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Author Archive | Josh Griffin

Kickstarter: David & Goliath the Videogame


I’m excited to announce a Kickstarter project that I think is going to be big – I already supported it this morning! Today is the first day to support the Bible as a videogame! David & Goliath is the first complete game – coming up in episodes 1, 2 & 3 with plenty of more stretch goals to go as well. I happen to know the guys behind the project (they’re volunteers in our student ministry) and have the chops to pull this thing off. Anyhow, I was excited to sit down with the twins and talk about the project. Read this then head to Kickstarter to support the game!


1. Where did this concept originate?
It’s a childhood dream, actually. When we were in High School we turned our High School into a 3D game. It took 3 years. Once that was done, we thought: “What’s next?”. We had always loved the stories of the Bible. So we thought: “How come nobody turned those stories into an epic series of games?”. That’s how the idea for the Game Bible series was born. As we worked in youth ministry, the dream resurfaced in our hearts. We did all the prep work, from research to budgeting and found out we’d never have enough money. So we started small companies to fund initial development. One or two new businesses a year, it was hard work. From the profits we brought in professional developers to come alongside us. It took seven years to get to the “perfect” prototype. Now we’re ready to see if people want it. They’ll show that by backing us on KickStarter.

2. What are the fears/concerns/excitement over adapting the Bible to a video game?
Let’s take excitement first. Just think about it; you can’t go back in time to see Goliath go down. The only medium that really puts you in the shoes of the characters is a videogame. You make the choices. You move. You act. It’s not a movie that you have no influence over. It’s an experience. Even building it is. You tweak and tweak and slowly it takes on a form of its own. Then, all of a sudden we stepped back and let the game blow us away. When that happens, you know that something great is happening.

Of course we have had many fears in a project this size. We’d been nervous of what our non-christian subscribers and game-industry friends would think. But they loved it. Countless of people proudly said “I’m atheist, but I can’t wait to play this”. We heard the same from Muslims, Agnostics, Mormons, Hindus, and more walks of life. There’s a lot more love for the Bible then we thought.

Secondly we were curious about what fellow Christians would say. As it turned out, kids can’t wait, parents keep saying “Finally a game I can give my kids”. Pastors are stoked. Some wept of joy when we showed them the project. A few pastors “pester” us consistently, asking if the game is done yet. We never expected the excitement to be this high.

3. Why have people failed before to bring the greatest story ever told to the interactive world?
We believe there are four main reasons. First of all, you can’t minister through media if you can’t minister face-to-face. That’s key. You can’t step into an executive role and expect success. Media is a megaphone that amplifies what you’re already doing, it doesn’t magically fix it. Secondly, people often think that if their project is on a cool platform, it’ll attract people. It won’t. In fact it’s 10 times harder because you’re now competing with all creative industries.

Third, you need to take the time for quality. It takes years to learn a craft that constantly updates. Some people say “I’m called to make media”. That’s great, but that doesn’t mean you’re already good at it. You’ve got to train like an athlete, and surround yourself with people much better than you.

Lastly, you have to stay true to the Bible. Some add things for “entertainment value” or make up stories in-between. But the Bible doesn’t need any improvement. All major Hollywood script-writing classes refer to the Bible. Everything is already there. Instead, time is better spent on research and trying to find out what the culture was like in those days. Re-creating that will bring far more excitement to the game. For example: once you feel the tension of standing in front of Goliath, you start to make the choices David made. And that’s a whole new way of understanding David’s faith.


4. The game already looks terrific – who else is helping you with the game?
We are so proud of our team. They are literally all over the world. A level designer from France, concept and character artists from Sweden, developers in the US and Holland. It’s crazy. The games industry is a funny world: the bigger studios often lay-off their teams when a project is finished. This allows us to pick up highly talented people. Our freelancers and consultants have worked on games like Assassin’s Creed (PSP), Stargate, Starwars, Lego, etc.

We enjoy working with people from all walks of life. After all, the Bible is for everyone. One of our gameplay designers said “I’ve always wanted to know more about the Bible, can you tell me how to read it.” One of our top freelancers is an atheist. His doorbell rang and there was an evangelist telling him “I want to talk about the Bible”. He replied: “I don’t have time, I’m working on a videogame about it.” The gentleman was OK with that and moved onto the next door. Hilarious!

5. Where do you go from here, what stories are next? New Testament, too?
This first installment is the story of David. That’s what we’re asking people to fund on Kickstarter. It’s 10 massive episodes taking you from David as “teenage shepherd” to “king of the nation”. That’s why the game is called “David, Rise of a King”. If it gets funded successfully, we have plans ready for all other major stories, from creation to Jesus. The series will come to a climax at Jesus’ story.

