Making Youth Group Resources you can be proud of

If you’ve been putting out quality print media for your ministry, but you want to take it to the next level, this is for you. Printed materials that look great are awesome. Printed materials that look AND feel great are even better. Never underestimate the wow factor of a tactile experience when someone touches your card for the first time.

With this in mind, let’s look at two ways to “upgrade” your printed materials: METALLIC FOIL and SPOT GLOSS. Both add an extra punch to the look and feel of invite cards or whatever else you print.


Design this just like you would any other project. I’ve used Adobe Illustrator to set up a fairly basic design to use as the base here:

This is set up at business card size (3.5×2″) with a 1/8″ bleed on all sides. We’ve got a nice clean type layout, and just enough decoration in the background that it’s not plain and/or boring. Fonts used are Rosewood for the big type and Rockwell Condensed Bold for the smaller words. The diamond shapes next to “is” are pulled out of the letters in the Rosewood font.
Now, I wouldn’t mind this card just as is, but why not add some flash to it? It’s easier than you might think. I’d like to make the Rosewood font all silver foil. That’s “Jesus”, “way”, “truth”, and “life”. All we have to do is make a new layer called “FOIL”. I know, it’s clever. But it’s always a good idea to deliver clean, clearly labelled files to your printer.
We can go ahead and add a “SPOT GLOSS” layer as well and we’ll have a layers pallet that looks like this:

You can see the “ARTWORK”, “FOIL”, and “SPOT GLOSS” layers. Some printers may require a different file for each piece of the job, or the different layers might be enough; you’ll have to ask your printer what they prefer. Either way, you should start like this so everything will line up properly.
Now, select the 4 words we want in foil and CUT them (CMD/CTRL + X). Why cut and not copy? Because inevitably, the foil and the ink/printed parts will get ever-so-slightly off, and you don’t want white bits peeking out from behind your pretty foil.
Then, select the foil layer so it is highlighted (like in the above screenshot). In Illustrator, you can paste exactly where you cut/copied from by pressing CMD/CTRL + F instead of “… + V” like you would for normal paste function. So do that, and make sure everything is still aligned. While you still have everything in your foil layer selected, change the fill color to 100% K (pure black). [Note: some printers have different requirements on this, similar to layers or different files. 4Over likes 100% K in its own file, while Taste Of Ink prefers same file/different layer and 100% Magenta. Again, find out what specifics your printer has. This tutorial will put you on the right track and it will be an easy adjustment from here to whatever they want.]
Hide the other layers, and you should just have an image that looks like this:

This will tell the printer to print foil (since your layer is foil, and assuming you’ve ordered a foil product from them) where the black is.
Now, if we hide (the little eyeball icon next to the layer name) the FOIL layer, and show the ARTWORK layer, we’ll get this:

It looks funny, right? But that’s because the other parts will be printed in foil and we want them to be awesome all on their own.
Now, just to finish this off, let’s add spot gloss to the remaining white parts and make them really shine!
To do this, select everything that is showing that is white. That’s 4 bits of text and two shapes. COPY (CMD/CTRL + C), don’t CUT these ones. Spot gloss is clear, so if you remove this part from the base layer, you’ll have invisible text that is shiny (that is a really cool effect, but probably not the best for this design).
Paste-in-front (CMD/CTRL + F) on your SPOT GLOSS layer this time, and convert to 100% K. Should look like this (if you hide the ARTWORK layer):

Again, it looks weird, but this is telling the printer to just put gloss where the black is and leave everything else with a matte finish. The gloss will stand up off the card and feel as cool as it looks when you’re done!
That’s it. That’s how you set up a file for printing full-color process with additional foil and spot gloss layers.
Now that you’ve got this down, consider other ways to add to your designs with these. Maybe a spot gloss pattern over the entire card? It’s transparent, so you can place it over text and everything and it won’t ruin the readability of the info. Or, how about an invisible logo reversed out of the spot gloss (that layer would be all black with your logo in white)? There are a ton of options.
What other ideas do you have?

