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By grabbing 6 books you not only get great youth ministry resources, but you can save over $50! Check out the selection to see if that book you have been wanting is there!


Random Randomness

Kurt Johnston —  March 27, 2014 — 3 Comments


A variety of Randomness!

* What is the best book/tool/resource you’ve come across clearly explaining and helping teenagers articulate and share the Gospel?

* Saw Divergent last night. Although it wasn’t completely true to the book (movies rarely are…isn’t that true, Noah?), it managed to “feel” like the book, to me. Watching it pretty much felt like I imagined things to feel when I was reading the series.

* So many lessons to be learned from the World Vision happenings the last few days. Chief among them is how quickly news, opinion and commentary travel in today’s small world.

* By Mid-summer, Saddleback will have launched youth ministry in three of our international churches (Buenos Aires, Manilla and Hong Kong). Exciting stuff! Challenging stuff! Good times ahead!

* The two youth ministry books I’m most excited about right now:
Jesus Centered Youth Ministry by Rick Lawrence
- Can I Ask That? by Jim Candy, Brad Griffin and Kara Powell (actually more of a curriculum than a book…)

* Tonight I have the joy of attending the first ever parent gathering for parents at one of our smaller campuses. Lalo, our new Youth Pastor in Huntington Beach, is an amazing young leader who has made the wise decision to make ministry to parents one of his early goals. Can’t wait to be a fly on the wall tonight!

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 8.41.25 AMWorking in ministry can be a challenging calling regardless of our circumstances. But it is even more difficult when we are working in an environment that is led by someone who has a different ministry philosophy than we do.  In youth ministry, this can often be the point of much friction. I’ve talked with countless youth ministers struggling with the philosophy of the leadership over them. They are not sure what to do. Most feel stuck. Many want to give up.

All ask for my advice in one degree or another.

So, what do you do if you differ in ministry philosophy with the leadership over you?

I will issue a few thoughts, but first let me say that I have been both a youth pastor (in 2 contexts) and I have planted a church of which I still pastor.  So, these thoughts aren’t favoring one side of the coin over the other, but instead my goal is to have them more focused on personal growth. These might seem a bit harsh at first, but here are some of my honest thoughts:

  1. You don’t need to be at the church you are at, so if you disagree with how the leadership leads or the direction of the church to the point where you can’t support it…you should leave. If you stay you will end up being divisive, regardless of how much you try to keep a unified face on.
  2. If you are staying at the church simply because you have no other source of income, I would recommend you seriously consider your “calling” to ministry.  This might be a point to elaborate on in another post, but I would be inclined to say that this is actually the reason you should resign.
  3. If you are staying because you “feel called to the kids in your ministry” then trust the LORD is in control and follow the lead of those over you. And, trust that He is going to teach you some things during your time at the church.
  4. If you think you should stay because you feel like God wants to use you as an agent of change, be careful. I’ve found some to be that agent of change, but it’s definitely the minority. In fact, in my experience, God keeps the youth pastor at the church so the youth pastor will change – usually toward more humility.

Chuck / @chuckbomar

What Defines Your Youth Ministry? Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry


Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry

Moving from Jesus-Plus to Jesus-Only

by Rick Lawrence

There’s a surging hunger among teenagers for Jesus. In fact, that desire is so deep, it’s #1 on their “wish list” for what they’d like to talk about at church. So what would a youth ministry look like if it shifted toward a passionate, persistent, and permeating focus on drawing students into a closer orbit around Jesus? Inside the pages of Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry, you’ll discover the foundation for a ministry that is Jesus-centered, along with the bricks for building it. You’ll discover that not only is it possible to create this kind of ministry, it’s also essential that you pursue this path.

READ CHAPTER 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . BUY NOW

Thanks for loving students!

Jake Rasmussen and the SYM Team

Call Jake at 866.9.simply with questions

I’ve already covered the ratio for attendance goals, ideal # of volunteers, and a budget formula in the three previous posts. Now onto what a healthy staffing ratio looks like because none of that other stuff matters if your church’s youth director is over-worked, under-paid, over-done, and under-fed. Truthfully, when assessing churches? There usually isn’t just one of these 4 ratio/norms out of balance. When the budget is too low, so goes the staffing.

1 Full-time Staff Person for Every 50 Active Students: Go back to Part 1 and check out how to count the numbers for active. The gist of it is this: count each student just once who comes in through the doors on an average week. All the active youth don’t come to everything, right? And no one gets counted twice, either. (There’s always those students who are at church anytime the doors are open. They get counted once.)

For every 50 students, a church should have equal to one FT staff person at 40 hours a week…or two 20-hour people…or four 10-hour people…or eight 5-hour people…and so on. (Its late, I’ve had too much coffee and so you get my meaning.) This 40 hours covers anyone with regular responsibility towards the youth.  So, the 5 hours the music director spends on the youth choir per week would count into the math. If a church office admin person has 10 hours weekly dedicated to the youth ministry, it counts into the mix.

