I am a man that loves to further my education. I know that I do not know it all and have weaknesses and have found that education in some form or another has enabled me to improve on those weaknesses as well as further my strengths. Yet, many would say that they do not need it or simply do not have the time. Unfortunately, with stagnation can come “pond scum” and getting stuck in ruts that can make our faith bland or seemingly fake. We need to keep ourselves on our toes and challenging ourselves.


Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. – Henry Ford


This week I will be headed to Youth for Christ’s Regional Conference for the central states. While here, I will be able to hang out with like-minded people who have a unique perspective on youth ministry and Christian faith. In this time, I hope that I will be refreshed, renewed, and learn a few things.

Continued Reading

I don’t know about you, but my stack of “need-to-read” list of books is immense and I’m constantly reading something. Currently, I have three different books I am going through at one time: The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation by Thom Rainer and Jess Rainer, The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson, and Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation by Jonathan McKee. Keep reading to be inspired, encouraged, and learning for your own faith and your ministry.

Professional Classes
I am in my first year at Denver Seminary and loving every minute of it. Honestly, in the last twenty-one years of my life, I have not been in class for one year. This education is not for everyone, but the teachers and professors that challenge your thinking and community of learners to grow with is inspiring and spurs on creativity and passion. If you have not been in a classroom as a student for years, it might be scary. But do not let that scare you and prevent you for at least looking into this adventure.

Professional Conferences

Conferences are a great idea for those that can only commit a week to their professional development. It provides the community and courses for those that are willing to take the four to seven days and invest in the events. As I shared before, I will be going to Youth for Christ’s Regional Conference along with our biennial national conference’s MidWinter in February 2012. Two great conferences for youth workers are Simply Youth Ministry Conference and Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention.

Mentoring and Accountability

While all of these things are great ideas, they should all be done within accountability. This might be in the form of other youth workers or a mentor that is investing in you. In the end, learning does have great benefits but is still work. We need to have people who are our cheerleaders encouraging us on and at the same time a coach pushing us when we do not want to go any further. This encouragement and support can only make us better and improve our ministry.

Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens. Check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.

Want to win a free registration to the SYMC Conference in a couple weeks? I’m giving away 1 TODAY! Here’s how the giveaway started:

I am a youth worker in Minneapolis and I’ve been honored to be one of your “guest posts” on your blog a couple of times – anyway, I am paid in full for the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Louisville, but I am now unable to go. I talked to my team and the other youth guys in the area but they’re either already going or unable to attend – so I’m wondering if you might be able to give it away for me?

So I was thinking if you had some sort of a contest – like have them post their best one-off idea for a youth event/program and the best/most hilarious wins my registration? Something like that? That way I get ideas (nice!) and they get to go to the conference!

So there you have it – post a comment with something of value for the community, and Kory [the youth worker who donated it] will pick the winner Thursday morning!


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!

We’ve done volunteer meetings lots of different ways from in person , to online, over Facebook™ but there is something about meeting face to face that is my favorite by far. When we meet with our team here is are some core values around our time meeting together.

Consistency: Commit to meeting regularly that that you can keep tabs on how your leaders are and what God is doing in their groups. Consistency is key to having leaders committing to be a part the meetings.

Prepared: Our volunteers give up a lot of time as it is, so when we ask them to come to an extra meeting, you better believe we are going to be prepared for it. I have heard of groups that send out an agenda with questions before hand so that any leader that misses the meeting can still provide feedback.

Eat Together: There is something awesome about breaking bread together and enjoying a meal with your team. We make a point to grill up some steaks with our volunteers. Our hope is that it conveys a small part of our appreciation for what they do.

Learn Together: Whether a training video, or some sort of short lesson leadership, having our whole team together is a great opportunity to learn to lead better together.

Discuss, pray: A part of every meeting is a chance to discuss issues and utilize the collective experience of the group for dealing with issues that students are dealing with. Every meeting also has a time where we can pray for one another as well our students and seek the Lord for guidance and protection for our team.

Hand out the calendar/resources: Each meeting we try and make sure that our team leaves with the tools they need to lead in the next coming weeks as well as an idea of what is coming down the pipe so they are not caught off guard by an event or change of program.

Value Their Time: The meetings are not longer than they need to be, as we know that our volunteers have family, friends and homework to take care of. We value their time that they give and take only what we need to have an effective meeting.


Thought this little video from YS was clever and rereshing today – youth ministry bootcamp!


I’m pumped to be headed to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in just 2 months! I hope you’re coming already and if not you’ll consider it right away – it is one of the most refreshing times of the year. This year they’ve added some great new names to the speaker roster, including Jon Acuff, Craig Gross, Brooklyn Lindsey and many more. Check out the speaker roster right here and figure out now who/what you want to go to when we all get to Louisville in March.

I also love the concept of the SYMC devotionals, designed to help you connect with God between events. Good stuff, free for the taking if you follow the link.

I asked the gang over at SYM if they would give me a registration to giveaway today – they said sure! So here you go: Leave a comment on this post and I’ll pick one at random on Friday!


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!


You’ve got some leaders showing up to youth group – but after a few weeks they fall into the dreaded trap of standing in the back of the room as chaperones instead of shepherds. They need modeling on how to talk to teenagers and some training! Saw this on the YS Blog and am going to steal it for our ministry, too. Here’s a clip from 10 Tips to a 1st Encounter:

1. Say hello!
Don’t be shy! Take the initiative to introduce yourself. Although their body language may be showing otherwise, students want a warm welcome!

2. Understand the context
Let your surroundings and circumstances dictate how to begin the conversation. For instance, if you’re meeting at a food place, talk about what’s good to eat, at a movie theater, what movie to see, etc.

3. Pay attention
You’ll learn a lot about people from their body language and the words and phrases they use. Listen and watch carefully

4. Pay attention, part 2
Your own body language will determine how willing and interested you are to actually have a conversation. Be authentic. Students know whether you are genuinely interested or not.

5. Let’em shine!
Encourage students to talk about themselves by asking about their interests, tattoos, jewelry, bad breath, etc.