It’s hard to believe that 2011 is nearly over.

Where does the time go?

Here’s some of the highlights from the blog:

We Can Do Better

The Safe List

Avoiding the Trainwreck

It’s Just a Commercial

Swimsuit Season

Losing Half the Church


Can Men Mentor Girls?

Guest Post: The Value of Ministry to the Species Known As Girl

Pastors…Who Happen to be Pastor’s Wives

Profile Pictures and The Real Us

Did I miss any that you liked?

It’s been a really good year! I am excited for next year and all the lessons will learn together!

By the way, I am always looking for guest bloggers! Share your lessons with us!! Interested? Email me!


Hope you enjoyed the sneak peek at the next issue of Group Magazine! Make sure you don’t miss out on everything Group Magazine is doing is 2012…including Digital issues, salary survey, Exclusive interviews, Youth Worker next door profiles and more!

Learn More at

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Posted by Kurt Johnston and Scott Rubin

Just wanted to say a quick Thank You and Merry Christmas! We feel so blessed to be a part of the community of junior high youth workers who frequent this blog and faithfully serve young teens.

We won’t be back until the first week of January, but are looking forward to a great 2012 and can’t wait to share some of our insights and learnings with you.

Thankful for you,

Kurt and Scott

It’s very typical for a youth group to experience major changes when a new youth pastor is hired. It’s hard for the church and even harder for students. I remember when a youth pastor that I really looked up to left to take another job, I was stoked because he was offered a great job; yet also sad because the future of our youth group was unknown.

So what do you do if you are coming in to replace a youth pastor who was either fired or was offered a different job? Realize that every youth group around the country is different. From the students to the vibe; there is no book or guide that could fully prepare you. It is important to preserve this as students obviously enjoy the “culture” of the group. If they come every week, there is a reason.

While change is always good, making to many changes in the beginning of a new job can be detrimental. Students may question your motives and quite frankly wish that the previous youth pastor never left. Instead determine who the key students are and ask them what they like about a typical week of church. Find out what draws them to your specific church and how they think it could be even better.

Lastly, acknowledge that you are new and you are still getting systems and long term plans in place for the youth group. Students will be much more open to changes if they see the end goal and see that everything has been well thought out.

Chase Miller is a High School student from Orange County, CA. He loves to surf, Tweets Occasionally and would love to Guest Post on your Blog!!

Weekend Teaching Series: Christmas Weekend (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: A student-run service of songs, teaching and Christmas fun.

Service Length: 76 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend was all about Christmas – it was a 1-off celebration of the birth of Jesus. Students ran the entire service from top to bottom. Bryce got up first to introduce the subject for the weekend and the heart behind Christmas. He emphasied the true meaning of Christmas amid the lights, sounds and presents of the season. After a few songs AJ spoke about Jesus being the humble King and after another song Julia got up to speak about God’s holiness. They all had verses and Scripture when Ryan got up to teach he used a clip from The Guardian to bring home the idea of Jesus the Rescuer. We rounded out the program with a few more songs and an invitation at the end.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend was a ton of fun with HSM’s new Christmas music video and hot chocolate and cookies after every service. Lots of energy and fun for the last high school services of 2011!

Music Playlist: Mary Did You Know, Silent Night, Born is the King, You Hold the World in Your Hands, O Holy Night, Savior of the World, Go/Joy to the World, Drummer Boy

Favorite Moment: See students basically run the entire service is so incredible. I love being taught by and being led in worship by students. My heart was so full after this weekend, that’s for sure!

Up next: No HSM services — Christmas services in big church!

Solid video that might work well during your next series on purity/sex.


We all want to connect with parents right? It’s crazy for anyone to think that one youth pastor and a team of leaders could be held responsible for the spiritual development of a youth group of any size. The spiritual development of youth is about partnershipsleveraging the influences to have a greater impact on every student. Therefore, it is critical that we help to foster the connection between parents and our leaders so that no group- youth workers, small group leader, or parents- feel like they are going it alone. There are two things that we have done to help foster this partnership in our goal to reach youth.

1) Small Group Leader Cards
It is imperative that every parent not just know we have Small Group and Life Group leaders, but that they really know those leaders and who they are, as people. Parents should be able to email leaders and have open conversation outside of church, invite leaders over for dinner, to a sports game, or to a play featuring their student. Leaders could even be on game show as part of the family (Hey, it could happen!). We want them to have access to fun facts about their student’s leader, and really get to know who they are. Most of all, it should be made easy for parents to pray for the leaders who are taking a role in their student’s spiritual development. So we put together a card for every leader that includes a picture, their email, the area they serve in, and a few fun facts. It is kept on our Youth Information Wall, and we encourage every parent to take their leader’s card, put it on the fridge or in their office; wherever they will see it often.

2) Small Group Leader/ Parent Breakfast
In addition, we find times for our leaders and parents to get together. Our goal is to foster discussion in a way that allows them to get to know each other better and see that we are really all on the same team after all. Everything at the breakfast, from placemats to discussion cards are all made to gear and guide discussion. From prior experience and great feedback, it is clear that both parents and leaders enjoy this time together. Although this relationship that is being fostered by the church is absolutely a new world for some of our parents, everyone loves and sees the value in it. Our Pastors love the fact that the! breakfast is a multi-generational activity, our leaders love it because it gives them a way to connect with parents, and our parents loved being able to put a face to a name, and to hear from their leader’s mouth how much their students are valued. This is also effective in afternoon saturday lunch formats, as well as evening dessert nights. Indeed, there are many great adaptations to this idea; all with the same goal in mind, connecting youth small group leaders and parents. No youth pastor wants the be the only person that every parent sees and talks to about how to better love and serve their students.

There is always more we can do to connect our small group leaders with parents, so what am I missing? What are you doing at your church that I and others can steal? Leave a comment!

Justin Herman is the Jr. High Minister at Christ Presbyterian Church in Huntington Beach, CA. He has been in youth ministry for seven years. Justin speaks at camps and FCA meetings, writes, and is a social media fanatic. He breathes for Jesus and the creativity that is so vital within youth ministry. He was born in NYC, raised in Buffalo, educated in Missouri, and now lives in California. You can connect with Justin @HeyJustinHerman or

Merry Christmas from the Simply Youth Ministry & Group Mission Trips teams!
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