BONUS: Tell me there’s and Xbox version coming out if you reach your bonus funding!
Haha! We would love to. The technology we use already allows the game to work on XBox & Playstation. However, to keep our team and budget laser-focused we target Mac & PC first. Once that works, we’ll talk to the console owners because it’s really up to them. Most game developers say that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo won’t allow games with “religious content”. We aren’t sure if that’s true, but we’ll find out over the next few years.

Go support The Bible Videogame: David & Goliath. This is going to be great!

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5 Ways to Get More Students in Life Groups


We’re in the thick of Life Groups kickoff season – we’re getting the word out to students continually and recruiting leaders nonstop. Training is just around the corner and we’re praying for this year to be another life-changing year of small groups in our youth ministry. I was reflecting on some of the growth and positive things I’ve seen the last few years in our ministry, and wanted to share a couple observations on getting more students into groups:

Make them cheap
Life Groups don’t have to be free – but make sure the price isn’t an entry barrier. I think some cost is actually a good thing: 1) it allows you to offer some extra things, and 2) gives them some “skin in the game” to help take responsibility of the group. As a family we pay a small fortune for small groups for all 4 of our kids, so again you have to be careful that the price doesn’t become a barrier.

Make them consistent and fun
Groups that meet regularly have a better chance of sticking and a better chance of growing. Make sure you meet weekly in groups and only take off for major holidays and important breaks like finals week. And groups that are fun are attractive to new students, too. Groups that laugh and learn together are magnetic to outsiders.

Take the summer off
I think having school year small groups is crucial for both leaders and students. When you have “evergreen” or always-running groups, you burn out leaders and students. Switch things up in the summer and give everyone a break.

Allow them to join with a friend
I see the pros and cons of splitting students up into different groups, but when friends can be together they bring other friends. Groups grow. Let students make requests and put friends together for the win.

Keep leaders who get it
Work hard to retain leaders. When leaders “get it” they’ll help more students stick. Parents will trust them. Friends will come. Everyone wins. Want to group Life Groups? Keep your top tier leaders and they’ll bring them in.

Share another idea to get more students into groups!


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Typical Girls Life Group Night

A classic video we’ve played during youth group, Life Group kickoff and leader training. So fun!


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POLL: Most Helpful Youth Ministry Resources

There are now hundreds of resources here on Download Youth Ministry and thousands of youth ministry resources and tools that have been created to help youth workers like us serve our churches better. Of the ones listed, vote which one is the most helpful/important to you as you serve students. Vote now!


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Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 255


Weekend Teaching Series: Switch (week 1 of 4)
Sermon in a Sentence: God loves us SO much, even though we are broken sinners.
Service Length: 66 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend Jessica Torres taught the kickoff message of the Switch series – if you want to see the series arc for the month you can right here - and did a great job teaching about God’s incredible love for us as sinners with the story of the life and marriage of the Old Testament prophet Hosea and Gomer. She did a great job navigating this challenging and unfamiliar story, and students walked about with a clear understanding of the depth of both our depravity and the depth of God’s love. Well done, Jess!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We played the fun Box of Lies game (you can check out more on that right here) and had some fun programming elements with the Share a Coke video as well. Great service, fun energy and lots of students serving all over the place. Good program, good message, but as always we want to really value relationships and conversations.

Music Playlist: Wake, Love Came Down, Oceans, Amazing Grace

Favorite Moment: I’m proud of Jessica for taking on this message. Not an easy one, but she poured a ton of prep time into it and a ton of heart. Killed it!

Up next: Switch (week 2 of 4)

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Remaining

We’re excited about the new movie The Remaining. We even had one of the screenwriters on the DYM Webshow a couple weeks ago and both Doug and Matt have seen the film and had lots of good things to say about it. Up today we have one of the first reviews of the film, coming from Ciera Horton and her blog, The Write Things. Here’s a preview:



Be prepared to be scared.

Affirm Films’ revolutionary new movie The Remaining wholly immerses the viewer into the total experience of the end times.  Movie-goers don’t just watch but truly feel like they are in the midst of the action along with the characters as they fight for their lives and struggle to find faith during the apocalypse.  You’ll be plunged into the tribulation unlike anything you’ve encountered before.

This is one of the few Christian movies that has truly impacted me.  I have thought about it, considered the possibilities of the plot and discussed it more than any movie I’ve seen in recent memory.  But the reason that The Remaining is so captivating is that it speaks to multiple audiences with a singular message.

