Youth Specialties Blog

Trending This Week (June 13)

By Jacob Eckeberger on June 12 2014 | 0 Comments

Every Friday we pull our favorite links from across the inter-webs. This week's trending links include some really practical ways to make the most out of your summer ministry, ways to care for your interns, examing how you determine your growth, a short list of our favorite #hashtags from the week, and a Celine Dion video you'll actually enjoy mixed in with more fuel for your procrastination. 

Blogs From This Week

Josh Griffin (@JoshuaGriffin) shares 5 really practical ways to care for your summer interns: "5 Ways to Care for Your Interns" CLICK TO VIEW

We formally introduced all of you to another incredible member of the YS Team, our Director of Networks Fred Oduyoye (@FredOduyoye). Check out an interview with him: "Introducing Fred Oduyoye" CLICK TO VIEW

Derry Prenkert (@DerryPrenkert) gives a great short list of ways to make the most out of your summer camp, mission trip, or other big event: "4 Ways to Take Your Camp to the Next Level" CLICK TO VIEW

Blogs From Other Great Youth Workers This Week

Jen Bradbury (@ymjen) wrote a thought provoking piece to help change students' perspective of scripture: "How to Change Students' Relationships with the Bible" CLICK TO VIEW

Our good friend Terry Linhart (@TerryLinhart) asked great questions on how we determine our growth: "Charting Your Development" CLICK TO VIEW

Andy Blanks (@AndyBlanks) provided some great practical ideas for making the most out of summer youth ministry schedules: "Summer Youth Ministry: Grow Those Relationships" CLICK TO VIEW

I found this great post from Coy Lindsey (@CoyLindsey) with a different perspective on destructive life patterns: "Learning to Recognize God's Love Despite Destructive Patterns" CLICK TO VIEW

A bit of encouragement from Shauna Niequist (@SNiequist) for all you Dad's out there: "Dad's Aren't Dumb" CLICK TO VIEW

#Hashtags To Review

Here are a quick list of some of our favorite #hashtags from this week. There is a ton of great insight behind each one. We pulled the twitter searches for each hashtag and made them clickable so you can easily view and scroll through all the youth worker wisdom in 140 characters or less. 

#praxis14 - CLICK TO VIEW : Praxis Tulsa (@praxistulsa) was a gathering in the great state of OK that was filled with creative reflections on life, art, ministry, and scripture. 

#ctcac2014 - CLICK TO VIEW : I saw some really great ideas about new visions for ministry coming from this week's Central Tx Annual UMC Conference.

#SBC14 - CLICK TO VIEW : Tweets coming out of this year's Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore.

Fun Things To Fuel Your Procrastination

Purin the Beagle wins all of the World Cups: "Purin the Super Beagle" CLICK TO VIEW

A guy gets trapped in the Las Vegas airport overnight and what does he do? He films a video for Celine Dion's "All By Myself"... of course! It's amazing. CLICK TO VIEW

If you love the World Cup, check out this post: "Goalposts around the world" CLICK TO VIEW

Everyone smiles when they see 1 elephant playing the piano and a 2nd elephant's backend dancing to it: "Piano Duet with Peter the Elephant" CLICK TO VIEW

Did you know that you can cook hot dogs in Pringles cans? Neither did anyone else... except this one guy. CLICK TO VIEW

By Jacob Eckeberger on June 12 2014 | 0 Comments

5 Ways to Care for Your Interns

By Josh Griffin on June 10 2014 | 0 Comments

Original photo from Dexter.

One of the big needs of an intern, really any employee honestly, is their care and intentional development. Here are some things to consider as you ask yourself what the role of your intern is on your team and how to give them the most growing and meaningful experience possible.  We tell our interns in orientation that their internship is not primarily about getting tasks done, but about God shaping them through the process.  Here are some ways that you, as you mange interns or launch an intern ministry in your youth group, can maximize your intern’s experience:

