If you are unfamiliar with Download Youth Ministry, do yourself a favor and head over to their website right after you finish reading this. They have great resources for youth workers: games, curriculum, events, training, and more. One of the things started last year is a small youth ministry conference called DYM 100.
I have told people before that the best thing about DYM 100 is its intimate size. Because it is smaller, they can focus on solid content from wise people, connections with the speakers and each other, and having a ton of fun.
This year, they had two back-to-back weeks, and I was able to attend as an alumni, which means I also had the privilege of helping them and serving a handful of the other youth workers who attended. It was a great time, and I highly recommend that you look into going yourself if they do it again.
While I learned a ton from the great speakers, I did not want to overwhelm you all with 50 or more pages of notes. So, I narrowed it down to a list of take-aways that I plan on implementing in my own life and ministry context. I’ll try to put enough information with each statement, so you fully understand what I mean, but if you want me to clarify anything further, feel free to ask!
Also, these are in no particular order.
DYM has a training resource they call DYM University, which allows your leaders to go through sets of training videos. I eventually want to require all new leaders to at least go through their 101 set of videos and quizzes.
Reproduce Katie’s leader packet for our church.
Katie Edwards is the junior high pastor at Saddleback Church in California. She is great at preparing her small group leaders with exactly what they need to succeed. I feel like I did a decent job of this at my last church, but I want to do an even better job moving forward at my new church. She provided a packet of papers that she gives to all her leaders, which contains the ministry purpose, wins, job descriptions, and more that I want to re-create for my ministry and leaders.
Review Katie’s five questions on a regular basis.
Katie also asks herself five questions a few times a year, which helps her prepare and equip her leaders. Those questions are:
- Do our volunteers understand what we are about?
- Do our volunteers understand our audience?
- Do our volunteers understand their ministry role?
- Do our volunteers feel equipped for their role?
- Do our volunteers feel cared for and encouraged?
Get back to weekly devotional and date nights with wife.
This is something we were really good at before, but the move and all the transitions that have come along with it have knocked us off our routine. I really need to prioritize this in my life again! For our next season of devotionals, I want go through Your First Few Years of Marriage by Jim Burns and Doug Fields, which we were given at the event.
Get ministry calendar to my wife.
If I really do believe my wife is more important than my job, I need to make sure she is in the know. So, I want to start pulling her into the calendar earlier than I have before. And with that, give her the final say if we do something or not. For instance, if she notices that we’ve not had any alone time in a while, and I have scheduled all of my time with students, she can tell me to cut back.
After wife approves, get calendar to parents.
This is something I was reminded about a couple times. Parents need to know the calendar as early as possible, so they can plan accordingly. If we really expect families to sign their students up for camps, mission trips, etc., we need to honor them by getting them the information as early as possible.
Plan a fun time with our student ministry team.
I want to make sure our team has fun together instead of just working all the time and serving the students. One of my goals is to make our team one of the best teams in the church, and part of that involves having fun together. Soon after I finish the student calendar, I’ll begin putting some dates on the calendar for fun events for our team.
Work apologetics into regular ministry.
Sean McDowell talked about the importance of apologetics within a student ministry. It does not have to be the sole focus, but we do need to make sure students own their faith, can defend it, and can share it with others. This is especially important when they enter into later high school years, college, and the workforce. I do not know exactly how I will do this yet, and it will probably change over time, but I do know it is something we need to implement.
Plan a crisis/grief workshop for students/parents.
So many students today are struggling with anxiety, stress, and other crises. At my last church, we had a half-day workshop for students and parents, where we brought in professional counselors to talk about crisis, grief, suicide, and depression. We also had a crisis plan for small group leaders. I need to put all this together for my new ministry, because we know we will unfortunately need it some day.
Research LeaderTreks and possibly implement.
LeaderTreks is another resource that partners with DYM quite a bit, and they are especially great for student leadership programs/teams. As we continue to develop the ministry, I want to look more into their resources and possibly use them more with our student leaders.
Workout daily and drink more water.
One of the guys that spoke was from CrossFit, and was not even a Christian. They brought him in, though, because they care about our health. Simply put, if we do not take care of our bodies, we will most likely not be able to carry on in ministry as long. I am not completely out of shape, but I do know I could be doing more to take care of myself. So, I am planning on regularly working out (goal is daily, but I will start with three to four times a week). I also need to get back to drinking more water. I did great for the first half of this year, but I have slacked off recently.
There you have it… My big take-aways and goals after DYM 100 this year. I hope they can inspire you. But as many have said, public accountability is also good. So hopefully, by putting this out there for you all to read, it will keep me more on top of them.
If you would like to read some notes from last year’s DYM 100, click here.