Author Archive | Josh Griffin

Jesus is With You Now Video

Loved this funny video from Tesoro Owns the Weekend – their them was Jesus is With You Now. Fun stuff!


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Dodgeball: Our Favorite Youth Group Event of the Year

Our ministry is more than dodgeball … but man do we love it. Over the past 7 years we’ve played literally hundreds of games of dodgeball in our church. It has become one of our very favorite events on the year! A few stories:

1) one year I took a group of freshman on to win the whole tournament against incredible odds
2) we were never able to duplicate that again, came close a bunch of times but could never pull off winning the whole thing again
3) I one time helped recruit a whole baseball team to join us – the pitchers were incredible, including a couple of guys that eventually got full ride scholarships to D1 schools and one guys who was drafted to the Pittsburg Pirates straight out of high school.
4) My arch nemesis is Taffy, the guy in the video above. He has a way of somehow taking a rag tag group of students and beating the best athletes in our youth group. Hate it!
5) Our students LOVE the costumes. They are hilarious, and hilariously bad. So fun!


If you’re interested in running your own dodgeball event, you can get everything you need right here! Rosters, release, rules and more. We sure do love it – if you do a tournament, post pictures of your event on Twitter and tag us (@DownloadYM) so we can give you a shout out, too!


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Throwing Away Stacks of Youth Group Promo Cards


There’s nothing worse than having someone design a killer print piece for your youth group than throwing a kajillion of them into the trashcan. So you found a student, volunteer or maybe even paid someone to create a rave card, postcard or calendar. They are beautiful. You are in love.

Getting your calendar printed is only half the job! You worked hard to get it looking good (or maybe used a calendar template from DYM) and that is very important, but getting them distributed is another beast all together.

So make sure you finish the job! Get your calendar into parent’s hands. Send them out the door with every student when they leave youth group. If you printed up some rave cards for your big overnighter coming up, make sure you rubber band a stack of 5-10 of them for each student to give out to their friends. If you can get permission, have your students put a summer camp info card under the windshield wiper of every car in the church parking lot on Sunday morning.

A huge mistake is making a big print deadline, and having great info and design no one sees. If you print something … make sure to finish the job and get it into people’s hands, too!


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POLL: How often do you do youth group events?

I get this question all of the time from new youth workers – how often should I do youth group events? There are all sorts of different answers to this question depending on the size of your group, your goals, your church culture and more. So before we jump into that – let’s get a starting point: How often does your ministry have youth group events?


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3 Learnings from You Own the Weekend

We just finished another incredible year of our weekend teaching series called You Own the Weekend. Students from various high schools planned and executed our weekend service. The heartbeat is two-fold: 1) get students involved in the weekend service and serving in a ministry, and 2) make sure an invitation of some sort hits every student from that school that week. It has been one of the highlights of our student ministry for several years running – thought I would share some takeaways coming off the series:

Students bring their friends and family to something they helped pull off. In short, there’s a direct connection between student ownership and friendship evangelism.Every wonder why your core kids aren’t bringing their friends to church? Maybe it is because they had nothing to do with the creation of the service! When students build it, they will come. So many stories in our youth ministry now start with “well, I first came to You Own the Weekend” or “I trusted in Jesus during the series.” Really incredible stuff! It has becoming commonplace to hear someone say “I was brought by…” or “I wanted to see my friend…” We always emphasize friendship evangelism to our entry-level program, and I know it does happen on a regular basis. But this blew the normal response away.

There are all sorts of gifts waiting to be discovered.
 One of the favorite moments of the series was when a student who attends every week got up and shared his testimony. There are star kids who were born and raised to take the stage and teach and I’m super proud of them as pastors. But I’m also excited about the invisible students who showed up during the series. Unexpected people pitched in, decorated or took the stage to share in the message. This series served as a great reminder that some of your best pastors are probably already sitting in youth group. So many gifts, just under the surface waiting to be revealed.

Students should own every weekend.
 Here’s an obvious ministry-changing takeaway – so … why doesn’t this happen every week? To some degree, there’s a special magic to You Own the Weekend that just can’t happen week in and week out – but I want to see this momentum spread through every series we do. I want student teachers, student editors, students pastoring, student emcees, student testimonies and more every weekend!

