• DYM_logo
  • Store
  • Blog
  • Events
  • Scholarships

3 Things To Do Right After You Get Back from Summer Camp


We just got back from camp – and while I’m completely exhausted and have tons of work piled up from being gone the last 10 days, there are 2 immediate actions that I have to spring into action to do. Here’s what I’m deal with yesterday on my first days back to the office today:

Put out fires
I’ve had to return 3-4 emails of parents who had students that had less than great experiences. I have a meeting set up for this afternoon with 2 moms of freshman boys for something that happened in their cabin I have little or no defense about. I had another couple of students complain about bullying. the vast, vast majority of students had an amazing time, but I’ve got to jump in on the fires right away after camp. No hesitation.

Celebrate the wins
Take time to pass along the good news, too! Forward an email from a happy parent to the church office list. Share a few of the most positive and life-changing ones with your volunteers. Spread the word and celebrate all that God did up at camp!

Rest up
No one has heard from me for 2 days. When I come back from camp I have to go dark and rest in order to be ready for the rest of the summer. I have to fight the temptation to engage right away or continue to batter my adrenal glands for another few days. Instead I went to the beach, took 2 naps (unheard of for me) and ate lots of healthy food to help my digestive system get back on track.

What else do you do right away when you come back from camp?


True Confessions: I Want To Be Famous


I am not sure how to admit this.  It has been nagging at the back of my head (and heart) for a really long time.  It’s a conversation I had with my intern just yesterday.  I read certain books challenging me in my walk with Christ and I push it down for a little while and pretend it isn’t there.  However, if it goes unchecked I deal with the temptation once again.

If I am totally honest I would love to be famous.  Alright, maybe not REALLY famous like paparazzi in my face all the time, but at least noticed.  Perhaps, not totally noticed, but it would be great to feel important… or heard… or something.

It doesn’t help that we live in a culture that is pushing me to grab my fifteen minutes of fame.  It can be as simple as uploading the correct “youtube” video or picture that goes “viral.”  If I am witty enough, people might like what I have to say.  On a couple of occasions I have been blessed to talk to different “book” agents and fill out proposals for writing.  I have also been told to grow my “following” on blogs, twitter, and Facebook if I want to be “noticed.”  Leadership books fuel my fire with great insights into growing my “platform” or “being heard.”   “Get out there and take your fame!” is what rings in my ears.

In my heart I would love to be invited to be on main stage somewhere to speak.  It flies in the face of the Gospel that tells me to “decrease” so He can “increase,” or that I should “die to myself,” so Christ can be evident in me.  I can over spiritualize it and say that I want to do it to bring glory to the Lord.  However,  the problem with this particular scenario is that God’s glory is not contingent on whether or not I announce it.

Yet,  here is the irony in my desire for a “voice.”   What I look at the people I admire,  it isn’t their “fame” that impresses me.  Some of them are not even considered “famous” in the eyes of most,  they are people in love with Jesus who have been faithful  and obedient to Christ.  It is humility, perseverance and a desire to be so in love with the Lord they want to be solely HIS that brings me admiration.

A friend said this to me recently:  “My thinking has been that there are too many people with platforms who have nothing to actually say. We should pray for something to say, and if God wants to have a platform, great. But just CREATE, and write, and make things, because you’re wired to do it. If a platform happens, awesome.”

The conundrum of course is if this post never gets read I have to ask myself if I am ok with that.  Am I telling you about my fame “stuff” so you will follow me on a social network?  Have I put a sentence in bold or thought in terms of character spaces so you can tweet my words?  If I do someday have a chance to speak to a large audience will you accuse me of needing to be in the spotlight?

I do love to write and speak because I want to resource others.  I want to help.  Yet,  I have to keep this other thing in constant check.  It has to be sacrificed on the alter, chopped to bits and consumed by fire from heaven… daily.  In what I am doing I have to ask, “If there is one person in the room will I be alright with that? Do I really believe that is important to God?”

More importantly I need to ask who is my true audience?  Can I walk into each room as if it is “just” Jesus sitting there?

Can I believe it’s my life with Jesus that is most impactful?  The other day I had a conversation with someone telling me how my family had influenced them.  It wasn’t from a main stage.  It wasn’t in a blog post.  It wasn’t in a published piece.  It was just being a normal husband, wife and kids on adventure with the Lord.