The Remaining asks the same question to both Christians and non-Christians: Do I really believe?  One of the main characters was a pastor who was not raptured and who said, “Just because you have a church and a title doesn’t mean you have real faith.”

There are very few movies that can so effectively prompt viewers to consider their own relationship with God.  It’s not about the theology of the rapture, but it’s about personal self-reflection.

This is a groundbreaking film for the Christian industry in that it enraptures audiences by making them active participant viewers.  This movie will surely be talked about, so don’t be one of the remaining who miss out on the conversation.

Read her full review right here!

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Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 254


Weekend Teaching Series: Summer Camp Stories Weekend (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: A celebration of all that God did at camp this year!
Service Length: 116 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we went all out – invited parents and students to a big celebration service with a special baptism service right after as well with a huge party and cake, too! There wasn’t a huge formal message, but a ton of messages in student stories shared live throughout the weekend. We also included an “open mic” part of the evening as well where we opened it up to anyone in the crowd. Powerful stuff, and totally unpredictable.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Huge energy in the youth room, we played all of the camp songs and played the final highlight video as well. So, so fun! One of the best weekend we’ve had in a long time – there’s something special about the youth group after camp. Wow.

Music Playlist: Savior of the World, You Hold Me, Sinking Deep, We Are the Free, He Is Alive

Favorite Moment: I LOVED having the parents in the services this weekend. This is a new annual tradition for sure! WIN!

Up next: Worship Together Weekend (August)

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Magnum Clock Giveaway Winner!


Congrats to Luke from Big Bear Youth Ministry who scored the awesome Magnum Clock for his youth room. We’re so thankful for them sponsoring this great giveaway – if you don’t have a clock in your space / church, be sure to check them out. The best!


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POLL: Loneliness in Youth Ministry

My post earlier this week, The Lonely Island of Youth Ministry, and Chris Wesley’s post on the same subject, How to Deal with Lonely Leadership were unplanned but coordinated on a single message. Who knew just how closely we were thinking on the same subject! It inspired today’s poll – vote now!


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The Lonely Island of Youth Ministry


Youth ministry is lonely. Some of that comes with the leadership territory, and some of it is unhealthy. I’d love to reflect on both just a bit.

Leadership Lonely
This is part of the gig! If you are a leader, there are times when you are going to feel lonely. After you make a tough decision to let a volunteer go. After a big conflict with a parent. After a frustration with an elder over the church van. There’s a reason that the phrase “it’s lonely at the top” has stuck around in our vocabulary for so long. At times, if you are leading you will feel all alone.

Lack of Community Lonely
This is the one that is rough on youth workers. This is the one that challenges your call and increases the strength of temptation. This is the one that cuts tenure short and encourages brain games and dysfunction. Yes there is a reality of lonely leadership, but there is a painful loneliness that is different and far more painful. Sitting alone in the church basement office (been there). Being the only guy under 55 on staff at the church (been there). Serving in a church with a lack of people my age (been there). You drop in your situation here (probably been there too).

Couple suggested remedies to fight against loneliness:

1. Make your spouse your ministry partner – do ministry together. If that isn’t possible (hello 4 kids in my case), download the day together when you walk in the door. Partnership in ministry changes everything. If not your spouse than someone you can trust, you can be close to appropriately, someone who you can share ministry

2. Find a youth ministry mentor or find a solid network – if there isn’t a good youth worker network in your area, start one. And there’s got to be someone within an hour’s drive of you that has been in youth ministry for a little while – seek them out and start a Taco Bell meet up once a month. Chalupas and conversation = double win!

3. Watch the DYM Webshow – we hear it all the time, “it is like we’re doing youth ministry together with you” or “see you in a week at our next staff meeting around the DYM table.” Join in on the fun, just might be the remedy for a little bit of community.

What else do you do to help fight loneliness?


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Free Yourself from Vacation Guilt


I’m currently on vacation, and loving it. I’ve got my 4 kids and wife in the car the past 10 days and we’re road tripping a huge chunk of the US and hitting up big reunions on both sides of our family. This is my one major vacation his whole year – I’m going to be away from my church and youth group for like 17 days or so.

I’m available to our students and church about 340 days of the year, 24/7. I don’t feel guilty when I’m gone. When I started to even feel this way I felt guilty even saying it, much less actually doing it! I wish I learned this long ago.

Don’t punish yourself about ministry when you’re on vacation. Don’t feel guilty when you’re gone. Work impossibly hard when you’re there so you can be gone when you’re gone. Be all in so you can be all out!


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POLL: What type of youth ministry do you have?