This is a game changer for us! Give You Own the Weekend a shot next year in your youth group, too!


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Retreat / Camp Youth Group Rules Video

Travis and Colton put together a fun video for our College Ministry retreat a while ago and I thought it was totally worth sharing. Steal the lyrics and make it your own, so funny!

Another incredible rules video from Matt McGill not to be missed as well! His timing … and the pink/purple stuff kills me every time. Genius!


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GUEST POST: Power of a Thought

No matter how together we have it, there comes a time when we are vulnerable to fall. Sin has its way of creeping in on our lives at points when we are weak. It starts with a thought, and when you entertain that thought, because that’s all it seems like, is a simple thought…..it becomes reality. All of a sudden, you find yourself doing exactly what you were thinking of doing but didn’t think you would actually do. That simple thought has the power to bring pain, grief, and consequences you were not prepared for.

This is why God says to renew our minds with the Word of God.” (Romans 12:12) We become new creations, transformed into His image when we do so! That’s what I want to look like, I want to look like Him. I want others to be able to look at me and see His love shining bright in me and through me. Even through times of struggle, I am going to get back up and stand firm in my faith. We all should. We should stand together, as one, believing what He says is true. He says we are heirs of Christ, made in His image, one with God.

Believing in His truth changes the way we live, the way we act, and the way we chose to love others. He’s got our back no matter how hard we fall; all we have to do is trust in Him. He will pick us back up and continue to walk by our side through the darkness and into the light, showing us His ways and how to walk in them.  He will take our thoughts and turn them into God thoughts; we just have to be willing. Cause He is able.

Share a God thought for those struggling with wandering thoughts below! 

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

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Using Instagram to Promote Events


We don’t do a ton of announcements at youth group. We have a text list we really concentrate on, but there’s an unspoken limit how much you can send in a week directly to someone’s phone. We print a few pieces a year but not very much, honestly. Facebook still works, but barely the return it used to have. So how are we getting word out to our students and parents about events, activities and opportunities?

Right now, Instagram is our primary way of getting the word out about youth group meetings and events. We have and official Instagram account for our student ministry, but also work hard to provide graphics that people can post on their own. So we’re hoping that yes, people follow our Instagram account, but we’re also hoping that they’ll take the images and run with it themselves. For our recent You Own the Weekend series, it was fun seeing Instagram feeds literally flooded with invitations for students to come to our youth group.

Just an idea worth sharing and maybe worth stealing!


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Thank You Letter to You Own the Weekend Students

We just finished the incredible You Own the Weekend annual series in our High School Ministry – it was an awesome 6 weeks of students doing EVERYTHING in our ministry. Each high school was assigned a weekend, picked and theme and pulled it off with an adult mentor. No adults have been on stage for almost 2 months. Incredible!

Here’s a letter I’m sending to everyone involved with it today:

HSM students,

I couldn’t be more proud of you!

I just had to write and share the 3 awesome things I love about what you did the past few weeks during the You Own the Weekend series:

1) You invited your friends – I’ve met more brand new students that visited our ministry in the last few weeks than I have in the past year combined. That could only happen if you are inviting your friends – and you sure did! Not only that, I know several students that accepted Christ this past month and you had a HUGE part in that. So many faith stories start with You Own the Weekend. So proud of you! Incredible.

2) You served the church – it was incredible seeing your creativity and energy. From great object lessons to inflatable cougars, greeters, awesome messages, fun openers, skits and great music, you used your talents to serve God and do His work. My prayer is that this is just the beginning — that you’ve got a taste of what it would be like to own every weekend. What a great model for other students to see in action! Thanks for loving our youth group and loving our church. So proud of the way you served!

3) You started a movement in your schools – don’t let You Own the Weekend end with this series! Start a movement on your school campus, create a culture where students are invited to church and are greeted warmly and openly when they arrive. Live out your faith this week wherever you go.

Love you guys SO much – have a great week!

Just noticed the resource we created to help others pull off a You Own the Weekend series is this week’s $1 Download. Grab the You Own the Weekend resource right now and do one of your own, too!


