The Download Youth Ministry Blog/
8 Apr 2024

What do the solar eclipse and youth ministry have in common?

By |2024-04-08T06:33:30-07:00April 8th, 2024|Youth Pastor Life|11 Comments

I asked AI what youth ministry and the solar eclipse share in common. This is what it told me!

  1. “Blinded by the Light”: In both youth ministry and during a solar eclipse, there’s a risk of being “blinded by the light.” In youth ministry, it might be a metaphorical blinding by the sheer enthusiasm and energy of the young people you work with, while during a solar eclipse, it’s quite literal – staring directly at the sun during an eclipse can be blinding! So, in both cases, it’s essential to proceed with caution and wear appropriate eye protection!
  2. “The Eclipse of Coolness”: Just as the moon temporarily blocks out the sun during an eclipse, sometimes in youth ministry, there’s a momentary “eclipse of coolness” when the adult leaders try to relate to the latest trends or slang used by the students. It might result in awkward moments and confused looks, similar to the temporary darkness during an eclipse.
  3. “Sermons vs. Solar Phenomena”: One funny comparison could involve the attention span of the audience. In youth ministry, keeping the attention of teenagers during a sermon can sometimes feel like trying to hold their focus during a solar eclipse – challenging! You might find yourself competing with distractions, whether it’s smartphones or the allure of the great outdoors, much like the sun competes with clouds during an eclipse.
  4. “The Bright Side of Confusion”: During both youth ministry events and solar eclipses, there’s often some confusion. Whether it’s trying to coordinate schedules for youth group activities or figuring out the best viewing spot for an eclipse, things don’t always go as planned. But hey, sometimes the best memories and laughter come from those moments of chaos and confusion!

Looking at my 16 years of youth ministry experience, I think the robots nailed it.

What do you think?

Stay safe out there, and don’t look directly into the sun!

Need a game to play with your students that deals with the eclipse? Check this one out!

5 Apr 2024

How do I Sign Into the NEW Sidekick?

By |2024-04-18T14:59:22-07:00April 5th, 2024|Sidekick, Sidekick Hero Blog, Sidekick: What's New, Youth Ministry Hacks, Youth Ministry Ideas|2 Comments

DYM Gold Members Rejoice! Sidekick is included in your membership!

1000’s of your youth ministry friends are using it every week. If you haven’t poked around yet and tried out Crowd Voting, the FREE section, the one-click integration to DYM products you already own, the “presenting from your phone or iPad”… there’s so much. And, we’re making it better every day.

Here’s how to log-in:

Let us know what you think and what you’d want for us to include in the ever-growing FREE category next. Even 100’s of your recent DYM purchases are instantly available in Sidekick to insert in just 1-click!.

Let us know if you have any questions,

Doug & Josh
[email protected]

4 Apr 2024

Coming Soon: Looping Slides!! (and more!)

By |2024-04-04T11:27:15-07:00April 4th, 2024|Sidekick, Sidekick Hero Blog|2 Comments

Without a doubt, this has been our MOST REQUESTED Sidekick feature, and I’m super-excited to say that it’s really close to being ready!

Yes. I’m talking about…

LOOPING SLIDES!!

It may still be another week or so before it’s ready for release, so I can’t show you a full walkthrough just yet, but I can show you some of the progress we’re making. Check it out:

That’s right! In the very near future, you’ll be able to add all of your announcement slides to a single section and then set the timer & walk away! And just like you’d expect, each slide will play for the specified length of time before automatically moving on to the next one. And when it gets to the end of the section, it’ll just automatically loop back to the beginning of the section.

But how about I just show you instead?

(click image to enlarge)

Again, it’s still a week or so away from being ready for prime time, but I just wanted to let you know that we’re listening and we are working tirelessly to make sure that Sidekick is the absolute best it can possibly be!

And the only way that happens is if you tell us what you need. Thankfully, we have a great way for our users to suggest new features and vote on features that have already been suggested! So feel free to head over to our Feature Suggestion Page by clicking the button below:

Request a New Sidekick Feature!

