There are 3 main ways I discover new blogs:

  • I search content on sites like Google, Technorati, and Alltop.
  • I search tags on twitter (like this #youthministry). I have found some great bloggers and content this way.
  • The blogs I read often point to other blogs.  If Josh Griffin over at MoreThanDodgeBall mentions another blog I will usually check it out. (see what I just did there?).

What are your favorite blogs?  Help me find some new resources!

Earlier today, Rick Warren tweeted:

“With today’s cultural rot, the MOST DANGEROUS years to a person’s soul & spiritual health are those between age 10 to 17.”

Now there’s a quote you can use to get a little extra budget for your pre-teen through high school ministries! Obviously, it is an anecdotal observation, but I think it is accurate. And, if true then a case can be made that more and more church resources should be allocated to helping reach this at-risk demographic.

And yes, I plan to use his own words against him come budget time! :)

Don’t follow Rick Warren on Twitter? You should: @rickwarren

Really enjoyed Mike Calhoun’s blog with a new post called Youth Pastors Are Overrated? on his blog last week. I have a ton of respect for his work over the past 40 years and after you read this clip, be sure to head there and see his final answer to the question!

So, be honest. Do you think Youth Pastors are Overrated? Do you think they get way too much attention in churches today? When I mention Youth Pastors, what comes to your mind? Is it youth camp pranks, noisy kids in the sanctuary, the inventive colors he painted the youth room with – or maybe just the strange way he dresses?

Whatever your reaction may be, perhaps you just don’t get all the fuss over this guy. After all, what does he really do? Is there a real need for this person? Would your teens be just as well off without him around? Couldn’t you save the church money if you did not have to pay him?

This brings me back to my original question, “Are Youth Pastors Overrated?” I have had the privilege of working with churches and Youth Pastors for over 40 years so I think I can answer this question with some authority. Obviously over that time I have met some who were not committed or even competent.


Here are a few big picture thoughts to help you plan a great summer calendar

Go with something gender-specific.
A couple of years ago we tried a girls-only Bible study called Bagels & Bibles. It didn’t even necessarily cover girls issue that first year—but we stumbled onto something great: Something for the girls was a HUGE hit. In fact, the guys startled grumbling and asked for a Bible study of their own, too! While Donuts & Dudes has a much higher sugar content, it is a great idea, too. We also do a guys overnight trip called “Burly,” and a girls trip called “Girly.”

Give guest speakers that stage.
You probably want to teach during the most important weeks of the year—back to school, promotion, New Year—but summer is a great chance to develop some new teachers and build skill in the second tier. Let them have it! It’ll give you a chance to be the relational giant you thrive at, anyhow.

Carry over the winners.
Every summer you learn from the last—carry over the winners from summer to summer, and create a few key traditional events and activities students will look forward to year after year.

Steal from everyone else.
Be a learner! Scour youth ministry blogs for ideas on summer ideas that might work in your setting. At your next network meeting ask around and see what is and isn’t working for other people. Even ask members of your congregation for their best summer memories as a teenager and see if you can create or recreate something special and memorable. Quick aside: If you trigger good memories for people from their childhood, they’re super likely to volunteer at a similar event hoping for others to have the same life-changing experience they once had.

Block out a week at the end for you.
Don’t make the mistake of planning a killer summer and then heading right into “back to school” mode and fall kickoff. Take a break! This year we’re planning a “down week” at the end of summer and making sure that everyone is refreshed and healthy for the new school year. A great summer sets the table for a great fall—make sure you build in some time and space for yourself as well.

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.

I always have a pair of headphones on me in case I need to get my mixtape on! Check out these two techniques for keeping those pesky ear buds from knotting up!  What are you doing to keep your cords clean?

A youth worker sent me an email with a question about preparing for growth in their ministry as they were seeing larger classes in their children’s ministry heading their way – it looks like their ministry is on a path to double soon. Here’s part of how I replied to him, thought it may be helpful to you as well:

Infrastructure is absolutely key. I would definitely start building a team of leaders with all your energy. You might be tempted to think adding more programs but I think people and systems are the best choice.

Adding a position
Getting another staff person, even part-time, is a crap shoot. Flirt with it in your mind, but in my experience that is usually where it stays. Typically leadership waits to see results and staffs late, or staffs intentionall what is hurting instead of what is building. Ironic, but want to be real with you so you don’t get your hopes up. I do think it is time to ask for help before it is too late. And either way, start pouring in to your leaders and building a team of people, paid or not.

Core Leaders
Start a core team of people who are totally on board with the vision of your ministry and love and follow you. These are the people you’ll do life with and know the best. You need to trust them. They will trust you. You need to eat together, laugh together and develop some inside jokes and memories as soon as possible.

More Leaders
Next, I’d work on developing as many additional leaders as I could. Get your small groups/life groups super small next year, so they can scale and grow with more students as they start entering the ministry. If each group has 4 students, you could easily give them 6 the next year and 8 the year after. So make them all super small right now and get the rookies some experience and get ready with an infrastructure for growth.

This is where you can prepare for growth as well – make sure that all of your systems are ready to scale as well.  Take a look at your communications tools, your curriculum, your web presence, your parent ministry – all of these systems need to be able to scale up to double/triple their size. If not, you need to ditch the tool now before it dies under the strain of growth. Take care of these things now and adding students is a breeze.Wait and it will crush you and slow your momentum to a crawl.

Other random stuff/links to consider:


Buck the Stats

 —  May 3, 2012 — 1 Comment

Our profession has a problem. If you believe statistics (and 89 percent of you do), you’ll be searching for a job on in about 36 months. I’ve joked with my friend Doug Fields that his book Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry will always be a bestseller.

This painful turnover needs to stop. It won’t be easy because many youth workers end up wounded soon after the honeymoon ends. We begin anticipating attacks (not teamwork) and jeers (not cheers). But despite all the challenges, you can stay strong for the long haul with these “lifer” tips:

• Hold some stuff sacred. To increase your chances of lasting in ministry, it’s essential to set boundaries on your time and life. Do you take a day off every week? A break might be difficult during an occasional week-before-summer-camp, but if you’re cheating too often, you won’t survive. Do you rest and exercise regularly? How’s your family life? Having a long view of ministry means putting family first. There’s a connection between your faithfulness to your spouse and your faithfulness to God. You have a problem if you’re constantly looking at your phone instead of at your own children (56 percent of you have them).

• Let some things go. Too often, youth workers want to fight over things that don’t really matter. We take a stand when we should sit down, and we speak up when we probably should shut up. If you fight for everything 100 percent of the time, you’ll be too wounded to endure. Over time, you’ll begin to understand what’s truly worth fighting for. Pause today to reflect on some things you might be grasping too tightly.

• Surround yourself with the right people. To build and maintain a long-term ministry, you’ll need the right people in your life. You’ll need: 1) a ministry cheerleader, 2) a ministry mentor, and 3) someone who doesn’t know you work at a church. Who’s cheering you on? Who’s in the stands watching you and yelling encouragement? (Eighty-eight percent of us have someone yelling at us…but it isn’t encouragement.) Who’s the wise sage nudging you on with practical wisdom? Who do you hang out with who cares nothing about your career? These people are sustaining and life-giving, and they’ll make a huge difference.

Live out of these truths and you’ll have a much greater chance of becoming a youth ministry lifer—not a statistic.

Originally appeared in the March/April issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!

What we’re playin’ this week is a game called, “One Arm, Two Arm, None.” This is one of our group’s favorite games…mine too due to the super easy setup, the amount of fun in the room, and the interaction it encourages.

One Arm, Two Arm, None is an elimination game that starts with the entire group and ends up with one winner. The game randomly choses a character with either one arm up, two arms up, or no arms up. the people in your group who match the image are out.  This means you have a 66% change of staying in the game.  You can switch the rules and say you have to match the image to stay in, this make it a little tougher.  The cool thing about playing it the second way is that the person who wins would have guessed right 100% of the time.  Check out this video of the game below, and head over to to read this suggested rules and pick up your copy of  “One Arm, Two Arm, None” before your next gathering.