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?


I was incredibly blessed this week to be invited to one of our Life Group’s very last meetings as graduating seniors. They have been together 8 years as a group (so from 4th grade on!) and called themselves the Band of Brothers. On this final meeting the leader bought each of his guys a special ring to symbolize their years together and to commemorate their journey apart in the days ahead. He had invited all of the parents and myself to the ceremony and celebration. They all shared a ton of memories – it was one of the coolest finishes I’ve ever seen to a high school small group.

At the end of the afternoon, the boys and their parents gave Kevin an award as well. It was awesome – we circled up and prayed over them as a group, commissioning them as they head to schools all across the country. At the end a couple of the guys got baptized, too. It was a GREAT reminder of how important and how powerful Christian community can be. Way to go, Kevin!

Oh, and if you’ve ever read the book Doug Fields and I wrote, 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders – there’s a story near the end that involves Hooters, leadership and how to gain trust back with parents. This was that group! Amazing how God has shaped all of these guys, their leader and undoubtedly how He will use them all in the future as well.


Pumped that Doug Fields and I’s book 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders is available for just $2.99 today only (until 3pm MST). Check out Simply Youth Ministry during their 40-40-40 sale – if you’ve been thinking about picking it up for your Life Group leaders this fall – this is the best price all year for sure!


Got a great question this week at YSPalooza in Orlando – do we allow parents to be small group leaders in our own ministry – specifically for their own teenagers? Our answer is yes at our church. We don’t prohibit or discourage it in any way. I do totally get the concept and value the idea of another adult Christian modeling faith and mentoring our children, so I get why some ministries may choose a different way. Vote now!


Hey everyone from YS Palooza!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop on small group leaders so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are a bunch of links from the 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leader trainings I promised you as well:


Beyond excited when the gang over at Simply Youth Ministry told me that they were doing a 1-day sale on Doug Fields and I’s book, 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders.The book is normally $6.99 – TODAY only it is $2.99!

A small group is a powerful place!

Lives are changed. Important decisions are made. Spiritual growth is enhanced. Jokes are shared. Lifelong friendships are formed. Cliques disappear when a small group becomes a loving community. The result? Spiritually mature teenagers, empowered leaders, and a healthy youth ministry.

Good small groups requires leaders–and that’s where you come in. If you’re a small group leader, you may have lots of questions: Am I making a difference? Am I wisely investing my time, energy, and resources? Can I really do this? If so, how can I maximize my impact in teenagers’ lives?

Find the answers you’re looking for in 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders. This book delivers insights, tips, and veteran advice for anyone leading a small group (from young to old). When these bite-size, consumable pieces of wisdom are put into play, leaders will be better equipped and more confident. This book is all about setting them up to win.

UPDATE: They sold out of the deal already! Wow!


I was at Chipotle hanging out with a volunteer named Kevin this past week. His co-leader Oscar and him make a great team. As we talked, he rattled off 5 or 6 good reasons why he was teamed up with another all-star leader this year in Life Groups. I couldn’t get them all written down in time, but it was genius so I had to share what I could remember! Here’s what I remember from our conversation – 4 benefits of having a co-leader for your small group:

1. Different voices win
For the same reason I share the teaching platform with other speakers, it is important to share the teaching time in groups. We don’t require every group to have 2 leaders (ideal, but not practical), but one of the biggest benefits when it happens that second voice can really be heard loud and clear.

2. Co-leaders encourage each other
It is going to happen – at some point in the year you’re going to get discouraged. Maybe it will be disappointment with a student’s poor choices or maybe attendance will drop off a bit and you get frustrated. A co-leader gives the opportunity to bring the other up in a time of need.

3. Filling in for each other
You’ve got maybe 30 weeks of Life Groups during the school year – from time to time conflict is going to happen. Business trip, family crisis – sometimes real life gets in the way of small groups. A co-leader jumps to the rescue and saves the day. Same thing when there isn’t a crisis and one of you just need a night off.

4. Neither one has to always be the bad guy
Every small group leader has to come strong with discipline sometime during the year – so it’s great to have a second voice to talk through the drama and even play good cop/bad cop as necessary.

Got another benefit to small group co-leaders? Here’s a post that made it into the book 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders called 4 Signs You Might Need a Small Group Co-Leader that you might want to check out, too!


Hey everyone from NYWC 2011!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop on small group leaders so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from the 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leader trainings I promised you this weekend: