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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YS Team Training

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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3 Ways You Can Serve Your Volunteers

He was hurting.  He didn’t want to let me down, but he knew his family needed him.  I told this volunteer that we would be fine if he needed a break.  As much as I wanted to keep him around I knew I needed to serve him.  He took the next two months off and came back with a stronger commitment.

If you want loyal and dedicated volunteers you need to serve them.  Without them you are limited with who you can reach.  Your volunteers enable you to extend your capacity.  If you love your volunteers you need to know how to serve them.  3 ways you can serve your volunteers is by:

  • Giving Them Permission To Rest: It’s easy to get sucked in and overwhelmed by a commitment.  Your volunteers might not want to let you down by asking for a break.  You know ministry is a long journey, make sure your volunteers know it’s okay to take a break.  Schedule in seasons of rest or create terms of service.  Help them last for the long run.
  • Rewarding Them For Their Sacrifice: Serve your volunteers by rewarding them.  When you point out the good that they are doing you’ll boost their confidence.  Confident volunteers become confident leaders.  Reward your leaders by giving them gift cards, send them thank you notes or just give them a shout out on Facebook.
  • Challenging Them In Their Discipleship: Your volunteers need to grow.  The more they grow in their relationship with Christ the better they can serve the next generation.  Your volunteers need to be growing disciples who are growing young disciples.  Encourage them to join a small group of their own or connect them with a devotional.  Empower them to continuously go deeper.

While your ministry is to teenagers, you need to make sure your volunteers are at the forefront of your attention.  They are more than people giving their time, they care about your vision and mission.  When you serve your volunteers they’ll know that you care them as people.

In what ways do you serve your volunteers?


Student-Led Small Group Bible Study

One of my favorite things I do with my small group at the end of every year is allowing them to take us through a study. I allow them to take the lead and come up with and lead a discussion based on whatever topic they feel the Lord is pressing on their hearts. They are not always the smoothest, they are not always the “greatest”, but they are a huge part of learning and leading.

I know there can be some things that happen when a student runs things, but I believe those are risks worth taking because of the following reasons:

They read the Bible- You don’t need to be in youth ministry long to know most teenagers struggle reading consistently. But some some reason when they are given a chance to lead a study, they dive deeper into the text than I ever did leading them. They know more about the passage than I do, and it sticks for them.

They wrestle with it- I know when they are asking questions, it is questions they are wrestling with themselves. This shows me what they are thinking while they were reading through it and they want their peers to wrestle with the same.

They are working out their theology- Is everything they say theologically sound? Not always. But that’s why you are there. To help guide the discussions. How are students supposed to work out their theology if we are the ones who are telling them what they should be thinking. Small groups are the place for these things to be worked out and discussed.

I get to meet with them- For every study, I get to meet with the student leading that week for a one-on-one session to go over what they have planned to share. This is where I can help them and speak into the lesson a little bit to help them develop where they want the group to go.

Students need to hear other voices - Again, we know when students hear from people other than you, they will remember it more. I don’t know how it works but it does. Especially when it’s from a peer.

Like I said, it’s one of my favorite things I get to do with my students. I get to see them grow in leadership and faith. It is pretty great. I am always surprised by how great they all turn out. Do you do anything similar with your small groups? Do you allow students to try and lead?

Take a look at some small group teaching outlines students/small group leaders can walk through different books of the Bible with.

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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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Youth Group Idea: Sponsor the Local Sports Calendars


Money is always tight and precious youth group funds from car washes and bake sales need to be spent wisely. An idea we are experimenting with this season is sponsoring the local high school school sports calendars. Maybe contact your local high school and see if there’s a last minute spot or one they still need to fill you can get on the cheap! Simple way to get your ministry in front of students in the community.


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GUEST POST: Bossy Circumstances

Who knows that circumstances far too often try to boss you around and tell you how good or bad your day is going to go? Chances are, you know! Do you remember the dirt road my GPS took me down a few weeks back? Well! My GPS did it AGAIN! But this time instead of tensing up, I was praising Jesus the whole way down it. I had my worship music up, speaking out the promises of God and how good He is when, about a mile down the road, my car stopped in a pile of mud. All of a sudden, I had a choice here. I had a choice to cry out, “God, why me?!” Or a choice to continue speaking of His goodness.

