Really enjoyed this post over on Matt and Steven’s Generation to Generation blog about Life Group leaders taking on tough topics during small group night. Here’s part of how they take it on, head there for the rest:


  • PRAY PRAY PRAY – The best thing you can do to prepare is seek out God’s direction. Know where God wants to lead your students and how he wants to speak through you.
  • Consider changing your location – In my small group, we meet at one of the guy’s houses every week. When we’ve planned these sensitive discussions, we try to go somewhere else that we won’t be overheard. This puts all the guys way more at ease and helps them be more open.
  • Have a game plan – Don’t go into something like this without having some kind of plan set out ahead of time. If you go in blind, it could end up making things more awkward and then you flounder around looking for ways to move forward.


My friend AC has a great new blog about leaders at our weekend services being active and available in our youth group meetings – here’s a clip of how he is leading our volunteer team on the weekend. Read this teaser, and head there for the rest:

  1. Greet – We want to greet students.  We will greet students instead of wait in a corner for them to come to us.  We will reach out to them instead of waiting for them to reach out to us.
  2. Meet – We want to make sure that we genuinely meet them.  Refer to the hand out “Hand Shake Hi to a Hug Goodbye/”.  I also had them refer to this handout I created to help them really connect with the students “Conversation tactics for youth workers“.
  3. Connect – We want to make sure that we are intentional about our conversation with students.  We want to look for ways in the conversation to suggest a next step.  For new students we want to guide them towards community.  That could range from life groups to serving opportunities within the ministry or summer camp.  You can even suggest grabbing coffee, lunch or ice cream with them sometime.  For students who are already in life groups, you can suggest serving in a ministry, missions or summer camp.  We want to make sure students are getting connected.
  4. Pray – We want to pray for students.  While you are connecting through conversations, once an area of struggle, pain, disappointment, hardship and trial appears offer prayer.  We want to avoid saying “I’ll be praying for you”.  Pray for the student right there on the spot.  Even pray for the core students you already know that have been met, greeted and connected.  Go deeper in conversation and pray for them.  Just because they are a part of our core students doesn’t mean they have everything together.  Every situation will be different but when the opportunity presents itself feel free to pray.


Recently, Brian Baker began a student pastor “get together”. We had no name and really hardly any idea of where it could be headed, but the Lord has chosen to bless his vision. He had a vision of student pastors getting together to share ministry ideas, vision, burdens, and connect with one another. The Lord chose to bless this what we now call “Triad Youth Pastor Fellowship.” We began meeting several months ago, and the Lord has blessed our time. It has been an awesome opportunity for me to connect with other student pastors in our area. I have been a student pastor for years, and we have never had a consistent “get together” such as this. So, I am stoked about what God is doing. I love people and I love getting to know new student pastors. I want to give you a few reasons why you as a student pastor need a student pastor community regularly!

  1. Burden Sharing — Recently, my wife said to me after a youth group meeting, “what is wrong?” I responded to her, “I cannot explain it to you or anyone else. I can only explain it to my student pastor friends once a month when we get together!” Now, that was quite funny, but sometimes there is a great deal of truth in this as well. The only people who I feel genuinely understand what I go through are other student pastors. If you are not a student pastor, you do not get what student pastors have to go through. This has been a great time for me to interact and share my burdens with others. Each month, we go around the room and share what God has been doing in our lives and share any burdens with one another. The Bible commands us to carry each other’s burdens.
  2. Prayer — You have to pray with one another. You need other local men in ministry who can pray with you about what God is doing and wants to do in your ministry. I need and covet the prayers of our local student ministries around us. Our student ministry relies on this! Also, I rely on the prayers of others. There is nothing like going to a student pastor fellowship and hearing how some of these guys have been praying for me this past month.
  3. Connecting — I love connecting with new student pastors. When I moved into the Winston Salem area to be the student pastor at Union Grove, I started googling any churches in our area, and finding who the student pastors were and adding them on facebook. They were probably wondering who this weirdo was that was adding them, but I wanted to connect with them. This is my passion. I love connecting and interacting with other people in ministry through social media. When I go to this student pastor fellowship, we get to make new connections that you might not ever make otherwise. I went this past week, and met 3 new youth pastors in our area that I did not even know existed. When I got home, I had 3 new friend requests. Now, we are connected, and look forward to growing an even deeper connection with one another.
  4. Sharpen yourself — The Bible says that friends sharpen one another. This is what being friends with one another should do to you. I have some close friends in student ministry in my area that make me a better follower of Jesus.
  5. Ideas — We discuss ideas regularly. How can we do ministry better? We discuss better communication with our students. We discuss what is working and what is not working. It is basically a time to get together and learn how to do student ministry more effectively. It is similar to you getting in front of your computer and reading the top student ministry blogs for several hours at a time.
  6. Bible study- We do a quick mini devotion each month. A different student pastor comes and opens the Word to share a quick thought with the group each month. It is like 3-5 minutes long if that, and it is important for me to be challenged in this meeting each month. I love studying and discussing the Bible with these guys.
  7. Growth — The last couple of thoughts are very similar, but there is a bit of difference. I love growing with these guys. I love improving our ministry and learning how to minister more effectively.
  8. Fellowship — Bottom line, it is relationship building. You need this! You need healthy relationships outside of your church! You need someone to talk too that is not a member of your church.