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Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 244


Weekend Teaching Series: You Own the Weekend (Santa Margarita High School)
Sermon in a Sentence: Adam and Eve committed treason against God, so do we, but Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice on the tree on Calvary. Treeson.
Service Length: 71 minutes

Understandable Message: It was exciting to add a new school to You Own the Weekend series this year! we had enough students pull together from Santa Margarita to run the services and they did a fantastic job! The message was taught in 2 parts: Emerica talked about the story of Adam and Eve and introduced the theme of treason. Then Jonathan (pictured above) shared his story about his sins and treason against God and how he led other people astray at his high school. It was an incredible weekend, VERY powerful message and clear presentation of the Gospel to a crowd that included many new, non-churched students. So good!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The opener was fun, the atmosphere and stage decorations were great and despite having less students than some of the other schools there was a great energy to the room. Students were great greeters and everyone wore matching “Treeson” shirts they raised the funds for and had printed. The game Egg Roulette was a hit, and we definitely discovered a few more students who are good on stage!

Music Playlist: Let It Go [Demi Lovato cover], We Are the Free, Hosanna, Oceans, Scandal of Grace

Favorite Moment: I love You Own the Weekend. For sure my favorite series of the year! I haven’t been on stage in 6 weeks, and our youth ministry didn’t miss a beat. In fact, it improved! Ha!

Up next: Easter Sunday (Worship Together Weekend)

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Free Student Leadership eBook from SLU


I’ve had the privilege of speaking at a couple of Youth Pastor Summit training events this Spring and love what the folks at Student Leadership University are doing. They contacted us this week about a terrific book for student leaders – wanted to make sure we passed it along to you right away. Grab it for free right here in the DYM store!

Inside you’ll find insight from leaders and experts in ministry and business:

  • Pat Williams, Co-founder and Senior Vice President, Orlando Magic
  • Dr. Danny Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Brad Lomenick, President, Catalyst
  • Mark Miller, Vice President of Development, Chick-fil-A


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GIVEAWAY: The All-New GroupGames App for iOS


If you’re a you’re a youth group leader then chances are you’ve got a few great games in your back pocket you can pull out at a moment’s notice. Well, what if you could literally pull a few more great games out of your back pocket! There’s an app for that and it’s called Group Games.

Group Games is a database of over 120 fun, tried and tested youth group games for iPhone and iPad and it’s recently received a major update! Watch the video below for details.

I love the idea that in a pinch you can grab a great idea, or when you’re all out of ideas you can find 120 there waiting for you. Calum, the youth worker behind the App, has generously given me 10 free download codes for the App (normally $1.99). All you have to do to claim a download code is be one of the first 10 people to comment on this post!

Jump in the App Store to get it or check out the GroupGames homepage, too!


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If You Are Doing Youth Ministry Alone

I Tweeted this the other day after a great discussion with another youth worker about the biggest learnings I had in my first few years of youth ministry. I’m not sure I would have articulated it this way back then, but feel this strongly and clearly about it today!

If you are doing youth ministry alone … you are bottlenecking your ministry.
If you are doing youth ministry alone … you will burnout.
If you are doing youth ministry alone … you are building a personality-driven ministry.
If you are doing youth ministry alone … you are missing developing other leaders.
If you are doing youth ministry alone … your ministry will collapse when you leave.
If you are doing youth ministry alone … you are doing youth ministry wrong.

Build your team this week!


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DYM Tax Week! Refunds Every Hour


Download Youth Ministry is giving away a ton of refunds this week – 1 every hour to be exact! Check out DYM’s Tax Week Refund Sale right here! This is going to be fun stock up and you just might get all of your cash right back! Orders are selected at random (using Ultrapicker, actually), so good luck!


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POLL: Taking the Summer Off

We were talking about crazy ideas a week ago as a team and someone came up with the idea that we take the whole summer off – and come back with a big launch in the fall. I have heard of youth ministries doing this in the past, and wondered what percentage actually do that. I’m not talking about changing it up a bit in the summer, I’m talking about largely taking most of the summer off. Vote now!


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