship hall or the gym. Giving your students a chance to switch things up might put them in a different mindset and allow them to think about whatever it is you’re trying to do with your event. Familiarity can be good, but putting students in a different space can also open them up to thinking differently!

Be a good steward of your building; clean up afterwards!

Last, but not least, if you’re meeting inside at your church, be considerate to the people who have to come behind you and clean it up, or to the people whose room you’re borrowing for the evening. Make sure you plan to have people help you clean after the event. I always struggled with that and thought that I would just clean it all up myself. Don’t do this! Ask people specifically to help you clean up so that you don’t come in the next day to a trashed youth room or an angry email from the cleaning crew.

Do you have any other ideas? I’d love to hear them! Comment down below or reach out. You’ve got this!

Also, if you’re looking for a few ideas for indoor events, check out the resources below.

Get your students thinking with this fun interactive game!

All students need for this one is their phone and the instructions on the screen. Super fun!

30 Oct 2023

Spooky Season is Here!

By |2023-10-30T10:22:48-07:00October 30th, 2023|Youth Ministry Ideas|1 Comment

Hey youth pastor!

This week is Halloween. You probably already knew that from all of the social media posts with your students going around and hitting every trunk-or-treat in the tri-county area.

But what are you doing for your students this week?

DYM has got you!

If you’re hoping for a night with some Halloween themed games, check these out with some suggestions on how you can play them with your whole group!

Give your students or a small group a whiteboard and a dry erase marker and see who can unscramble the word the fastest! Throw candy in the general direction of the winner!

Put up a spooky looking 1, 2, and 3 around your room and have students move to the answer they think is correct. Or, if you’ve got a huge group, have them hold up their fingers to answer. Either way get every one standing up! They sit down when they get an answer wrong. The winner could get their own pumpkin to carve.

This is a great ice-breaker to have students moving around the room. I love to go and quiz students on their answer and why they chose what they did. Give them a handful of bubble gum if they’ve got a decent answer!

Need to show your senior pastor that not everything you do on Halloween is “of the world”? Use this game to have a conversation about the WILD stuff that’s in the Bible. This could be an upfront game with students holding signs that say “Old Testament” or “Scary Movie”. Hand out a copy of a bargain kid scary movie you found at a thrift store.

Need a way to get everyone involved? Crowd Charades is a great game to get people moving! Give the winning team a shower of candy. Should be loads of fun!

Need a great lesson on not being fake and wearing a mask? This one will be an EASY win for the week of Halloween! Make the stories your own and have a great discussion with your students!

And that’s it!

Have a great week and spend time with students and way less time planning games and the lesson.

We believe in you.

You’ve got this!

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