Values are the ideals or principals that help shape the way in which we live our lives, or in our case, execute our ministry. They protect our ministry. They help us define what is we pursue and what we abandon in order to build our ministry. Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries says this about them, “Values protect a youth ministry from becoming so goal-oriented that it sacrifices the things that matter most.” For a lot of us, this can be a really convicting statement. Whether you have made a conscious decision about what they are or not, you have values. Being ignorant can be dangerous, because your ideals might actually be more harmful than helpful.

Can you clearly define your values? If not, identify them. Think about the things that will keep you from sacrificing the most valuable parts of your ministry. For me, I’m going to start valuing grace. I feel like too often my desire to have a great event, a solid weekend service, or a thriving program keeps me from showing grace to the rest of my team when things don’t go the way we planned. When I start to care more about reaching my goals than the people around me, then I know my priorities are off. Setting grace as a value is a step I want to take towards protecting my ministry.

Spend some time writing down your values. Pray that God reveals to you, what DeVries would call, the values that will keep your ministry from sacrificing the things that matter the most.

Already know your values? Share them below!

Colton [Email||Twitter]

When Kurt and I came up with the idea of sharing a couple books that influenced us the most in ministry my mind immediately thought of a dozen books that have significantly shaped me as a youth worker. Without a doubt I am a better leader, husband, parent and youth pastor because of the influence of incredible men and women who have shared their hearts, learnings and failures with me over the past 15 years.

As for the Top 2 … well, these are the best of the best. If you haven’t read them, I can’t encourage you enough to pick them up and let the authors pour into you like they did me. Here’s the 2 most influential in my life personally, and a list of runners up you may also want to check out:

The Heart of a Pastor — HB London
I remember reading this book while I was serving in my first church. Ministry then was a series of extremes. It was extremely rewarding and I had a front-row seat to life change for the very first time as a pastor. And was extremely challenging and difficult to figure out how to do youth ministry for the first time. If it wasn’t for a grace-filled pastor and elders I would have (and possibly should have) been long gone. I read this book and one particular phrase continued to stand out to me as a stark reminder of my calling: bloom where you are planted. No excuses, no wandering eyes, no wishing you were somewhere else — God has called you HERE so until you hear from Him, act like it. So I did. Fantastic book.


Purpose Driven Youth Ministry — Doug Fields
This book came at another crucial time in my youth ministry experience. My wife and I had actually resigned our youth ministry position and were finishing up the summer out before leaving “to go to seminary” — translation: we wanted out, and this was the nice way of saying goodbye. During our final months I happened to stumble on Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren and eventually this, Doug Fields’ student ministry version of the book. As I devoured the pages, it felt like what he was saying was what I had always felt — even intrinsically know — about how church could be. We went back to our church that summer and God blessed us with 4 more incredible years at that same church we had resigned from, and the student ministry became something really special. This book played an eye-opening role in my journey to become a real youth pastor. An absolute must-read.

Runners-Up
First Two Years in Youth Ministry by Doug Fields
Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries
Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn
Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll
Bringing Up Boys — James Dobson
Handbook on Counseling Youth — Josh McDowell

What books have shaped you? I’d like to read them next!

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.



It’s back to school season – and for us that means we pour a ton of effort into our fall kickoff weekend, our first big series and the launch of small groups. Thought I might make some recommendations for some great youth ministry resources that might help you as you head into the start of another year.

Small Groups
Must have: Small Groups from Start to Finish by Doug Fields & Matt McGill
Solid: Small Group Strategies by Laurie Povich
Worth the price: LIVE curriculum

Fall Kickoff Weekend
Must have: 1 Minute Bible by Doug Fields
Solid: Spin That Wheel from Digital Stache
Good video: FAITH by Youth Ministry 360

The 1st Teaching Series of the Year
Must have: 1 Month to Live by Doug Fields
Solid: All My Belongings by Jeff McGuire
Worth the $10: Exposed! God’s Plan for Sex by Kurt Johnston

For your volunteers
Looks great, never read it: How to Volunteer Like a Pro by Jim Hancock
Shameless plug: 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders by me! Told you it was shameless
Worth the price: TOOLS: Team from Simply Youth Ministry

For your own personal growth
Must have: What Matters Most by Doug Fields
Solid: Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries
Worth the price: the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Louisville, KY March 2012

JG

I’m excited to get a copy of Mark DeVries new book, Indispensable Youth Pastor. If you want to know more about the book, including author’s interviews, a look inside and more – hit the link above to the book’s official landing page. Excited to dig into this one … looks promising!

JG



Just finishing up Mark Devries’ Sustainable Youth Ministry – its a great read about lasting in youth ministry and building a ministry that lasts. I loved it! Here’s the deal – the font is a bit smaller than I like, there are almost no pictures and it is longer than I’m used to – but don’t let that turn you away from it like I almost did. The content shattered my initial thoughts about the book. Devries jumps into what he’s seen first-hand as a youth worker and unveils his generalizations about our profession based on his years in youth ministry consulting. My favorite learnings came from the momentum chapter and his idea to “flip the pyramid” on how we cast vision and minister alongside volunteers. He’s quick to put the new big picture youth ministry “normals” as well, diving into salary, search committees and staff to student ratios. I’m just about finished with the book – Dancing with Alligators is a chapter on church politics I want to devour before it devours me. Good stuff from start to finish. A

JG

Buy it today from Simply Youth Ministry!