Today we’re simply pointing you to great tools that will help students grow on their own. Check them out in consideration of something that would work in your ministry context as well:

1-Minute Bible by Doug Fields
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 Minute to 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.

Student Leaders Start Here by LeaderTreks
Student Leaders Start Here is a practical, interactive workbook, to help students grow in leadership. It focuses on three topics that are crucial for developing as a leader, and gives students a personal leadership profile for their strengths and growth areas in each topic. Give this book to the individual student who is growing in leadership, or use it in your student leadership team and small groups when you follow the bonus pages for small group facilitators.

Stripped Clean by Jeff Storm

Give your teenagers a guilt-free, up-close look at materialism—one that strips away the overwhelming messages of a consumer society. You’ll see authentic changes in readers as they tear out pages to use in Jesus-centered activities.

Case for Christ Student Edition by Lee Strobel
Who Was Jesus? A good man? A lunatic? God? There’s little question that he actually lived. But miracles? Rising from the dead? Some of the stories you hear about him sound like just that—stories. A reasonable person would never believe them, let alone the claim that he’s the only way to God! But a reasonable person would also make sure that he or she understood the facts before jumping to conclusions. That’s why Lee Strobel—an award-winning legal journalist with a knack for asking tough questions—decided to investigate Jesus for himself.

Live Large. Be Different. Shine Bright. By Josh Griffin and Doug Fields
In Live Large. Be Different. Shine Bright., Doug Fields and Joshua Griffin share about some important character qualities that will help teenagers live large, be different, and shine bright. A lot of what Doug and Joshua write about doesn’t seem to get much sermon time, but these topics are definitely worthy of consideration and experimentation—topics like competition, laughter, cliques, encouragement and several others will help teenagers in the process of being a more vibrant follower of Jesus.

More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
With almost 10 million copies in print, More Than a Carpenter continues to be the most powerful evangelism tool worldwide. Josh McDowell’s timeless examination of the true nature of Christ and his impact on our lives is one of the best-selling Christian books ever. Written by a former skeptic of Christianity, it is a hard-hitting book for those who doubt Jesus’ deity and his purpose.

Your Own Jesus by Mark Hall
A true storyteller and a teacher with a heart for ministry, Mark Hall traces the downward spiral caused by spiritual compromise with the world, and then charts the upward road to wholeness and restoration that comes when we claim our very own Jesus. When that happens, believers experience authentic fellowship with the one living God. Through fascinating personal stories, scriptural insights, and discussion questions for practical interactive study, Your Own Jesus: Student Edition will set readers free to live without compromise with the Jesus they come to know intimately and love fully.

ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
High school and college students are bombarded today with mixed media messages of moral relativism. ethiX: Being Bold in a Whatever World helps young adults better understand how to make Bible-informed ethical decisions on the issues of abortion, homosexuality, marriage and divorce, the morality of war, cloning, euthanasia, capital punishment, sexuality, and more.

Middle School Survival Series by Kurt Johnston, Mark Oestreicher, and Scott Rubin
There are six books in this series: My Faith, My Family, My Friends, My School, My Changes and My Future. Each book consists of 72 easy-to-read mini chapters written specifically for young teens.

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.

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!

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.



One of things I am learning in my first student pastor position is the value of saying no to certain things. For ministry leaders, and student pastor like me, simply saying no can be one of the hardest things to do in ministry. In his book, What Matters Most, Doug Fields says, “While saying no results in many personal benefits, it’s a difficult word for most ministry-minded leaders to utter because their ministry culture values yes.” A lot of times student ministry culture says “you have to do more” and student pastors are falling for that lie left and right. I’ll admit, I’m not an expert at this. Being fresh out of college and in my first student pastor position, it’s easy to “always make sure I have enough on the calendar.” I’m in the process of learning how to say the word no. I am learning that there comes a time, usually it’s a lot of the time, when I need to say no because there is more important stuff to focus on. Here are some times to say no in student ministry.

1. When it takes the place of your own personal relationship with God. In a post awhile back called The Hardest Person to Lead, I quoted Chris Finchum as he said, “It’s easy to fall in love with the work of Christ rather than the person of Christ.” Student pastors must say no to something if it will get in the place of their personal walk with God. Doug Fields said this about his early years in ministry: “Because in the busyness of my first decade of ministry, I abandoned my first love (God) and developed a love affair with doing ministry.” The number one key to successful youth ministry is being a student pastor who is in love with Jesus and walking consistently with Him. Many student pastors are missing this important key because they are too busy with youth ministry to invest in their own walk with God. Revelation 2:4 says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Say no if it will get in the way of personal walk with God.

2. When it puts your character and integrity at stake. Another time we need to say no in student ministry is when it puts your personal character at stake. The first qualification for a leader given by Paul in 1 Timothy 3 is to be “above reproach.” As student pastors, we must guard our character. From example, don’t say yes to taking a student of the opposite sex home if it’s only going to be yourself and the student in the car. Your personal character is more important than a ride home. Some may disagree with me on this point, but I believe a student pastor’s personal character is more important that ministry to teenagers. We are called to be holy and must say no to whatever puts that at stake.