  1. Get to know their heart and hear their dreams.  Take the time (ideally, weekly!) to get to know your intern’s heart and invest in them on a personal level.  This means that you must be available to them, which takes intentionality.  They are here because they want to grow in specific areas.  Check-in on them and continually ask them what they want to learn.  Let them borrow books, point them toward a conference or podcast, develop personal goals together, or help them connect with a pastor who can pour into them over coffee.  Ask yourself, “What can I  do to help facilitate their growth?”
  2. Help them make some initial relational connections.  Sometimes, interns are overwhelmed being at our church and don’t know where to start.  Talk to them about finding a small group, going to college ministry, going to services, or meeting someone on staff for coffee once a week.  They might feel intimidated to ask a busy pastor for their time, so step in—be an advocate for your intern and help them build relationships here.
  3. Give them meaningful tasks. Interns are here to learn and lead, not to do and file. Delegating and empowering are two of our valuesalues, and we need to learn to give meaningful responsibilities to our interns.  They did not sign up to do administrative-level work.  Depending on your evaluation of their capacity, delegate purposeful tasks that will challenge them.  We all make copies and lick envelopes sometimes, but that is not the bulk of what an intern’s experience should look like here.
  4. Point them to church CLASSES, events, and trainings.  Let interns know about classes, serving opportunities, and retreats, but you can also encourage them to take advantage of all the teachings and trainings the church has to offer.  This will expose them to other ministries that they wouldn’t see otherwise and will greatly enrich their experience here.
  5. Make intern trainings a priority. Monthly intern trainings are a requirement at our church and the Internship Program, and the only time each month that interns all come together to network and receive leadership and Purpose-Driven training together. Make every opportunity available for your intern to make the trainings. They will notice the level of support to the program and to their personal experience when you make the trainings a priority for them and encourage them to be there.

Josh Griffin is the High School Pastor at Saddleback Church and is a co-founder of, a place to get trench-tested, inexpensive, downloadable youth ministry resources. Follow him @joshuagriffin.

By Josh Griffin on June 10 2014 | 0 Comments

Introducing Fred Oduyoye

By Youth Specialties on June 10 2014 | 0 Comments

You might have already seen him at NYWC 2013 or read his recent blog interview but we wanted to formally introduce you to the incredible Fred Oduyoye. (His last name is pronounced either “oh-do-yo-yay” or “oh-do-yo-awesome.”) Fred is a recent addition to the YS team but he’s a long time veteran of youth ministry with a ton of experience working with urban churches. I asked Fred for a quick interview so that you can have a look into his world and get to know him a little better. 

We know you do a lot but to help us get a quick look at your role with YS, what is your main focus?

(Fred) My focus at YS is to help youth workers find and connect with local networks through YS Networks, a new YS resource that we’re getting ready to launch. Most people today want to be connected to something. Without the benefit of a local network, youth ministry can be a lonely place. We don’t want that for any youth worker. YS has always believed that the local network is where youth workers can develop relationships, share resources, and forge partnerships. Another way I work to connect youth workers is by leading the YS Unconference and other organic settings to intentionally help leaders explore how to work together to better serve the local church. 

What is your favorite thing about working with youth workers?

(Fred) I love to see youth workers enjoying the company of others who serve in the trenches of grassroots ministry. I enjoy their faces when they’re in a relational setting and something clicks—and now they have what’s needed to transition their students to the next level. I am so excited about the opportunity to blend multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, cross-denominational entities together, in an effort to do our part to expand the capacity of serving in the Kingdom.

What are you up to when you’re not connecting with youth workers?

(Fred) I am a Trainer for the Cincinnati United Soccer Club. My passion for the game of soccer has been evident since age 8. I enjoy golfing (when I can) and watching a movie every night with an Arnold Palmer!

Fred is hard at work right now preparing for the launch of YS Networks and putting the final touches on the National Networking Day. If you'd like to be kept in the loop on both of these, you can fill out the form below and we'll shoot you an update as soon as more info is available.


By Youth Specialties on June 10 2014 | 0 Comments

4 Ways To Take Your Camp To The Next Level

By Youth Specialties on June 08 2014 | 2 Comments

Derry Prenkert (@DerryPrenkert) shares four ways to take your summer events to the next level in this YS Idea Lab. These are super practical youth ministry tips to make the most out of your camp, mission trip, or any other big summer event coming up. 