Review of #SYMC

The Simply Youth Ministry Conference was fantastic. I know I said that I would blog every second of it, but I was completely naive of the mixture of exhaustion and rejuvenation I would be experiencing. There were so many things that rocked my world this weekend, and I’m excited to share them with you.


  • There was so much community with SYMC.
  • I got to meet some really fantastic people whose blogs I follow and whose wisdom I admire.
  • There was a variety of classes to choose from.  One day, I couldn’t make up my mind, so I literally just YOLO’d and walked into a random class.  It ended up being a very good decision.
  • There were a fair amount of women teaching classes.
  • There were options for classes that were practical, theological, and educational. Whether you were a teacher, a volunteer, or a pastor’s wife (or husband), there was something for you.
  • The variety of personalities represented by the speakers was fantastic.  There was a mix of “famous” to sell tickets with a mix of “needed” for some soul care.
  • The resource center was fantastic.  The booths were great too.
  • There was a Canadian pin for your I.D.  I’m not Canadian, but I grabbed one for Kolby Milton.
  • The conference was set in a really central place with tons of options for food and entertainment.
  • There was a Starbucks in the hotel.  Enough said.
  • We did a Harlem Shake.
  • I learned a lot. Like, a lot.
  • “Cons”

    • I wasn’t able to attend a panel because the schedule could be hectic, especially if you like to eat once or twice a day.
    • There were a lot of women at the conference, but very few on stage.  A total of 4 women stepped onto that stage, including one of the musicians.
    • The big-group sessions were super long.  In their defense, they utilized that time well.  But still, for me to stay in one place for 2 1/2 hours is a challenge.
    • My hotel pillow smelled. I know that’s not SYMC’s fault. I’m just saying!
    • There weren’t enough minorities represented, period. On stage, as teachers, and even in the crowd.  I would love to see more of that.
    • There was no urban ministry connect group.  Or a pin for my I.D.
    • Nobody wanted to find me and win free stuff from the YouthMin.Org Marketplace.

    Lessons Learned

    • No youth pastor is a rockstar.  Whether you’re Josh Griffin or Kassy, this girl I met at Starbucks; we all have something to contribute to the Youth Ministry community.  Also, those youth pastors who you may look at as a rockstar don’t look at themselves like a rockstar.  They’re just as weird, love students just as much, and have just as many struggles as you do.
    • We need to be more transparent with one another.  We are in youth ministry together, and it’s about time we share burdens with one another and live in real community.
    • A grimy penny is worth just as much as a shiny penny.  That student who has a bunch of junk in their life and is a thorn in your side?  God values him the same as that kid who is perfect.  And God also values him the same as you.
    • While some may plant and others may water, it is God who causes the growth.  Yet, your responsibility may just be to ready the soil by chipping away at all the gravel and clumps it has gathered.
    • Quit balancing, hiding, or trying to stir in your sins and burdens. Give them to God.
    • Youth pastors are a lot like their youth.  I saw a couple “comforting each other” during worship. Once the overwhelming B.O. (or maybe it was Axe?) singed my nose hairs.  I saw “that guy” with the guitar.  And there were people running around like cray cray.
    • Don’t skip out on community at these conferences. Fight the urge to go to bed at 9. Stay out and learn from other youth pastors.  Talk to the people in the elevator.  Don’t not talk to someone just because their haircut is too cool for you or their blog is actually read.

    What are some things that you learned? Pros? Cons? I would love to hear about them in the comments.  If you blogged about SYMC, I encourage you to link it in the comments, as well!

    Youth Group Game: The Gauntlet

    Here’s a fun game we play with our Middle Schoolers quite a bit to get them out of their shell. We’ve never played it with our High Schoolers, but I know they would love it too.

    Divide your group into two teams with an even number of students/leaders. Each team should stand in a straight line next to their own teammates, and facing the other team, which should be standing about 8 feet away. This is your gauntlet.