3. When it gets in the way of your family. I remember listening to a Perry Noble leadership podcast as he talked about the topic of putting your spouse before ministry. One statement he said that stuck in my head was “Jesus will take care of His church.” God called student pastors to be pastors to their spouses and children first. We are to be leaders at home, before we are leaders at church. At the end of the day, Jesus will take care of your youth ministry. God has called us to be pastors of our home before pastors of the students at our church. Don’t sacrifice your family on the alter of student ministry, it’s unbiblical and not worth it. Say no if it gets in the way of your family.

These are just a few times I believe we need to say no as student pastors. You may have noticed, I didn’t say anything about programing or even the student ministry, I focused on the leader as a person. I believe building a person is more important than building a ministry. Ric Garland says, “Build the man and God will build the ministry.” When student pastors focus on growing in Christ as a person, God will grow the ministry.

Austin McCann is currently the student pastor at Courtney Baptist Church in Yadkinville, NC. You can find his blog online at www.austinmccann.com.

Buck the Stats

Josh Griffin —  May 3, 2012 — 1 Comment

Our profession has a problem. If you believe statistics (and 89 percent of you do), you’ll be searching for a job on Monster.com in about 36 months. I’ve joked with my friend Doug Fields that his book Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry will always be a bestseller.

This painful turnover needs to stop. It won’t be easy because many youth workers end up wounded soon after the honeymoon ends. We begin anticipating attacks (not teamwork) and jeers (not cheers). But despite all the challenges, you can stay strong for the long haul with these “lifer” tips:

• Hold some stuff sacred. To increase your chances of lasting in ministry, it’s essential to set boundaries on your time and life. Do you take a day off every week? A break might be difficult during an occasional week-before-summer-camp, but if you’re cheating too often, you won’t survive. Do you rest and exercise regularly? How’s your family life? Having a long view of ministry means putting family first. There’s a connection between your faithfulness to your spouse and your faithfulness to God. You have a problem if you’re constantly looking at your phone instead of at your own children (56 percent of you have them).

• Let some things go. Too often, youth workers want to fight over things that don’t really matter. We take a stand when we should sit down, and we speak up when we probably should shut up. If you fight for everything 100 percent of the time, you’ll be too wounded to endure. Over time, you’ll begin to understand what’s truly worth fighting for. Pause today to reflect on some things you might be grasping too tightly.

• Surround yourself with the right people. To build and maintain a long-term ministry, you’ll need the right people in your life. You’ll need: 1) a ministry cheerleader, 2) a ministry mentor, and 3) someone who doesn’t know you work at a church. Who’s cheering you on? Who’s in the stands watching you and yelling encouragement? (Eighty-eight percent of us have someone yelling at us…but it isn’t encouragement.) Who’s the wise sage nudging you on with practical wisdom? Who do you hang out with who cares nothing about your career? These people are sustaining and life-giving, and they’ll make a huge difference.

Live out of these truths and you’ll have a much greater chance of becoming a youth ministry lifer—not a statistic.

Originally appeared in the March/April issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!



I’m super excited to take my team up to the Fam Conference at Azusa Pacific University next week. I’m pumped to hear from George Barna, Dave Gibbons and most excited to hear Kara Powell’s Sticky Faith 3-session Deeper Learning Workshop. I’ve got the books and met up with her a little bit at SYMC and am so pumped to learn more:

Session 1: The Sticky Gospel: Teaching That Launches Young People Toward Lifelong Faith

Research from the Fuller Youth Institute revealed that students often leave our ministries carrying a gospel a lot like a jacket: It’s mostly based on behaviors, and students feel like they can put it on or take it off when they want depending on the situation. In this first workshop, we will introduce the research and explore ideas for using relationships and our teaching to move students beyond a “Jesus Jacket” gospel and into lives immersed in God’s grace.


Get Sticky Faith at SYM

Session 2: Sticky Churches and Families: Helping Adults Get Out of Their Seats and Into Kids’ Lives
One of the most powerful things we can do in youth ministry is connect teenagers to adults: their own parents and caring adults in the faith community. Sadly, few youth ministries truly embrace the power of intergenerational relationships or harness that power to disciple students. In this Sticky Faith track workshop, you will leave with a host of practical ideas from churches engaging parents and the intergenerational church family to holistically surround kids.

Session 3: A Sticky Youth Ministry: Small Ministry Changes that Deliver Big Results

Graduation. Change. Transition. Unfortunately, more and more youth workers are finding that close to half of high school seniors’ journeys after youth group are filled with twists and turns that leaves their faith stranded. What can we do NOW that will help our kids develop a faith that sticks? This seminar in the Sticky Faith track will look at ways to structure the youth ministry environment to facilitate growth in middle school and high school students and will explore everyday ideas to prepare seniors for the transition out of high school.

If you’re going – we’ll see you up there, too. Gonna be great!

JG

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

JG