I wholeheartedly chose to speak out His goodness, and allow His words to saturate the air. Shortly after, I called roadside assistance and told them I was on an abandoned dirt road, stuck in the mud, and an hour and a half after continually putting me on hold to answer another call and trying to locate me, she tells me my insurance only covers $120 of the tow and that it would cost more than that. Long story short, she did not send anyone out and my phone was about to die.

Still, here I was, speaking words of praise. Because God is bigger than any circumstance, He is in ultimate control. And that’s exactly what I confessed, even though this lady would not help me, I knew my God would. After being out there for 3 hours and no cars driving by, here comes a truck driving by! And you know what, he JUST picked up a tow rope from his house because his work van got stuck in the mud on another road nearby!

As easy as it would have been to MAKE a big deal out of this circumstance, it really WASN’T a big deal. It was only a minor setback, which turned into a crutch for the glory of God, that I had the privilege of experiencing. I call this a privilege because I was able to experience God’s mighty hand at work in other people’s lives, including my own, as I use this as a testimony of His sovereignty and goodness. Therefore, rest assured, God’s plan prevails. He is above ALL and will work all things together for the good.

This week, I challenge you to show your circumstances Who the boss really is! Our great God!

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

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Download Youth Ministry WebShow #242

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 around our roundtable.

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

As always, thanks to our amazing sponsors who help with incredible giveaways:

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

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Webshow Sponsor: Check out YM360′s FREE Easter Vault

Free Easter Bible Study Lessons, Student Devotions, and more!
Our friends and faithful DYM Webshow sponsor youthministry360 have just launched this year’s Easter Vault which includes an incredible selection of FREE Bible study lessons, devotions for your students, and more. To grab these FREE resources, head on over to YM360. And if for any reason you need help or have questions, their team is great about helping out, just let them know!

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YS IDEA LAB: Tim Eldred on Student Ownership

Another great YS Idea Lab video from the National Youth Workers Convention this past fall – this time Neely McQueen talks with Tim Eldred about helping students truly own your youth ministry. Good stuff to challenge you here!


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Students Mess Up My Work Day

Today was a non-stop kind of day for me. Ever have one of those. I had a meeting with a volunteer, then a long, tough phone conversation with a parent, edit a sermon that a high school student is giving this weekend and meet with a friend who needed some encouraging words. Non-stop. If I am being honest, I would have not felt as rushed if it was not spring break in our area and if we did not have a bunch of students coming in and out of our offices all day long and if I didn’t have students come sit on my office couch and interrupt me while I was working. When asked, “Why are you here, in our offices? On your spring break?”

They say, “Because you guys (HSM staff) are here.”

I love it.

Jesus was available. When he was asked to come to a guys house to heal his child a woman touched his cloak and he stopped to engage her. He had stuff to do, but he chose the relationship with the women over the task that was on His “desk”. Look what happened when he did that.

Obviously my tone above is one of a joking manner. Hopefully you got it. Was my day stressful? Yes, it really was. Was it interrupted at least 5 times today by students coming in and sitting on my couch? Yes, it actually was. Would I trade that for getting my work done quicker? Absolutely not.

As youth workers, I think when we get interrupted from our office hours because students want to hang out with you, it means we are doing something right. It means we are not only locked to our desk (which sometimes we clearly need to get stuff done) but we are making lasting, meaningful relationships with students who are choosing to come to a lousy office to hang out with you instead of being somewhere else. That is amazing.

So stop. Pay attention. Turn to that student on your couch and engage them in a great conversation. A fun conversation. Take them to Starbuck’s really quick. Yes your work will be pushed back a bit but that relational time with them is priceless. Know you are doing something right outside your office when students are willing to come chill with you while you need to be in your office.

Be available. Be present. Enjoy it. We have the best jobs on the planet. Students mess up my work day, but I love it.

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3 Things Good Youth Workers Do

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Philippians 2

Was reflecting on this passage of Scripture last week, shared some of it with my team and thought I would share some thoughts here on the blog as well. Hope it is helpful and encouraging to you today!

A good youth worker is part of a team
This passage stresses the importance of unity. A youth ministry team must have one-mind, one vision and one goal. These individual parts alone can do only a little, collectively their force is magnified exponentially. Get on board with your church’s vision, and make sure your team loves each other and are all headed in the same direction.

A good youth worker is unselfish
Youth ministry is about others. It is about helping those in need. It is about everyone else, then you. In the passage it refers to people who are out for their own gain, or who are in the trenches for the recognition and spotlight. Check your heart today to see if you are looking out for yourself, or constantly shifting the focus to yourself.

