An Interview with Doug Fields & Josh Griffin

Doug-and-Josh-GEffectively Resourcing Today’s Youth Workers
An Interview with Doug Fields & Josh Griffin

Both Doug and Josh have served on the front lines of youth ministry for literally decades. They are two of the leading thought-leaders in our profession and know incredibly well what it takes to equip teams of volunteers with the tools they need to effectively reach today’s young people with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. I was excited to sit down with them recently to talk a little bit about serving youth workers and running my favorite youth ministry resource organization: (DYM).

* Be sure to peek at the freebie they are giving away to my readers at the bottom of this post… no strings attached!

JONATHAN: What are some of the resources each of you found yourselves on the hunt for in your own ministries decades ago?

JOSH: When Doug started, way back during the middle of the Civil War, there weren’t many youth ministry resources. In fact, he had to make most of them! That’s why you see his name on the front of pretty much every youth ministry book since 1862.

JONATHAN: I think I have most of those.

DOUG: Sometimes Josh is mean—as you know Jonathan—“hurt people” tend to hurt people. But in a weird way, it has been amazing to see youth ministry resources grow so incredibly the past several years. That’s some of the heart behind DYM, we didn’t want to see incredible resources that really good youth workers create just sit and die on their hard drive. We have created a platform over the years and their ideas can sit on it so easily—and they’re helping thousands of youth workers around the world.

JONATHAN: Doug, you were at Saddleback for a long time, Josh, you recently transitioned out of your role as the high school pastor after following Doug. That sort of legacy is unheard of and incredible! How has your ministry changed in the past few months?

JOSH: It was a privilege to work in the church for 20 years. I love church ministry, and I’ll always be a part of it in some way. The past 12 years at Saddleback have been so good to my family and God moved in some amazing ways in our ministry. It was an honor to carry on Doug’s leadership and legacy there. Blows my mind to have been a part of it! Now I’m concentrating on a new role to support the church – resources and training through Download Youth Ministry. I’m only 4 months into it full-time and already in love with it.

DOUG: Even while working in the church full-time, both Josh and I shared a deep love for youth workers and realized our calling to serve the youth pastors as well as our own congregation and students. That has just continued to grow and grow until now it is the dominant focus of our time and energy. We laugh a lot and have a blast working together. There’s so much joy derived from helping other youth workers create great resources for youth workers. In the old days, there were just a couple of people who made resources, DYM changes that and now allows pretty much anyone who has good stuff to have a global platform.

JONATHAN: is now the go-to place for affordable, current, professional youth ministry resources. How did you guys get the idea to start DYM?

JOSH: It was something we had talked about for years. The three of us (Doug & I and original co-founder Matt McGill) were buddies and always talked youth ministry and one night at a conference we finally pulled the trigger… and at the end of the weekend the site was live!

DOUG: The idea was a rogue startup from the beginning, we decided early on that everything on the site was going to be (1) inexpensive, (2) from the trenches of youth ministry, (3) bigger than us, and (4) customizable, editable and downloadable. We almost called it Digital Youth Ministry, but we changed the name at the last minute.

JONATHAN: What is one of your personal favorites of all the DYM resources?

DOUG: I’m a HUGE fan of our newly released Games App… I think it’s a game-changer in youth ministry. It makes youth workers look so good with their audience and it’s super simple to create. You can literally create a personalized game for your group in minutes. I just showed Josh how to play the new game Survey Says if you want to see it in action:

Right now the App contains 7 different games and we’re going to be adding one new game every 6 weeks or so. It’s the hidden gem at DYM. Secondly, I love the Newsletter Builder (which is part of the DYM Membership). It’s just so good… honestly, I could talk about the products all day long. There’s over 1000 of them… What’s your favorite Josh?

JOSH: Doug and I did the series “Facebook Official” a while back and that for sure stands as one of my favorites. I echo Doug, we’re love the games because youth workers can’t create the quality of these games for $3, and they need them every week, which makes games the #1 seller on the site. If you want to have fun, DYM is the place to get it for youth group tonight.

JONATHAN: I love the games too. You guy’s do an amazing job adding a professional touch to the resources people on the front lines create. I love what you’ve done with many of my parenting resources, youth ministry talks and games!

Last question: how has running this company together affected your friendship? What can we expect in the near future from Doug, Josh & DYM?

