A new generation of families.  

Someone said to me yesterday, “The unconventional family is becoming the new norm.”  Divorced, blended, unchurched, de-churched, and “baby mama,” are all a reality.  Grandparents, foster parents, relatives and friends are all raising “someone else’s” children, right here in America.  I talked to a young woman just the other day who said, “It shocked me when I became a volunteer in a wealthy church how handy my counseling degree would be with those kids. They are abused, neglected and isolated.”

The question is this?  How will we choose to view them?  I had the opportunity last month to speak to the audience at the D6 Family Conference and share my thoughts. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for loving students,



article.2013.03.19If you’re like us, it takes you 45 minutes to spill all of the details of the 60-minute workshop you attended that changed your life last week at a youth conference. Inspired by it, you lay out a vision for your youth ministry for the next five years. The volunteers sit there like a deer in the headlights; then one of them timidly raises her hand, “Sounds like somebody went to a youth worker conference last week,” she says.

It happens! Sometimes at an incredible event we come down with a case of Let’s Change Everything Syndrome (LCES). If you’ve ever had LCES, you know the temptation to overhaul every aspect of your ministry in the first five days after you get back. Beware of the side effects: volunteer abandonment, blurry vision and upset supervisors.

Post-conference excitement is natural, and there’s nothing wrong with the desire to make changes when we’ve been exposed to new ideas. But LCES can do more harm than good. Here are a few tips to avoid it.

Pray about what God is asking you to do.
Sometimes after reading an incredible book or hearing an inspiring speaker we think about what we want to do as a result or what worked for them instead of what God’s voice is clearly directing. The only way to distinguish between competing visions is to spend time with God and ask for his vision. Usually taking some time to process, decompress, and pray are the best steps to hearing from him after you’ve been exposed to new ideas.

Wait for the right season to change.
The right time for changes is typically not the Spring or the middle of Fall (which, coincidently is when lots of training events happen). Think strategically about when to bring about significant changes to your ministry. Lay an infrastructure for the move to small groups all summer long; then release them in January. Prepare your volunteers for the junior high/senior high split at the start of the school year this Fall, rather than eagerly announcing it out of the blue tonight at youth group.

Start with one thing.
Reflect in your Moleskin journal or iPad app on some of the biggest things you learned at the event, or conversations you were inspired by. Make a list of everything that is considered an “action step” and prioritize them and map out a 1-2 year plan of action. Update it occasionally as you retreat or receive additional training and insight.

Keep a dialogue going.
Don’t make changes in isolation! While the church might not have been able to send your whole volunteer team to an event, take the time to share your “one thing” with your spouse, your volunteers, or student leaders. Once you’ve taken the ball down the court, don’t be afraid to rally support and analyze it to make the ideas better and increase ownership.

Any learnings you want to share after coming home from a youth worker training event?

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.

I’m pretty excited about where we get to take our parent ministry in the coming year. Kurt Johnston (Saddleback’s Student Ministry Pastor and my boss) and I recently met with the guys over at ParentMinistry.Net and started to talk about using their tools and resource to help us boost our parent ministry. With as much as we’ve got going on we can’t seem to get a ton of traction really empowering parents. Time for a change!

As we’ve evaluated our ministry and made some D6/Sticky Faith transitions (read more on that here) we also realized we were doing a great job of informing parents, but not really equipping and resourcing them. And as a parent of a 5th grader myself, I’m pretty excited about the Rites of Passage Experience to use as a dad!

Here’s some of the ways I’ve thought about using the ParentMinistry.Net resource – stay tuned for more details as we roll stuff out in 2013:

  • Communicating monthly with parents via newsletter (we’ve done this for a while)
  • A free resource of the month offered to parents (started this last month)
  • Creating a “web hub” of monthly online training seminars
  • Making the Rites of Passage available to parents
  • Physically gathering parents together a couple times a year (hit and miss for us in the past)

For a while we’ve focused on a couple important audiences: ministering to students and empowering volunteers. I hope soon we can say we do a great job of equipping parents in the future, too!


Couldn’t be more excited to co-host the D6 Conference this year in Dallas, TX this September. Just watched the video to help promote this year and got pumped to learn, listen and soak up what God is going to teach us over those 3 days. Going to be great! Hope you’ll consider being a part of the event, too! Here’s the lab description:

Lab # 1 – Reaching “That One Kid”
Every ministry has one. Maybe you’ve been “gifted’ and have more than your fair share of that “one” kid. In this workshop, Josh Griffin will help you learn how to effectively minister to the kids who are the most difficult in your ministry. He’ll admit that he was “that one kid” and how God used great leaders to reach him. And he’ll also need to explain the overuse of “air quotes” in this workshop description. 301


A few times a year I get a chance to meet/hang/speak at youth worker conferences or leadership events – thought I would post them here in case you were planning on attending too and maybe we could arrange a meet up. I’m a sucker for late-night Steak and Shake. Here’s what’s on tap this next season:

The D6 Conference - I’ve never been to this event and it has been one I’ve wanted to get to check out the last couple of years. Check out their fantastic official trailer here, if you’re in/around Dallas or in town for it this September- I’ll see you there! I’m speaking on a panel about youth ministry and leading a commissioning prayer during the last session of the event. Pumped.

YS National Youth Ministry Convention: San Diego - honored to be invited to speak at YS-San Diego! I’ll be doing a few workshops there in September focusing on teaching calendars, sermon preparation and training small group leaders. I enjoyed this little promo video of their event from Tic Long, too. I’m also on a panel with some legit dudes on the future of youth ministry. Excited and intimidated.

YSPalooza Orlando – This is the first time I’ll be teaching at YSPalooza, too! We’re still working out the details, but it is going to be fun in Orlando this January.

Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2012 - Without a doubt this is the event I’m most heavily involved in again this year. I’ll be doing the general session programming (with the infamous Jake Rutenbar) and there’s even talk of me maybe speaking a little chunk of a creative new general session idea. Who knows … I just know it is going to be awesome and you really, really need to be there, too – Louisville, KY in March. Be there with Francis Chan and Jon Acuff and more.


I’m pumped to be invited to this year’s D6 Conference this September in Dallas. Here’s their latest video, really convicting stuff. For more on d6, hit up this link.