A good youth worker is a servant
Always pick up the trash in the church parking lot. Never be above everything. Clean out the rain gutters. Shatter the stereotype of entitled youth workers. Change the perception of youth ministry in your church culture. Give, give, give.

May this describe us this week!


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Am I Still A Christian If I???


Every once in awhile I like to do “anonymous question” night in our small group.  I hand out a bunch of index cards and tell students they can ask any question about anything they are wondering about God.  It can be something they have been too “afraid” to put out there or maybe a pondering they are just too embarrassed to shout out in front of friends.  We compile the questions, shuffle them up and then the leaders take a stab at answering them.  Inevitably there are a number of,  ”Am I still a Christian if  I do, have or want to…” type of  questions.

It made me realize before I can answer any of these questions  I needed to ask one simple question first:

What is a Christian and how do you know if you are one?  (OK, 2 questions.)

You are thinking,

They know that,  many of these students have grown up in this church they know this answer.

Actually I think you will be surprised at the answers you receive.  I  often hear,

If you are a good person.

If you follow the commandments.

If you believe in God.

In the mix someone inevitable says:

You believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins and then rose again on the third day.

You asked Jesus into your heart.

Then I ask:

What does that mean for you?  How does that change things in your life?

My favorite passage to go over all of this with students is Romans 10: 9-11

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

Before I can answer any “Am I still a Christian if?”  We need to understand it’s not about what we DO it’s WHO we belong to.  I like to explain it like this:

When you are a toddler you know you “belong” to your parents.  You trust they love and want to take care of you.  It’s expected they will meet your needs and ensure you are safe.  You are theirs and this makes  so much sense you barely think about it.  The love you feel makes you want to follow them around and be like them.  You may not get every action “right” but out of  love for them you want to be close to them and learn how to be just like them.  This is what it means to confess with your “mouth” and “believe” in your heart.

Yes, we need to understand the weight of our sin and the power of the cross and resurrection. Yet, It is the choice to know we now are no longer slaves to sin, but are part of Christ’s family and accept that position fully.

Then I go on and say,

Based on what we just talked about are you still a Christian if you do things that are wrong?

I follow it by saying:

Our relationship with Christ is not contingent on anything we do or don’t do.  It’s about us accepting who He is fully, what that means and making the choice to be His.  This is a Christian.

However,  you can get “stuck” in your relationship with Him.  We can know we are His and make the choice to still not live like it.

Now the question is why are you asking your question?  Is it a genuine mistake or a choice? Are you really just trying to see “what you can get away with?”

There is a difference between guilt and repentance.  Some of us just want to really do whatever we want to do. If you belong to someone, you are their representative.  So when someone says,  ”That’s God’s kid over there.”  What are they saying about you?

I love the anonymous questions,  they always help me see where my students are at and to know their struggles.  The cry of my heart of course is they simply would know one day that when you know who you belong to,  you are afforded all the questions.

How do you answer the “Am I A Christian If?” questions?

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Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 243


Weekend Teaching Series: You Own the Weekend (Tesoro High School)
Sermon in a Sentence: God loves you … now.
Service Length: 64 minutes

Understandable Message: We haven’t had an adult on stage in 5 weeks. We’re in the thick of our annual You Own the Weekend series and this baby is running strong. Tons of new students. Tons of students involved. Tons of fun. Not that it hasn’t been work, just that the works is all behind the scenes and the stage time is all students. This weekend students from our local Tesoro High School took on the challenge of running a weekend from start to finish and did a great job communicating God’s love for everyone with a powerful message, a great video, fun and an awesome testimony. They were totally dialed in – their message was on point and loud and clear!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The opener was hilarious – a fun over the top version of the Hannah Montana classic Nobody’s Perfect. They did a great job of tying that into the message as well. Lots of warm greeters, amazing decorations and solid videos.

Music Playlist: Nobody’s Perfect [cover], Alive, Divine and Holy, Majesty, Grace

Favorite Moment: I loved Sheridan’s testimony video. Her mom came with her to a Worship Together Weekend recently and trusted in Jesus! She was baptized just a few weeks ago in a jacuzzi right before a major cancer operation, what an amazing story of God’s faithfulness and love. Amen.

Up next: You Own the Weekend (Santa Margarita High School, week 6 of 6 = series finale)

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