Youth Specialties Blog

Trending This Week (Aug 8)

By Jacob Eckeberger on August 07 2014 | 0 Comments

Every Friday we pull our favorite links from across the inter-webs. This week's trending links include a great letter from a parent, a look at the newest Sticky Faith resource from FYI, how to keep perspective with all the craziness at the beginning of the school year, and plenty of fuel for your procrastination. 

Blogs From This Week

Josh Griffin (@JoshuaGriffin) shared some great practical ideas: "Forgot to prep for small group? 7 Helpful Ideas" CLICK TO VIEW

Terry Linhart (@TerryLinhart) interviewd Chad Meister (@ChadvMeister) in a YS Roundtable discussing "How to help teens who don't believe in God" CLICK TO VIEW

Blogs From Other Great Youth Workers This Week

Katie Edwards wrote a great email to her team on "Inside the Mind of an Incoming Freshman Parent" CLICK TO VIEW

A great new resource from Fuller Youth Institute (@FullerFYI) to forward on to your parents: "Sticky Faith Guide For Your Family" - CLICK TO VIEW

Interlinc (@Interlinc) shared a great post on keeping perspective at the start of a new school year: “The Long View” CLICK TO VIEW

Linda Jacobs (@DC4KLinda) wrote a great piece reflecting on “The Importance of Replacing Rituals for the Child of Divorce” -  CLICK TO VIEW 

Fun Things To Fuel Your Procrastination

When your plumbing breaks, you could be furious or you could make music with it: CLICK TO VIEW

Jeff Goldblum made an appearance in this couple’s wedding photo and then turned it into a scene from Jurassic Park: CLICK TO VIEW

The loneliest dog in the world: CLICK TO VIEW 

I've always wanted to be carried by monks: CLICK TO VIEW

"Apparently" this kid is awesome and steals the show during an interview: CLICK TO VIEW

By Jacob Eckeberger on August 07 2014 | 0 Comments

YS Roundtable: How to help teens who don’t believe in God

By Youth Specialties on August 05 2014 | 0 Comments

In this YS Roundtable, Terry Linhart interviews Chad Meister, Professor of Philosophy at Bethel College in Indiana to discuss how youth workers can help teens who don’t believe in God.

If you don't have time to watch the full video, here are some great highlights:

- Approach the conversation as a dialogue where we are willing to share, listen, and even learn from a student's experiences. 

- We have to be real. We don't know all the answers and we can't pretend to. 

- We can't shy away from sharing our story and pointing to our experiences with God as evidence that God exists.

- We have to approach the conversation intelligently which requires us to study elements of science and philosophy.  

- We should keep to the essential issues of faith and resist submitting to traditions for the sake of the traditions themselves. It will give us more freedom for God to lead us into all understanding, even if it looks different than we thought it would. 

Check out more YS Roundtable videos HERE

By Youth Specialties on August 05 2014 | 0 Comments

Forgot to prep for small group? 7 Helpful Ideas

By Josh Griffin on August 03 2014 | 0 Comments

Original photo by Jah.

It’s the night your small group is meeting and the day has gotten away from you. You didn’t have time to prepare anything. You can’t just walk in turn it into a game night because students come to small group to learn right? What do you do?

Here are 7 things you can always keep in your back pocket when you didn’t have time to prepare a lesson. These should have appropriate boundaries, and as always we need to be careful with what we share.

Share your testimony

I’m convinced there are very few things that are more powerful than your story. Hopefully, you are honest and able to share your life with your students. Tell them what life was like before you met Christ, tell them the transformation Christ has made in you, and tell them what your life is like today. One of the greatest things about being open and vulnerable with your group is it can show them it is OK to be open and vulnerable with you. Encourage them to think about their story and have them share it with the group at some point in the year.

Share your love story

Girls love, love. Guys won’t admit it, but many of them want to have good relationships and will be focused in, too! If you are dating or married, share your love story with them. How did you meet? What did you do? How did you propose? How does that person make you happy? What are difficult things? How does Jesus play a role in your lives? It can easily open up the conversation about love/sex/dating/God and could be a powerful night.

Share an authentic struggle

Everyone struggles. You as a leader, struggle with temptations, sins and pains. If you don’t have something prepared, go in sharing something you genuinely struggle with in your life. Be open. Be honest. Be bold. Then talk about how you are working through it, how God is working in you and areas in your life where you have accountability. It could be a great night to talk about accountability partners and to pray for others who are struggling with certain things as well. Remember this isn’t YOUR small group, you are leading them, but there’s nothing wrong with being honest about life. #realtalk

Share your favorite verse

As we grow in our relationship with God there are certain verses in Scripture that stick out to you more than others. Go into the group and share your favorite verse with them and tell them the story in which why this verse means so much to you. Then ask if anyone else has a go to verse and why. It could be a great way to spend the night at group!

