One of my highlights from Houseboats was when our entire boat, in an attempt to catch up in the camp games, decided to jump off the top deck of the boat…fully clothed.

All 17 girls- leaders included jumped in…did I mention that we were fully clothed. Each girl jumped one at a time…some were afraid and it was fun to watch them overcome it.

To be honest, I was a bit afraid…in all my years of houseboat camps I had never jumped from the top of the houseboat.

Me- fully clothed jumping in!

The girls loved it and it made a fun and great memory that these girls will never forget.

What’s your favorite summer memory?

I’m in Louisville, KY at a Cracker Barrel. Been sitting here for 25 minutes w/o even a hello. But I love CB, got the time, want to shop and have a hankerin’ for chicken and dumplings…so I’m sticking it out. AND I did tell the manager about it when she walked by which prompted quick intervention.

Got me thinking about customer service in youth ministry. I’m not talking about having a heart of service; best practices is what I’m leaning toward. Those ways we can make sure we keep our “customers” satisfied.

How do these feel to you?
1-Returning calls within 12 hours; emails within 24.
2-Stopping to say hello even if slammed.
3-Giving people what they came for in a timely manner and right the 1st time.
4-Checking back to see if parents/volunteers need seconds.
5-Satisfaction Surveys.
6-Finding someone to cover your area if u have to step away.
7-Find ways to say “Yes.”
8-Treat every interaction like its the first time you heard that question or input.

What do you think? Would these help bring a sense of stability to your ministry?

PS-The manager gave me my meal for free.

Not all of your ministry to girls is directly to girls- a portion is to the young guys in your ministry about how they can relate and treat girls.

I recently overheard a man talking to his wife (or girlfriend) and it was painful for me to just sit and listen to it. I wanted to get up from my seat and do something to make him stop treating another human being that way. I didn’t…mostly because it was the wrong time and the wrong place. While I sat there and listened to him I wondered if he was ever in a youth ministry?Did he ever get the chance to see a godly man interact with the opposite sex?

Which leads me to think about the thousands of teenage boys currently in youth ministries…It’s safe to assume that some of them come from homes that may range from mildly to extremely abusive. What they seen in our ministries is so important. Ask yourself what are the guys in my ministry learning about interacting with the girls in their lives?

It doesn’t need to be a set message or program…you can teach guys good and apropriate skills but passing them along. Here are 3 skills you can pass along:

Pass on how to talk TO girls

Seems basic but how do you interact with the girls in your ministry? Do you affirm them in private and public? Do you show them kindness and care? Do you see them? Do you speak to them and listen when they respond. You get to model how to be a good friend to both those of the same sex and those of the opposite.

Pass on how to talk ABOUT girls

Youth workers love to talk about their brides! I love it when they publically affirm their wives especially when they draw attention to more than just their wives “hotness.” Girls notice the things you say about your spouse…but so do the guys. Are you teaching them the qualities and the character that are important in a wife/girlfriend or does the list stop at being hot?

Also, be careful when you use girls as the punchline of your jokes. Obviously, it’s fine to make fun of a silly thing that girls do…as long as you make fun of the silly things that guys do too. Without meaning to we can pass on an attitude about girls that is inferior or condesending.

Pass on how to partner in ministry with girls

In my years of ministry I have seen some great ministry partnerships between men and women. Some are married couples and prepare yourself…some are not. Do you work well with the adult ladies in your ministry? Have you considered hiring a female staff member? (for admin and MORE.) During my time at Saddleback I had the priviliege of working with some amazing guys and gals…working together allowing our unique gifts and gender specific traits to encourage and minister together in very powerful ways. I think if you look closely throughout scritpture you can find some great examples of partnerships between men and women.

You can make a huge difference in the lives of guys and girls by just being aware and willing to pass along good relational and ministry skills.

How else can we encourage healthy interactions between guys and girls?



After a couple month hiatus of Gamerscore movement (sometimes real life gets in the way of my gaming addiction) our Xbox 360 crossed a huge milestone this weekend. 50,000 points! The boys and I rustled up some achievements playing Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (B+), Plants vs. Zombies (A+), Kinect Fun Labs (B) and Spare Parts (B).


I remember hearing a pastor once talk about his “calling to ministry” — my first thought was how mystical it all sounded; that God would pick out some normal person and make them super special for ministry. Would God’s calling be accompanied by bright light, an audible voice, smoke and lasers? I always wondered what God’s voice must have sounded like (probably like Morgan Freeman’s), and how it must have felt to be hand-picked by the Creator of the Universe for this special job.

And then I felt called, and it wasn’t anything like I thought it might be. It wasn’t super magical, but it was life-changing. Here’s a little from each of us on our calling to youth ministry:

JOSH: My first inclination that God was calling me to youth ministry was through a significant mentor in my life. I was about to graduate my senior year of college and Jerry Dorman told me he was about to leave his current position and become a pastor. He asked me to consider becoming his youth pastor. I couldn’t believe what he was asking (I was newly married and about to graduate with a business degree) but said I would pray about it. Little did I know that this nudge from a caring adult in my life would lead to a lifelong pursuit and calling from God to minister to students.

