Youth Specialties Blog

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

YS Idea Lab: Brooklyn Lindsey - Leading Students To Justice

By Youth Specialties on March 05 2014 | 1 Comments

Social justice has really become a hot topic in the recent years – but with good reason. Jesus reminds us of great words from the Prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”   - Luke 4:18-19

In today's world, we work to build relationships with students, trying to help them live to their full potential of who the Lord has created them to be. When we start to talk about social justice, what we are really talking about is trying to help understand ourselves better, help understand how God created us, and then finding ways to invest into and make a difference in the lives of those around us. Social justice is the ability people have to realize their potential in the society where they live - and then to do something about it.

How do you engage your students with issues of justice and poverty? Brooklyn Lindsey, a great friend of YS, At NYWC she shared some thoughts, stories, and experiences about effectively empowering and emboldening students to take steps toward engaging justice issues - take a look here at what she has to share.

We've also gathered some great resources that can help you out as you seek to help bring this idea of social justice to your students and ministry. If there's something that you are looking for that you cannot seem to find – give us a call and we'll help you out!


By Youth Specialties on March 05 2014 | 1 Comments

Trending Links: Mission Trips, New Fun Games, Cell Phone Productivity, Cheap Church Communication

By Youth Specialties on February 26 2014 | 0 Comments


What would you do if you discovered an incredible experience that opened eyes, softened hearts, empowered service and changed lives?

When a youth pastor saw how mission trips had drawn his students to others and toward Jesus, he asked himself that question. His answer was starting YouthWorks, an organization that now invites over 30,000 students and leaders on mission trips each summer.

For over 20 years, we have seen mission trips play a crucial role in the lives of countless teenagers, and we continue to believe every teenager should experience a mission trip....


5 Ways to do Church Communication on the Cheap

“If I had an unlimited communications budget, then I would _______.”

I would make a pretty confident bet that no church has dedicated an unlimited amount of funds to communications. In fact, most of us operate on what we consider a limited budget. This means we have to get creative about communicating with excellence. Here are the five ways that I have been able to make my limited budget go as far as possible...


2 Really Great New Youth Group Games!

This week in our YS Update, we highighted different ways to have fun, ideas for games, and reminded you about all of the great resources available in our Ideas Library. Well, we weren't the only ones with games on our minds – our friends at DYM released two new games this week that your group will love! 

Lamentations of Taylor Swift Lyrics: Volume 2
This is the sequel to what is far and away the most popular game we’ve ever had on Download Youth Ministry. Students have to guess if the statement on the screen is from the Bible or from a Taylor Swift song lyric. Incredible. Incredibly funny.

Biblical King or Prescription Drug
Another insanely funny game where students have to guess if the name shown is either a king from the Bible or a prescription drug. Now that I type that out I guess it is pretty self-explanatory.


Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

What 10 qualities make a good leader, whether you're in corporate America or the rec room of your church basement? We are reminded about those that really make a difference in the lives of others through an article on Forbes goes through ten simple qualities that are often found within great leaders, and we think that they are also what can make great pastors too! Take a read and check out their list. What things do you think are missing from the list? What would your top 10 list look like?


Smartphones Make You Tired and Unproductive, Study Says

Copyright Getty Images

Do you find yourself running out of energy by the afternoon and heading to the nearest coffee shop for that mid-afternoon pick-me-up? Wall Street Journal just released the findings of a new study on cell phone usage, and our inability to "turn off" work when we are at home. WSJ says, "Reading and sending work email on a smartphone late into the evening doesn’t just make it harder to get a decent night’s sleep. New research findings show it also exhausts workers by morning and leaves them disengaged by the next afternoon." What's the solution? Well - simply shut it off. Sure, it's easier said than done, but you'd be doing yourself, your family, and your ministry a big favor by doing so.


By Youth Specialties on February 26 2014 | 0 Comments

YS Idea Lab: Les Christie - Fun Games Using Bicycle Inner Tube & Pipe Insulation

By Youth Specialties on February 25 2014 | 0 Comments

Were you at NYWC this past fall? It was a great weekend as we talked about ideas, challenged each other to make a difference in the lives of our students and volunteers, and left with the charge to go Onward! However, we cannot think about all the great things that make up NYWC without thinking about the one thing that we all enjoy so much - the fun!