Share Your High School Experience

Now my high school experience wasn’t all that dramatic – but there were some ups and downs that students can relate to. And no matter your story, that doesn’t mean sharing won’t be effective. You going through high school means you have felt like they have felt on some level. You know what its like to have friend groups, teachers, homework, sports and get a chance to share how you handled it all. Good or bad! So share your experience and see what the students in your group think, feel, agree or disagree with. It could be a great insight on what is happening in your student’s schools, too!

Share what you see in them

This type of night can be super powerful. What student does not want their leader to tell them what they see in them and how proud they are of them? I know my own life was changed because a leader looked me in the eyes and told me the future he saw in me. It changed the direction of my life and God was able to work through it. Do the same with your small group!

Have a prayer night

A night of prayer should never be back up plan, obviously. But having a night where you have nothing prepped could be an opportunity for you to talk about prayer and open it up to the group to talk about prayer requests. Who knows, maybe it would open a door to which they see the need for prayer and they will want it a bigger part of the group? Having a night where students are praying for each other never is a bad thing. Allow God to move.

Thoughts? Push back?

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 August 03 2014 | 0 Comments

Trending This Week (Aug 1)

By Jacob Eckeberger on July 31 2014 | 0 Comments

Every Friday we pull our favorite links from across the inter-webs. This week's trending links include a look at the real impact of violent video games, examining how to measure success in youth ministry, 7 requirements of a small group leader, and plenty of fuel for your procrastination. 

Blogs From This Week

Neely McQueen (@NeelyM) shares some great insight for any youth worker: "What You Need to Know About Ministering to Girls" CLICK TO VIEW

In a new 1Q interview, 3 incredible youth workers respond to the question: "What boundaries do you set for yourself and your youth leaders on social media?" CLICK TO VIEW

Blogs From Other Great Youth Workers This Week

Fuller (@FullerFYI) takes a look at violence in video games: "Shoot to Kill: The Real Impact of Violent Video Games" CLICK TO VIEW

FaithIt posted a great look at the students that are staying in the church and why they choose to: "3 Common Traits of Youth That Don't Leave the Church" CLICK TO VIEW

Tim Walk (@walkthetim) wrote a post about measuring your successes in youth ministry: "Redefine the Win" CLICK TO VIEW

Justin Knowles (@JustinKnowles3) shared some great things to look for in small group leaders: "7 Requirments of a Small Group Leader" CLICK TO VIEW 

Leneita Fix (@LeneitaFix) wrote an ecnouraging post for youth ministry veterans: "Dear Youth Ministry Veterans" CLICK TO VIEW

Fun Things To Fuel Your Procrastination

The best way to win a water balloon fight (with magic): CLICK TO VIEW

This guy is just as confused about math as some head pastors are about their youth workers: CLICK TO VIEW

A kid makes a brave attempt during the Commonwealth Games and of course... falls on his face on TV: CLICK TO VIEW 

Sometimes you need to see a supercut of people passing out on live TV to know that it can always be worse: CLICK TO VIEW

Cocoa farmers trying chocolate for the first time: CLICK TO VIEW

By Jacob Eckeberger on July 31 2014 | 0 Comments

1Q intervew: Social Media Boundaries

By Jacob Eckeberger on July 29 2014 | 3 Comments

Original photo by Andrew Fysh.

It’s easier than ever to connect with and encourage students through social media. There are so many benefits to using social media to reach students that it can be easy to forget the importance of having simple self-imposed boundaries that help protect youth workers and students. In this 1Q interview, we ask 3 incredible youth ministers to share their expertise in response to this question: 

What boundaries do you establish for yourself and your youth leaders on social media?

Heather Campbell is the Associate Director of Youth Ministry for Junior High at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, IN.

Our Youth Ministry team actually just adopted a social media policy to be established in the fall for all volunteers and staff.  We recognize that social media is the number one way of communicating directly with students, and don't want to discourage that!  In fact, Instagram has helped my relationships with my students grow, as I'm still relatively new to the church.  The main boundary that we have established is to make sure that all communication between adults and students is traceable--this means that social media like Facebook and Twitter are great, while Snapchat and Ask.FM are not so.  Another advisement that we have is that when texting, be cautious about autocorrect (which I fail miserably at), abbreviations (like LOL, JK, LMAO, etc!), and emoticons.  We also advise that you should always proof-read before you post, and if you think it has some way of being misconstrued, don't post it!  Best example: One time I accidentally texted a student back, "Sorry, I'm really busty today. :-*" Well, I added the kissy face to prove a point to you, and that point is: Use common sense and proof-read what you post!

Jackson Fong is the Student Ministry Pastor at First Baptist Church of Downey overseeing Middle School through College.

I believe that scripture provides great boundaries and guidelines for living today, including how we interact in social media.

1 Peter 4:11 says “Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” (NLT)

In light of this verse, I think that our Social Media interactions with students should be R.E.D. lettered.

