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4 Essential Phases of Small Groups In Youth Ministry

So often I talk to my volunteers about their struggles in leading their small group. At the beginning of the year many of them struggle to either get students to talk, or in some cases struggle to reign in their group. By the end of the year they are challenged with how ‘checked out’ students can become. I have found that there are certain phases that most small group must go through. There are some things we can do to help the group get the most out of their time, and there are some realities that we simply need to accept. Here are 4 phases I tell my volunteers about in our small group leaders training manual: Continue Reading…


You could win a 1 year access to SYM ‘Team’ Tool! Simply Youth Ministry have developed this brilliant resource to help with applications, background checks, and training (including videos by experienced in the trenches youth workers), in one simple-to-use online interface.

How can you win?  By Tuesday September 4th 2012, comment to this post and tell us the following: 

1) Are you full-time, part-time, volunteer. 2) What are the greatest training needs for you and your youth ministry team?

Check out the Team Tool promo video and the screen shot of the interface (below). 

Keys To Youth Ministry Longevity: Meet Rick South

Do you ever wonder what it takes to hang in for the long haul in youth ministry? Do you ever wonder what it takes to stay at the same church and have a fulfilling ministry? Today we begin a short series focused on youth ministry longevity and how to make a lasting impact in the lives of students…

I have known Rick South for eight years. He is someone I greatly respect as a youth ministry veteran and mentor. I met him when I lived in West Michigan and was in a network of youth pastors that met every Thursday morning at a local breakfast hang out. A couple of weeks ago my family and I vacationed back in West Michigan and I got to have breakfast with Rick and bunch of youth pastors, (at this really cool place called ‘Toast and Jams’). Continue Reading…

Volunteers – How to Know When it’s Time for Them to Go

There are going to be many opinions and approaches to this topic.  Welcome to mine!  The purpose of this post is to give you permission, nay, the freedom to let go of a volunteer who is just not a good fit for your ministry.  Of course I recognize that they aren’t getting paid.  They are there because they choose to be.  I also have had my fair share of experiences with volunteers who are there to fulfill their own needs and agenda, and not to walk alongside you with the vision that God has given for your youth ministry.  Some may just not be gifted in the role you have placed them.  I also recognize that each situation has its own factors and nuances.  Hopefully this just gives you a helpful perspective to draw from for your own situation.

The purpose of this post is to give you two tools.  First, criteria to judge your volunteers by that will tell you if there is a problem or poor fit.  Second, some simple steps on how to let a volunteer go in the best way possible.  So without further ado…

If you are wondering whether a volunteer is helping or hurting your mission, just consider them in light of the following two lists: Continue Reading…

Win a $5000 Back to School Event from Simply Youth Ministry.

If you have not seen the latest Simply Youth Ministry Show podcast, you really should check it out now. On the show, announces how your youth ministry could win a $5000 back to school event. Watch the video to find out how.

You’ll also get some great tips and training from these brilliant guys!


5 Steps To Move Teenagers From Apathy To Service

Coming around the corner at the grocery store an audible groan escaped my lips.  Seriously, there were three lanes open in a store that called for 15?   As you can imagine each line swayed and wrapped back far.  Looking at the frozen food in my cart I hoped we would make it home intact.

About 10 minutes into the wait a woman from another line started huffing and puffing throughout each line complaining loudly at how awful the service was.  Just then another register opened,  but I couldn’t get there fast enough.  Finally another 5 minutes and the manager pointed to me, and said,  “C’mon over!”  Noticing a gentleman with fewer groceries trying to make his way over, I could see his obvious frustration that my bulging cart would jump to the forefront.   Thinking I was being “Christian,” I invited him to go first; as I knew he had been waiting awhile as well.   “Would you mind if we let this woman be in front?”  he inquired,  “She has been waiting a long time too.”  “Of course I responded.”  My thought was,  “What a nice guy, he gets offered the first slot and gives it away.”  I believed he would then take his place right behind me.  Instead he made space for the woman and then himself. I admit, I was annoyed.  My offer was for one not two people with full carts to skip me.   Looking at my face the guy let out a half- hearted,  “Is this all right?”   Mumbling under my breath I sputtered,  “Well I would have stayed in my own line if it was going to be like this.” Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Training FREEBIE: Jesus Centered Youth Ministry

Here is a great FREEBIE for you! Whether you are a volunteer youth worker, or full-time in the trenches you should take 30 minutes to watch this training given by Rick Lawrence from Group Publishing. Thanks Rick!

You can also pick up Rick’s new book: 


How To Help ‘That Kid’ In Your Youth Ministry

If you want to pick up a copy of No Teenager Left Behind or download a copy,

If Ministry Is Tough, It’s Time To Breathe

My good friend in ministry, Darren Sutton, made this video that communicates how he was able to breathe again in ministry. If you feel like you are suffocating in ministry, or need some time out to refresh, maybe you can take Darren’s advice?

Do I Need College Education In Youth Ministry?

Just last week, a couple of youth workers and myself were asked this question on twitter:

Anyone have info on the importance of a college education for a career in YM?

I gave a quick answer at the time, but here is a slightly longer answer…

1) Yes and No: If you are in full or part-time paid ministry I would say “yes”. If you are a volunteer my answer is “no”. However, I would challenge you to educate yourself and understand God’s Word, youth culture, and ministry skills as best as your time allows. Leaders should be learners, even if you are a volunteer. Volunteers have a huge impact on students. In my ministry, my volunteers are the heroes who truly are in the trenches investing in students. It’s imperative they are growing and learning…

2) College Gives Greater Theological Grounding: Being in full-time ministry, I have found that college forced me to get grounded theologically and gain valuable hermeneutical skills to teach and apply the Bible. I am not sure I would have forced myself otherwise?

3) College Gives Greater Youth Ministry Skills: No matter how much many would debate the value of theoretical college over practical real world youth ministry, there is still a great value in studying the “how’s and why’s” of youth ministry. In fact, many colleges use text books that are written by in the trenches veterans. Who wouldn’t want to learn from Duffy Robins and Doug Fields? Continue Reading…

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