Merry Christmas from Download Youth Ministry!

Posted by Josh Griffin


Merry Christmas from DYM!

This is a great time of year! That is… once you get past the volunteer party, the white elephant gift exchange, the students showering you with gift cards (what? That doesn’t happen to you?*), the Christmas Eve service, the Christmas Eve candlelight service, the Christmas Day food coma, and the visit from the in-laws and that one creepy uncle. Tis the season!

As we wrap up 2014 we wanted to say thank you for partnering with us in the trenches of youth ministry. We have so many great content creators, DYMwebshow friends, DYM Members, and even a few parents of homeschool kids who depend on our resources. Thank you!

Enjoy a day or two off (hopefully more) and we’re going to crash too.** So be like us and take some time off, cozy up next to someone or something you love (like your cat mittens), and watch something you love (Netflix binge forthcoming), and enjoy the Christmas break as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

If you need something quick when you come out of your ham and sweet potato coma, we’ll only be one click away magically waiting for you. Excited about all that’s ahead in 2015.***

Merry Christmas!

Helping youth workers win,
Doug Fields, Josh Griffin & the DYM Team

*Totally fabricated.
**We may take a couple days off, but we promise all DYM Members will get their member-goodies on 1/1/15.
***Our membership is going to change in 2015 so be sure to lock-in at current prices.

Merry Christmas from DYM!

Posted by Josh Griffin

Merry Christmas from all of us at DYM! Thanks for all you do and we're thankful to share in this holiday season together. Blessings as you celebrate with friends and family today!


GUEST POST: Experiencing the New Birth of Christmas

Posted by Josh Griffin

Every since I was a little kid, I have loved Christmas.   Like, at a hyperactive level.  Each morning in December, I used to run down the stairs first thing in order to move the Advent calendar to the next day. When the movie Elf was released in 2003, one of  the good friends at the time told me that Elf reminded them of me.

I’ll take that as a compliment.  

But honestly, I was most excited about the presents,  the incandescent lighting, the decorations, and that tin box full of sugar cookies.  The real meaning of Christmas, as we often hear, gets lost, and looking back as a young teenager, it was awfully hard not to be distracted by all the other Christmas “stuff”.

When we hear about Christmas in church, we hear  alot of “God with us”, and that is true, but what does that mean to us today?  More important, why should this matter to teenagers?

The author of the gospel of John doesn’t talk about  Mary, Joseph, the wise men, or the shepherds.  As John often does, he attempts to display a different angle on our Christology.  Instead of beginning his gospel in a literal fashion, he does so in a philosophical and theological manner:

In the beginning the Word already existed. The  Word was with God, and  the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him,    and  nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,    and  his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and  the darkness can never extinguish it.

Jesus’ birth occurred for a host of reasons, one  of which was to bring “his life (that) brought light to everyone”.  This life and light that Jesus brings is undefeated, inextinguishable.

The Incarnation is a powerful mystery in its origin  and reality, and yet it is accessible to all humans at the same time.  

God came to be with us so that God could live  IN us.  The good news of the Incarnation is that, through the new birth of the Holy Spirit, we can not just “go to heaven when we die”, but actually become like Christ here on earth, (hopefully) bringing light and life to all WE encounter as well.  The  Christmas story is indeed a gift to receive, but it is equally important as a gift to share.  

May you experience this new birth for yourself this  holiday season.  Let us encourage our teenagers to do the same.  

Clark Chilton is a student ministries pastor from Clemmons NC.

Download Youth Ministry Webshow: Special Movie Show - Selma

Posted by Josh Griffin

Here's a special show about faith, movies and the upcoming film Selma. We had fun creating this show and are excited to see the movie when it opens this holiday season! 

The unforgettable true story chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernay's "Selma" tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.

Make Your Message Stick

Posted by Christopher Wesley

We’ve all had those nights where we wonder, “Did anything I stay stick?” Nothing can be more frustrating than wondering if what you said was heard.