Looking at it another way, let’s say you have 100 youth on your rolls. On an average week, 75 of them (counting each one just one time) comes through the doors of the church every week. You want to give them and the ministry great care? Your church would need to be supporting 60 hours of staffing on a weekly basis in some combination.

For a great way to figure out how much to pay a staff person, check out Group Mag’s 2012 Salary Survey. http://ymarchitects.com has some good job description templates available. (I’ve probably mentioned both of these a million times, I bet.)




I was doing some research for a study I was writing and came across this video from The Skit Guys called, “The Mourning Booth.”  It is a very powerful look at how we handle the “valley” times in our own lives and that of others.

I was convicted deeply that when the tough times arise how often do I try to “do” something to try and make it better. I lend a word of advice or push for the person to “get over it.”  Instead, do I take heed to the command Christ gives to simply be with the hurting? Could simply allowing someone to know they are not alone be the most powerful response?

When our youth, family or friends are struggling, will we see their pain and know offering our presence be more than enough?

I think perhaps I need to be a little more quiet when others are hurting and just learn to “mourn with those who mourn.”  Maybe being near is a “holy response.”

Who are you in this video?

Leneita / @leneitafix

Almost every student in our ministry has a cell phone and they are itching to get it out and use it. I do not want to encourage misuse and distraction, but I figure if it’s available and has ministry potential, I might as well try and leverage it. Here are some ideas you can use to leverage cellphones in your ministry, too:

  • Polleverywhere.com: Free and pay for options. this service is more than polls. It is robust.
  • #yourministry or #yoursermonseries: You probably don’t have enough people tweeting to get your hashtag trending but it is a good way for our students to let their friends know about their church.
  • Text a friend: Challenge student to text a friend and ask if there is anything they can pray for. Then have them pray.
  • Instagram Video Challenge: Silly videos for announcement, youth group invites and tag friends or “we missed you tonight” video tagging friends. Think of other video reenactments or games you could play.
  • Instagram pix with #hashtags We asked students to snap and post a picture from one of our prayer stations.
  • I Love My Youth Group: Ask students to send a 15 second Instagram video saying what they like about their youth ministry. Grab those videos and compile them into a video that you show at one of your programs.
  • God is…: Same as “I Love My youth Group” but these can be short testimonies.
  • Thought Of The Week: Ask students to Instagram, Tweet, or Facebook a picture of their sermon notes or the “thought of the week.” Or just type up a tweet or facebook status update of their favorite thought, message point, or application. Have them add a #hashtag.
  • Cellphone Shootout (free graphics here): This is a game where I give out my cell number and the 1st person to call me gets a prize. If you don’t want to give out your cell number to a room full of obnoxious teens consider getting a free Google Voice number to give out.
  • Simply Youth Ministry TOOLS: Have studnets sign up for text blasts and feed them news, announcements and encouragement texts throughout the week.

Help grow this list.  What have you done or what is practical to do?



If I ask you why you care students are in your youth ministry, you will probably say something about helping them growing in “their faith.”  I inquire, “Okay, who do you want them to be?” You say something about them being fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Yet, if we are honest when we take a step back and look at how we RUN our ministries, it is not always with the end “result” in mind. We plan a calendar, take trips, run small groups, and do activities. Some of us will say our focus needs to be helping parents disciple their children, others say we need to build student leaders, outreach, share the Gospel, or simply pour into our youth. However, I would contend there are two questions that should drive everything we do in our ministries.

1.  When a student leaves us, what will they look like?

I, of course, am not talking about their voice and body changing into an adult. Let’s say a family enters your church and has a baby. This baby grows up in the church through all the ministries and then graduates, leaves home, and heads out into the “real world.” Who is that young adult? A fully devoted follower of Christ? What does that mean? Do they read their Bible everyday, tell others about Christ,  pray often, and enter the mission field?  What is it? How is everyone in your church working together to see this happen?  The time of the “siloh” between nursery, children, youth and adults needs to be over. What are we doing to work together to grow our children?  Let’s stop “starting over” every time our kids enter a new phase of life, and instead see each of us as part of their journey into their lives as a someone taking the world for Christ.

2.  How does what we are doing “influence” who they are becoming?

The second question has to do with our programming and approach. There was a time where I would say the main question we needed to ask before embarking on anything was, “How does this build a relationship?” That is still vital, and it’s a great filter. Yet, still we have a tendency to make plans based on who is standing in front of us today,  not in the future. When we plan this way, we run everything we do through a sieve of purpose. It helps us know what not to take on, and what might need readjusting. So you take students on a missions trip yearly. Why? How is this part of the journey in the Lord? What do you need to do to get them ready or to follow up with them afterwards? Are you teaching them about service and why that matters when they are 8 or 9-years-old and again and again before the trip ever happens? This helps with equipping parents and growing the body of Christ as a whole.

These are not questions we can ask once, but often. I contend they should be asked anytime the church does anything. At least quarterly, sit down as a full staff and see how you are working together. It doesn’t really matter if a student jumps in when they are 5 or 15-years-old.  When we do ministry this way we are all about moving with Jesus all the time.

Are you asking these questions?