I’m so excited about Looping Slides that I almost forgot to mention another incredible feature that we’re working on…

Oh, wait. That’s right. Doug said that I am definitely not supposed to say anything about the upcoming video control feature that will let users set a starting point for videos as well as jump to specific timecodes while playing. Yeah, I’m definitely not supposed to say anything about that…

Oops… 😅

Until next time!

Blessings,

Josh Boldman

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:

1 Apr 2024

Post Easter Recovery Guide

By |2024-04-01T04:25:16-07:00April 1st, 2024|Youth Pastor Life|4 Comments

Happy Easter Monday! I pray you had a great time celebrated the resurrected Jesus. That’s what youth ministry is all about! But let’s be real, you’re probably exhausted. Your church may have had a few more services than normal, a few more responsibilities got put on your plate, and you may have been asked to be Jesus in the Easter pageant because you’re the only one on staff who can grow a beard.

So, how do you recover from a really busy and hectic Easter season?

You can do a few things TODAY to help you reset, recharge, and avoid burnout.

Go Home!

No seriously. Get out of the office. Go home. You may have worked more than many hours at the office this last week. And if you attended a lot more services than normal, you have banked more than enough for a personal day. Take it. You’ll never be totally ready for a day off and never “get that time back”, so go home. Right now.

Turn Off Your Phone

Don’t just put it on “do not disturb,” but turn it off for an hour—just one hour free of notifications, dings, and emergencies. Take that time to pray, listen to music, read scripture, and reconnect with God. We use most of Easter to encourage and teach others. It’s possible we didn’t quite take anything in ourselves, so use this chance to reconnect.

Touch Grass

Easter services are a blast. We get to celebrate the Risen Savior and rejoice! We also probably did a lot of that under fluorescent lights and under the roof of our buildings. So get outside. Go for a walk. Maybe even take off your shoes and touch the ground. There’s something about nature that helps me reconnect with God. Being outside reminds me of how big God is, whether under a canopy of trees or looking at the expanse of the sky.

Reconnect with Students

Recharging can also mean reconnecting with people! Easter may have meant seeing some students you haven’t connected with in a while. After you turn your phone back on, send three texts just to say you were glad to see these students around! Let them know how much seeing them made you smile.

Ok! Now, you might be ready to dive back into the race and work of student ministry. Just remember to take moments to pause and see who God is. Let’s not miss Easter because we were so busy showing Easter to others.

Blessings to you all!

Are you feeling a little burnt out and not sure what to do next for youth group after a crazy busy season? Consider giving Coleader a look! Lessons planned, games already chosen, songs selected. It’s a ton of helpful tools for you, the youth pastor, to get back to ministering to students!

26 Mar 2024

Exciting New Updates to This Year’s National Day of Volunteer Youth Ministry Training

By |2024-03-26T00:10:31-07:00March 26th, 2024|Leadership, Training, Volunteers|1 Comment

This video-driven, fun, and momentum-building event, with practical youth ministry training for your volunteers, is back for it’s 6th year! And we’ve made some exciting updates to ensure it’s tailored perfectly for you and your team.

  1. NEW: You get to CHOOSE the training date!
    We’ll deliver the training to you on August 1st, 2024!
  2. NEW: Customize the training how you want the day to go.
    The training will be hosted on Coleader, which means you can customize it however you’d like! Lots of flexibility… you can choose to make it shorter or longer.
  3. NEW: Gold/Gold+ Members get 35% off!
    Only $161 to own exclusively for your church or $259 to host (before April 1)! Learn more about Gold and Gold+.
  4. NEW: Gift it to your community or CHARGE for admission!
    Those who host can charge whatever they want. You’re in control of the pricing. Use it as a fundraiser or invite people to come for FREE.
  5. NEW: Platinum Members get the training included in their membership! Learn more about Platinum.
  6. NEW: Training topics & NEW speakers just announced!

