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!


Being intentional is a concept we are all familiar with in ministry, and more and more it is becoming a key aspect as we struggle to compete with the busyness of students lives. We value our student’s time greatly and know that we are competing against a lot of other activities that they could be doing. Since we know that a student carving out a 3-hour block of time to come to church is a big deal, we respond by making a big deal of our youth night. Part of making a big deal of our night is that we are intentional from start to finish and we have a reason for every element of the night. Here are a few reasons why you need to really intentional about everything:

For God: I believe that taking your weekly gathering of youth seriously is a priority. To steal a page from Doug Fields’ book Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, if something we do does not promote Worship, Discipleship, Service, Evangelism or Fellowship why are we doing it? This should be a primary consideration of every element of our youth program and all events and activities we put on. I am not sure that I want to stand before the Lord and say we did something “just ’cause”, because as leaders that is not good enough. We need to point students to God at every opportunity, not just sometimes.

For Students: Modeling for students that every facet of our lives matters to God is important. We are not shy about explaining why we do what we do at our youth program and I think it is a great teachable moment when students ask. Our student’s time is valuable; and when we have them, we will always try and make the most of it. From start to finish our goal is provide them with opportunities to encounter God, to connect with a caring leader, to learn about Jesus and to Worship Him. Having a clear purpose of your youth ministry will benefit the spiritual growth of your students.

For Parents: Parents have been known to be critical of youth programs sometimes because the one they were a part of 30 years ago was not like “this”. For those parents I choose to be prepared when they start asking questions such as:

-Why is the Worship so loud?
-Why do you allow secular music to be played in the Church?
-Why do you allow saved and unsaved students in the same small groups? (Actual question!)
-We never had small groups on the same night
-Why don’t you play more games? We used to play dodgeball all the time.

It is pretty easy to defuse a parent when you have a reason for doing what you do. If they question an element of your program and you don’t have a rationale for why you do it they way you do, watch out. Parents may not agree with you, but will respect that you have thought about their concern before hand.

For the sake of supporting the vision that God has given you for your ministry, and for making the most of every opportunity that you have when your students are in the building, its vital that you have a reason and a rationale for every element of your youth night from the time the first student arrives until the last one gets picked up.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.

A couple weeks back at our State of HSM annual meeting I shared a few things that I believe that make a good team great. Thought I would share them with you as well!

We all share a common, unifying vision in our high school ministry – seeing students on the outside of faith meet Him face to face (evangelism) and their lives be changed forever. And for those that have trusted Christ to be connected (fellowship), grow (discipleship), serve (ministry) and honor (worship) Christ deeper now and into adulthood. The clear vision helps bring a team of like-minded and passionate people together. If someone is out of line, the vision brings them back into the unity of the common vision.

This year our team is going to unify by learning together. We’re going to go to a conference together – the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this March – come hang with us! We’re going to go back to the basics and read Doug Fields’ 1st 2 Years in Youth Ministry together and have some discussions about our experiences and how we can grow together as youth workers. Youth pastors must keep learning and moving forward.

It is so important to laugh together. I want us to play together. Have inside jokes. To dig a deep well of relationship that bond us together and make us quick to forgive and trust when hit with the unexpected.

Dependent on God/Prayer
Your walk with Jesus is critically important. This season we’re all reading the New Testament together. We’re trying to make sure our walk with Jesus is more visible and something we talk about as easily as we would Sherlock Holmes or the new Coldplay album (both of which are excellent by the way). Your walk with Jesus is person, but it is also communal. As a team we need to strive to e


Weekend Teaching Series: Facebook Official (week 4 of 5)
Sermon in a Sentence: God’s plan for your sex life.
Service Length: 62 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend Doug Fields took the HSM stage and brought it! In his usual just-about-over-the-line style he taught students about God’s plan for purity and sex. It was incredible – my favorite part of the talk was when he was talking about “the drift” and how there are forces pushing us toward the world’s way and how we have to admit and correct that before we can really get on God’s path for our sexuality. He used a ton of humor, stories and Scripture to present a biblical challenge to purity, abstinence and forgiveness.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend was lean but awesome – we opened up with a fun acapella cover song using a choir and a fun dance by a fake boy band. The program was lean this week to make room for Fields’ talk, but lots of student involvement in lights, sound, band, control room, greeting etc.