This week, we want to highlight a session from the Idea Lab from the youth ministry veteran who knows everything there is about fun. Join Les Christie as he shares a few of his favorite games using inexpensive and unexpected props like bicycle inner tubes and pipe insulation.

By Youth Specialties on February 25 2014 | 0 Comments

Repeat, Repeat… Then Repeat Again

By Josh Griffin on February 25 2014 | 0 Comments

I get fatigued easily.

And not just because going up a flight of stairs and weighing 287 pounds gets me out of breath (former football player here, on the Youth Pastor Diet). I get fatigued hearing myself speak. You see, I say the same things over and over and over again.

What am I repeating? Glad you asked (though, just for the record, it was coming either way):

The MISSION of our student ministry

Simply put, this is the WHY we exist. Why are we here? What are we trying to accomplish?

The VISION of our student ministry

This is HOW we’re going to get there. It takes our mission and puts it into bite-sized goals. It is what we believe it’s going to take to accomplish our mission.

The VALUES of our student ministry

This is our style, our feel, and the way we minister. These describe the type of people who I believe God will lead to our ministry. These are the type of people who I believe are in our volunteer meetings. And if they’re not, either they aren’t a fit or they’re on their way to be … or they’re out all together.


OK, I feel a bit guilty. All this business-speak and tactical stuff made me convicted for just a minute. What we want to repeat over and over again that this ministry is all about Jesus. All about the life-change only He can bring. I can never get fatigued about this one … repeat, repeat, and then repeat again the story of our amazing Jesus.

Whew! Sorry for the Jesus juke at the end there. Wasn’t my plan when I outlined the blog post. Needed that for my own heart … hope it hits you where you need it, too!

What else are you repeating? Share another one now!

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 February 25 2014 | 0 Comments

Tech Tuesday: Youth Group Cartoons

By Youth Specialties on February 25 2014 | 0 Comments

It’s Tech Tuesday again! Nothing is quite as fun as making a video with your youth group. Now you can make them even more fun with this free app we found. Check out Cartoonatic and let us know what you think!

Share any of your crazy youth group videos on our Facebook page so we can have a good laugh with you!

By Youth Specialties on February 25 2014 | 0 Comments

Trending Links: Teens & Social Media, Teaching to Middle Schoolers, Bob Goff Video & More

By Youth Specialties on February 19 2014 | 0 Comments

Wisdom for Rookie Youth Pastors: Personal Development

With our focus this week being that healthy leaders lead healty ministries, we thought it'd be wise to share this post with you from our friends at Sometimes when we talk about healthy leaders, the perception is that we are talking about those who have been in ministry for a while, for folks who have gone through the battles and live in the trenches of youth ministry on a daily basis. But what about those who are just starting out in Youth Ministry? What about those rookie youth workers? This post from Joshua Fuentes (Student Minister at Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, TX) speaks directly to those new faces in youth ministry.


Teens & Social Media

We've come across two different articles that we've shared on our Twitter account over the past few days. However - we thought they were so good, that we'd be remiss not to highlight them again here. As youth workers, we are constantly needing to learn how to minister to teenagers despite a changing culture. The biggest thing that has changed for us has been how much teenagers and students use social media. How does it affect them? What can we learn about it? Twitter, Instagram, Facebook - teenagers spend hours here each day. Here's some incredibly useful information for you to know, and information for you to share with the parents of the teenagers in your ministry.

From Time Magazine, read Millennials: Trust No One But Twitter and from, read What Your Teen Is Really Doing All Day on Twitter and Instagram

Preaching At The Middle School Level: What You Need To Know

Are you a youth worker ministering to those junior high and middle school students? It's different, right? It's a blast, but it's different. However, middle school ministry cannot just be fun and games, they want to learn, and we have the opportunity to teach them and show them the story of scripture. Here are some practical tips at what you need to know when speaking to and teaching middle school students from Benjamin Kerns, the author of


Bob Goff - Love Needs No Return Address

Lastly, because we all love Bob, he made a short, simple video last week that serves as a great reminder to his words from our Idea Lab last week. Take a look:

By Youth Specialties on February 19 2014 | 0 Comments

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