KURT:Like Josh, the first time I truly felt “called” to youth ministry was through a significant mentor, and it was a fairly powerful moment. I had taken a semester off from college to go on an extended mission trip to England. My prayer before leaving was, “God, I don’t want to return to school until I know exactly why I’m there.” I hadn’t told anybody about that prayer, but one night on the trip while the team was huddled together under Big Ben praying for those we had ministered to throughout the day, my youth pastor pulled me aside and said that he believed I was gifted for ministry and should consider changing my course of study when I returned to school. No lasers, no Morgan Freeman voice, but pretty epic nonetheless.

Do you remember your calling? Maybe you were raising your hand to ask a question and someone thought that you were volunteering to work with junior highers. Maybe you accidentally made eye-contact with your senior pastor at exactly the wrong time and you ended up running youth group for the next year. Or maybe you had a very provocative Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus meeting where God shined a blinding spotlight directly at you. Maybe you stumbled into youth ministry and have felt God’s calling over the months of serving and seeing lives changed and hearts being drawn to Him (side note: We have learned over the years that this type of calling is the most common).

At the end of the day, you are called. You are chosen. You are one of the few … the proud … the youth ministry nation. We share in that calling and are honored to encourage you, equip you, and hopefully inspire you to keep on serving students today, and tomorrow….and the next day. In fact, that’s why we are so excited about the opportunity to write this little column a few times a week!

So think about your calling this afternoon. Thank God for it and reflect on what He wants to do with and through you. We’ll be back tomorrow with a few reminders of why that’s so important.

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.

A few times a year I get a chance to meet/hang/speak at youth worker conferences or leadership events – thought I would post them here in case you were planning on attending too and maybe we could arrange a meet up. I’m a sucker for late-night Steak and Shake. Here’s what’s on tap this next season:

The D6 Conference - I’ve never been to this event and it has been one I’ve wanted to get to check out the last couple of years. Check out their fantastic official trailer here, if you’re in/around Dallas or in town for it this September- I’ll see you there! I’m speaking on a panel about youth ministry and leading a commissioning prayer during the last session of the event. Pumped.

YS National Youth Ministry Convention: San Diego - honored to be invited to speak at YS-San Diego! I’ll be doing a few workshops there in September focusing on teaching calendars, sermon preparation and training small group leaders. I enjoyed this little promo video of their event from Tic Long, too. I’m also on a panel with some legit dudes on the future of youth ministry. Excited and intimidated.

YSPalooza Orlando – This is the first time I’ll be teaching at YSPalooza, too! We’re still working out the details, but it is going to be fun in Orlando this January.

Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2012 - Without a doubt this is the event I’m most heavily involved in again this year. I’ll be doing the general session programming (with the infamous Jake Rutenbar) and there’s even talk of me maybe speaking a little chunk of a creative new general session idea. Who knows … I just know it is going to be awesome and you really, really need to be there, too – Louisville, KY in March. Be there with Francis Chan and Jon Acuff and more.


If there are any middle-school-ministry people who’re going to be at the Leadership Summit this week, let me know! I’d love to get some people together on Thursday evening at my house & talk about the craziness of jr. high ministry, and how we can lead better.

One of the things I love to do is to keep Learning about Leading. Our Sr. Pastor has been the catalyst of this fantastic event for over 10 years, and it has impacted my ministry mindset in profound ways each summer. It’s a blast to “translate” the learnings into a student ministry setting. Howard Schultz, Seth Godin, Len Schlesinger, Hybels & others … I can’t wait to learn from these people.

Posted By Kurt Johnston

By now, most of you who are regular blog readers have seen this years list of the top 20 youth ministry blogs as determined by Youth Specialties and their scientific(ish) formula.

Those blogs are written by some brilliant folks….many of whom are good friends of mine. But I noticed something while looking over the list: Less than a handful of them are written by folks who currently make their
living as a youth worker in a local church setting.

I think the world of youth ministry “voices of influence” needs to include some more men and women from the local church. obviously those on the blogging list love the local church, serve the local church, and have in most cases done some hard time within it…so they are all worthy of their place of influence. But, I want to also learn from people neck-deep in the same stuff I am neck-deep in; you know, the daily grind of local church youth ministry.

So, please share a name or two of somebody who is serving in the local church as it’s youth pastor who has a blog you read, a twitter account you follow, or otherwise influences and helps shape your youth ministry thinking.

If they are on the list of Top 20 bloggers, you don’t need to include them here. This isn’t a competition….I won’t list results in order…I simply want to add a few names into the bucket of people I learn from, and you might, too.

I will add the first name to the list: Jeremy McCarter, the youth pastor at He’s sharp, humble, and doing good stuff.