Music Playlist: Hello! [opening cover song], Facebook Official [dance lip-sync], Grace

Favorite Moment: Great weekend! No doubt the highlight was having Doug teach this weekend. There’s no one like him – really really great services.

Up next: Facebook Official (series finale, week 5 of 5)

I was just recommending this book to another youth worker last week – and noticed the $30 is on sale this week for $7.99. Great deal, great resource!

Youth Leader Training on the Go is an easy way to train leaders and multiply your ministry’s effectiveness. Best of all, teenagers will grow deeper in their faith because you’ve invested in your volunteers.

Encourage your volunteers to:

  • Connect with God and build faith in every area of teenagers’ lives
  • Understand teenage culture for effective outreach
  • Discover practical, helpful ideas for ministering to teenagers
  • Work with parents to help their teenagers grow in faith
  • Find balance between ministry and personal life

This resource contains 52 training sessions for youth leaders. Encourage busy volunteers with these practical leadership tips. Everything you need for at least a full year’s worth of leadership training!

JG blog is coming up on a year old and it is easily the best blog in youth ministry – this guest post from Marv Penner on it in my mind is up for post of the year. Marv goes into detail about a document that has helped him stay faithful to his calling and his spouse for his neara-countless years in youth ministry. Amazing stuff, you need to read and process the full post over there. Here’s a clip:

I was a young man in ministry when I wrote a document that I have read hundreds of times over the last three decades. It was born on a personal spiritual retreat when I asked God to protect my marriage from the damage that would occur if I would cross my moral boundaries (See Monday’s post & Tuesday’s post). I try to read this document every time I get on a plane or check into a hotel. I regularly make it a part of my personal quiet time and review it often. It started on paper and is now conveniently synched on my iPad and laptop. It has been edited an amended often to reflect changes in my circumstances, but the essential message has remained the same.

I have never shared this highly personal document this way and after you read it I’ll tell you why I have second thoughts even as I Doug to post it today.


When I feel vulnerable to sexual temptation I must take the time to count the cost that even one bad choice could have…


Weekend Teaching Series: Facebook Official (week 3 of 5)
Sermon in a Sentence: 7 questions to ask about your dating relationship.
Service Length: 76 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend I wanted to focus on a biblical perspective to dating – although dating isn’t implicitly mentioned in the Bible and is a much more modern cultural invention of ours. For sure the Bible does talk plenty in principle about WHO to date and HOW to date so that’s the perspective of the talk. I shared a bunch of personal stories from my dating life including heartbreak, and eventually how I met my wife. The talk was designed to build on Doug’s narrow vs wide way challenge from last week and included 7 questions to ask about their current/future dating relationships.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This is the last weekend before our Pumpkinfest event, so we spent a little chink of the program with a funny skit that included an awkward robot and our stage emcee. Really funny stuff, as always trying to make annoucements both memorable and engaging. We also played a funny video from RhettandLink about Facebook profile pictures and dating.

Music Playlist: Enchanted [Taylor Swift cover], Oh Lord, Your Love is Enough, Grace, Cannons

Favorite Moment: The conversations after the service were the best. Nothing like a series like this to get students thinking … and talking. Several students were convinced it was alright for them to date someone of a different religion – by far the most popular discussion this weekend after the talk.

Up next: Facebook Official (week 4 of 5) [Doug Fields teaching about sex]

Congrats to Shawn Shoup on winning FLIPPED in Day 1’s giveaway and congrats to Tony B on wining a copy of LABELS from Simply Youth Ministry on Day 2. Want to get in on the winner? Leave a comment on this post and you could win Mission Trips from Start to Finish. Thanks for helping MTDB have over 15,000 comments!


PS: There’s still time to get 15% off most all of Simply Youth Ministry resources using promo code: THEBIG15