It might have been after a message you delivered to the students.  It could be in a conversation during their small groups.  We want to know what we say matters.  

To make your message stick takes work, and practice. That might seem like a lot to ask, but it’s worth it.  To get your point across and make sure you are heard: 


The better you listen the better you will communicate. When you listen you learn about your audience.  For them to listen you need to know what’s important and what’s relevant.  That only comes from listening and learning about others.


Pausing creates tension.  Tension grabs people’s attention.  Before delivering a message don’t be afraid to start with silence. This will allow people to gain focus.

In a small group don’t be afraid to pause after a question.  This will allow people to process what you are saying.  The reason things might not stick is because you are rushing from one point to the next.


It’s possible to teach too much. Before delivering a message answer the questions:

  • What do I want them to know?
  • What do I want them to do?
When you answer those questions focus on the answers. When you communicate everything nothing will stick.


People tend to tune out poor communicators. Practicing in your head and aloud is essential.  This will help you get the pace, tone and articulation down.

Give yourself more than 20 minutes to rehearse. If you are a communicator make it one of the most important things you do all week.  People will not only listen to but follow a good communicator.

Making your message stick doesn’t mean you have to think outside the box.  It’s about bringing it to a level of excellence and understanding your audience

What communication tips have picked up along the way?




Topics: messages

DYM Author Spotlight: Derek Parson

Posted by Josh Griffin

What’s your full name? Derek Dewaine Parson

Where did you grow up? A little town in Ohio called Leesville.

Tell us about your church:  I am the associate Pastor of Youth and Media at the Laurel Nazarene Church in Laurel, Delaware. (laurelnazarene.org)  I have been here for about 2 months.  Before that I was the youth pastor at a church in Pennsylvania for 9 years.  

What’s a nick name you’ve been given…but you hate. Why? I don’t have any nicknames that I hate. But, interestingly, I was named Derek because my mom thought that people wouldn’t be able to shorten it.  However, in college people shortened it to “D”.  Sorry mom!

What’s your favorite TV show from the 80’s? (If you are too young to remember the 80’s, pick A.L.F.) The A TEAM!  Gotta love a show with tons of machine guns being fired all over the place, and no one ever getting shot.  

Computer or TV? Computer

How old were you when you first felt called to ministry? I was 17. Before I felt called to youth ministry I planned on being a cartoonist.

Would you rather kick a puppy or make a baby cry? Make a baby cry.  Babies cry all the time anyways, and what kind of monster would kick a puppy?

What’s a recent EPIC youth ministry mistake? I apparently said “sext” instead of “text” during announcements.  

Have you ever left a kid on an event/camp/retreat/missions trip/etc.? Have you ever wanted to? No, and most definitely Yes!

What do you enjoy doing outside of youth ministry? I am a Star Wars nerd, coffee enthusiast, and I love just spending time with my wife, Aubree.  

Are you a good dancer? Only if being embarrassing to my wife is considered “good”.

What color shoes are you wearing? gray 

What’s the worst injury that’s happened on one of your event/camp/retreat/missions trip/etc.? broken arm.  

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you hate ALL NIGHTERS? (1 = stab me in the eye and 10 = stab me in the eye with a spoon) 10.  I hate them and we don’t do them.  They are not needed, and cause more harm than good for families and volunteers.  

How good are you at keeping receipts? Does your church administrator love or hate you? It depends on the month.

What would you do if you could be invisible for one day? Sneak into the filming of Star Wars Episode VII

He is a nerd! And one we love here at DYM. You can check out all of Derek's resources on DYM right here! 



FREE Upside Down Christmas Lesson from LeaderTreks

Posted by Josh Griffin


Upside Down Christmas includes 2 Bible-based Lessons for helping students engage with the King who was born on Christmas, and how his coming to earth turned the world upside down. These interactive lessons will take students deeper into what it looks like to have Jesus as the King of their life, and how to live out the values of the Kingdom, rather than just the values of a holiday season. Get it FREE from Leadertreks




POLL: Do Hollywood Bible Story Films Help Students?

