Middle School

Kurt Johnston leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4% of his time.


I’m reaching out to the junior high ministry community for your help in a few areas:

1) Resources or books for teenage boys who have lost their father: I have THREE boys in my junior high small group who have lost their dad due to illness. I’m having a hard time finding anything written specifically to boys going through such a loss.

2) A lesser known youth ministry book that you really liked: I’m wondering if there is something out there that I haven’t read that I should.

Invite teenagers into an epic adventure with Jesus. Check out Pierced: The New Testament today!

3. Your Top 3 Apps that aid you in ministry: Games apps, apps that keep you organized, bible apps….if you use it regularly, I’d love to know about it!

4. Your favorite ministry-related blogs or websites: I’m not looking for resources, but rather people you read…folks who are influencing the way you think about theology, ministry, life and leadership. I find myself learning from the same circle of 6 or 7 people and I want to expand my horizons.

Add your input to any….or all of the categories!

How service-minded are your teenagers? Take this short quiz to find out!


  • 1. Have dont know of any… sounds like something someone (you) should write. Keeping in mind that loss by death is hard, the loss of a living father, which is my story, a dad that just walked out is very hard too. Nothing really good on any of those other than maybe Hurt by Chap Clark but that its still not hitting the nail on the head.
    2. Masterpiece, the art of discipling youth by Paul Martin Its published via the Youth Cartel. Great read and great man that loves Jesus and Loves students.
    3. Instagram, Youverson and Tetris Nothing passes the time like have them play for high score on tetris.
    4. Youtmin.org… They have a great list of blogs and blog writers that i like a lot. Ben Read is a favorite of mine. And Phil Bell, his stuff is always knocking it out of the park

  • dave miers says:

    1) nothing comes to mind.

    2) youth ministry on the front book. written by a bunch of youth workers in australia. some really good content. http://www.cepstore.com.au/p/563/youth-ministry-on-the-front-foot

    3) apps
    i) group games app – my friend made this, it’s brilliant! http://groupgamesapp.net
    ii) instagram – all our junior high are on it.
    iii) over app http://madewithover.com – turn images into quick promo flyers with good text overlay

    4) john saddington http://tentblogger.com

  • Neb Milbourn says:

    1. …Drawing a blank.
    2. I’m old school, but I find myself going back to “The Ministry of Nurture” by Duffy Robins and I am still challenged by the vision of student ministries working together that Mike King wrote about in Millennial Leap. I read a lot of newer books too, but these two are classics to me at least.
    3. The best thing I’ve been using lately in SSM is airplay with an apple TV. I setup the apple TV to connect to my iPad and then I can run my message notes from my iPad. I also let the students play the iPad to challenge each other in Temple Run 2 or other games. The students love being able to watch each other play the games on the big screens. As far as apps go Evernote is great.
    4. I read a bunch of youth ministry guys blogs but I’m going to assume you read most of the same ones. Here are a few of my favorites that may not be in your top six. Brian Berry’s the overflow, and youth leader stash. I’ve just started reading Terrace Crawford pretty regularly too.

  • DrewE says:

    For #1 — I’ve nothing for books.

    I do have a little in the way of personal experience, though. My father was killed in a truck accident shortly before my ninth birthday. There were a few godly men who somewhat stepped in and took me under their wing, so to speak, and that was much more helpful than any book would have been. One of them, Chris, is still today one of my very dearest friends in this world. (Don’t get me wrong; good books are still well worthwhile!) I’m also blessed to have an amazing godly mother.

    This might be an opportunity to hook these boys up with some men in your church, maybe men who wouldn’t normally consider themselves “youth guys.” Call it a mentoring program or something.

    Justin makes an excellent point, too. As hard and painful and tragic as having a parent pass away is—I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy—I firmly believe it’s less damaging than divorce, at least generally speaking. Of course, every situation is unique.

    #2 — Hmmm…”Joan ‘n’ the Whale” by John Duckworth and “Riddle of the Outlaw Bear” by John H. Leeper might be worth checking out. Both are collections of stories, parables if you will, that illustrate or teach spiritual truths. The latter book is theoretically aimed at younger children, but the stories are excellent and you don’t need to show the larger type and illustrations when reading them to youth.

    Nothing for #3 and #4.

  • Neb Milbourn says:

    For question #1, I’ve had a few people recommend “The Grieving Teen” by Fitzgerald.

  • 1. Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis is a very powerful work… not directed towards a boy losing his father but still worth looking into (its also rather short which is helpful for the Jr. High crowd)

    3. Evernote is great for those who work in different locations each day… I love the way it sync’s all my work between my iPad, work computer, and home computer. Everything is where I need it. I also use the basics like YouVersion and Facebook.

    4. I am a huge fan of Jonathan McKee over at thesource4ym.com… I love how he write about a wide range of things from ministry, youth culture, and parenting. Very helpful stuff.

  • Adam Jacobus says:

    1) Group’s Emergency Response handbook – not a specific for your situation, but as a first “what do I do?” resource. Just showing up is a huge deal – over and over again.

    3) I agree with Evernote – just taking notes on the fly, and being able to organize thoughts back at your computer, and vice versa.

    4) Chad Swanzy – http://youthleaderstash.com/ – only a couple of years out there, but has got a great set up, and lots of graphics to illustrate the games and mixers.

  • Adam Knowles says:

    1. The Fitzgerald book is actually great. It’s an easy enough read for a leader to walk through with a JH student.

    2. “Sustainable Youth Ministry” by Mark DeVries has been a great resource for me. It really allowed me to establish boundaries early into ministry and allowed me to better find a job/church that was super healthy. You may have read that already.

    3. Instagram, Twitter and Central Desktop. I’m still learning it, but Central Desktop enables my leaders to have access any time to curriculum, updates and other documents and resources at any time.

    4. marriedtoayouthpastor.com is a fun blog I cruise by from time to time. There are some rad posts from the wfie’s perspective that undoubtedly shed a sweet but different view than us husbands would look at. She stresses a lot on importance of family, and that is something that’s really important to me. Wives have a voice, too!

  • I’ve toyed with the idea of writing something that could be #1. I’ve got a brief outline, but I’d love to talk with you about some specific issues you perceive these guys facing. Lost my dad at 15 and have some of my own specifics but want this to be a pretty narrowly focused (probably e-)book.

  • Leave a Comment

    Please keep in mind that comments are moderated and rel="nofollow" is in use. So, please do not use a spammy keyword or a domain as your name, or it will be deleted. Let us have a personal and meaningful conversation instead.