As I’ve written before, I am immensely thankful for my friendship with Doug Fields who has taught me so much about youth ministry. One of the things I love about Doug is how he pours into the lives of youth pastors & students through his Student Leadership Conference. In fact, I can say that its largely because of SLC last summer that we’ve seen such an incredible year of student leadership within our High School Ministry here at Saddleback. They heard from the best and had a great experience together and came back changed – I couldn’t be more excited about signing up for another year at SLC!

Believe me, I get how difficult it is to train, equip & prep student leaders on a weekly basis. It’s no easy task. It is all about having a servant’s heart first. It all starts there. Once students understand that – it provides a great framework for their involvement throughout the year in ministry.

Whether or not you’ve heard about it before, I can safely say that if you’ve never been to SLC before – you and your student leadership team are missing out. I can’t wait to take my students back this summer, especially because I know what that means for how we’ll start next school year.

Excited to be a part of Doug Fields’ Student Leadership Conference - I’ll be in 2 of the 3 locations (California and Pennsylvania as a speaker and with our student leaders – sorry Dallas, my youngest is graduating from kindergarten) and am pumped to meet you and your best and brightest student leaders, too! Going to be so cool!

JG

I’m super excited to invite you to Saddleback Church on October 4th – Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins are coming to The Refinery to teach their incredible Speaking to Teenagers seminar. They’ve made is super accessible for everyone in the area ($25/person) and it is something I’m SO pumped to be sitting under in a month. Join us!

A practical jam packed one day seminar for Youth workers and anyone else who teaches or speaks to teenagers Including pastors, volunteers, Sunday School teachers. If you teach once a quarter or twice a week, this day is for you.

You will leave this seminar knowing:

  • The crucial elements of effective communication
  • The essentials for understanding and connecting to a teenage audience
  • Keys for personal and spiritual preparation before speaking
  • The top 10 places to find great illustrations
  • How to use the right types of words to make God’s Word come alive for students
  • 7 proven tips to make stories more personal & effective
  • An approach to turn your experiences into powerful illustrations and connecting points
  • The powerful dynamics of humor and how to use it effectively
  • How to keep teenagers engaged and deepen their learning
  • How to avoid making the most common mistakes speakers make
  • Practical guidelines to enhance your body language and gestures
  • The secrets of time and timing in speaking
  • How to match the type of message to your unique situation

JG



I was priviledged to be a part of a roundtable on speaking to Teenagers in the most recent issue Youth Worker journal. It’s now available on their site – here’s a clip of it, head there for the whole thing!

YouthWorker Journal: What goals in youth ministry are achieved through teaching?

Duffy Robbins: Helping kids nurture a relationship with Christ, make good life choices and be equipped for ministry. All of this is drawn from Ephesians 4:14-16.

Josh Griffin: Dispensing information is part of teaching, but far more important are inspiration and challenge. Teaching gives youth workers the opportunity to combine personal experiences and story with the eternal relevance of God’s Word.

Pamela Erwin: Critical thinking, biblical literacy and teaching the story of God’s revelation. There’s a tremendous difference between teaching objectives (what content we want to communicate) and learning objectives (the transformative learning that takes place through an experience). A primary transformative skill is thinking critically. Youth ministries are excellent places to teach biblical literacy basics such as the books of the Bible and key characters of Scripture. Youth workers also need to help students understand the big story of God’s work in humanity from creation to Revelation, along with the individual stories of God’s activity in Scripture coupled with how God is constantly pursuing them. Students need to know their stories are as important to God as those in Scripture.

JG

A few weeks back I was sitting down with the director of Youth Ministry at the college I am going to be teaching at and he was telling me that Duffy Robbins himself was going to be coming in October to do a one week intensive course which amounts to much of the content that him and Doug Fields teach in their speaking to teenagers series.

I couldn’t believe it, Duffy is coming to the college, for a week in a class of only forty students, to which I replied what most people would ask, “can I sit in on the class?” I mean after all, this is a tremendous opportunity to hear from a great mind in YM and I ask a lot of questions so this is going to be great. He said of course I could attend, and I asked could I invite some of my youth pastor friends from the area to which he replied with something I did not expect.

He replied by basically saying that he had offered in the past and none would come because many Youth Pastors are only interested in professional development if it means traveling to a conference on the Church’s budget. I’ll be honest, I don’t completely disagree, I recently went to a training event that advertised $5 for youth leader training, and it that cost included all course materials, a thumb drive, a keychain and a speaker flown into town. I packed up our team and got there to find a total attendance 30 people in the auditorium of a church that held 1200. The event was well advertised and lots of calls were made, but no one showed up.

The brightest people I know in the youth ministry world are the ones that read the most, and take every opportunity to learn more and if we are serious about growing as leaders its starts with saying I don’t know it all. There is so much quality training out there, take advantage of it.

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.



Was just randomly looking through books and tools that might help HSM in our next season and landed on a few that I’m interested in and/or look promising for some situations I’m facing that you may soon, too. Here’s a few items I’m excited about checking out:

If you’re stuck trying to figure out the work of youth ministrymaybe check out Duffy Robbin’s recently expanded and updated book Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts.

Youth ministry veteran and bestselling author, Duffy Robbins, offers an updated and revised edition of his book about the important, behind-the-scenes mechaincs of youth ministry. The tasks of budgeting, decision-making, time management, team ministry, staff relationships, conflict resolution, working with parents, and a range of other issues, are the things that keep a ministry together and functioning well. Nobody gets into youth ministry because they want to think about these things; but a lot of people get out of youth ministry because they didn’t think about them. All youth workers– whether paid or volunteer, full-time or part-time– will find Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts to be a thoughtful, fun, practical guide to youth ministry administration.

