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!

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Simply Youth Ministry is running a 1-DAY-ONLY sale on digital editoons of Group Magazine! Group is one of the best ministry team and volunteer training and education tools money can buy! Click here to get in on the deal!

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Just saw that Rick Lawrence released a 30-minute training workshop called Jesus-Centered Living. It is some good stuff and might be something you can use with your team and/or for your own personal development.

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Just wanted to post a quick link to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2012 audio/video store – if you were at the event and want to bring it home or missed it and want to get in on some of the training, here’s the place!

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It’s not the same as being there … but close! Starting at 4:30pm today, you can watch the Simply Youth Ministry Conference going on LIVE in Louisville, KY!

All 6 general  sessions PLUS 1-6pm on Saturday and Sunday!

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Over the past 15 years (and 3 weeks) that I’ve been in full-time ministry I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes. I’ve made so many I’m currently pitching a book called Youth Ministry Nightmares where I talk about the stories surrounding my biggest leadership gaffs.

While these aren’t nightmares, they are some mistakes I’ve made in the not-so-recent past:

Neglecting rookie volunteers
There is one group of leaders in your ministry that need you more than anyone else: the newbies. My mistake in the past was to concentrate on launching and not sustaining. The more time you take to make rookie leaders great the more you will retain and the better (and faster) experienced veterans they will become.

Not changing your leadership style to fit your team
When my volunteer team was all my close friends, I could manage relationally and we were overflowing with trust and history. As teams change, and you encourage outsiders to join your team, make sure you adjust to the people God has given you. Make history with them. Design activities to build trust. Make sure they are fully trained and equipped.

Falling in love with youth ministry more than Jesus
From time to time I have found myself in an unhealthy tension–choosing to love youth ministry more than Jesus. Loving what I do instead of who I do it for. It doesn’t take long in a season of discouragement to reveal which way you have erred.

Hope my mistakes help you be a better youth worker! Share your mistakes in the comments, too!

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.



As student minister’s one thing we have to always strive for is to be a perpetual student of our craft. We can never know too much about youth ministry. This is one thing that I defiantly do not have a problem with. No matter what I have done in my life I always threw myself into it full force. When I played drums in band in high school I studied, not only in school, but on my own. I listen to instructional by well known drummers at the time, I went to drum clinics, and dissected drums solos by popular drummers. When I joined the Army as a Military Police officer, I took baton instructor classes, correspondence courses, and unarmed self defense training. As youth ministers we must constantly be students of our own art. How do we do that? Here are some quick sources for training!

1: The Bible: I know I know, you’ve heard it a million times but that doesn’t make it any less true. The better your relationship with God the better off your ministry is.

2: Blogs: The cheapest form of training out there! Find a youth ministry mentor such as Josh Griffin at morethandodgeball.com, Doug Fields’ Blog, Stephanie Caro’s blog, or even my own at lifeintheymfishbowl.com. Want find great ideas to try? Read a blog. Want training on ideas to help grow your youth group? Read a Blog. Also there are non blog websites out there that are great. One I love is youthministry.com. Great articles and great ideas.

3: Certificates: Many colleges offer online youth minister training for a small price. Plus you get a handy certificate to hang up on the wall. Another place to check out is youthsphere.tv. This site offers a great certificate and great training under the giants of youth ministry. Use promo code MTDB for 10% off, too!

4: Group Magazine: Some of the best youth ministry ideas delivered to your door once every two months. Nuff said!

5: Other youth ministers: Your local youth minister’s network is a great source of training. You can pick up great life lessons while sitting down for a cup of coffee.

6: Youth Minister’s support networks: many denominations offer great youth minister support networks who can offer great advice and ideas.

7: Conferences: I’ve often heard conferences called the poor man’s seminary. That’s about the truth. With SYMC coming up you have the option of the large conference and it’s many options but also don’t over look the smaller local conferences that are out there, if money is an issue.

