Keys To Youth Ministry Longevity: Meet Rick South

Do you ever wonder what it takes to hang in for the long haul in youth ministry? Do you ever wonder what it takes to stay at the same church and have a fulfilling ministry? Today we begin a short series focused on youth ministry longevity and how to make a lasting impact in the lives of students…

I have known Rick South for eight years. He is someone I greatly respect as a youth ministry veteran and mentor. I met him when I lived in West Michigan and was in a network of youth pastors that met every Thursday morning at a local breakfast hang out. A couple of weeks ago my family and I vacationed back in West Michigan and I got to have breakfast with Rick and bunch of youth pastors, (at this really cool place called ‘Toast and Jams’). Read more

Win a $5000 Back to School Event from Simply Youth Ministry.

If you have not seen the latest Simply Youth Ministry Show podcast, you really should check it out now. On the show, Kurt Johnston announces how your youth ministry could win a $5000 back to school event. Watch the video to find out how.

You’ll also get some great tips and training from these brilliant guys!


Youth Ministry Training FREEBIE: Jesus Centered Youth Ministry

Here is a great FREEBIE for you! Whether you are a volunteer youth worker, or full-time in the trenches you should take 30 minutes to watch this training given by Rick Lawrence from Group Publishing. Thanks Rick!

You can also pick up Rick’s new book: 99 Thoughts on Jesus-Centered Living” – by Rick Lawrence


If Ministry Is Tough, It’s Time To Breathe

My good friend in ministry, Darren Sutton, made this video that communicates how he was able to breathe again in ministry. If you feel like you are suffocating in ministry, or need some time out to refresh, maybe you can take Darren’s advice?

Do I Need College Education In Youth Ministry?

Just last week, a couple of youth workers and myself were asked this question on twitter:

Anyone have info on the importance of a college education for a career in YM?

I gave a quick answer at the time, but here is a slightly longer answer…

1) Yes and No: If you are in full or part-time paid ministry I would say “yes”. If you are a volunteer my answer is “no”. However, I would challenge you to educate yourself and understand God’s Word, youth culture, and ministry skills as best as your time allows. Leaders should be learners, even if you are a volunteer. Volunteers have a huge impact on students. In my ministry, my volunteers are the heroes who truly are in the trenches investing in students. It’s imperative they are growing and learning…

2) College Gives Greater Theological Grounding: Being in full-time ministry, I have found that college forced me to get grounded theologically and gain valuable hermeneutical skills to teach and apply the Bible. I am not sure I would have forced myself otherwise?

3) College Gives Greater Youth Ministry Skills: No matter how much many would debate the value of theoretical college over practical real world youth ministry, there is still a great value in studying the “how’s and why’s” of youth ministry. In fact, many colleges use text books that are written by in the trenches veterans. Who wouldn’t want to learn from Duffy Robins and Doug Fields? Read more

FREE Video Training for Youth Workers and Their Teams

Leneita Fix has created some incredible training videos that are short, thought provoking and informative. If you check out her website, you can pick up more free training videos that come with discussion questions for you and your team to interact with.

Check out the first video by clicking here

Full Disclosure: Leneita is a good friend in ministry who guest blogs on However, I love her passion and content and love to pass these kind of resources along to others.




GROUP Magazine Live: Youth Leaders At Risk

I am excited to tell you about an excellent live podcast coming up on Sept 12th, 12:30pm MST. I am excited to three reasons: 1) The topic is close to my heart. 2) There’s some great surprize guests! 3) I’m going to be at GROUP Publishing HQ that day! Here’s what you can expect:

Group Magazine Live is a topical, live podcast that will run every two months to coincide with the current issue of Group Magazine.

GML’s second episode will discuss “Youth Leaders at Risk”. We will dive into the what, when, where, why, how a youth worker is to care for students, family, oh yeah and themselves! Guests will include cross-fit expert and 100 mile marathon veteran Andy Brazelton, Leneita Fix (founder of, and Darren Sutton (an in the trenches Youth Worker & Biggest Loser Applicant).  Oh and special surprise guests that might be musically inclined, super funny, or just some close ministry friends!  Rick Lawrence (Editor of Group Magazine) will host, & Toby Rowe (of Group WorkCamps) will co-host. Together they’ll expand on the topic of “Youth Leaders at Risk”, and how to combat the struggles of ministry, life, and health in order to personally draw nearer to Jesus.

Be sure to join the LIVE Q&A portion of this event when you arrive at  PLEASE INVITE your volunteers, fellow church staff, youth leaders, area pastors—even your parents! We’ll do our best to get to each of your questions.

To watch LIVE at 12:30pm MST on September 12th, 2011 click here or go to

12 Tips I Give My Volunteer Youth Workers – Part 2

In my previous post, I posted 6 of the 12 tips I give my leaders to help them be effective in their ministry. Here are the next 6…

As I said yesterday, some of these have been “borrowed” from friends, and some are my own specific tips. All in all, I hope they are tips you can use for your volunteer meetings and trainings, or training manual…

7. Be a Leader – Not their friend:  It’s a trap many leaders can fall into: Trying to get students to like them by being their friend. They already have lots of friends who give them bad advice; they need you to be a leader in their lives.

8. Be a Leader – Not a Chaperon: A chaperon will stand outside looking in at the group – Leaders are invested in the group and have relationships with the students. Be invested…

9. Be a Leader – Not a Parent: If you have a student at FUSION and they are acting out, don’t be the parent. Let another leader know, and let them handle it. It will save embarrassment and also give you the night off of parenting…

10. Find Contact Time Outside of FUSION: Students will really know you care when you send them a postcard (available in the black cabinet), Facebook them, show up to the last 15 minutes of a game, text them. If you have 30 minutes a week, you can easily do this…

11. Read Phil’s emails: The more plugged in you are with events, meetings, and latest happenings, will help you communicate events better with students and help you to know what is happening as a whole.

12. Check the website: For calendar, videos, teaching plans, curriculum, and training documents. These are all here to simplify your ministry and save you time with phone calls, emails, and text messages to Phil.

There you go… So what you add to this list? What tips do you give your leaders?

Phil <><

12 Tips I Give My Volunteer Youth Workers – Part 1

If you are looking to train your leaders and help them be successful in what they do, it’s important to come up with a training manual that is quick and easy to read. It also should be highly practical.

Below is a page from my volunteer leaders manual. They are 12 tips I give my leader to be successful in youth ministry. Some of these tips have been borrowed from friends and books. Thanks Doug Fields for a couple! Feel free to borrow what you like!

Here are the first 6 tips I give my youth leaders… the rest will be posted in part 2, tomorrow… 

1. Be Consistent: This is the best way to develop great relationships with students. When students know you are going to be there consistently, they are more likely to share their joys and struggles with you…

2. Show up a few minutes early if you can? The most awkward time for students is the first 15 minutes. A caring adult makes all the difference. In addition, some of the best conversations happen in the first 15 minutes when there are few people around.

3. Stay a few minutes at the end? When students are leaving is sometimes the best opportunity to listen to how kids are doing or what God is challenging them in. (They might not share this in small group, but might want to talk alone after).

4. Join or Start a Game: It feels forced and awkward to walk up to a group of students. Instead, join them in a game or activity where you can ease your way into their lives. Before you know it, questions about their week and school seem natural.

5. Ask lots of Questions: The best way to show you care and to find out about students lives is to learn a repertoire of questions: “What’s your name? What school do you attend? What do you do when you are not here or at school? How would your friends describe you? What’s the highlight of your week? What’s the low point of your week?

6. Avoid “Leader Huddles”: It’s great to catch up with each other, but we need to make sure that our conversations and catch-ups are brief. It’s important to make the most of every opportunity we have with students…

Well, there’s the first 6 for you. Check back to see the rest!

Phil <><


Group Magazine Live Podcast: Episode 1 – Sexual Sin

It’s no secret, I am a HUGE fan of Group Magazine! I am so excited that they are creating a podcast that continues the conversation centered around content from the current edition. It’s “Group Magazine Live”. Here’s their official announcement:

GML’s first show will air LIVE on Thursday, July 21, 2011, at 9:00am (MST) at So mark your calendars…and click here to RSVP via Facebook! This show will be about sexual sin featuring Craig Gross of, Jeffery Wallace (author of, “Urban Youth Ministry Start to Finish”), & Danette Matty of, Rick Lawrence as the host, Toby Rowe as co-host. Together they’ll expand on the topic of sexual sin in the church, youth ministry, pastoral positions, and everyday life.

The format will be similar to what you’ve seen before, but you there will be a huge addition of LIVE Q&A interaction with you the viewer!

Link to the facebook event – PLEASE RSVP

Link to the Related Featured Articles from this Issue of Group Magazine…read up be educated on the topic.

Link to Blog Post

Check it out. The first episode is going to be HUGE!

Phil <><

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