So I can’t say I will stop creating.  I am wired to do those things.   I will also  not use the hashtag “humble” anytime soon to prove how I have conquered  my “fame” issue.  I think I will just keep getting closer to the Lord and see how that goes.

What about you?

Youth Ministry Summer Camp T-Shirt Fail


Couple things to think about the next time you print shirts for your youth group:

1) Think of every way humanly possible to make the shirt say something unintentional or mean something other than what was intended by the person designing the shirt. Consider folds of the T-shirts, someone only seeing part of it, what it looks like with just a quick glance, etc.

2) Have a few other people look it over with that in mind. Probably a freshman boy should also be involved in this part of the process.

3) Laugh when you miss something like this image above.

Thanks to Jason Glen for sending in this perfect example of what not to do!


7 Requirements Of A Small Group Leader

We are gearing up for another round of life groups. As we speak, students are signing up for life groups and leaders are letting us know if they are returning with us for another year. New leaders are joining the team and things will be rolling really soon. As we begin recruiting new leaders for this year, here are a few things we look for in a small group leader:

Committed follower of Jesus - They need to know Jesus in order to lead students to Jesus. If they are actively seeking Him then we know they can help students do the same. We find out how they do this through our interview with every volunteer before they officially jump on with us.

Attends our church - They need to attend and call our church their home church. It does not make sense to attend one church and serve in another. You are splitting devotion. We want our leaders to bleed not only our ministry, but our church.

Has time - Leading a small group takes time commitment. It really is more than 2 hours during the midweek. Leading a small group is leading group during designated hours, plus the conversations, hang outs, games, Starbuck’s runs outside of group time.

Decision making - Leaders need to know how to make many decisions. What to do in a group setting when things get awkward, heated, silent and decide on what is the best thing to do to help push the group closer to who Jesus is.

21 or over - Our ideal leader is over the age of 21. This provides enough distance between seniors and the leader if they were to lead a senior group. Sometimes we have seniors who are leading a jr. high group and when they become freshmen, we will evaluate the leader and usually place them with a co-leader who is over 21.

Knows how to be real - One of the most important things about a small group leader is the capability to lead in discussion (not preach) and lead in being real and authentic with students. When leaders do this, students will do the same and allow Jesus to change their lives.

Knows how to have fun - Small groups with students need to be fun. There needs to be teaching, Bible, discussion and all that, but fun is a must. We want students to want to come and enjoy being there and a leader must know how to add fun in the mix. Fun breaks down walls and allows for students to be real.

Helping Your Team Succeed


We are starting to look to the fall and recruit our leadership team.   Maybe we have a sinking feeling as you realize you have less “help” than we had previously accounted for. Let’s face it our best “workers” are usually unpaid as well. Therefore, it’s important when we think of “volunteers” to make some important determinations:


Not everyone wants to run a small group. There are those that are relational, some are administrative, others like to organize details or make meals. It is easiest to assess the needs of your ministry and tell people where you will put them.   This is not the most beneficial for everyone involved.  We had a gentleman once who came into our ministry wanting to serve the youth. Our greatest need at the time was those small group leaders. This lasted about 3 months until he came into my office one day and told me he was quitting. I asked “Why” he was leaving. Had I done something? He went on to explain that teaching a small group Bible study was just “not for him.” “I love what you are doing here, I would guess there isn’t anything else you might have?”     After some searching we discovered that this detailed retired engineer loved administrative type roles. He now has been volunteering for about 15 years, has his own desk and refuses to accept pay.. Instead of what you need, who are the people the Lord is sending you? If you are willing to meld your needs with their passions then we keep committed workers for longer. (Leadertreks (leadertreks.com) has some amazing tools that help you take a different look at placement.)


Job descriptions are step one. It details exactly what and who you are looking for.. Over communicating expectations is step two. You have a vision statement? What is it? Can each member of your team recite it and explain it in 3 minutes or less? Processes help everyone to know they are headed in the right direction. Do you have an application? Do your potential “help” fill out any sort of leadership style, personality or spiritual gifts assessment? What about a full on manual that details full expectations?   Each person will enter with their own unique strengths and ideas on how to carry out the vision. There are key components that you are asking of them. These need to be clearly outlined. How often do you interact with your team? Do they get at least a weekly email update? Help lend direction to those on your team.