Posted by Josh Griffin

Was talking to my friend Adam today about recent Hollywood films and their effect on the faith of his students. He wasn't sure if films like Noah, Exodus: Gods & Kings, etc were helping or hindering the students. I definitely think they are an interesting and  helpful part of spiritual conversations - but thought I would toss it to you for this week's youth ministry poll question! Vote now!




Leadership Lessons From The Nativity Scene

Posted by Justin Knowles

The following is an article I wrote that originally appeared on our friends over Youth Ministry 360's site:


When I look at the nativity scene, I see the amazing story of the incredible lengths God will go to in order to redeem humankind. But I also see some pretty great leadership principles we can applly in our ministries.

Here are a few places I see lessons we can learn as leaders of ministries. I wonder what lessons you would add?

The Angel and Mary

There is no way Mary could fully comprehend what the birth of Jesus meant. Certainly, she had an idea. But she couldn't fully see where it would go. All she had was what God told her through an angel. And she had faith to keep moving.

We can find ourself in a similar situation when God gives us a glimpse of what's possible in our ministries. Don’t apologize for the vision God has given you for your ministry. People might not understand or be on board at first. But the best thing we can do as pastors who lead ministries is to stick to the vision God has given us (if we understand it or not), and keep our faith that His promises are true. God will always come through, often in ways we never even imagined.

The question is, “Are you listening to God for what He has to say about the ministry you are leading and have faith to keep it?“


I can't even imagine what this could have been like. A pregnant fiancé and the kid is not yours? It’s God’s? What?! We know that Joseph was planning on divorcing Mary quietly before the angel came to him. Joseph showed major character for handling the situation.We can learn from his example.

In ministry, we will have plenty of hard situations come our way. We need to remember that a good leader remembers that inside character is far more valuable than outside reputation. We need to keep on building our character and not worry about what the other church is doing down the street. 

No Room In The Inn

Mary and Joseph were told "no." And yet, they adapted and overcame. The rest is history.

Sometimes when leading, people are going to tell you there is no room for an idea of a plan. Take it with a grain of salt. One of my favorite things is when people tell me, “We can’t do that.” Now, maybe we can’t. But if we feel our idea is going to reach the most students for the Gospel, I’m for sure going to try it. I’d rather fail trying to reach kids in ways that have not been done before than not try at all. We need to be creative. We might not have everything we want, but we have everything we need to reach students.

God used a dirty stable to bring glory to Himself. God can use our resources to reach students for Him. 

The Wise Men

They were seeking after God, following the light. In ministry it can be really easy to fall into doing what you want to do and not seeking God in the process. If He is not in it, no matter what happens, it’s not considered successful. We have to constantly be asking, “Is this what we feel God is leading us to do or is this what I feel the cool thing is to do?” I have to ask myself this all of the time. As a pastor, we need to be seeking after God in everything our ministry does. I’m sure I am preaching to the choir here.  But even so, we all need to be reminded of this. We only can minister out of the outflow of the Holy Spirit in us. So let’s make sure we are like the wise men and keep headed towards Him.

These are my takeaways. What leadership princples do you see at work in the Christmas narrative?


Youth Ministry 101: Relational Ministry - Part 2

Posted by Josh Griffin

How To Build Stronger Biblical Fellowship... part 2

Avoid Causing Guilt
If a student hasn’t been around for a few weeks or months, NEVER, EVER, EVER say, “Where have you been?” This puts a person on the spot and creates guilt. Instead say, “It’s great you are here.” Work hard to show unconditional acceptance. We don’t need to make people feel guilty, we all accomplish this fine on our own without any “help” from others.

Share personal stories
Don’t make yourself the star of the conversation, but you also don’t want it to be one sided. Be transparent and share about your life. You aren’t interrogating your students, you are having a two-way conversation.

Follow up
When a student tells you about something that’s coming up next week, ask them about it a week later. Imagine the impact you’ll have when you cared enough to remember an important detail about their life.