Doug Fields
Author, Speaker and co-founder of Download Youth Ministry

Kristen Lascola
Junior High Pastor, North Coast Church and creator/host of “The Ministry Coach” podcast

Josh Griffin
Junior High Pastor at Mariners Church, Speaker and co-founder of Download Youth Ministry

Oza Jones
Director of African American Ministries for The Texas Baptists Convention

Zach Luben
Director of Chapel, Seaver College, Pepperdine University

Brock Morgan
Associate Pastor of The Bridge Chino, Speaker and Author of 20 books including The Anxious Teen

Jessica Sanchez
Youth Worker, Spiritual Director and part of the Download Youth Ministry team

Sean McDowell
Author, Speaker and Biola University Christian Apologetics Professor

 

2024 TRAINING TOPICS

Why your Youth Pastor NEEDS your Teamwork

5 Secrets of a Veteran Volunteer

Effective Up-close Discipleship

The Power of Asking Questions

Navigating Youth Group Drama

Faith Formation to the iPhone Generation

When Interruptions Become Ministry Opportunities

The Anxious Teen: Ministry That Builds Resilience and Connection to God

 

Prices increase on April 1st, sign up now to save $50!

Have questions?

Reach out to our team [email protected] – we’d love to connect with you!

25 Mar 2024

Empowering Students in Evangelism: The Power of ‘Who Is Your One?’

By |2024-03-25T09:04:17-07:00March 25th, 2024|Youth Ministry Ideas|5 Comments

When it comes to evangelism, many students find the concept overwhelming. The idea of going out and telling all their friends about Jesus can seem daunting. There’s a common misconception that evangelism requires boldness, public speaking, or street preaching. However, there’s a simpler and more effective approach that breaks down this big idea into something more manageable and realistic: “Who Is Your One?”

“What is ‘Who Is Your One’?”

“Who Is Your One” is an initiative we have been doing in our ministry that encourages students to be intentional about reaching out to a friend they already have who doesn’t know Jesus. It’s about nurturing existing relationships, being there for them, praying for them, inviting them to church, and engaging in conversations about faith. The goal is for students to demonstrate their own relationship with Jesus through their friendship, ultimately leading their friend to a deeper understanding of faith.

This approach to evangelism is rooted in Jesus’ own interactions with people. He often spent time with individuals, inviting himself into their lives and showing them love and acceptance, regardless of their background or beliefs. It’s a relational approach that students can relate to and implement in their own lives.

Why “Who Is Your One” Matters:

In our ministry, “Who Is Your One” has been instrumental in driving growth and impact over the last two years. By encouraging students to focus on just one person, we’ve seen a significant increase in effectiveness and engagement.

How We Implemented “Who Is Your One”:

  • Vision Series: At the beginning of the school year, we introduced the concept of “Who Is Your One” through a dedicated vision series. This series laid the foundation for why this initiative is important and challenged our students to take action.
  • Business Cards: We created business cards with the prompt “My one is ________,” allowing students to fill in the name of their chosen person. These cards served as a daily reminder and were also shared with small group leaders for accountability.
  • Leader Training: We provided training for our leaders at the start of the school year to equip them with the tools and understanding to support their students in reaching their “one.”
  • Curriculum Integration: We integrated “Who Is Your One” updates into our curriculum, ensuring that the topic was regularly addressed in small group discussions.
  • Storytelling: We shared stories of success from our campuses, highlighting instances where someone’s “one” had come to church and started a relationship with Jesus. These stories served as inspiration and motivation for students.
  • Celebration: We celebrated students and leaders who embraced the “Who Is Your One” initiative, both privately and publicly. Recognizing their efforts encouraged others to follow suit.
  • Service Integration: We made sure to incorporate “Who Is Your One” into every service, reinforcing its importance and keeping it at the forefront of our ministry culture.