Here are just a few of the many reasons why I think that this is important to have in your area. If you do not have it, I encourage you to start one for student pastors in your area. You will be glad you did, and probably the guys in your area will be glad that you did as well. If you are in the triad area of NC, and would like to connect in our group, send me an email at and we would love to connect with you!

Josh Evans is the student pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church in the Winston Salem, NC area. He has been a mentor and pastor to students for 4 years. You can connect further with Josh on his blog or send him a direct email at

We often discuss church growth or student ministry growth. This is a topic of conversation for good reason, because we all are interested in building our student ministry. Here are a few reasons why your student ministry may never grow:

  1. Lack of Prayer — This is the biggest part of growth. You must daily pray and ask God to build your student ministry. You must be praying for your ministry to grow. Do not expect any growth (or perhaps the wrong kind of growth) if you are not daily praying over your ministry. Bathe it in prayer, and trust God for the growth.
  2. Lack of communicating clear vision — This is often times that the biggest problem with growth. You have to regularly communicate vision to the people. It must constantly be in front of the people. Then, you must live out the vision. “If your church does not know where it is supposed to be, then, they will attempt to go everywhere and eventually wind up nowhere.”
  3. Leadership — Ultimately, it could be a reflection on YOU. Make sure you are a passionate leader. Make sure you are living the Word. Make sure that you are carrying out the vision and communicating it clearly to your people.
  4. Selfishness — This can be a reflection upon leadership and the people. Sometimes, God may want to take the church in a place where you do not want to go, but you are still responsible for going in that direction. Do not be selfish and want the church to be what you want. Also, your people must not be selfish in trying to create the church that they want to have. It is not about us, but all about Him.
  5. Energy — If you fill the leadership with energy-less people, you will create a energy-less congregation. Be energetic and passionate, and the congregation will follow suit. Create a load of energy every service for the people to desire to come back.

Let’s make sure that we are doing everything that we can to grow our ministry!

Josh Evans is the student pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church in the Winston Salem, NC area. He has been a mentor and pastor to students for 4 years. You can connect further with Josh on his blog or send him a direct email at

How to Ask for a Raise

Josh Griffin —  January 27, 2012 — 2 Comments

Last week Group published their annual salary survey results for youth workers across the country. Don’t worry, they made sure that Kurt “money-bags” Johnston wasn’t included because it would have skewed things a lot higher (Josh, “I’m a little bitter” Griffin wrote that intro). The truth of the matter is most youth workers who are fortunate enough to get paid probably don’t get paid enough. And as a result, at some point you may feel the time has come to ask for a raise. Here are some thoughts on the subject:

It all starts with prayer. Take your requests to God and ask Him for guidance in what to say and how to prepare. It would be unwise to go into this challenging environment without having talked to God over a significant period of time. Ask Him for contentment no matter what the outcome. And while praying, ask God (and be okay with his answer) if your timing and motives are appropriate.