Training is indispensible.   This can come in many forms.   After your weekly meeting do you do a “debrief.” I follow a method I learned from Doug Franklin. The “3’s”.   3 things that went well. 3 Challenges. 3 Action steps.   Once a quarter we offer a deep evening training on a practical “how to” that the team has been asking about. Weekly I send out an article or web link that I think might be helpful. Obviously, there are so many ideas of ways that you can train people.   If you are reading this site you are a learner yourself.   I would begin with sending along helpful tips you are learning to everyone else on your team. Make the time and the expectations on everyone that this is a “must” that helps them with all that they do.

These are just a few of the elements that help build a stronger team, heading to the same goal.   It can be easy to think, “of course we all know where we are going.” However, I would never be afraid to stop and ask if everyone really knows.

How do you help your leadership team succeed?

Download Youth Ministry WebShow #248


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 guest Parker Stech 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!

LEGO Fire Walk – Potential Youth Ministry Game


Loved this picture – we did a similar game/challenge during youth group a few weeks ago. Thought it might be fun inspiration for you this week!


YS IDEA LAB: Neely McQueen on 5 Lies Teenage Girls Believe

A great session from YS Idea Lab featuring Neely McQueen. Such great stuff in here, a must-watch for youth workers!


Songs from the Student Leadership Conference


We had a great season at our Student Leadership Conferences this summer and are excited to announce 2015 dates:

  • June 29-July 1, 2015 – Granger, IN
  • July 6-8, 2015 – Irvine, CA
  • July 9-11, 2015 – Columbia, MD

Be sure to join us next summer in Indiana, Maryland and here in Orange County, California. You won’t want to miss it!

We have also heard from many of you who asked about the song selection from some of the events, so here you go if you want to bring them back to your church:

  • Let it be known – Worship Central
  • Wake – Hillsong Young and Free
  • You Hold me – Liberty University Campus Band
  • Tear down the walls – Hillsong United
  • This is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham
  • Savior of the World – Ben Cantelon
  • He is alive – Cluster of Students
  • Burning Ones – Jesus Culture
  • How He Loves – John Mark McMillan
  • Oceans – Hillsong United
  • Take it all – Hillsong United
  • We are the free – Matt Redman


HSM Summer Camp 2014 Week Highlight Video

This was an incredible week of camp. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, it is because I am in a camp-


3 Mistakes We Can’t Fall Into With Small Groups

As we just opened up Life Group registration after summer camp, I’m thinking about the mistakes I made last year with small groups. These are 3 things to be aware of when small groups are in season and I hope you can learn from them like I have:

Not saying “no” to leaders who are not ready to lead students. This is not easy. I know the need for volunteers is always a thing. This doesn’t mean we can just take anyone in who wants to lead. We need to make sure the leader we do get are capable to lead a small group well and for some reason we don’t think they are ready, we say no. We let them know why and that in a year we can come back to this point and re-apply and re-evaluate.

Overseeing too many groups, alone. Leading leaders can be a great thing. But it’s much like a small group. You have too many to keep in contact with it can get harder to make time for all of them and make sure they are good. When we take on too many leaders to take care of, they can slack because they require equal care. When it gets too much, find another staff or volunteer to help take on the load and make sure everyone is cared for effectively.

Not making a marketing/promo plan. This one is overlooked the most. Many think small groups and the excitement for them just happens. Making a plan to get students in the small groups is huge, or if anything, makes you think ahead. I just submitted a marketing/promo plan for our team as we are rolling towards launching groups for the year. We know what videos, what testimonies of students, what social media details we will be putting out and when to make sure we are hitting key areas and key times to get students in groups. Momentum takes planning and being aware of what is going out.

GUEST POST: Explaining the Difference Between Catholicism and Protestant Christianity to Students


When ranking subjects according to their complexity, Church history is probably right up there with rocket science and quantum physics. So I’m guessing I’m not the only youth worker who has been asked this question, or a variant of it, by students: “What’s the difference between Christians and Catholics?”

This is an important answer to get right, as the majority of the students in your youth group have friends, family members, and other acquaintances who identify as Catholic. Or, if you work in a Catholic youth group, your students inevitably rub shoulders on a daily basis with people who attend Protestant churches.

Here is how I have answered the question for students. Please note that this is a simplified answer that doesn’t quite capture the full complexity of the topic, but students aren’t typically looking for a detailed explanation.

