BIG NEWS: Josh Griffin Leaves More Than Dodgeball Blog After 7 Years to Start New Youth Ministry Blog

My good friend Josh Griffin is taking a BIG leap of faith. We’ve been doing-life-together for more than a decade and I’ve been thrilled to watch him grow as a husband, dad, leader, youth pastor, teacher and blogger. It’s really so fun to watch people you love develop right in front of you. I’m so proud of him and have become his biggest fan. And, now he’s taking another big risk 10 years later (first one was moving from Michigan to California to work with me):

He’s jumping from the safety and security of having the most popular blog in youth ministry… to essentially start over. Josh and I are joining forces to do one super youth ministry blog on the newly designed DownloadYouthMinistry.com/blog . 

That’s right! It’s BIG news in the small youth ministry space–that as of next week Josh is leaving the uber-popular blog that he created (but owned by Simply Youth Ministry) called More Than Dodgeball–where he wrote more than 6,000 blog posts and collected over 18,000 comments.

Here’s what Josh wrote on his blog this past week that I thought was really challenging, especially now that you know more of the story:

When God says go, you go. But remember sometimes the leap of faith means staying and sticking it out.

Isn’t it funny when God gives you peace about something that sounds crazy? Don’t stay because of a false sense of security. But don’t leave because of big challenges ahead.

The key is obedience. Obey God’s voice when He speaks to you. Sometimes he SHOUTS, sometimes you can barely figure out what He is saying. But when you do it is unmistakable and our only response must be to obey.

I hope you attempt something crazy this next season in ministry. I hope you take a leap of faith into the unknown, I hope you are listening to what God is telling you to do next. A great adventure lies ahead!

Here’s what I respect about this whole move: Josh is leaving something that is easy and safe behind for a journey that he believes God has called him to go on. He is leaving easy street and a huge audience–in essence taking a big risk–in order to own his own content and have the freedom to do what he wants. It’s a bold move… not an easy one and Josh feels a strong sense of peace and confidence from God.

Josh has spent years faithfully caring for this youth ministry audience and helping them with practical, in-the-trenches material. I have no doubt that these people will follow–Josh’s stuff is just so good and helpful.

In addition, I’m going to stop blogging here and combine forces with Josh (how fun to bring together the #1 and #2 youth ministry blogs!). Josh isn’t writing a “goodbye” post on More Than Dodgeball, but he will have a really fun “hello” post next week at DownloadYouthMinistry.com.

I get excited when people I love risk and take big leaps of faith. How about you?

What my kids learned from Student Leadership Conference (Dallas)

My friend and veteran youth worker, Neely McQueen, put this on her blog (http://www.morethangossip.com) last week. I know it’s a long shot, but there’s still time for you to take a few kids to one of our two Student Leadership Conferences. We’d love to have you (or one of your leaders) bring a few to experience it. Of course, I’m a little biased… I think it’s a great experience. So, instead of listening to me… here’s Neely:

Last week I took 10 student to the Student Leadership Conference in Dallas, Texas. We had a great time there and I left with a group of students challenged and instructed to step into their full potential as a leader in our ministry.

Top 5 Moments at SLC:

1. Watching my students STEP up to serve when given the chance.

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They didn’t have to choose to serve dinner to the entire conference but when the opportunity presented itself they rose to the occasion. In moments like this one I saw my students potential to serve and to lead. They had great attitudes and had fun. I had glimpses of the hope I have for them.

2. Watching my students STRUGGLE to figure stuff out.

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The students received several “leadership challenges” and it was good to watch them work hard to complete it. They needed to work well together…this is where they struggled. I took a group of young students who are new(er) to leadership. They haven’t worked together before and were trying to figure out how to communicate with each other…and deal with each other’s personalities and quirks. It was a good struggle. If they figured it out at SLC it can only make it easier back at home.

3. Having FUN with core students

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Traveling and getting away from home allowed for us to have some fun together. Laugh, experience new things (in-n-out burgers), sing in the car and stay up late talking and watching ridiculous reality T.V. It was fun. It was good for me and for some of our core students to have fun together. This tightens our relationship and helps us as we do ministry together.

4. Watching my students LISTEN to some great communicators, worship leaders and ministry partners.

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Cluster of Students (Saddleback’s student worship band), Skit Guys, Jim Burns and Doug Fields…just a few of the highlights for my students. These great communicators and leaders challenged my students – reinforced messages we’ve given them and inspired them to serve back home in our ministry.

5. The Aftershock

Today, one of the students came into my office to talk about what he has been thinking of since we’ve gotten back. He had ideas about where he could serve, how he might be able to invite more of his friends and he wanted to start working on his story to share in our ministry. He is in 8th grade. I love that we have been back for less than a week and he wants to meet with me about his ideas. He is in 8th grade. (That’s kind of a big deal, right?) To me as a youth worker the BEST thing about SLC is that my students don’t just want to be great leaders…they want to be great leaders in the church. SLC helps me equip my leaders.

SLC was definitely a win for our ministry!

There are 2 more conferences; one in California and one in Pennsylvania. Take a big group…take a few students…you won’t regret it! Check it out here.

Is others’ spiritual growth your responsibility?

“Nothing is better for the soil than the farmer’s footprints.”
(4th Generation Farmer passing on wisdom from his grandfather)

I am learning that following Jesus, walking in His footsteps, is all about Him not me. Growing, succeeding, flourishing is dependent upon the presence of the farmer not all the effort I put in my misperceived role as the farmer. As a seminary graduate, I was well trained in “farming” techniques. I have spent most of my time learning how to farm and teaching others the same.

Truth be known, I am not the Farmer. That’s the Father. I’m not the Vine. That’s Jesus. I’m just the branch. When His first two children decided to go out on their own and enjoy a fruit salad from the wrong part of the garden, the Gardener walked the Garden to find where they were hiding. When all of His kids were lost and hopeless, the Gardener talked with His Son in the garden and agreed to buy us back even if the plan was not the Son’s preferred cup.

What about growth? Hard but relieving news… it’s not about me. Sure, I’m involved. I am integral. Fruit comes through me. But seed sprouting? The Master reminds us it is all from the Father. Three clear, simple words, “All by itself.” (Mark 4:28)

What does it mean for you and me today? What signs of growth do I see in me and others and how can I help? How hard is my soil?

To pass on some sage wisdom: Nothing is better for the soil of our souls than the Farmer’s footprints.

Guest Post: Doug Webster is a long-time youth worker, long-long pastor, long-time writer, long-time friend of Doug Fields (in each others’ weddings), long-time follower of Jesus…who is beginning to learn how to follow and not lead Jesus. Doug can be found hanging out with a small group of other followers in Irvine, CA called The Following.