Here's a quick overview of the 4 concepts that Derry elaborates on in this Idea Lab:

  1. Think with a "there" to "here" mindset. What can we do while we're there (at camp/mission trip/etc) to bring the experience back here (home)? 
  2. Create Corporate Traditions. Be intentional about creating traditions with students that they'll want to carry into the event each summer. 
  3. Create Open Spaces in the Schedule. This isn't about more "free" time but about "breathe" time.
  4. Bring Parents on the Journey. You don't necessarily have to bring all the parents with you but you do need to find ways to make sure parents know what is going on.


​Derry gives some incredible practical examples in the video and talks in more detail about each one of these 4 great ways that you can take your summer event to the next level.

See more YS Idea Lab's in our Idea Lab List on YouTube.

By Youth Specialties on June 08 2014 | 2 Comments

Trending This Week (June 6)

By Jacob Eckeberger on June 05 2014 | 0 Comments

Every Friday we pull our favorite links from across the inter-webs. This week we shared a 1Q interview with 3 incredible female youth pastors, looked at a post with 6 "must do's" for some soul care this summer, linked to a great conversation about the restoration of criminal youth, followed our favorite hashtags, and of course, provided ample supply for your weekend procrastination. 

Blogs From This Week

Our 1Q interview for women in youth ministry highlights 3 incredible female youth pastors and their responses to the question: "What excites you the most or challenges you the most about being a woman in youth ministry?" CLICK TO VIEW

Mark Matlock (@MarkMatlock) continues his 2 part interview with Dr. Dan Siegel (@DrDanSiegel) about his latest book "Brainstorm" and they discuss the power of cultural influences, our attachment to technology, and more practical applications for youth ministry: CLICK TO VIEW

We officially launched our newest resource YS Coaching! It is a resource designed to help you identify your core motivations, strengths, potential blind spots, and the ways you’ve been designed to best serve God and others. Check out more info: CLICK TO VIEW

Blogs From Other Great Youth Workers This Week

Conversations on the Fringe (@conversefringe) shared a great article entitled "Restroation of Criminal Youth." It's such a difficult but necessary conversation. CLICK TO VIEW

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley) put together a really practical list of "Must Do's" for some good soul care this summer: CLICK TO VIEW

Meredith Dodd (@meredithdodd) shared a passionate post entitled "To A Dying Church: We Cannot Escape Our Mortality." CLICK TO VIEW

Mary Glenn is one of the incredible folks over at @FullerFYI and she wrote a great post looking at what happened with one particular teen that had a passion for building a community garden: "Teens Building Assets in Their Own Communities." CLICK TO VIEW

The fantastic folks over at the DYM Webshow (@DYMWebshow) had a new episode full of solid youth ministry conversations and Mark Matlock snuck into the crew somehow: CLICK TO VIEW 

For Your Information

#YesAllWomen - CLICK TO VIEW : I wanted to include this to make sure you’re seeing what your students are probably seeing. This hashtag was started so that women could share their own stories of harassment, mistreatment, or thoughts about gender issues within our culture. I have found myself prayerfully reading through them from time to time. It would be good to be aware so that you can take advantage of teachable moments with your students if you hear them talking about it.  

#Hashtags To Review

Here are a quick list of some of our favorite #hashtags from this week. There is a ton of great insight behind each one. We pulled the twitter searches for each hashtag and made them clickable so you can easily view and scroll through all the youth worker wisdom in 140 characters or less. 

#impact2014 - CLICK TO VIEW : The North TX Annual UMC Conference (@umcNTC) took place this week and attendees shared a ton of inspirational live tweets as they walked through their vision for this next year. 
#eform14 - CLICK TO VIEW : There was an Epsicopal gathering in NJ (@DioceseofNJ) that spent a significant amount of time addressing youth and their incredible value within their congregations.
#pciga14 - CLICK TO VIEW : Presbyterian Church in Ireland (@pciassembly) had their annual gathering with lots of wisdom. It's even more fun reading them allowed with an Irish accent. 