If you’re stuck on how to help parents get more engaged in raising their students I love Walt Mueller’s stuff and 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers looks like a cheap/simple resource to get into their hands quickly.

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you need all the help you can get. How do you help your children make wise choices? How do you give your teenagers freedom to make their own choices while still providing a guiding hand? How do you invest your time and energy in ways that make an eternal difference in your children’s lives? Walt Mueller delivers the goods in 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers, a no-holds-barred look at the good, bad, and ugly aspects of parenting teenagers. Drawing on his experience as a parent of four children who have passed through their teenage years, Walt shares wisdom, thoughts, insights, and suggestions for making the teenage years count.

If you’re stuck trying to communicate to students the same way … maybe you need to think about using some video curriculum for a while. What if you could bring in Doug Fields, Francis Chan and Max Lucado? I think this video teaching series from BlueFish looks awesome.

If you’re stuck trying to figure out teaching teenagers at all I can’t recommend Doug Fields’ and Duffy Robbins’ book Speaking to Teenagers. A gamer-changer in helping you learn to be a better communicator:

Get ready for a crash course in effective communication. More than just a book on how to “do talks,” Speaking to Teenagers combines the experience and wisdom of two veteran youth ministry speakers, along with insightful research and practical tools, to help you develop messages that engage students with the love of Christ and the power of his Word. Whether you’re crafting a five-minute devotional or a 30-minute sermon, Speaking to Teenagers is essential to understanding and preparing great messages. Together, Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins show you how they craft their own messages and give you the tools to do it yourself. They’ll guide you, step-by-step, through the process of preparing and delivering meaningful messages that effectively communicate to your students.

If you’re stuck in a creative rut … maybe Les Christie can help. The book Awaken Your Creativity shows a ton of promise for helping you get unstuck from doing the same old thing.

You know how tough it can be to come up with new and inventive student ministry ideas every school year. It can be infinitely more grueling to be that creative on a weekly basis! Whether you’re developing a new message, a unique way to get students talking and interacting, or something different for the weekend retreat, most of us find ourselves tapped for creative ideas after a little while. Take comfort: You’re not alone, and you’re not necessarily out of creative steam. Everyone hits a block at some point, but you can find a way to tap into the creativity God placed within you. Les Christie has been doing youth ministry for decades, and he’s not out of ideas yet! This practical book will help you explore the stumbling blocks, the tricks of the trade, and the catalysts to creativity.

JG

Been thinking the last couple of weeks about the leading voices of youth ministry. A post on Terrace’s blog and the ensuing comments (thanks for the kind words) finally triggered me to write up those thoughts:

THEN
In the past, youth workers were limited in really having a chance to lead other youth ministries – technology and geography among other things limited the sphere of influence a youth worker could have in shaping youth ministry as a whole. A few distinct and highly influential voices rang out, predominantly the youth pastors at large churches [Willow Creek, Saddleback] or point leaders of influential youth ministry organizations [YS, Group]. This has remained the case to this day [NewSpring, Northpoint], and to some degree it should be that way. These key leaders have perspectives on youth ministry from an accelerated vantage point from the crowd of youth workers, they tend to see things before they happen (kind of like a Jedi) and have the potential to gain experience more quickly with multiple services, geography and reach.

NOW
The voices of youth ministry today are potentially limitless. Everyone and their mother can have a blog in about 3 seconds and for free. Technology has leveled the playing field to everyone, though the good stuff still rises to the top. Regardless of the source, the best ideas win. In the past, you just didn’t hear what was out there aside from published works or the leaders in your local network. A conference here or there opened up the circle a bit, but even then it was severely limiting. The internet has changed the game. Micro-publishing changed the game. Every youth worker now has the potential to share their voice with youth ministry as a whole. There will always be authors, leaders of leaders, voices that speak for the next generation of youth workers – but the game-changing shift has already happened – the new voice of youth ministry is everyone.

What’s missing is you.

Your voice is the most important voice in youth ministry. You might not have the largest youth ministry or connections to get your stuff published somewhere in print or even get a link from a prominent blog. Who cares? Your voice, your experiences, your challenges, your inspration – it will inspire others and probably inspire you, too. It will encourage someone who is about to quit. It will meet the need of a youth worker who Googled their pain and found your help. It will remind you day after day why you got into this in the first place and to hang in there when things get ugly.

I have enormous respect for the youth ministry-shapers of the past. I am in youth ministry today because of the writings of Doug Fields, Tic Long, Duffy Robbins, Mike Yaconelli and others. But not everyone has to become an author. Not everyone has to be a conference speaker. Not everyone has to be the next big thing. But … we all need to have a voice. We all need to share our experience and calling. Hey, I want to steal your ideas. I want to find comradery in my calling when I read about the goof YOU made in front of your students. I want to learn from you, too.

So what are you waiting for? If you don’t want to start a blog, write a guest post for this coming weekend. If you don’t think you have it in you to actually write a book, do it a page at a time on a blog. You might be surprised how quickly … and I would say how critically important … you find your voice in youth ministry.

Who is the new voice of youth ministry? You.

JG



Here’s the digital copy of the new Simply Youth Ministry Conference brochure, hitting youth workers this week. SO excited to once again join the youth ministry team helping with this event. We’ve got some great stuff planned – I hope you’ll join us in Chicago this March!

JG