    Now, one member of each team, from opposite ends of the gauntlet, will stand at their end of the gauntlet. When the Leader says go, these two must maintain eye contact and walk towards each others ends. When they meet halfway in the middle, they must look directly ahead and keep going to the end.

    In the meantime, the players forming the gauntlet do anything and everything to make the opposing challenger laugh, smile, or break eye contact. Touching the challengers is forbidden, but almost anything else goes.

    If a challenger successfully makes it through the gauntlet, they rejoin their team at the end of the line. If they lose eye contact, smile, or laugh, they join the opposing teams line.

    The game is over when one team has been eliminated.

    This game can serve two great purposes: 1) Helps get jokes, funny faces, all that fun distracting stuff out of the way in an appropriate manner before a lesson, and 2) can be used to set up a talk on Self Control.


    Small Groups: Forming Youth Ministry Small Groups

    Small groups are essential for a healthy ministry. They foster relationships between students, which produces a community that can grow together in Christ, and they foster relationships between students and adults, which  We all understand the more small groups we have, the better. Our job as student ministers is to encourage these groups of community, and make sure the students involved are reaching their friends with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Part of fulfilling this task is by discerning how we should group students together to make a small group.

    As you read the different ways on how you can possibly group students together, keep in mind none of these groupings are magical, nor will they cause students to bust down your doors to get into your church. You should also keep in mind the right way to group students together is by the context of your church. All churches are different, and each one caters to the culture inside and outside their walls. What works for one church, many not work for your church, because they’re grouping students by what works best for them. With that said, here are 5 ways you can group your students together.

    1. School: Depending on the size of your city, you may have multiple schools represented in your youth group. If so, consider grouping your students by the school they go to. This continues to foster the relationship your students already have together, and gives each small group a goal to reach their school.

    2. Gender: Grouping your small groups by gender provides your guys and girls the opportunity to discuss issues they may not be comfortable with because the opposite sex is in the room. We need to be mindful that sometimes guys just need to be guys and girls just need to be girls, and grouping small groups by gender gives students that opportunity.

    3. Grade: Each grade puts students at a different phase in life. Seniors are coming to terms with closing a major chapter in their life and starting a new one. While freshmen are just trying to survive. Grouping small groups by grade gives students, who are going through the same phase in life, the chance to connect and know they’re not alone. You can also group grades together i.e. upper classmen and lowerclassmen, or stagger grades i.e. seniors with sophomores and juniors with freshmen, to foster a mentor relationship. Grouping by grade can also be done by middle school and high school.

    4. Geographically: This works well if you’re doing in-home small groups. You mark out geographic zones and everyone who lives within that zone is a part of that small group. What I like about this grouping is your zones don’t follow school district zones, which means you’ll connect students in group, who may not get to interact with each other as much, because they go to different schools.

    5. Missional: Benjamin Kerns blogs at as well as here on In June he wrote a post called “What is Your View of Social Status on a High School Campus?” The post is about understanding the social structure of students, which is moving to clusters: an autonomous group of 6-10 students with their own hierarchy and power structure. Each school has its own culture, which is made up of subcultures (a student’s social status). We should consider the idea of grouping students by their subcultures because of the common interest they already share, which opens up the opportunity for that group to reach out to their own culture. I call this missional grouping because it truly reflects what a missionary does: equipping individuals within a culture to reach their own people group.
    In the end, your small groups may already be grouped like some of these suggestions, or is a combination of two or three of them. My small groups are grouped by grade and gender and here’s why. I average around 35 students in my youth group, who represent multiple schools. However, I only have a couple of students from each school, so grouping them by school wouldn’t work for me. On top of that, I have some grades that have more students in it than other grades, plus some of those grades have more girls than guys in it. So with all of these factors to consider, I developed four small groups: one high school boys, one high school girls, one middle school boys, and one middle school girls. This is what works best for me. How do you group your small groups, and what are some possible obstacles you may face by grouping your students by one of these ways?

    Want more about small groups? Find out about Training Small Group Leaders and Find the right small group leaders.