Fun Things To Fuel Your Procrastination

I always knew Luigi was a gangster. "Luigi Ridin' Dirty" CLICK TO VIEW

Here's a guinea pig wearing an orange pepper as a hat... you're welcome. CLICK TO VIEW

Christopher Lee turned 92 and released his SECOND Metal album. Yea... that guy from Lord of the Rings has released 2 more Metal albums than I have. I want to be his friend. CLICK TO VIEW

The Top 3 Habits That Made Steve Jobs Awesome: CLICK TO VIEW

If things just aren't working out for you today, you're not alone. Enjoy watching other people in their frustration with Citi Bikes and let off some steam. "Human vs. Citi Bike: New York's Secret Struggle" CLICK TO VIEW

By Jacob Eckeberger on June 05 2014 | 0 Comments

1Q interview: For Women in Youth Ministry

By Jacob Eckeberger on June 03 2014 | 3 Comments

1Q interviews are when we ask multiple youth pastors the same question and share their response. This particular 1Q interview is with three of my youth pastor friends about their experience as women in youth ministry. 

Original photo from Elvin

1Q interview: For Women in Youth Ministry

My wife is on a church staff that is 2/3 women. Honestly, it has taken some getting used to. All of my past church experiences have had mostly male leadership. Now that I’m a part of “the lady church,” as it’s affectionately called in our town, I feel like I’m experiencing what it might be like for all my female friends in ministry that are a part of the minority. So I wanted to reach out to 3 of my female youth pastor friends to ask them the question, “What excites you the most or challenges you the most about being a woman in youth ministry?”


Colie Krueger Yth Minister at Community of Faith Lutheran in West Linn, Or:

What excites me about being a woman in youth ministry is the opportunity. The chance to minister, to bless, to change perspectives, to preach the gospel, to bring Christ’s redemption and healing to students, to disciple young believers, to see lives transformed. It is a gift. I wasn’t aware of the lack of women in the field until I went to a youth ministry conference this past year. There were around 200 youth pastors from the area invited for the weekend, and I was astounded to find only a handful of women in the room on opening night! I had no idea that I was such a minority. From that point of view, it feels like an honor to be in the role and to be accepted and uplifted by my colleagues.  In terms of the challenges I face as being a woman in youth ministry, I have never seen the struggles as being related to my gender. Rather most of the struggles I’ve come across in youth ministry arise from living in a fallen world, helping students battle pressures and lies of our culture, learning how to battle the attacks of the enemy and training my own heart to submit to the Lord's plans. My prayer is that God will enable more women to be used by Him in youth ministry; there are so many students who don’t know Jesus yet and long to hear about Him, and so many faithful sisters in Christ who radiate the gospel with their lives. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Mt. 9:37-38)


Brooke Holloway Associate Pastor of Yth & Missions at Memorial Baptist in Arlington, VA:

As a woman in youth ministry sometimes I am so aware of differences--and sometimes I feel alone.  But when I really pay attention, I discover that I'm not alone in feeling alone--feeling alone spans genders, experiences, life stages, locations.  I discover as we live into this life Christ has for us as his people that this is just the thing Jesus transforms, making something of us together: God's people in their many voices, interests,, if you will, coming together and working together for the good of God's Way of Life.  In my particular role as a woman in ministry I get the chance to encourage this Life-Together as God's people.  I get to be God's child and I get to play my part...and then, I get to encourage others--teenagers and adults alike--to be God's child and to play their parts. 


Brooklyn Lindsey Jr High Pastor at Highland Park in Lakeland, FL:

What excites me most? Seeing women and men working together in partnership. I am so proud of organizations who have seen imbalances in leadership and have worked together to make changes. I have been a part of these conversations and changes and feel like we have come a long way in some things. There are still some challenges but there's nothing we can't do together. 

By Jacob Eckeberger on June 03 2014 | 3 Comments

Brainstorm: An Interview with Dr. Dan Siegel - PART 2

By Youth Specialties on June 01 2014 | 0 Comments

If you missed PART 1 of the interview, here's the link: CLICK TO VIEW.

Mark Matlock continues his interview with Dr. Dan Siegel about his latest book "Brainstorm: The power and purpose of the teenage brain." In PART 2 of the interview (here's PART 1 if you missed it), Mark and Dr. Siegel discuss the power of cultural influences, our own attachment to technology, the science behind how those things effect teenage brain development, and a couple more practical applications within youth ministry. 

Check out more about Dr. Siegel's book "Brainstorm" at his website DrDanSiegel.comCLICK TO VIEW

By Youth Specialties on June 01 2014 | 0 Comments

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