Youth Specialties Blog

Trending Links: 3 Lies, A Dying Church, School Starts Late, 300 Words, and Fame

By Youth Specialties on March 18 2014 | 3 Comments


This week at, Josh Griffin shares his thoughts on 3 lies that youth workers continue to tell themselves on a daily basis. Help yourself out this week and take a quick read on Josh's thoughts – don't become a Pinocchio.


Follow Josh on Twitter: @joshuagriffin



Millenials & Fame

"Millennials have been positioned as a fame-hungry generation for years, and have developed a reputation for wanting 15-minutes in the spotlight whether or not they have any talent. But how true is the idea that the generation prioritizes being famous? When we asked 14-29-year-olds for their thoughts on fame, we got a much more complex picture of their desires..."


300 Words A Day: Portable Routines

As we embrace the Lenten season, we wanted to direct you to a fellow who not only identifies himself as a social media chaplain, but has written quite extensively on Lent. Jon Swanson shares 300 words a day on routines, how to practice out our faith, and in this post shares the concept about routines becoming something around thoughs and mental activity, more than a task to do. Follow Jon on Twitter: @jnswanson



Mourning the Death of a Church

Statistics around churches that are closing their doors are scary. Some reports note that it could be as high as a church a day. Sure, older churches are being replaced quantitively by new church plants - but that doesn't change the situation that many churches face today.

Christianity Today features this post of a first-hand account of a church member who experienced her church close. It's really a terrific read, and something that we should all take a gander at - no matter what church you are in or how "healthy" you think your church may be.


To Keep Teenagers Alert, Schools Let Them Sleep In

Did you ever feel like school started too early? The NY Times covers this story of Jilly Dos Santos, a high school student in Columbia, Mo. thought so, and managed to get her school to push back it's starting time to 9:00am!

After more reaserch, it doesn't look like her school is the only one who thought it was a good idea. Others have followed, and now the trend is saying that by starting later in the day, the students actually are more attentive and perform better.


By Youth Specialties on March 18 2014 | 3 Comments

3 Lies Youth Workers Tell Themselves

By Josh Griffin on March 18 2014 | 3 Comments

3 Lies Youth Worker Tell Themselves - By Josh Griffin

From time to time I’ve caught myself in a terrible lie. I start to believe something that couldn’t be further from the truth – but at the time it actually feels like the truth itself!

Here are three lies youth workers tell themselves – add a 4th in the comments below, too!

1. I’m not making a difference

Are you kidding me? Every day you serve students in your church or ministry you are making a difference. The problem is that we sometimes don’t see results. For a long time. Or maybe ever. So, we get frustrated not seeing instantaneous fruit or burn ourselves out trying to produce a man-made youth ministry miracle. Always remember, in the highs and the lows, you ARE making a difference.

2. I’m going to be here forever

Here’s the reality – chances are the church you are serving at isn’t going to be the only church you serve at your whole life. But here’s the key: serve like you’re going to be there for the rest of your life. If and when God calls you away, a) you won’t be shocked, and b) you’ll have left it all on the table. Leave with no regrets and years of faithful service as if you were going to be there for the rest of your life.

3. I can live my life one-way and teach the other

I remember early in ministry I would find myself telling everyone else how to live and not be too concerned with the actions and decisions in my own life. Bad idea! You are producing who you are. Disciples are products of their masters (and thankfully God’s Spirit). Don’t fool yourself into believing the lie that you can life a double life. It always catches up with you.

What other youth ministry lies do we tell ourselves?



Josh Griffin is the co-founder of Download Youth Ministry and the leading blogger in youth ministry. Check out much more at Love God, Love Students blog at and on his Twitter @joshuagriffin.

By Josh Griffin on March 18 2014 | 3 Comments

4 Fun Saint Patrick’s Day Game Ideas for Your Youth Ministry

By Youth Specialties on March 14 2014 | 0 Comments

4 Saint Patrick's Day Games for your Youth Ministry

With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, we thought you might be in the need for some fun activities and games for your youth ministry to get in the St. Patty's Day spirit. Friend of ours, Wes Wilson, has 4 great ideas for you to be able to use in your ministry right away. They are all super easy to put together, will absolutely create some laughs and memories, and will cost you practically nothing to do them. We call that a win-win-win. Take a read through Wes' 4 game ideas.

1. Lucky Charm

Items needed:

  • 3-4 large spoons
  • 2 giant bowls
  • 2 boxes of Lucky Charms
  • 2 gallon containers of milk

Have two teams of 3 to 4 students race to see who can finish an entire box of lucky charms and a gallon of milk out of a giant bowl first. 

2. Catch the Leprechaun

Find the two shortest members of your group and have them find a hiding spot in your building. Send groups of students with a rope or a net to find the “leprechauns.” The first group to return with one wins. 

