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.

Maybe cliques aren’t bad: Stop trying to make your youth group like each other


“What are you doing about the cliques in youth group?”

If you are in youth ministry, you’ve probably heard that question. It may have come from a tattle-telling teenager, a concerned parent or a critical church member. In each case, the assumption is this: Making teenagers get along is part of your job. I disagree.

C.S. Lewis writes in his book, The Four Loves, about the difference between lovers and friends. Lovers stand face to face but friends stand shoulder to shoulder, looking at the same thing. Friendship is built around a shared interest for something else and their shared gaze keeps the friends side by side.

D.A. Carson writes that the church is “a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake” (Love In Hard Places). What this means (I think) is that outside of Jesus, we Christians wouldn’t necessarily be pals. What makes us a part of God’s family is not how enamored we are with each other but how in love we are with Jesus!

We exert a lot of wasted energy in getting teenagers to like each other. The problem is that outside of Christ, you can only appeal to self-serving or self-preserving reasons to get teens to get along. The cruel twist is that the more a group grows to like each other for reasons other than a shared love for Jesus and His mission, the more likely they are to stop caring about both Jesus and His mission!

If you take Carson’s thought and combine it with Lewis’ thought then you begin to realize that what you really need to do is help teenagers see and appreciate the person and the work of Jesus. That alone will lead to true biblical community. No community is more powerful than a community made up of Christian friendships built around a shared love for the Savior.

The next time someone asks you what you’re doing about cliques maybe you should reply: “Nothing. But I’m doing everything I can to help those teenagers grow to love Jesus.”

Guest Post: David Hertweck served as senior associate pastor of Trinity A/G in Clay, NY for over eleven years. He served as the lead pastor of inside-out student ministries and element young adults ministries and as a worship leader. He is an ordained Assembly of God minister. He presently serves as the District Youth Ministries and Chi Alpha Director. He’s also the author of The Word: a 31 day devotional… buy one and make as many copies as you want.