The Impact of “Who Is Your One”:

By empowering students to own and embrace the concept of “Who Is Your One,” we’ve witnessed a transformation in how we approach evangelism. Students are better equipped and motivated to reach out to their friends, knowing that they have the support and encouragement of their community.

The beauty of “Who Is Your One” lies in its simplicity and accessibility. It doesn’t require fancy events or elaborate strategies. It’s about genuine friendship and creating a safe space where students feel comfortable inviting their friends to explore faith together.

“Who Is Your One” is not just a program; it’s a mindset shift that empowers students to be ambassadors of Jesus in their own circles. By focusing on one person at a time, students can make a meaningful impact and share the love of Christ in a tangible and relatable way. Let’s continue to nurture this culture of evangelism and support students as they embark on this journey of faith and friendship.

– Justin

Need help with a resource from DYM? We got you!

Want to get your students moving? Our faith is meant to be one of action. Get your students to understand these 3 key teachings from the life of Christ, all including the challenge to “GO”:

22 Mar 2024

Meet A Sidekick Hero: Zak Cummings

By |2024-03-23T06:39:16-07:00March 22nd, 2024|Sidekick Hero Blog|0 Comments

From Doug: I’ve only met Zak Cummings briefly… actually, I seem to remember playing him in pickleball a few years ago… but I know a lot of people who know him really well, and from what I can tell, Zak is the kind of youth worker that commits 128% (no, seriously, I heard something about him dressing up as a court jester and a cowboy for most of high school camp??). He’s the youth pastor of a growing youth ministry at The Chapel in McHenry, Illinois. But more importantly, Zak has a heart for seeing his students grow closer to Jesus. He recently got a chance to use Sidekick Live Voting during his teaching time, and I couldn’t wait for him to share his experience with you. So please give a standing ovation to our next Sidekick HeroZak Cummings!!

Hey everyone!

Over the past three years, I have been looking for ways to make my student night programming easier and more efficient, and I believe that I have found the perfect tool… The New Sidekick! I have been Sidekick Legacy in my ministry for the last two years, and it has always been a helpful tool. From doing giveaways using “Pick Me” to utilizing the “Boxes” for new student prizes, Sidekick Legacy has been so helpful.

But then, an even better resource came along: The New Sidekick.

Zak1

(click image to enlarge)

Here are 3 reasons why Sidekick will help you CRUSH your student nights:

1. Say goodbye to switching back and forth between programs.

If you’ve used Sidekick Legacy, you know what it’s like to flip-flop between ProPresenter, Boxes, Pick Me, and back to ProPresenter. And you know what that’s like, then you know how inconvenient that can be. Thankfully those days are over! You can now run almost all of your programming through Sidekick without having to go back and forth between programs and presentations. The first time I used the New Sidekick, I had Pick Me, Live Voting (Which is AMAZING), and all of my message slides in the same presentation! I did not have to switch between software or change presentations once! I simply clicked the next button, and everything flowed smoothly.

2. Student engagement will increase using the Live Voting tool.

As most of you know, it can be challenging at times to keep middle and high schoolers engaged during announcements, games, and the message. The new Live Voting tool will help you engage with students in a way that is speaking their language: technology. I recently started using Live Voting  during my messages, and it has allowed students to engage and participate like never before! All your students need is a phone to scan the QR code, and they’ll see real-time voting results. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to set up your presentation using the premade slides that the Sidekick team has made available in the FREE section.

No seriously, check it out:

3. It is incredibly user-friendly!

Recently, I had a student who was supposed to run the presentation for my student night but was unable to do so at the last minute. So, I gave one of my young adult leaders a quick run-through on how to use everything, and he was a Sidekick pro in no time! This leader ran the presentation flawlessly. If you didn’t know better, you’d believe he’d been using Sidekick for years! I am excited to continue to teach students and leaders how to use Sidekick, because they’ll look awesome, they’ll be encouraged, and most importantly, they’ll feel competent in their role.

(click image to enlarge)

(click image to enlarge)

(click image to enlarge)

Don’t just take my word for how amazing the new version of Sidekick is. Go ahead and see for yourself!

Quick Note From Doug:

I actually found a picture of when me and Josh beat Zak and Drew in pickleball back in 2022. Don’t think that this means Zak isn’t good at pickleball… It just means that Josh and I are better at pickleball!

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:

20 Mar 2024

New Feature Alert: SLIDE LABELS!!

By |2024-03-20T13:37:22-07:00March 20th, 2024|Sidekick, Sidekick Hero Blog|2 Comments

Have you ever noticed how sometimes it’s the littlest things that bring you joy?

That’s why Skittles aren’t 32lbs each. And it’s why we don’t put Toyota Corollas on engagement rings.

But you want to know what little thing you can do to bring you joy right now? Yup! You can now add and edit…

SLIDE LABELS!!

That’s right! You can now change the label on any slide in your Sidekick presentation!

And the best part is that it’s SUPER easy! Check out this step-by-step guide to adding and editing slide labels in Sidekick:

And you wanna know the best part? Of course, you do!

The absolute best part about the SLIDE LABELS in Sidekick is that it’s available right now for all users!

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:

18 Mar 2024

How does a youth pastor Sabbath?

By |2024-03-18T12:32:18-07:00March 18th, 2024|Youth Pastor Life|3 Comments

Youth pastors lead busy lives! We run from event to event and youth program to youth program! We have meetings to attend, volunteers to care for, students we want to check in on, and other duties as assigned that get delegated to us fairly regularly. On top of that, having kids and a spouse can make finding the time for Sabbath almost impossible! So, how does the Youth Pastor Sabbath?

Block out intentional family time

Whether you have young kids or teenagers, it’s important to let them know that they are a priority to you. Spending time together as a family is an important way to observe Sabbath. It can be a meal, a hike, or playing a game together. You give your time to a lot of people. Make sure when you observe Sabbath, you intentionally plan time for your family! That includes your spouse, who will have difficulty finding Sabbath rest since they probably play a larger family role when you work the hardest. Show them they matter to you!

Disconnect from work

Put your phone away. Turn it all the way off. Don’t open your laptop. Flee the county. Do whatever it takes to disconnect from work. It’s tough when work is spiritual, and our rest can sometimes bleed into work. One way we can ensure that we are totally disconnected is by ensuring that the only people who can contact us are the people we are close to. If there’s a real emergency, we’ll find out about it.

Delegate responsibilities

Most youth pastors don’t get to Sabbath on a Sunday. It’s just not going to happen. So, if you are resting during the workweek, ensure your responsibilities are delegated to somebody else. If there’s some type of important information that needs to be disseminated, make sure the church secretary knows all the information that’s going out. If your church is small and you don’t have a dedicated admin, put the robots to work! An automated out-of-office email reply with a link to all the important information or the retreat discount code will save you a lot of time! Schedule posts to happen while you’re out and have a volunteer check in on social media to make sure nothing gets weird.

Find the spiritual practice for you

If you can’t read your Bible without preparing a lesson, maybe you need to try listening to worship music. If you have difficulty praying without thinking about reaching out to a student, maybe you should go on a hike without your phone. It’s tough when so much of our job is connected to spiritual practices. Find the practice that helps you reset, connects you to God, and doesn’t accidentally lead you back into work.

Connect with the community

Whether you are single or have a family, use your Sabbath time to connect with people who invigorate you. Find those life-giving people you can spend time with and plan a coffee or a lunch together. Talk about spiritual things and build one another up. Ministry can be lonely. Find someone with whom you can share life and invite your struggles.

What did I miss? Is there a way that you find to Sabbath that you feel is helpful?

Think you may be on the verge of Burnout? We’ve got a resource for you to check out:

12 Mar 2024

Empowering Group Leaders: Key Strategies for Ministry Success

By |2024-03-12T09:34:28-07:00March 12th, 2024|Youth Ministry Ideas|3 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!

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