One of my favorite parts of youth ministry is meeting with other youth ministers.  Hearing their stories, learning from their paradigms and just knowing that I’m not alone in the journey has been a blessing.  I didn’t always feel this way.  I at one time resented meeting with other youth workers because I thought it would mean more work.  I thought meeting with other youth ministers meant planning events, and proving that my ministry was just as good (if not better) than theirs.

It’s easy to have that attitude because it’s fueled by jealousy and insecurity.  What you need to do is go from looking at networking as a comparison game to one where you can help each other in the journey.  Networking is a powerful tool because it will:

  • Help you grow as a leader
  • Remind you that you are not alone
  • Give you support in new ways

To get the most out of networking make sure you:

  • Don’t Always Have An Agenda: Sometimes you just need to hang out and do life with fellow youth ministers.  That means ordering some pizza, grabbing some coffee and sharing life.  Talk about your families, your hobbies and allow them to get to know you as a person outside the job.  The more you can grow relationally the better it will be for you to serve one another.
  • Go Deeper: While you might not become good friends with everyone in your network, find ways that you can go deeper.  This will allow you to grow stronger as a disciple and knock down any jealousy you have of the other guy.  To go deeper set aside time to pray and lookout for resources that will help you grow as leaders as well as disciples of Christ.
  • Grow The Group: If you already have a group of youth ministers that meets together, look at growing it.   Growing the group encourages growth because of new insights and ideas.  That means always being on the look out for the new guy.  Maybe it’s traveling to other networks or interdenominationally.


A strong network of youth ministers is key not only for you but the entire community.  When different churches work together the community will have the support it needs during events and tragedies.  Knock down the walls, reach out and grow together.

How do you network with other youth ministers?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

This post on programing is the final in the “Building a Teaching Series” series.  A programing team can be very valuable.  Gathering a team gives you access to more minds, experiences, ideas, and a pool of creativity.  When it is time to create, you have a group to delegate tasks to. One down side is you can hurt feels when certain ideas don’t get used.  I let everyone know that we will come up with dozens of usable ideas and we may only use a couple per meeting.

I do not use a planning team for every series, sometimes I have a specific vision for what I want to see, and other times I desperately need the culturally relevant eyes of other staff and student.  Here are a few boundaries I set when leading a programing team though a brainstorming session:

  • I need to set directions. If I do not clearly define the message/series direction I will not get useful ideas.
  • Write down every idea (whiteboard, iPad, have someone take notes or take a photo of the whiteboard after each brainstorm).
  • Everyone is encouraged to offer ideas (Control the talkers).
  • Build on ideas but do not develop ideas.  It is easy to spend 15 minutes expanding an idea that will never get used, Just get the concept written down and move on.
  • Outside-the-box ideas are good.
  • No idea is a bad idea.  Let others speak freely without shooting the idea down (don;t let others shoot it down either.  Shutting people down or other participants saying, “that’s dumb” will keep people from sharing) Just get the concept written down and move on.
  • Inside-the-box ideas are good too.  Don’t overlook the obvious.

There are a ton of other rules and expectations you can add.  Try not over-complicating the session.

About a week or two before I gather a programing team, I send out the series arc (you can find our example here at the bottom of the post) in a programing guide.  Feel free to download a blank copy of our programing guide here.  This is not originally mine, not sure who gave it to me, but I have made tweeks over the years.

If you want to try the brainstorming from afar, try creating a facebook page to interact on.  Let your group go crazy with their programing guides or ask specific questions like, “We are doing a series on bullying, are they are good songs we could cover for the series opener?”  And you’ll get responses like “Taylor Swift’s Mean” would be perfect!” or “Let’s play a Justin Bieber video and we can mock it, then you can use that experience as an illustration.”

I have found a cool website that might be pretty cool for a group brainstorm. WallWisher is a web app that allows uses with a link that you give out to post notes on the wall.  it is pretty anonymous but you can create a board where you get to approve every post before it goes live.

If you are looking for an app to use in a group try iBrainstorm App.  Type a note on your iPhone and flip it to your iPad.  Check out this demo.

How To Write a Youth Talk

 —  December 20, 2011 — 2 Comments

Every youth worker is going to be a little different when it comes to preparing a talk — but hopefully this week we can challenge you to try some methods that really work for us as we do our best to teach God’s Word each week in our youth ministry. So please know this certainly isn’t THE way to write a talk, but it is one way. When I (Kurt) was in college my homiletics professor forced us to master the art of writing the classic three point sermon. He said that when we were through with the class we could write sermons however we wanted, but his job was to make sure we knew at least ONE way. The key isn’t to do it our way, but to find a process that helps you best prepare to communicate God’s Word to students.

Know where the lesson or series is heading
What are we trying to say in this lesson or series of lessons? Where are we trying to move students with this talk? Before you start driving, know which road you are traveling down.

Whiteboard everything you can capture in a brainstorm meeting.
Almost all of our talks begin on the whiteboard using lots and lots of collaboration. Students are there, volunteers are there. There is no such thing as a bad idea (although we’ve been doing this long enough to know that isn’t entirely true). Take a picture to make sure it is captured and not accidentally erased by the church janitor before morning.

Pray over and crank out the 1st draft
What started on the whiteboard now makes it into a Word document and becomes digital. Points, passages and illustrations start to take shape. Maybe you’ll write the talk out word for word, more of a speaking transcript like I (Josh) like to do. Maybe bullet points like I (Kurt) prefer. Just make sure you’re making progress on the message God wants you to share with your students.

Another day, another draft
This collection of thoughts and ideas needs to be honed into a discernible message — so you refine it into the 2nd draft. This is really the beginning of the shaping process. Ideally you’re fairly happy with the talk by this point — some weeks you’ll be ahead of the game, other weeks you maybe won’t have even started it yet. Either way, press on.

Stop, collaborate and listen
At this point, send your message out to a few close friends to review – don’t create your messages in a vacuum. Let a few creative/discerning friends talk through it with you for clarity, perspective and editing.

Use the feedback and you’re ready to go
Done. Deliver the talk and ask a few friends for specific feedback on the delivery and clarity of the message. Over time, you’ll become great at both the preparation and delivery of messages in your youth ministry!

Share how you prepare a talk in the comments!

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.