First of all, it’s important to emphasize that Catholicism is not “different” than Christianity. Catholicism is simply a type of Christianity. When most people say they are “Christian instead of Catholic,” what they mean is that they identify with a Protestant Christian church. Protestant Christian churches include Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Lutheran churches, Presbyterian churches, and several others.

If Christianity is a tree, Catholic Christianity and Protestant Christianity are branches of the tree. There is a third major branch called Orthodox Christianity. All three branches are part of the same tree.

As long as someone has genuinely accepted Jesus as their savior, who died on the cross for their sins and then rose from the dead, that person is a Christian. All three major types of Christianity generally agree with that.

The main differences between Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians are the ways in which they express and practice their faith in Jesus. That’s why a Catholic church service looks very different than a Baptist church service. People in both services are worshipping the same God and following the same Jesus— but how they go about doing that is different.

That’s one of the beautiful things about Christianity: that it includes members from so many different cultures, traditions, and backgrounds, and all are part of the Body of Christ. Unfortunately, many Christians choose to focus on how they are different from other types of Christians.

This is why it’s so important for youth leaders to emphasize the ways in which all Christians are similar and unified. A smart bearded guy once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Taylor Bird is the Middle School Pastor at Southwest Church in Indian Wells, CA. He has been serving in youth ministry for five years.

Letter to Parents After Summer Camp



What an amazing and packed week up here at HSM Summer Camp. It was filled with friendships, spiritual challenges, hilarious games, epic music and surprisingly good camp food. Phil Wickham stopped by for a concert, we danced the night away with DJ Promote and we slid down the largest inflatable water slide this side of the Mississippi!

I wanted to share some highlights with you – we’ve been enjoying the campus of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ all week centering on the theme This Changes Everything. Our speakers were Brad Tate (your teenager might call him “the one with dreadlocks”), Jodi Hickerson (aka the freestyle rapper) and Matt Reagan (the guy who said “brotha and ya’ll” too much). HSM’s own Cluster of Students band led us in worship and did an amazing job helping us respond to the message with heart and voice.

A few more highlights:
· Many students were baptized!
· The Mongolian BBQ had the longest lines of all the food services. Worth the wait!
· It was hot. Arizona even set a new all-time record this past Wednesday. Lovely.
· The bus ride was long, but loads of fun, too.
· The Chic-Fil-A was closed. Boooooooooooo.
· A ton of students made decisions for salvation, repentance, full-time Christian work and more!
· The Kingdom Worker sealed challenge cards were a huge hit again this year. Apparently God wants me to serve in the nursery!

I hope you’ll get a chance to come to services this weekend and sing the songs and hear the stories from HSM Summer Camp – come to the 6pm Saturday night, it should be so over the top. We’ve got about a dozen more baptisms to celebrate tomorrow night and cake for everyone, too!

I hope you’ll also take some time to talk more about camp and the decisions they made before they jump back into their Instagram world. I can’t wait for you to hear their stories and share their decisions with you.

hsmcamp awesome

Here are a few things you could talk about, a few questions to get you started:

  • Who was your counselor? What did you learn from him/her?
  • Did you make any new friends? Tell me about them!
  • Tell me about the “word bubble” they did in the night session. What words did you write down on your bubble? How did you feel when you threw it away? What words did your leader write down for you?
  • Did you make any spiritual decisions this week?
  • What song was the most meaningful to you? Why?
  • What made you laugh? What made you cry?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how good was the food at camp?
  • What did your Kingdom Worker challenge card say? What next steps do you want to take from here?
  • How are you going to follow-through on the decisions you made?
  • Did you miss me?

Well, there’s 358 days until HSM Summer Camp 2015. We want to use the GCU stadium and are hoping to take a kajillion students and leaders next year because God moves in major ways at summer camp. Thanks for your prayers, for trusting us and for sending your student to HSM Summer Camp. It is such a worthy investment and sacrifice. We’re trusting God the decisions made will last for a lifetime.

Josh Griffin & the HSM Team
High School Ministry | Saddleback Church

PS: If you missed the daily highlight videos, be sure to check them out here: http://www.youtube.com/highschoolministry and the final week-long compilation will debut in service tomorrow night. See you at the Refinery at 6pm!

HSM Summer Camp 2014: Day Four

What a great camp – we have some great leaders. Headed home now!


HSM Summer Camp 2014: Day Three

Exhausted. #summerministry