What type of ministry are you currently involved in – do you primarily minister in a rural area with lots of small towns, farms and countryside around? Are you in the thick of the urban setting in a downtown ministry? Are you in between, in a suburban setting where lots of people commute to work in the city? I realize that there are many ways to describe areas we live and our youth groups are always a mix of different students, but think the information would be helpful/interesting for sure!


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Download Youth Ministry WebShow #250

Another week, another episode of the Download Youth Ministry Show! This week we’re all back together talking shop! We talk about youth ministry for 45 minutes every week or two, your questions answered every time! Join Doug Fields, Katie Edwards, Josh Griffin and Matt McGill every week around the table – and this week, special guest Jessica Torres fills in for Katie who is away at junior high camp.

Just enough youth ministry so you don’t feel guilty for listening.

As always, thanks to our amazing sponsors who support the show and help with incredible giveaways:

Send in your questions to webshow@downloadyouthministry.com to be answered on a future show, too!

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MOVIE REVIEW: When the Game Stands Tall


Inspired by a true story, WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL tells the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport. When the streak is broken, and tragedy strikes the team, Coach Lad must teach his players – and the entire town – that it’s not about how you fall, but how you get back up.

MOVIE REVIEW: When the Game Stands Tall
MPAA RATING: PG for thematic material, a scene of violence and brief smoking
OPENS: August 21st (select) August 22nd (wide)
DYM’S REVIEW: 5/5 stars

I really, really love this movie!

I played football in college – OK, let me clarify that for the record a little. I got destroyed my freshman year, learned the game my sophomore year, got some solid playing time my junior year then blew my knee my senior year. But I understand the game, played the game and love the game. This movie is a great football movie, and athletes and teammates will appreciate it the most without a doubt. But football, even the historic undefeated run and consecutive national championships, are just the vehicle for a film that strives to teach all of us more about the game of life than the game of football.

The movie stars Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig (aka that one guy from The Hunger Games) and a really great Michael Chicklis who steals several scenes as assistant coach Terry Eldson. By the end of the movie you’ll know Beaser, Mickey and Buster Matthews all too well. The movie jumps right into the action, and the action looks great since all of the football was choreographed by the team behind Friday Night Lights. Really good stuff!

The movie isn’t overtly “Christian” but has a clear, faith-based message. The coaches are Christian but not perfect and also not afraid to stand their ground. They are human but have deep-seated values held firmly in place. Christians will enjoy seeing what a dedicated life looks like, and non-Christians will be challenged on how a genuine life of faith could change things. Christians are displayed as real people and even the coach has weaknesses and temptations he struggles with through the journey of the movie. Thankfully the movie never gets “preachy” in any way, yet is straightforward with the message: these players, coaches and parents are different because of their faith in Jesus and their Christ-like love for each other. In fact, I would hesitate to call it a “Christian film” and just say it is an inspiration true story of faith and football and let it stand on it’s own.

This is a great movie to go see as a youth group. The PG rating is earned but there is nothing offensive or even distracting from the clear messages in the film. This is a student-friendly movie, I know of a bunch of friends that are taking our youth group to see the film opening weekend and encouraging their local coaches and teachers to do the same. You could even take your whole youth group to see When the Game Stands Tall – I promise it will help bring up great conversations about life and faith. I brought my younger kids and they all walked away with learnings about faith and life.

These are the kind of movies we need to get behind. If you want more good stuff to come out of Hollywood, put your box office behind it. Beyond just the economy of the movie industry – this is a film you should have your own children see. This is a film young athletes should see. This is a film for dads to bring their kids to help cement values in their home. When the Game Stands Tall is an inspirational movie that needs to be on your must-see list for the fall. And if you see the movie on opening weekend, it sends a statement that more and more of these films need to be released.

We got to see the film a few months ago in a rough cut and wrote a special downloadable companion guide to the film to help create great discussions around the film’s message. We’re proud of this tool and excited to see it downloaded thousands of times already. You can get the DYM Conversation Starters here and other great tools for the movie here.

In short, I loved this film. Everyone in the DYM office loved this film. We’re thrilled to see a movie of this quality with an incredible story and A-list actors wrapped up in a compelling package. We’re big fans of When the Game Stands Tall – go see this movie! In theaters THIS weekend!


PS: Be sure to Stay for the credits … seeing the actual footage of the coaches and players from De La Salle in the first few minutes after the film ends is fantastic. Totally pulls the whole movie together, even made me tear up a bit.

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Special DYM Webshow: The Remaining

Here’s a fun special episode of the DYM Webshow featuring Chris Dowling, the writer of the upcoming movie The Remaining. Good stuff!


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