Get your facts straight
If you’re going to talk numbers, it is beyond important to make sure your numbers match up. What is average household income in your area? What do other youth workers in similar settings earn? On what merits does your church grant pay increases, and how are you meeting those?

Prep a few critical people
Be prepared for this meeting and take the time to prepare a few others, too! Chances are there is some sort of budget chairman or someone who acts as a treasurer or CFO in your church. Speak with them ahead of time to get an idea of the budget climate you’re heading into and give them a heads up on your plan. Having a few champions around the table can’t be a bad thing. And, “floating” the idea past an insider beforehand can be a great place to practice your presentation…and a great place to hear a potential voice of reason ahead of time.

Present the need
A great time to ask for a raise is when your lifestyle changes. Show them the needs of your growing family. Help them see the gap between what you make and what you need to make it work.

Show the opportunity
Connect the request to longevity. Offer a commitment of time if they give you a commitment of money. Show them what the future holds in your ministry and what you believe God will do.

Serve like you’re getting paid millions
Did you get the raise? No? It doesn’t matter. Drop the subject of money and give it over to God in your prayer time for this next season. Is He helping you prepare for a new direction? Is He teaching you contentment?

This isn’t going to be easy … so be strong and most importantly, be faithful.

NOTE: In complete honesty, this article was very difficult for us to write together. Kurt has never asked for a raise, and feels like God has blessed his family because of it. Josh has asked for a few raises during his youth ministry career and feels like God has blessed him for his willingness to put family first and make sure their needs are always met. Which is the best approach? It isn’t the approach that is “right” or “wrong”, but the attitude of our hearts.

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.

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


My first time preaching was like hanging out with death. I was absolutely scared. After it was all said and done, I preached for about 55 minutes! My original target was 20 minutes. I was all over the place. Not only did I speak FOREVER (I was 17), but I came around my small church and SAT down on the communion table. At the time, the communion table was in the center of the worship center (what we call the Sanctuary in East Tennessee). I walked in front of it and plopped down with legs swinging. I’ll never forget the gasp coming from the congregation that night and nearly killing that one old lady in the back. Ok, I didn’t almostkill anyone, but I might as well have.

As leaders, it’s our job and joy to find future leaders and invest into them. As a pastor, sometimes I’ll have a guy come up to me and explain how he wants to preach a message. What we do next shows how we truly approach discipleship. For me, that was meeting with the youth pastor once and giving him my rough outline. He left the topic up to me. I had no idea what I wanted to preach on much less how write a sermon. Looking back, I believe that he offered the best advice that he could, but I can’t help but think that as pastors we need to be more intentional.

For those students that do approach us, we should give them the opportunity to preach. We cannot stop there–that lets us off the hook.

As intentional leaders, we must search for new preachers/leaders.

More times than not, I will approach a student and ask them to preach. They typically freak out and say no. I’ll then use that opportunity to tell them that I’ve been observing them and believe that God could use them proclaim his goodness. I promise that I’ll be there every step of the way. I won’t leave them alone and they won’t look stupid.

Here is my process for teaching a student how to preach. It’s not the gospel of preaching, but it’s been very effective at training young men to preach.

1. Set up a meeting
Please meet with your student preacher. Nothing says, “I don’t really care about you” than scheduling someone to preach and then communicating everything over email/text. Schedule a time to meet with them. I promise it’ll help them! It’ll also give you an idea of where they are at in the process.

2. Give them a topic
As a kid, I hated selecting topics. How on earth did I know what I was going to preach on? Even though I’ve had students approach me with a topic they want to preach about, I’ll typically tell them no for their first message. Why do I do that? I want to get their agenda out of the way and teach them that preaching is more than about picking a topic you want to rant on. What I find helpful is to pick a topic in advance. I’ll typically pick something that already fits in with our scheduled teaching calendar. This will stretch them because they’ll have to prepare and throw out everything they were wanting to “tell everyone about.” Do them a favor…give them a topic!

3. Help them research
The worst thing that we can do in training potential pastors is give them a topic and then expect them to do all the work. Sit down with your student and teach them how to research. Go over how you prepare for a message and then show them the websites you visit. I useLogos Bible Software, so I’ll typically print a package of material for them on their topic.