DOUG: Everyone says partnerships are tough on friendships. We haven’t seen that yet. Matt McGill (a co-founder) moved and broke up our little boy-band trinity, but Josh and I have a blast together. If we didn’t have so much fun we might get more work done. So far, it is really working. Seeing so many youth ministries win and thrive with our resources without breaking their bank is what we’re all about. Our DYM Skunk Works is always working on something… we’re up to something big but not quite ready to talk about it fully yet. Let’s just say it’ll be easier than ever to…

JOSH: Hey! I thought we weren’t ready to talk about it yet [laughs]. Our friendship is effortless. I’ve known Doug on and off the stage forever. We’re excited to serve youth workers together now more than ever!

JONATHAN: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. You guys have not only helped the ministries of thousands… you’ve helped me! Thanks for what you guys do!

Right now is offering my blog readers some FREE stuff! No strings attached. $20 to spend in the DYM store plus EIGHT FREE downloadable youth ministry resources including a game, video, training… and more.

They want to give people a free taste of what it’s like to be a DYM Member. Get the free stuff here!

Posted in Youth Ministry Planning | Leave a comment

Top 5 Impactful Christian Music Artists in the 80’s

StryperDid you grow up in the 80’s?

Did you listen to Christian music in the 80’s?

My wife Lori was playing Amy Grant’s Straight Ahead album in the car the other day and my girls began complaining. Lori and I both defended the album because it was nostalgic for each of us. In a time where there wasn’t a lot of good Christian music options, Amy delivered something that resonated with young believers.

Amy wasn’t the only one. In fact, I recall 5 Christian artists that really made an impact on me as a young music lover in the mid 80’s. I’m not going to try to claim these artists have anything on Michael Jackson, Van Halen, or Tears for Fears (secular contemporaries)… but they made their mark on the Christian music world and paved the way for future Christian bands in decades to come.

Here’s a glimpse into the Christian Music past… (with the 80’s hair, bad video, etc)

1. Stryper

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who were saved at a Stryper concert. The band has reached thousands. These guys are the Billy Graham crusades of Metal.

Stryper was one of the first bands to reach secular markets and make it in the mainstream music world. Their song “To Hell with the Devil” went platinum. They opened for bands like Ratt and Bon Jovi… except, they threw Bibles out in the crowd.

To this day metal fans give a respectful nod to Stryper.

2. Amy Grant

I can hear the sighs already. Some Christians didn’t like her sound. Others didn’t like the fact that she was divorced or went mainstream. But Amy’s talent, impact and heart for worship are undeniable.

Amy first gained notice with her sweet Nashville sound, singing “Father’s Eyes” to an acoustic guitar, or “El Shaddai”, a song sang by countless soloists every week in churches across the U.S. She gained popularity with each album, and eventually secular airplay with three hits from her Unguarded album (“Find a Way”, “Everywhere I Go”, and “Wise Up”). I remember Christians being angry, claiming she “sold out” and went secular. Years later bands like Switchfoot and Matt Kearney would do the exact same thing with little to no criticism. Amy was the first.

Funny, during those controversial years where people were critical of her, my wife and I went to a concert to hear her. She played a lot of her hits, then she led a worship set. Amy was far from a sell out.

3. Steve Taylor

Steve Taylor’s 1983 album I Want to Be a Clone was groundbreaking. It wasn’t rock; and it wasn’t really pop. Some compared it to Devo or Talking Heads. But the music was catchy and the lyrics were solid.

Taylor released another album a year later: Meltdown. I used to listen to side two of this album on my Walkman (remember those?) every night as I fell asleep. Songs like “Hero” and “Baby Doe” didn’t pull any punches.

Steve went on to make Christian movies.

4. Petra

In 1982 Petra released an album titled More Power to Ya, and it changed Christian Rock. The band featured electric guitars and strong vocals producing a contemporary sound like Kansas or Foreigner (I dare not say Journey… no one could rival Steve Perry).

Petra’s song “Judas Kiss” was probably the most notable, with back masking (that if you played backwards said, “Why are you looking for the devil when you ought to be looking for the Lord”) and a catchy intro guitar riff.

Sadly, in reality they were a one-album wonder. That album was their beginning and their peak. But it was probably the album that converted many teenagers to Christian rock at the time. It was the Jesus Freak of the early 80’s.

5. Resurrection Band

For those who found Petra a little dated, Rez Band stepped up and filled the gap. Rez Band was Van Halen when Petra was still trying to be Boston.

