Here’s the morning opening video from the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. Fun little video to help youth workers remember to breathe.


Here’s a video from the Simply Youth Ministry Conference last month – I wrote a little script for it and Parker did the narration and video magic. Enjoy – hope it inspires you today!


Most people don’t understand what I do
When I tell them I’m a YOUTH WORKER they
Put their hand on my should and say with a sigh

And occasionally I still get asked when I’m going to be a “REAL PASTOR” or “WHEN I WILL BE TOO OLD FOR THIS” but they don’t get it: THIS IS WHY I BREATHE
· I live for the CRAZINESS OF CAMP it is there I most remember God’s call
· I live for the MESS OF MY SMALL GROUP because I know God will make something BEAUTIFUL
· On a shopping run for the overnighter I almost wait with anticipation for the checkout lady to ask WHAT IS ALL OF THIS FOR?
· I live for the LIFE-CHANGING CONVERSATIONS even if they happen between the hours of 2-4AM on a mission trip

The long hours, the challenging work, the highs and lows … the office in the church basement …it all doesn’t matter to me. This is why I am on the earth. This is why God made me.

I was created by HIM. For THEM.



I have been a youth pastor for 8 years now at the same church. I have had many pieces of graduation cake and have many awesome memories. Sometimes I can’t believe I am being paid for what I do. Sometimes I don’t think I am paid enough. I am getting older and don’t understand all the popular things in your high schools and each year the culture seems harder for me to figure out.

I often don’t feel equipped for the ministry God has led me towards. Sometimes I doubt a few hours of truth a week can compete with the endless hours of lies heard at school, on tv, online, and even from some parents. Am I making a spiritual dent?

I am not an outgoing, guitar totting, tech savvy, or an athlete that will amaze you with my awesomeness. Yet, I care about the students who walk through the doors of our church. My heart is that they will know they are loved by God so much that Jesus was the price to buy back their souls from grasp of sin. I want them to know they are valuable and have talents that God has given them to make a difference in their world. I want them to be people that worship with an inner sense of gratitude. I want them to serve others out of compassion rather than compulsion. I want them to have a hunger to know God more deeply and live more faithfully.

I ponder about those students I have not yet met. I dream that when a student comes into our modest youth room they will feel safe and know they are appreciated and respected. I pray that we can create a zone free of the bullying and competition that is too common today so that masks and walls can come down. I want students to feel this is their group, they want to be here, and they are growing spiritually from our time together. That church is at least as important as sports and music which are here today and gone tomorrow.

I confess that at times I have prioritized just making it though a lesson, instead of really listening to your hearts. I confess that sometimes I want to have control rather than let the Holy Spirit speak. Sometimes I spend more time planning a game than I do praying for my students. I pray that God will forgive me. Students will you forgive me for where I have not been the leader that I should have been? Will you help me refocus this group to the place that God wants us to be? Will you join me for the next chapter?

The last time I slowed down long enough to breathe was: Just now. The reason I’m going (or want to go) to the 2012 Simply Youth Ministry Conference is to breathe, to pray, and to ask God what those next steps will look like. *I am not alone.*

Posted anonymously with permission.

Our favorite time of the year is quickly approaching — the Simply Youth Ministry Conference is just around the corner. This March in Louisville we’re going to be hanging with 3,000 of our closest youth ministry friends. Hope you can join us! Even if you aren’t coming to SYMC, the chances are pretty good you will find yourself at some sort of conference in the future. Here are a few thoughts to make the most of your next youth ministry conference or training event:

Connect with people
Don’t be “that guy” (the guy who works way too hard to network, rub shoulders, etc.), but if you only use your time to catch a few workshops and sessions then you may be missing out on an opportunity to talk to some really insightful people.

Workshop presenters are insightful people, and are surprisingly open to the idea of sharing a coffee or a meal (especially if you schedule after they are done with their speaking schedule), but don’t make the mistake of thinking the “experts” are the only folks worth learning from! We could make a really strong argument that the best folks to rub shoulders with and get to know at a conference are the in-the-trenches men and women who have a story to share from last night’s youth group, not the one they led fifteen years ago (ouch….zinger!).

Ditch a session
This one stings to write as some of the people responsible for what happens during the general sessions. I’d (Josh) like to think that I create something so compelling you would never consider this! But time away from the church is precious and rare, a long dinner or conversation that shouldn’t end might be the best use of your time.

Inside tip: conferences kick off the conference right, if you’re gonna slip out of one, don’t miss the first big session for sure!

Sleep in late
You probably don’t sleep enough. Sleep in. You have our permission.

Get in early or stay an extra day
Arrive a day early, or stay an extra day to veg out a little bit. Your church (or in many cases, you) paid a lot to be there for the weekend — so take your time going home. Take a day to debrief, visit Disneyland or a spend time observing a youth ministry/leader you follow who lives in the area.

Be engaged
When Francis Chan speaks, everyone listens. Actually, many people can’t resist checking their email or texting funny observations to the youth pastor across the convention center instead of being fully engaged. Don’t quench the Spirit (just played that card) by sneaking looks at your cell phone.

Inside tip: don’t write off a speaker because you have never heard of them. Or because you have heard of them and don’t like what you’ve heard. Prepare to be surprised!

Hope to see you at SYMC in March!

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.

Every year we do a simple dinner-and-a-movie thank you dinner for our volunteers. We dress up all warm in pea coats and scarves and go all Christmas cheer on our team of weekend and small group volunteers. We encourage them to bring their spouses and in some instances even help them find childcare for the night. It is a great relational time with our team, and gives us a chance to love them and their spouse mid-year. They make a ton of sacrifices and we want them to be sure of our availability, love and confidence in them.

In addition to the free Italian buffet and discount movie pass we may put a resource or two on their place-setting. Was thinking today about what one we may do this year and came up with a few I like the best. Not sure if you’re planning on doing something like this, but both the dinner and the book are good uses of your youth ministry budget (if you have any left, or even have one in the first place). A few recommendations:

1) Emergency Response Handbook for Youth Ministry
This is one of my go-to resources to put in the hands of volunteers. Got an emergency? Flip through this little resource quick and you’ll probably get some next steps and a few things to say in the moment. Then call the church or my cell phone and we’ll talk through where to go from here.

2) The Hot Seat
This is a fun new resource I haven’t used yet – discussion starters and games for those long van-rides! If you’re looking to fill awkward silences or have a laugh together as you build relationships, this might be one to check out.

3) Breathe: Youth Worker Devotional
A short collection of devotionals specifically designed for youth workers. This is the one I’m leaning on to give my volunteers here at the mid-way point in the year.

4) The “What Do I Do When” book series
I’m not always sure what to do when I stumble into a confession or a problem with students – my volunteers are probably in that exact same situation, and some are even less prepared than I am. This series of books (around $5 each) helps your team know how to deal with bullying, abuse, suicide and much more. Great, practical stuff.

5) 1-year subscription to Group Magazine
A couple years back we gave a 1-year subscription to every one of our volunteers. It was the gift that kept on giving all year long! I think next year it might be time to this one again – especially since they added 6 free digital issues as well as the regular 6 print issues, too. Nice!