All this talk about working to integrate our students into church before they have to make a huge leap from youth group to the adult services is helpful. But what isn’t helpful is the voices who simply want you to drop everything you’re currently doing (and is working) and go with some new plan.

Sometimes you have to get rid of something and start over completely—but we’re not convinced this is one of those times. So here are a few suggestions to help you take baby steps toward the integration of youth ministry and the church.

Serve together…mostly
An easy way to get some quick inter-generational ministry happening in your church is to combine some of your serve projects immediately. Consider cancelling the majority of your youth group service projects and join those in place for the church at large. Imagine the conversations that will take place as people serve food, rake leaves, or paint together. Chances are the older people in your congregation will be just as surprised as your teenagers at how fun it was to serve side-by-side!

Worship together…occasionally
Most youth groups have their own worship service or Sunday School happening at the same time the rest of the church is gathered for worship. What if you completely cancelled your youth stuff once a month so the teenagers could attend church with their parents? Sure, some might choose to stay home that weekend, but it’s a fairly simple way to make a statement that says, “25% of the time, our church worships together…and we need the teenagers to be part of the action!”

Mission trips…maybe
One of the big steps we’re considering is to integrate mission trips. Offering a Spring Break trip? What it everyone got involved? Is there a big church-wide trip to South America or Africa? Get behind it and take some students! Each church has their own missions agenda/format, but this is something worthy of consideration.

Hey, there are some things adults are happy are totally separate from them. Keep overnighters this way…but be thankful for the adults who do show up, give up sleep, and care for your students.

Where else is there opportunity for easy integration between your youth ministry and the church?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Here’s a video from the Simply Youth Ministry Conference last month – I wrote a little script for it and Parker did the narration and video magic. Enjoy – hope it inspires you today!


A friend gave me the book The Cure a couple weeks ago with a high recommendation – so I was eager to check it out since I totally trust what he points me toward. The book is super creatively designed and has almost a Pilgrim’s Progress feel to the story that is threaded through the teaching of each chapter. The short 120-page book goes after our view of God, us trying to control our sin, fighting temptation when it is too late and the masks we wear as Christians. Multiple times in the reading of the book it totally “got” me in multiple places in how I view God and attempt to walk with Him – I particularly was stuck by the chapter on how we agree to sin long before we commit it and how sharing that removes the power/grip of it. I’ll probably need to reread this one a bit more slowly again soon. So solid.


Raising money for your summer mission trip (or summer camp or any summer activity) can be hard.  Here’s another idea to help you get the funds you need.

Kroger grocery stores (King Soopers in the West) have a gift card program that helps people in your church as well as you.  The basic idea is for your group to give out rechargeable gift cards that friends, family, and people in your church use to buy groceries.  Kroger/King Soopers then credits a portion of those purchases to your groups account.  The details vary a little by location or region of the country.  The best way to get started would be to visit your local Kroger or King Soopers and ask to speak to a manager.

Here are two links to information for example programs at King Soopers and Kroger.

King Soopers


My oldest son’s best friend’s baseball team uses this program and they love it.  Everyone needs groceries.  Kroger/King Soopers are pretty reasonable.  It’s a very simple way to help your group raise funds from something everyone in your church does every week.

Let us know what you find out from your local King Soopers or Kroger.

Scroll through some cool and offbeat iPhone stands here.  You’ll also find the downloadable template for this paper iPhone stand.

Before I get to my message prep, I need to plan out a series. If you need help there, check out yesterday’s post.  When I teach, I try to be humorous and practical, but most of all I make sure my messages are grounded in God’s word.

I follow a super short flow:
…make a point
…biblically based
…illustrate it
…make it practical

Go get a sandwich, bring it back to your office, find a pen and paper, and watch this episode of “The Simply Youth Ministry Podcast.”  Kurt and Jake talk lesson prep with Josh Griffin, High School Pastor at Saddleback Church and blogger at

Was reading Walt Mueller’s blog this morning and loved his most recent post about boundaries with students in your youth ministry. Here’s a clip of it and would encourage you to put his recommendations into place immediately:

Over the course of my years in youth ministry I’ve learned many things the hard way. . . either by watching myself or observing friends One of the lessons I’ve learned is just how important it is for a youth worker to set boundaries. The fact is, we’re in a spiritual battle where the hearts and minds of kids are at stake. Consequently, the enemy wants to take us down. Add to that the fact that we’re all broken and sinful people trying to lead and minister to other broken and sinful people. And wherever one or more broken and sinful people are gathered together, there’s a need for boundaries. I’ve learned to appreciate boundaries. They aren’t confining. They’re life-giving. Boundaries protect us from harm and they provide for our well-being. They keep us out of trouble. And in today’s world, boundaries are more important than ever. Here are some boundaries I believe every youth worker should pursue, set, embrace, and live within.

First, don’t do youth ministry unless you have and are using an accountability network. People who decide to do youth ministry on their own without the benefit of others are usually the first to get in trouble. Find a couple of trusted friends who will engage with you in vulnerable conversation, asking the hard questions about your ministry motivations, about where you’re spending your time, and about your relationships with kids. The great benefit of this boundary is that it helps you figure out just what your weaknesses are, which then helps you set and keep other much-needed boundaries.


I’m out with some of our high school and junior high students on an awesome Spring Break serve trip right now = we’re already having so much fun after a night of training and team-building: today is our first day of serving. I was talking to Andy over at Group and he mentioned they still have opportunities for students to serve on their Big Day of Serving as well – there are some great locations including helping out some of the cities hit with tornadoes and doing some disaster relief. So check it out for now and I’ll be back soon with some giveaways for the Fall one soon!