Spend time one on one
Great ministry happens outside of youth ministry programs. Show up to a game or take them to lunch. Life is busy and while it may not be possible to spend time with a student every week, but if you can make it a goal to meet with a student once a month, your relationships will go deeper. Remember to only spend one on one time wisely—stick with your gender! A guy leader should NEVER spend time along with a female student...and vise versa.

Pray consistently and specifically
God cares more about our ministry than we do—we’re just stewards of the students entrusted to us. Make the time to talk to Jesus about the your students. He will tell you how to minister to them.

Remember that building friendships take time
There’s no such thing as a microwave for relationships. They take time—a lot of it. I wish there was a formula for instant intimacy, but there isn’t. Make a commitment to last for the long haul. Significant relationships don’t happen overnight.

Know that your conversations make a difference
It may not seem like it at first, but when you engage students on a personal level you are making an investment that does have benefits—even if you don’t see them. Over the years, I’ve had countless parents say, “Thank for taking the time to talk with Chris!” Meanwhile, I’ll replay the conversation with Chris in my head and I would have sworn he was in a coma. Students will appreciate the fact that you are authentically engaging them.

What’s missing from this list? What are some ways you have deepened your relationships with others? There’s a lot here ... pick one or two and put them into practice for a month. Once you feel like you hit a plateau, return to this list and work on a few others. Healthy leaders are learners. As soon as you stop learning, you stop leading.

Matt McGill is one of the cofoudners of Download Youth Ministry and is now the family pastor of a church in Pismo Beach, CA.



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Josh Griffin


Josh is the High School Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co- founder of DYM and is the father of 4 who speaks a little, writes a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot.


Doug Fields

doug_fieldsDoug Fields is a 30+ year youth ministry veteran who is the Author of 50+ books, Founder of Simply Youth Ministry, Speaker, Pastor, Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth & Family at Azusa Pacific University, and a Partner in DYM.

Rachel Blom


Rachel Blom is from The Netherlands originally and has youth ministry experience in several countries, both as a volunteer and on staff.

Matt McGill


Blogging with eternal wisdom. Matt McGill is the visionary behind Download Youth Ministry. He convinced his 2 friends Josh and Doug to partner with him and create this whole place.

Justin Knowles


Justin Knowles is the Lead Next Gen. Pastor of Christ's Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. He oversees Jr. High, High School and College ministries at the church.

Colton Harker


Blogging about his First 2 Years in Youth Ministry. Colton is just starting out in youth ministry and blogs about what he is learning along the way.

Christopher Wesley


Blogging serving at a Catholic Church. Chris Wesley has been in youth ministry for over 9 years as the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Maryland.

Jen Bradbury

Jen-BradburyJen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus and her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. She also blogs regularly at www.YMJen.com

Neely McQueen

Jen-BradburyBlogging about girls' ministry. Neely McQueen has been working with students for over 15 years. She works in Student Ministries at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA.

Laneita Fix

Jen-BradburyAuthor, Speaker, Director Ministry Development for Asian Youth Ministries. Love 22 years of working with youth and equipping others in the trenches in youth ministry.

Geoff Stewart

Jen-BradburyGeoff Stewart serves the Jr/Sr High School Pastor at Peace Portal Alliance Church in Surrey B.C. and doesn't appreciate the jokes about being Canadian (unless they are funny of course).

Kara Powell

Jen-BradburyDr. Kara E. Powell is executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. A 20- year youth ministry veteran, she speaks regularly at youth ministry conferences and is author or co-author of a number of books and volunteers in student ministry at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, CA.

Walt Mueller

Jen-BradburyBlogging about youth culture and current events. Dr. Walt Mueller is the founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, a non-profit organization serving schools, churches, and community organizations across the U.S, Canada, and worldwide in their efforts to strengthen families.

Duffy Robbins

Jen-BradburyDuffy travels the world speaking to teenagers and people who care about teenagers. Both in the classroom and in camps, conferences and seminars, he's well known for his insights, inspiration and humor.

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