  1. Rely on CHRIST – Social media tends to have a lot of ‘self’ focus. We should point to God and the students need to lean heaviest on HIM (1 Peter 4:11). We can’t always be there and we don’t have all the answers. (This also helps us to avoid a ton of other pitfalls.)
  2. Edify, Bless and Encourage – How will this help the student? How will our posts set us and them apart? Where in the post might they find Jesus?
  3. Dedicated interactions should be via other forums – Small groups, personal interactions, mentoring can use social media, but can’t replace it.

Stephen Ingram is the Director of Student Ministries at Canterbury United Methodist Church in Birmingham, AL, a coach with Youth Ministry Architects, and author of "Hollow Faith and [extra] Ordinary Time."

I use three simple rules when determining how and what social media I use.

  1. Am I ethically ok with the basis of this social media platform? Facebook? Yes. Instagram? Yes. Snap Chat? No. Not only is it used and can be used for very unethical purposes several documents including details of its founding included in this great piece by Adam McLane make it very clear the founding and intent of snap chat is not something I would want to promote or support, especially in my student ministry. If this were not enough, the liability of not being able to control exactly what comes on my phone’s screen is also a huge problem. What a 13 year old boy thinks is funny can often be illegal. Seriously.
  2. Would I be happy if a students parent saw what I posted or commented? If there is even a hesitation, do not do it. It is not worth it and once it is on the internet you cannot take it back.
  3. Lastly, what purpose is this serving and can I do this more effectively in a more personal way? Social media has been a great tool for student ministry but it has also, in many ways, taken away much of our personal connections. We can communicate so efficiently through it and get so many details about each others lives that we often mistake that for a deeper more intimate interaction. It can be good but is not an apples to apples substitute for sitting across from a student breathing the same air.

Be wise as snakes and gentle as doves in the social media jungle and you will do well in student ministry!

By Jacob Eckeberger on July 29 2014 | 3 Comments

YS Idea Lab: What You Need to Know About Ministering to Girls

By Youth Specialties on July 27 2014 | 0 Comments

With male youth workers far outnumbering female youth workers, it is more likely that a female student might feel out of place in a youth ministry than a male student. To help youth workers understand why female students might feel this way, Neely McQueen shares 5 lies that girls believe about themselves or the world in this great YS Idea Lab with Josh Griffin.

If you don't have time for the full video, here's a quick list of the 5 lies that Neely explains:  

  1. My body defines me
  2. The opposite sex defines me 
  3. Relationships are not a safe place for me
  4. I am more safe online than guys
  5. There is no place for me at church

Check out more YS Idea Labs on our YouTube channel HERE

By Youth Specialties on July 27 2014 | 0 Comments

Trending This Week (July 25)

By Jacob Eckeberger on July 24 2014 | 0 Comments

Every Friday we pull our favorite links from across the inter-webs. This week's trending links include a conversation about supervision vs. surveillance with media, thoughts about getting ready for the fall, 7 things that are good to know when starting in ministry, and plenty of fuel for your procrastination. 

Blogs From This Week

Mike King (@MDKing) shared about the dangers of fear-based tactics whn raising support for youth ministry: "Demonizing Teenagers" CLICK TO VIEW

Charles Rikard (@CharlesRikard) wrote a guest post about how easy it can be to create a self-focused ministry: "Are You Creating a Self-Serving Youth Ministry?" CLICK TO VIEW

Blogs From Other Great Youth Workers This Week

Fuller (@FullerFYI) is continuing a great conversation on students and media: "My [Own] Space: Supervision vs. Surveillance" CLICK TO VIEW

Bill Nance (@BillNance79) reminds us about using summer to prep for fall ministry: "Getting Ready for the Fall" CLICK TO VIEW

The good folks at YouthMinistry360 (@YM360) wrote about ways to use the last remaining weeks of summer: "Summer is Winding Down... Are You Ready?" CLICK TO VIEW

Carey Nieuwhof (@Cnieuwhof) took a look back at his time in ministry and shared some great insights that all youth workers can learn from: "7 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Before Starting Ministry" CLICK TO VIEW 

The Huffington Post shared a great post that you could easily forward onto your students: "11 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started High School" CLICK TO VIEW

Fun Things To Fuel Your Procrastination

Sometimes you just gotta throw your walking sticks down and DANCE! "Opa! Grandpa!" CLICK TO VIEW

Weird Al continues his reign of hilarity with his song "Handy" (A cover of "Fancy"). CLICK TO VIEW

The SKITZY CHICKS shared a fun forwardable video to your parents: "All Mom Wants for Back to School": CLICK TO VIEW 

Jimmy Fallon and Dwayne Johnson make a workout video: CLICK TO VIEW

Rhett and Link remind us all that no matter how terrible a vacation can be, it's still vacation: "I'm on Vacation!" CLICK TO VIEW

By Jacob Eckeberger on July 24 2014 | 0 Comments

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