I saw Rez Band in concert multiple times as a teenager. Their lead guitarist Stu Heiss was phenomenal (always performing an amazing solo during the song “White Noise”) and their hard rock sound matched mainstream contemporaries. But most of all, the band was mission minded. Glenn Kaiser always shared Jesus at his concerts. He gave altar calls at the ones I attended.

Honorable Mentions:
Some other 80’s bands I have to mention…

  • Undercover—Christian punk band. Great sound. Very mission minded. Loved their song “God Rules.”
  • Tonio K—Obscure artist with only one popular Christian release. Sounded like David Bowie.
  • Benny Hester—Loved his song, “When God Ran.”
  • Michael W. Smith—needs no introduction
  • Keith Green—probably more popular in the late 70’s, but tragically died in a plane crash in 1982; as a piano player myself, I was a huge fan.

So for those of you who lived during this era—who did you listen to?

Posted in Music, Personal | 9 Comments

Contemplating “Suicide Squad”

Suicide-squad“Outside you’re amazing, but inside you’re ugly.”

“We all are.” (Harley Quinn, Suicide Squad)

Imperfection isn’t anything to celebrate. But awareness of your own flaws is a step in the right direction.

That’s probably why I enjoyed DC Film’s Suicide Squad so much. It’s the story of a band of notorious criminals given a second chance to use their strengths to do good, and in the process, they discover a sense of comradery and purpose. It’s a story of redemption.

Don’t get me wrong. This movie is far from an afterschool special you’d show your kids (although today’s parents seemed to miss that memo—the theatre was packed with kids). Like most Hollywood heroes today, the characters are gritty and flawed. At times the movie seemed to celebrate that fact.

Rick Flagg: Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people?

Harley Quinn: We’re bad guys, it’s what we do.

But do they stay that way?

I don’t want to give any spoilers, so you’ll have to discover that for yourself. But let me just say: even though I was a little worried where the story was going at the beginning, the film offered some redeeming characters.

Imperfect characters? Definitely. But redeeming.

But I can’t help but wonder what young people will glean from the film? Bad is good? Good is bad? Bad can be good, but still a little bad?

Is everyone redeemable? (That wouldn’t be so bad if they left the theater asking that question!)

Many of you saw my Tweet as I was exiting the theatre:

Jonathan McKee Tweet

The storyline isn’t anything new. In the 1960’s we had The Magnificent Seven (you’ll see the remake this year), in 1981 we had Escape from New York, and just a couple years ago in 2014 we had Guardians of the Galaxy… in each of these films bad guys are given a chance to do good, and the experience seems to somehow redeem them (well, maybe not Snake Plissken).

Like Guardians of the Galaxy, Suicide Squad reoccurringly visited the idea of friends becoming “family.” In a world so familiar with broken homes, many find comfort in the idea of having comrades who are there for you when you need them. We’re seeing this theme in numerous popular shows today (The Walking Dead).

And that’s what’s so intriguing. In a world where immorality seems to almost be celebrated, a handful of very popular movies and shows choose to wrestle with issues of morality… which is probably why I like The Walking Dead so much (and have written Biblical discussion guides for each and every episode of the popular series).

Suicide Squad wades into the waters of situational ethics, and offers some very discussable moments, like the scene where the Joker (played by Jared Leto) asks Harley (played by Margot Robbie)…

The Joker: Question! Would you die for me?

Harley Quinn: Yes.

The Joker: That’s too easy. Would you… would you live for me?

Definitely a film that will provoke some water cooler conversations. After all, everybody is seeing it. Suicide Squad is booming at the box office, holding the No. 1 spot at the box office three weeks in a row.

And the soundtrack is incredible. In fact, the film ends with Twenty One Pilots song, Heathens, a song which rose immediately to No. 1 on the rock charts (and which will be featured on our music discussions page- with small group questions- in the next few days). A glimpse of those lyrics:

All my friends are heathens. Take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know…


So what about you? Did you see Suicide Squad? What did you take away from the film? Thoughts?

Posted in Entertainment Media, Movies, Youth Culture | 2 Comments

The Volunteer from Hell: Part III

background checkYou’ve discovered an amazing potential volunteer… but you don’t want to mess anything up!

