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How to Deal with Criticism in Youth Ministry: An Interview with Brian Berry [VIDEO POST]

Last week I caught up with friend and youth ministry veteran Brian Berry. Brian is the author of a NEW book called as well as In this video interview with Brian we took some time to talk about his new book as well as some great practical tips in dealing with Criticism.


You can pick up his book at , , or check out

Phil <><



5 Books to Buy for Volunteer Youth Workers This Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner… How are you investing in volunteers this year?

If you are in full-time ministry and want some recommendations of good books to buy your volunteers, look no further. Below is a quick list of 5 books I have read.  They are super practical as well as very insightful. Check them out:

 by Andy Blanks – So insightful and practical! Andy does an incredible job of helping youth workers to teach the Bible in a way that is transformational, relevant, and easy to follow.

by Danette Matty – Danette does a great job in helping volunteers see the big picture as well as the details!

by Josh Griffin and Doug Fields – Super practical wisdom for any volunteer to glean! It’s an easy read!

by Leneita Fix – Yes, Leneita blogs at YouthworkTalk, but her book is phenomenal! Leneita does a great job in helping youth workers understand the different kinds of students in our ministries, and how to effectively minister to them.

Yes, I know, this is Phil’s book! However, 10 others contributed to it and created super practical answers for volunteer youth workers to use and adapt. It’s a brilliant short reference manual to keep handy when those tough questions come up!

What would you add to this list. Give me your top 5!

Phil <><

Winners of 5 Copies of ‘Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry’ Announced.

If have not checked out the outstanding new book by Darren Sutton, you really should. Below are the twitter names of 5 lucky winners, who either commented or tweeted, (or did both).










If you don’t see your name there and still want to pick up a copy, you can buy it over at LeaderTreks by

Book Giveaway: Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry by Darren Sutton – 5 Copies = 5 Winners!

I’m super excited to giveaway 5 copies to 5 lucky winners of Darren Sutton’s latest book,  Here are three ways you how you can win a copy:

1) Comment to win by 9am EST, October 22nd.

2) Tweet the following and get entered twice:

I just entered to win the brand new book  from @DarrenSutton ‘Everyone’s Called To Youth Ministry from @PhilBell

3) ‘Like’ Us on Facebook and mention Darren’s book on our wall:

If you are wondering what this book is all about, here’s what says about it:


In this bold new look at recruiting and training quality adult staff and volunteers, Darren Sutton challenges our thinking on who is called to serve in the youth ministry. Hint: it’s everyone. Darren’s humor will draw you in, and his wisdom and experience in youth ministry will challenge your perspectives on who to recruit and how to train them. This book will help you look everywhere for adults who can passionately serve in youth ministry. After all, everyone’s called to youth ministry…they just don’t know it yet.

Remember, comment and tweet to win by 9am EST October 22nd

Phil <><

3 FREE Francis Chan Books for Good Friday

For anyone who loves to read Francis Chan, this is a great day! Today, and tomorrow, (Good Friday and Saturday), only on Amazon, they are giving away FREE Kindle edition copies of 3 Francis Chan books.

Here are the links for you:

Have a Fantastic Easter!

Phil <><

Youth Ministry Training: How To Minister To The Overextended Student

In my previous post I shared an excerpt from my book No Teenager Left Behind. We looked at how we can effectively ministry to students who feel they are entitled to everything in this world. Today, we’ll take a look at another excerpt as we seek to discover how to minister to the overextended student:

Some might call her an overachiever.  Others might say she simply has no boundaries.  All I know is I am watching a 16 year old who seems to be  on the verge of burnout.   I am not certain there has been one non- planned out moment in her life.   I am concerned she doesn’t remember what she likes to do for “fun” anymore.  Everything she does is wedged into her schedule…

…A typical week for Becca includes sports practice almost everyday,  plus games several times a week.  Did I mention she is the team captain of both a fall and spring sport?  No joke.   On top of that she worked hard to get voted class President this year.  There was no wishy washy speech full of empty  promises.  She has actually been working hard on behalf of her class for change.  She is a powerhouse in leading the way in fundraisers.  Her class will be the first to take the most awesome senior trip ever.   At the same time she wants everyone in High School to understand the power of volunteering,  so somehow she is leading a campaign that gets her classmates out in the community.  They have worked together on a Christmas toy drive for kids in the hospital,  a community garden,  and a graffiti clean up campaign.  So in case you missed it she now has sports,  volunteering, student council and did I mention she  is on track to be her class Valedictorian? On the “off seasons” for sports she goes out for the winter musical. Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Training: How To Minister To ‘Entitled’ Students

Today and tomorrow I am excited to share excerpts from my new book titled, . This book is designed to give youth workers practical insights and strategies on effectively connecting with 10 groups of teenagers that we can overlook, ignore, or avoid all too easily. Today, we look at an excerpt dealing with ‘Ted and Roy’  - two students who feel like they are entitled to it all… How can we help students like this?

Ted was actually pretty new to our group.  Thinking about it, how could I expect him to understand himself in Christ.  I didn’t know if he had ever honestly made a commitment to him.  He was acting like the world,  because he was still attached to it.  His “stuff”  was the center of his world and he had never been asked to see beyond it.   Roy on the other hand I knew was trying to follow the Lord.  I had to gently remind him  what we’re “owed”  is eternal separation from my God.  I had to show him that the Lord would indeed take care of his every need,  physical,  emotional and spiritual.  He had to learn to live in that.  When a sinless God chose to leave his throne to be born in a dung infested stable, live a detested life and die as a common criminal for the sake of a restored relationship?  We are the ones who “owes” everything, no matter what we do or don’t have on earth.