4. Give them the opportunity to sketch a rough outline
Allow them to formulate an outline and then go back over that with them. I never give a student, who’s just starting to preach, the option to form the sermon in a vacuum.

5. Meet with them again
At this meeting, you need to see a copy of their message. I would suggest not teaching them to manuscript. From my experience, students who manuscript a message will READ it instead of preach. Have them show you their final outline and write out any statements that they are going to make that are doctrine related or controversial. It’s important for you to “vet” their message.

6. Practice the message
This is the biggest single key in successfully teaching a student how to preach. The Friday before a message, I’ll reserve our student center for the student, me, and our preaching interns. I set the stage, lights, and sound exactly the way it’ll be Sunday morning/night. I want them to see the environment that they’ll be preaching in. I also wire them up with the microphone. I want the student to be as comfortable as possible when they actually preach. I want their minds to be clear of everything except their message. We practice coming up on stage (even bringing their stand up, holding their Bible, reading Scripture, etc), the introduction, the entire message, and the conclusion. It’s our time to break down the message and to see what works. Like I said before, this is when students learn not to read a manuscript, but preach a message.

I also use this time to find their “thing.” I believe that each person has a specific thing that they do. Most of the time, we’re not aware of it. Practicing the message in a “live” format always reveals the quirk. I’ve had students who drag one leg while walking, jump up and down as their preach, speak in the “preacher voice,” have Ricky Bobby hands, etc. I don’t make fun of them, but I will reenact what they are doing to show them. Sometimes I’ll even record their quirk on my iPhone and then play the message. Doing all of this keeps them from looking like a newb. I promise, they’ll love you for this. Do everything in love.

7. Pray. Pray. Pray with them!
Lay hands on them. Pray with them.

8. Take a picture for memory
Mom and dad will want a memory so take a good “action” shot. I always post it on Facebook so everyone can tell them that they are proud.

9. Schedule a follow-up meeting
It’s easy to forget this last step, but it’s important to their learning process. Go over ways they can communicate better, use hand gestures better, etc. Whatever you do… encourage them!

By the age of 30, Nick has served as a missionary, creative arts director, student pastor, graphic design, and photographer. I’m married to an amazing woman and have one daughter. I’ve never looked back since my first mac and am a closet Star Trek fan. He regularly blogs at

In thirty years of youth ministry, I can honestly say I’ve tried every recruiting style possible. Take a look at these four fall-back recruiting approaches:

The “Cruise Director
‘Come join the youth team! Free trips, free food, hotels, fun and you’ll have a great time! No, you won’t have to chaperone at lock-ins!’”

The “Beggar
‘If you don’t join come on this trip, we’ll have to cancel it and lose our $2,000 deposit. We really, really, really need you! PLEASE???????’”

The “Lone Ranger
‘Hey, great having you on the team! Here’s your job description. Thanks for doing your part. You know? Let me do that for you…the kids are used to it being done a certain way. Oh, and I’ll do that, too. Why don’t you just watch for awhile?’”

The “Do-It-Yourselfer
Building a team? What’s that? Nobody wants to volunteer so I don’t even ask.’”
See yourself here? (I’m a combo of the Cruise Director and the Lone Ranger.)

Don’t do these!

Instead, I’ve learned a little something from Jesus’ example when he put a pretty awesome team of 12 together. I call it, “The Five I’s:

Invoke: Bring the Holy Spirit into the process anything. Go somewhere and pray.

Identify: Listen for who the Spirit lifts up. Identify those people He reveals would be an asset to the team. Don’t assume anyone will say “no.”

Invite: Talk to them one-on-one and ask them to pray for a week before saying “yes” or “no.”

Initiate: Let them come and check things out; give them a peek into what you’re asking them to do.

Inform: Hand them a volunteer packet so they can make a well-informed decision. Info would include a specific job description, volunteer guidelines, a ministry covenant, program purpose statement, 12 month youth ministry calendar and something fun, like a $5 card from Starbucks to enjoy a hot cuppa while reading and praying.

That’s how I do it, anyway. Hoep this helps!

Stephanie Caro is a youth ministry blogger at Small Church Youth Ministry and has written a book on the subject you might want to check out, too.