You’ve taken the advice of experts and dedicated actual time out of your schedule each week for recruiting and keeping volunteers. Then you took the next step and actually asked them to serve in a small way, a one-time opportunity that was easy for them to say “yes” to, and that gave them a taste of your ministry. After that, you’ve met with them several times and they seem like a perfect fit…

But how can you make sure they don’t turn into the Volunteer from Hell?

Last week I provided two simple steps, frequently overlooked, actually calling the person’s references, and then sitting down with them for a formal interview where you ask them about their past.

Today’s let’s look at yet a third effective way to screen volunteers so you can avoid the Volunteer from Hell.

No. 3. The background check
It’s a common recommended practice for any churches, schools or organizations who connect adults with children. If you’ve coached or mentored kids through your community schools, you’ve probably already experienced this. It’s routine. It’s a simple check into a person’s past to make sure they’re not Peter Pedophile.

When I coached track for my daughter’s school, I had to get two background checks—one for the school, and one for parks & rec, because it was a joint venture between the two. Schools are serious about their background checks.

Churches and responsible organizations need to follow this example. It not only helps you prevent recruiting the Volunteer from Hell, this policy communicates to parents that you care about their kids.

Organizations like GROUP provide very affordable background checks, offering complete programs with helpful resources like newsletters, and safety videos. Many of your insurance companies might also be able to recommend where to get background checks, and they might even give you discounts on your rates if you comply with certain recruiting standards.

Whenever I required a blood test or background check, I paid for this service for my volunteer. I never wanted to tap my volunteers’ wallets when they were already giving time (part of the perks I try to provide in my efforts keeping volunteers).

The more you communicate with your potential volunteers up front, the better you’ll get a chance to see if they’re a good fit. We call this the “dating process”…something we cover in great detail in The Skinny and The New Breed.

Join Jonathan this September in Colorado for several days of training at GROUP on “Mobilizing a New Breed of Volunteers.”

Posted in Leadership, Speaking/Training | Leave a comment

The Volunteer from Hell: Part II week I began a 3 post series in my blog about those ministry volunteers who make our lives miserable. How can we avoid getting ourselves in this mess in the first place?

Great question.

Let’s continue with our 3 effective ways to screen volunteers so you avoid ‘The Volunteer from Hell.’

In the first post, I addressed the importance of actually calling references. Not just asking for references… but using them. (How many of you have skipped this step?)

Today, let’s talk about the second way to avoid ‘The Volunteer from Hell’…

No. 2: The Screening Interview
Do you make it a habit of sitting down with potential volunteers and asking them questions…even uncomfortable ones?

In the last post I mentioned that I once had a ‘Volunteer from Hell.’ Our ministry was growing logarithmically and I was desperate for help (sound familiar?) I asked my existing volunteers if they knew anyone that would like to help. One of my loyal dedicated volunteers introduced me to a friend of hers that was interested in helping. A year later… we all regretted it (I share the whole story in Chapter 9 of The New Breed).

My first mistake was not calling references. I figured if my loyal dedicated volunteer had brought her to me, how could I go wrong. I asked her later, “Why did you bring me her in the first place?!!” She replied, “I don’t know. You sounded pretty desperate.”

Even with that first mistake, my fate wasn’t sealed. But then I messed up again. My second mistake was not conducting an interview.

Yes, honestly, I didn’t even interview her. I just shook her hand and said, “Welcome aboard.” And in the last two decades I’ve met hundreds of youth leaders who have done the same.

Maybe it’s because we erroneously think that volunteering is no big deal. “It’s not a real job.” So we skip vital steps, like applications or interviews.

Don’t skip this crucial step. We need to interview volunteers with the same scrutiny and attention to detail that we’d interview employees. If you are recruiting them to work with young people… even more so!

If you’re looking for positive adult role models, it might be good to make sure they are positive adult role models! The best way to do this is have them fill out a volunteer application (See a sample one here), and then sit down with them face-to-face and interview them.

Let me pause for a quick moment and remind you—these steps (the application and interview) are deep into the recruiting process, a process that starts with prayer and asking volunteers to become involved (more on that here). Don’t scare potential volunteers away by walking up to them and saying, “Hey, would you like to work with kids? Well, I need a blood and urine sample… and by the way… are you a child molester?” Screening is very important, but ease into the process.

Interviewing them doesn’t mean making them feel like a criminal. Remind them of the incredible work that God is doing through the ministry and how important it is to take precautions. In my screening interview I usually say something like, “I’m going to ask you some questions about your background that I am required to ask. Don’t be intimidated. This is for our records and I’m sure you understand why we need to ask them.”