Both Tony and Roy need to remember the truth of  1 John 2: 15 & 16

 “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”

  •  Show them Jesus.  Start with a study for your students discussing who Christ was as God and what he gave up for us.  If appropriate watch the “Jesus Movie,”  or “Passion of the Christ,”  to give them a visual.
  •  Give them opportunities to serve, inside and outside youth group:  Sometimes we get stuck inside ourselves because we have forgotten about the view beyond the end of our nose.  Take them to nursing homes, service days, clean the church on a Saturday. If you make money,  give it away to an organization or a missionary your church supports.  Teach them to serve, just to serve. Continue Reading…

Continuing Youth Ministry Throughout The Summer?

Yesterday, we posted an excerpt from We looked at the philosophy of choosing to shut down youth ministry for the Summer. Today we’ll take a look the ‘other side’ of the philosophy of what it looks like to continue youth ministry throughout the summer…


Continuing Youth Ministry Throughout The Summer. By Mike Hammer.

Summer.  It’s possibly the youth ministry season with the least stability.  Reality check:  the summer season will affect how ministry is achieved, regardless of setting.  School is out.  Families are traveling.  Summer jobs are landed.  A lot of voices and experiences are vying for the attention of teenagers.  For that reason, it’s important to consider having ministry continue throughout the summer.

When students are going every different direction, two of their primary needs are relationships and stability.  They need people that will continue to show them the love of Christ on a regular basis.  The simple truth is that, because of the nature of summer, students will absolutely miss some weeks of youth group programming.  But staying connected with them and helping them to know someone is still available for them, still going, and still loving them is important.  It gives them a foundation, a reminder that even though school is seasonal, the importance of faith is not.  Summer provides students more freedom, which means there’s probably an increased need for accountability as well.  If teens aren’t connecting because the student ministry is hibernating, they’re missing out on the vital support they need from others.

The start of the school year is a natural ‘do-over’ for most teenagers.  They’ll use the beginning of a school year to help determine who they are going to be for that year.  Whether it’s the attitude or personality they display, the style of clothes they wear, or the activities they choose– it’s an opportunity for teens to “reintroduce” themselves to their peers.  Staying connected to the youth ministry and people who care about them may help them keep a healthier perspective of themselves and who God made them to be.  The positive interaction and influence they have throughout the summer can be foundational in friendships, connections, and decisions they make when school begins.

I have a student who is difficult to ‘pin down’ during the school year.  He plays nearly every sport known to man.  He’s getting ready for college.  He takes advanced classes and is involved in several campus groups.  He’s able to completely unplug from that life in the summer and engage with our ministry and Jesus in a way he never does during the school year.

All ministries usually see a decline in attendance during the summer.  That can be deflating for any youth worker.  But the teens who do come – they are coming for a reason.  They want the interaction.  They need the relationships.  They want to grow.  Summer can be the perfect time to take the students who ARE involved a little deeper – in faith, in connection, and in friendship.

What you should consider is: will I have the leadership necessary to continue through the summer?

If we continue through the summer, are there any changes we need to make?

What do we hope to accomplish?

Is this the best move for our ministry?


Summer Shutdown For Youth Ministry?

As some of you know, myself and a group of in the trenches youth workers created a book called . This book is designed to help you engage ‘both sides’ of a youth ministry philosophy and help you own which ‘side’ you need to land on. Today and tomorrow, I will be posting excerpts from the book.  We’ll be engaging the discussion of whether or not to shutdown or keep going for our summer youth ministry programs.

Let me know what ‘side’ you land on?


I’ll never forget the first time our lead pastor said to us “Let’s consider shutting down programming for one month of the summer, just to give people a break.”  Seriously, no other words had I longed to hear more, except maybe ‘Darren, you’ve just won Publisher’s Clearing House!’

We live in a sub-tropical climate – and while most people are dying to get some beach time, those of us who live here are trying to find a way to stay indoors, hunker down, and wait for the Hades object lesson to pass.  I had been lobbying for a summer shut down for years.

Here’s the logic.  We expect a lot of our volunteer team.  And they deliver on every count.  They are faithful to be at our regularly scheduled programming – they show up at football games and choir concerts – they invite students into their homes on a regular basis…all for ministry’s sake.  Taking a break during the summer months gives them some much deserved and needed respite.  They’re able to attend their own Bible studies, go on vacation without missing much, and enjoy meals beyond pizza and burgers.  And in my experience, giving my workers the summer off virtually insures their return in the fall and all but eliminates burnout. Continue Reading…

The 7 Best Practices For Teaching Teenagers The Bible: BOOK REVIEW

If you haven’t picked up a copy of , you really should! By Andy Blanks of YM360, this book is probably the most effective book I have read when it comes to breaking down steps in teaching the bible.

The chapters are broken into the 7 practices and each include compelling reasons for the practice itself, along with super practical applications that anyone could put into to action immediately. Beginning with foundational practices, Blanks takes us on a journey from start to finish in the essentials of highly effective Bible teaching.

For me, the best practice (and the most challenging one for me personally), was the practice to Embrace Unpredictability. This practice challenged me to consider how ‘unpredictable’ my teaching style is. Or as Blanks says it: Continue Reading…

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