If you are fortunate enough to even have a youth ministry budget, most of us work to preserve at least a chunk of it until the end of the year. For many, that means some critical purchasing power at the end of the calendar year (or fiscal year, depending on when your church “resets” everything back to the start).

If you find yourself in these merry last few days of the year with some funds left to spend on your own development and your youth ministry, here are a few recommendations for you to consider:

A resource for your students
Think of a spiritual growth tool to put in your students’ hands to help them grow in their faith. Right now the 1-Minute Bible (the most popular resource in our Grow Booth each year) is only $6.99 and a total steal at that price. Next closest is Amazon at $10.14. Lots of other great options to get good stuff in your students’ hands, too!

A training event for you
There are a ton of great training events and conference on the local, denominational and national level. Pick one that has some offerings that will encourage you were you are at and push you where you need to grow. I highly recommend the upcoming Simply Youth Ministry Conference and I’d love to meet you at one of the events I’ll be attending in the future, too! You can get a great book or tool – those are certainly helpful – but there is something special about being in the same room with hundreds of other men and women who share your calling.

A challenge for your volunteers
Find a great resource to develop your team, too! 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders has been fortunate enough to be one of the best-sellers of the year at Simply Youth Ministry. Doug Fields and I wrote it to help youth workers lead their groups better – think of it as leader training in a simple little book. Combine it with a Starbucks card and it is a total winner. On sale right now for $4.99.

What are you thinking about buying here at the end of the year?

JG

We just restocked our “grow booth” with a ton of resources – the most popular and one of the best we’ve ever used is Doug Fields’ 1-Minute Bible for Students. It gets students in the Word everyday and is a great tool to help teach them the disciplines of a daily quiet time. It is $14.99 … scratch that … $6.99 for a limited time (I have no idea how long, I just saw it on the site).

JG



Helping students develop a desire to grow on their own is an important part of the discipleship process. Too often, youth ministries primarily encourage attendance at programs, which sets students up for a spiritual drift after graduation if they can’t find a “program” to attend. Here are a few ways to help students develop their own relationship with Christ.

Give them a book you’ve read.
Think about the books that shaped you as a teenager and find the equivalent today. Tell students the story of why this book was important to you and your faith and encourage them to take steps down that journey as well.

HINT: Avoid the temptation to assume the same book is perfect for each student. If you can say, “I picked this out just for you…” it will make reading the book much more compelling.

Issue a challenge that’s out of their comfort zone.
Owning your faith usually takes root when a student rises to a challenge. Want to see someone grow? Push them to participate in a missions trip a long way from home. Watch them grow raising the funds to participate, and enjoy a front row seat to the refining process as they get to push past their breaking point into a moment of deep spiritual cementing.

HINT: Again, a personalized challenge is stronger than a generic one. Seeing a pattern, here?

Read something alongside them and meet occasionally to discuss.
You gave one of your core students a prayer journal? Did you share a 1-Minute Bible with them? Read a copy of it yourself at the same time, and meet up a couple times to check in and discuss what you’ve been learning.

Equip your small group leaders.
Last year we did “grow on the go” tubs filled with a few resources for leaders to give out to their students along the way. A push for a devotional during a message is great, but a personal nudge and gift of a devotional from a small group leader is the best.

Live it out yourself.
If you want to help your students grow on THEIR own, model it to them yourself. So much is caught rather than taught, so frequently do personal “check ups” in your own life to make sure you’re growing, too.

How are you helping students grow on their own right now?

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.

Weekend Teaching Series: LAUNCH (series finale, week 3 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Get ready to go back to school by starting the habit of spending time with God every day – walk with Jesus.

Service Length: 72 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we want to send students back to school armed and prepared for each day ahead. The best way to live life is to walk with Jesus – so we challenged them to spend time with God everyday in His Word and in prayer. I challenged students to live out Proverbs 4: 20-27 and to pay attention to God’s Words so that they stay on the right path. I asked a couple students to help teach this weekend and they did a super job helping make spending time with God seem possible. It was important this week to make sure we went from ideological to practical, so we created 14 days of text devotionals (I’ll post them later this week) and gave away a TON of 1-Minute Bibles by Doug Fields.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had a fun Life Group rap called “Life Groups Win” to promote the upcoming deadline for small groups, and had a funny tribute parody video to the “Footprints in the Sand” infamous Christian poem. Everything played well and for a holiday weekend attendance was up and so was the energy. Must be about time to go back to school!

Music Playlist: Our God, God Above All, Forever Reign, Burning Ones

Favorite Moment: This weekend I used 2 students to help me teach the talk this weekend – one was a senior and the other a sophomore. They did great! Seeing them teach was an incredible experience – made me think I should do that more often! Just picked out the next 2-3 who will do it in the future …

Up next: No HSM – 9/11 Memorial services in big church




This year instead of featuring a growth/discipleship booth with a ton of different options, we’re going to feature just one resource and hope to push most all of our students that way. This fall we started (just this past weekend) promoting the One Minute Bible by Doug Fields. We gave a TON of them away and think it has the potential to be a game-changer in helping students grow on their own. We even had a student come on stage and try to beat a 1-minute timer by reading a day’s devotion out loud. He was always close … I guess 1-Minute Bible was a better title than “53-second Bible”. Anyhow, thought one of these ideas might trigger a discipleship idea that would work in your context, too!

JG

Simply Youth Ministry is running a sale on the 1-Minute Bible by Doug Fields. It is a devotional Bible that is great to get students in the Word each day. Might be a good tool to give out to your students in a New Year’s message with a “Starting Out the New Year Right” kind of message. Check it out if you’re interested!

You’ve committed yourself to more Bible reading plans than you care to admit and you’re 187 chapters behind in your latest attempt. If this sounds familiar, then the One Minute Bible for Students is what you need to get back and stay on track. Do the math. There are 1400 minutes in a day. It will take you One Minuteto read a passage of Scripture. “Hey, that’s doable!” Additionally, veteran youth pastor Doug Fields has contributed some great insights to help you apply these short, one minute Scripture readings to your every day life.

JG



I couldn’t be more excited to launch a new non-program for discipleship in our ministry we’re calling Grow on the Go (actually we’re revising and bringing this back from HSM past). We’re taking some simple small plastic bins from Target and dropping in some great biblical resources to help our small group leaders challenge students to take a spiritual step. To get a fuller understanding of how small groups are connected to spiritual growth and discipleship, maybe check out 5 Parts to a Typical Small Group Night or 6 Ways to Help Small Group Students Take a Spiritual Step.

So when a Life Group leader recognizes an opportunity to challenge a student to grow on their own, they have some tools right there (or in the trunk of their car) at their disposal. So what’s inside the bins? Glad you asked! We put 1 or 2 of the following resources in the mobile version of our Grow Booth:

I’m convinced that including a little bit of training on these tools at the beginning of the year and putting them in leader’s hands will make a big difference!

JG