Note: Make sure not to embarrass your short students. Maybe even have someone who thinks they’re short volunteer for the role of the leprechauns.

3. Kiss Me, I’m Irish

Have two students who claim to be Irish come to the front and compete in Irish Trivia. The winner gets a bag of Hershey Kisses. (Answers in bold)

Q: What is the name of the lead singer of Irish band U2? 

A. Bono

Q: What are the colors of the flag of Ireland? 

A: Orange, white, and green

Q: What university’s mascot is The Fighting Irish? 

A. Notre Dame

Q: According to legend, Saint Patrick drove what creatures out of Ireland?

    a. Snakes

    b. Spiders

    c. Banshees

    d. French people

Q: The shamrock has been used over the centuries as a specific remedy for what? 

    a. Dehydration

    b. Snake bites and scorpion stings

    c. Urinary and kidney stones

    d. Girl cooties

Q: According to legend, leprechauns all engage in what trade?

    a. Tailoring

    b. Shoe making

    c. Blacksmithing

    d. Mattress testing

Q: Some traditional Irish St. Patrick’s Day foods include what?

    a. Corned beef and cabbage, soda bread 

    b. Sweet potato bread, soup 

    c. Mashed potatoes, carrots, rye bread 

    d. Mint pie, pretzels, curly fries and a large milk shake

Q: The most common hair color in Ireland is what? 

A. Brown

Q: Which holiday’s origin traces back to Ireland?

A. Halloween

What is the most important crop grown in Ireland, both historically and now? 

A. Potatoes

Tie Breaker:

Q. What is the cereal Lucky Charms’ tagline? 

A. “They're magically delicious!”

4. Get Green 

Have students race to see how many green objects they can collect from the audience.

Wes Wilson is the director of student ministries at Willow Creek Community Church's DuPage Campus. He's also the creator of “Games: Video Edition.” Check it out hereFollow him at @wesmwilson.

Wes Wilson

By Youth Specialties on March 14 2014 | 0 Comments

Trending Links: Criticism, 7 Trends in Missions, Pranking, and Barna Group Research

By Youth Specialties on March 11 2014 | 0 Comments

In this week's trending links, we highlight posts on how to be successful running the marathon of youth ministry. We cover how to deal with criticism, 7 macro trends in missions, pranking in youth ministry, and new research from Barna Group on the "screen age".

Dealing with Criticism in Youth Ministry

Since we are talking about how youth ministry is a marathon and not a sprint, we thought this post was a great lead. Why? Because criticism is inevitable in youth ministry. There is at some point going to be a student who doesn't like how you are leading thr charge, a volunteer who leaves, or a parent who wants you to spend more time with their son or daughter. We will all face criticism - but we can find healthy, effective ways to deal with it which will actually help make our ministry stronger, and help shape our character and integrity.


How To Be Missions Smart: 7 Macro Trends You Need To Know About Right Now

"Despite the ubiquity of the Internet, not everyone is a specialist. As a missions futurist, I often share what I know about global macro trends in order to help churches and organizations prepare now for what ministry is going to look like a year, five, or even a decade in the future.

I’ve compiled a short list of the seven macro trends I think are the most important for the Global Church to understand and strategize around both now and in the near future..."


Whether you are on a retreat or hanging out with students after school - somewhere in their minds in the innate desire to play jokes and pranks on other students. Some call it fun. Some justify it as saying that it helps create memories and includes other folks. They say that it's not mean-spirited, but just trying to get a laugh. In this post, Ben Trueblood, a youth worker in TN, gives us some great thoughts on Pranking in Youth Ministry.


Three Digital Life Trends for 2014

When Barna speaks, we all listen... or at least we should. The folks at Barna continue to do some of the more relevant and in-depth research pertinent to the church that is out there. Their latest research is all about digital trends, and what they see moving forward in the way of handheld devices and technology. More importantly, they talk about how it affects culture and the lives of people at the core of who they are.


By Youth Specialties on March 11 2014 | 0 Comments

What do I say when a student asks a tough question?

By Youth Specialties on March 11 2014 | 1 Comments

You know the one.

The question that catches you off guard in the hallway just as you’re stepping into youth group. The one that comes by text around 11PM just as you’re shutting down your phone to collapse in bed. Or the question right at the end of Bible study when you really don’t have time or energy to entertain it.

The good news is that these questions are actually voiced. In our Sticky Faith research, we learned that about seventy percent of students in ministries like yours have big questions about God and faith. Unfortunately, only about a quarter of them say anything to anyone. That means a lot of big questions remain quiet.

And as it turns out, our data suggests it’s not doubt that’s toxic to faith. It’s silence.

So take heart when you get that hard question. You’re a trusted safe place for a teenager to share something real. Our research also shows that those who feel safe to share in their youth ministries tend to have stronger faith after high school.