Then don’t be afraid to ask them:

  • If they’ve ever been arrested
  • If they use alcohol or drugs
  • If they’ve ever been accused of child abuse
  • If they agree with your statement of faith

We have a sample volunteer staff screening interview guide on this page HERE with more questions you can ask.

If evangelism is an important part of your ministry, ask them to share their faith story. Then ask them to share Jesus with you as if you were a kid.

I’m pretty lenient with that last request. Sharing your faith is something I can train a believer. But it’s still a good question because it can reveal a lot about their theology and their attitude. If they feel insecure sharing their faith, notice if they seem teachable to learning how to share their faith. Are they teachable in general?

Ask them about their strengths and weaknesses. Listen carefully and make sure you aren’t trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. When you discover someone’s gift and allow them to use it, you’ll be amazed what God does through them.

Screening interviews are a must. You’ll be surprised how much a screening interview reveals about a person.

But that’s not the last way to avoid ‘The Volunteer from Hell’…

(Stay tuned for the next post)

Jonathan is the author of 20 books, including THE SKINNY ON VOLUNTEERS, and THE NEW BREED which has entire chapter on the volunteer from Hell. Join him this September in Colorado for several days of training at GROUP on “Mobilizing a New Breed of Volunteers.”

Posted in Leadership, Speaking/Training | Leave a comment

The Volunteer from Hell

Serial KillerWhenever my dad and I teach a workshop about recruiting, retaining, training… and even firing today’s New Breed of volunteers (based on our book on the subject), we can guarantee we’ll get questions about ‘The Volunteer from Hell.’

You know the one I’m talking about. That one volunteer that you either inherited or recruited without thinking. We’ve all had them. I had one. She was terrifying.

The question most people ask is, “How do I get rid of this volunteer?” (Garlic and a cross?)

Allow me to ask a much better question: “How do I make sure I never recruit this volunteer?”

Continue reading “The Volunteer from Hell” »

Posted in Leadership, Speaking/Training | Leave a comment

Behind the Writing

We just made a funny little graphic for my blog’s new book store with a picture of all my books… and it had 20 covers. That made me pause.

Twenty! Wow. It doesn’t even feel like twenty.


If you asked me about each one of them I could probably tell you the story of writing it, where I was (The New Breed I pounded out the majority of my half in one weekend, The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket… I wrote on my back patio, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid… on a LazyBoy)… it’s fun to reflect. But it just doesn’t seem like Continue reading “Behind the Writing” »

Posted in Books, Personal | Leave a comment

3 Ways to Use Pokémon Go for Conversations

Pokemon GoEveryone is jumping on the Pokémon Go craze… the most viral fad since the Harlem Shake. Every news channel has given their take on it, explaining it play by play, analyzing it’s effect on the work place, even providing tips how to play it at work without getting fired.

And that’s the thing. Pokémon fever isn’t just for kids. Go to the park near your house. You’ll see Continue reading “3 Ways to Use Pokémon Go for Conversations” »

Posted in Entertainment Media, Smartphones/Cell Phones, Youth Culture | 1 Comment

Summer Youth Ministry

Youth ministers know we have a FREE TRAINING TOOLS page with all kinds of free training, including FREE TRAINING VIDEOS. (How to connect with kids, how to get teenagers talking, how to share your faith, how to lead games, how to lead skits… check it out!)

We’re halfway through our summer ministry. Take a peek at our brand new Summer Youth Ministry training video if you haven’t seen it yet!



Posted in Speaking/Training, Youth Ministry Planning | Leave a comment

From Disney Star to Vixen

demi-lovato-body-sayDemi Lovato is in the headlines again with her sexy new release, Body Say.

Sadly, her story isn’t very unique:

  • Disney star. My own girls watched her show Sonny with a Chance and the Camp Rock movies.
  • At age 18, she dropped out of a tour because of some “emotional and physical issues” (self-mutilation, eating disorders).
  • She returned to the scene with a new confidence… in fact… the name of her new album last year was Confident, sporting her new sexy look… and sexy new songs (you probably our post about her song Cool for the Summer, a song about her desire for a lesbian hook up).

Well Demi’s back, and she’s pushing the sexy envelope again with her Continue reading “From Disney Star to Vixen” »

Posted in Entertainment Media, Music, Sexuality, Youth Culture | Leave a comment