8: College: This option is not for everyone, but if you feel like God is calling you for a deeper commitment this is a great option. I’m currently enrolled online for a degree with a Student Ministry emphasis. There are many great colleges that offer Youth Ministry Masters degrees also many Seminaries that offer degrees with youth ministry minors.

9: Books: Some of the best training I’ve ever received was through two books, “Purpose Driven Youth Ministry” and “My First Two Years in Youth Ministry” both by Doug Fields. Books are the best way to glean ideas from well renowned youth ministers. Not just Doug but many giants of youth ministry have published books that are great training resources.

10: Last but not least: This one may strike you as odd…..your senior pastor. I know your thinking “He did not just say I could get training from the old man/woman” Yep I went there! Some of our senior pastors were youth ministers once. They can be great resources for ideas and wonderful sounding blocks. I was thinking about revamping our “Sunday School” class and asked our senior pastor what he thought. Low and behold we had the same idea and he had many small details that I hadn’t pondered.

If you look around there are many great resources out there for youth ministers to learn from. We really have no excuse to not stay on top of our game. You owe it to you church, your kids, and yourself to be the most well trained youth minister you can be.

Kevin Patterson is the youth pastor at Dawson Springs First Baptist Church in Dawson Spring, KY. Be sure to check out http://www.lifeintheymfishbowl.blogspot.com/ to regularly get in on his learnings, too!

The worst part of summer camp? The crash! You squirrel kids away for a week, take away all their technology, and pump them full of nothing but Jesus and they conclude that week connected, hopeful, and holy.

A few weeks later….the camp-drug has been filtered out of their systems and the camp high is crash landing.

Conferences for youth workers can sometimes have the same aftermath. We attend; we spend a week away from ‘normal’. We take the wise counsel offered by Kurt, Josh, and other trusted youth workers to glean the most from our week ‘in the bubble.’ We go home. And after a few weeks of board meetings, parent confrontations, and pastoral smack-downs, our camp high has waned.

How do we make the conference experience more than a camp high?

1. Reflect. Journal. Blog. As God reveals truths to you, write them down. On days when you question His existence, those notes will be important to you!
2. Buy a CD or DVD from the sessions that impacted you most. On dark days, pull those out and revisit what was most inspiring to you.
3. Grab some downloads of sessions you wanted to catch, but had to miss because of scheduling (or napping!) Consider this your ‘nicotine patch’. Schedule some time every month to listen to a new session. Not only do you get continuing education year round, it’s sure to remind you what was best about the conference you attended as it sharpens you personally and professionally.
4. Continue the relationships you built through that week. (Yes, you should be building relationships throughout the week.) We’ve all watched those camp friendships go by the wayside a few weeks after camp has concluded. But with so many ways to stay connected, there’s no longer excuse for that. Maintain those relationships — maintain community.

I’ll confess. I’ve been in youth ministry for 23 years. (Yes….old.) I’ve been to at least 23 conferences. No one — NO ONE — does it like Simply Youth Ministry Conference. They embrace core values that really set them apart from every other educational experience I’ve ever had as a youth worker. That’s probably because they so skillfully intertwine education with relationship. I left that conference feeling valued, known, and understood. I left with ideas, tips, and truths that I am still applying today (3 years later.) I left with friendships that are deep and life-changing for me. I had never known a true connection with other youth workers until SYMC. (I’m going to blog some of those stories over the next two months!) After two decades of bouncing from conference to conference based largely on the quality of the brochure, I left with a commitment to return to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference annually.

Conferences no longer should be solely about playing a better game or building a better Bible study. You can get more than that. You can grab a year-long lifeline that pushes amazing education and training while embracing you, friending you, knowing you, and loving you. Go register….right now!

Darren is a veteran youth pastor (that’s code for old and in it for a long time) and co-founder of Millennial Influence – a resource for parents & youth pastors, including Mi Podcast – a weekly podcast for parents of teenagers. Check out his blog at http://everyonescalledtoyouthministry.com/