With that in mind, here are three things you can say to that student before you even respond to the question itself:

  1. First, other teenagers and adults ask these kinds of questions all the time.
  2. Second, it’s not only okay to ask hard questions, but it’s actually important—some say essential—for your faith journey.
  3. And finally, God can handle it. God isn’t anxious about your questions, struggles, or doubt. I don’t think you should be either. So thanks for asking.

When you’re caught off guard, sometimes you need to defer a response until later. But if you can affirm the student with those three points, they’re going to feel heard and cared for, and that can buy you some time to think (and maybe study and pray) through a more specific response when you follow up.

At the Fuller Youth Institute, we’ve partnered with our friend Jim Candy to create a small group curriculum called Can I Ask That? Born out of a desire to help kids express and explore their tough questions about God and faith, it’s a field-tested 8-session series that you can use with high school students. In Can I Ask That? we tackle hard questions about homosexuality, women in leadership, and violence in the Bible without giving pat answers.  

We wrote this curriculum in response to leaders like you, who have the courage to have conversations like this:

Can I Ask That? Hard Questions about God and Faith from Fuller Youth Institute on Vimeo.

Whether you get hard questions all the time or your students tend to clam up and keep their doubts silent, we hope this resource can spark helpful dialogue around tough issues.

Find Out More

To purchase the Student Guide Click HERE

To purchase the Leader Guide Click HERE

Join the conversation on Twitter: #CanIAskThat?

By Youth Specialties on March 11 2014 | 1 Comments

What You Don’t Know Will Kill You

By Josh Griffin on March 07 2014 | 4 Comments

What You Don't Know Will Kill You - Josh Griffin

If you don't know your priorities, other people will control your schedule.

If you don’t know your boundaries, people will take everything they can get.

If you don’t know your limits, you’ll burn yourself out.

If you don’t know why, you’ll do more and more accomplishing little.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, get some training.

If you don’t know your people, they’ll abandon you when they get hurt.

If you don’t know how to say no, you’ll end up doing everything … and quite poorly, I might add.

If you don’t know your students, they won’t trust you.

If you don’t know your strengths, everyone will know your weaknesses.

If you don’t know your weaknesses, you’re stupid.

If you don’t know your purpose, other people will help you theirs.

If you don’t know your vision, neither will anyone else.

If you don’t know your gifting, you’re missing an opportunity to grow.

If you don’t know your blind spots, you need more honest people around you.

If you don’t know your senior pastor, you’re headed for trouble.

If you don’t know the last time you opened your Bible, you’re in the wrong profession.

If you don’t know your anniversary, you only have to forget it once to remember it the rest of your life.

If you don’t know, ask somebody who does.


Add another in the comments!

Josh Griffin is the co-founder of Download Youth Ministry and the one of the leading voices of youth ministry online. He’s written a few books but cares mostly about resourcing youth workers. Check out much more at Love God, Love Students blog at and on his Twitter @joshuagriffin.

By Josh Griffin on March 07 2014 | 4 Comments

Trending Links: Posts on Social Justice, Highly Creative People, and stuff about Lent

By Youth Specialties on March 05 2014 | 0 Comments

Whether you’re a parent or a leader, what do you want kids to know about Lent? - READ MORE


Inside The Brothels

New York Times reporter, Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof), has collected seven unforgettable stories in the battle against sex trafficking, collected over two decades of his work in journalism. These stories are what Kristof calls, "a highlight reel of inspiration and heartbreak at once"




How The End of Poverty Comes With The End of Violence

Gary Haugen - International Justice MissionGary Haugen (@garyhaugen) serves as the President and CEO of International Justice Mission. IJM is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of violent oppression. In this post, Gary shares his perspective on how we can actually end poverty in this world:

"Over the years, I have sat with many poor mothers and fathers as they have shared their stories of surviving genocide, slavery, and abuse. The pain they describe is unfathomable—and I’m tempted to imagine that the people who endure it are somehow different from me. Maybe, somehow, they just don’t feel things like I do..."


Djibouti JonesDon’t Send Your Used Shoes to Africa. Or Maybe Do Send Them.

"You have a pile of used clothes and old running shoes or sandals and purses and hats from last season. What do you do with it? Donate seems like the best answer, right? Is it? Is it the best practice for wealthy, developed nations to send their used items to Africa?"

Find out what some research tells us about us sending our things overseas.


18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

"Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context..."

As youth workers - we're either very creative ourselves, have ourselves surrounded with other creatives, or are trying to build relationships with creative students. Carolyn Gregoire (@carolyn_greg) writes this post for The Huffington Post about how creatives think, how they process things, and why they do things just a little bit differently than others. It's a wonderful read with some great insight!


By Youth Specialties on March 05 2014 | 0 Comments

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