Nearly Everything You Need to Know about Christian Youth Ministry

Raising the Bar Flyer.jpg
When I started in youth ministry...

I could only play the 'Try to eat chocolate with a knife and fork' game. Over time, by God's grace, I've grown. In this book, I've passed on (nearly) everything I've learnt in 28 years of ministry, so you grow as fast as you can, blessing you, the young people you serve and the Church. No youth group? Please pray, read the book and start one. 

For many years, I've trained leaders in aspects of youth ministry. There are a lot of skills we can learn fairly easily, so we are as good as we can be at what we do. You can learn to (and train others to) deliver very good Bible talks, rather than finding a talk online. You can learn to write Bible studies that are the best for your context, rather than buying a suitable resource. A young person is struggling to read the Bible and is passionate about fashion. Have you seen a resource on fashion in the Bible? No? Can you write one? Yes.

Why stop there?


You have the basic skills, then keep pushing on. Learn to deal with conflict. Grow values in the ministry. Find and build a strong team of leaders. Plan a residential. Respond to a disaster. You're leaving your post? How do you leave something lasting behind?

It is really important that we lead diligently (Romans 12.8). We all serve in different contexts, but we always need to take youth leadership seriously and raise the bar to be the best we can be.


This book is subtitled: 'Nearly everything you need to know about Christian youth ministry.' I think that's a fair summary.

Raising the Bar Flyer.jpg

“This is pure, distilled wisdom that comes from years of experience in youth ministry. It will definitely help someone just starting out but also stretch those with more experience. Definitely on the recommended list for all Christian youth workers!"

Mark Birri

UK Assistant Pastor-Teacher (Youth)




Raising the Bar: My Own Life



Key Values for Youth Groups






A Note about Fun


​​Raising the Bar: As We Start

Vision and Strategy

Starting from Scratch

Raising the Bar: Our Organisation

A Healthy Team

The Law, Health and Safety

Working with Parents/Carers

Engaging with the Wider Church




Raising the Bar: Our Programming

Teaching Sessions




Building Disciples

Raising the Bar: Our Teaching Sessions

The Big Idea

Preparing a Bible Talk

Putting Together a Session

Delivery: Being at the Front

Preparing a Bible Study

Leading a Small Group

Icebreakers, Games and Activities

Prayer, Sung Worship and Response

Challenging Behaviour and Conflict

Additional Needs in the Group

Filling a Gap

Raising the Bar: Into the Future

Staying Fresh

Leaving Well



Serving - Spiritual Gifts Overview

Residentials - Sample Residential Weekend Budget

Preparing a Bible Study - Sample Bible Study

Raising the Bar Back Cover.jpg
Cover - New.jpg


Nearly everything you need to know about Christian youth ministry

In many countries across the world, teenagers are leaving churches. Raising the Bar is a practical, one-stop handbook to help you lead and teach young people well, so that, by the grace of God, they are more likely to stay. The book is aimed at both paid and voluntary leaders, regardless of how long they have been in ministry.

Dave Thornton's 28 years of ministry are brought out in stories of good and not-so-good practice to illustrate, provide humour, and inspire you to keep going, with holiness and haybales, forgiveness and fish entrails.

Raising the Bar can be read cover-to-cover (one youth worker did so in under two days), but it is also designed to be easy to dip into. Each chapter says what it is about: if you want to think about developing your leadership team, read the chapter entitled: 'A healthy team' and if you need to write a Bible study, then read, 'Preparing a Bible study'. 

This book is written for youth leaders, but feedback has shown that any church minister will find this book beneficial because the skills are transferable, from building values in the church to writing a Bible talk.

Starting and staying in Christian youth ministry is worth it and God will use us if we stay faithful to him. Let’s keep RAISING THE BAR to make a difference for eternity through Christian youth ministry.

God’s ministry through us stands and falls on our character. If we want to start raising the bar in youth ministry, it's where we need to start, so that's where the book starts.

Section 1 of the book helps us to think about key biblical values for our youth ministry that will encourage growth, when we are tempted to rush ahead and prepare for next Friday or Sunday. Key values are growing closer to Jesus, sacrificially loving each other, being authentic, serving and being transformed by Christ to transform the Church and the world, all of this whilst still allowing time for fun! These values are true across the board whether we are working face-to-face or online.

Section 2 is an easily searchable how-to section, taking us through key, practical skills in youth ministry. This gives enough content to help us develop across all areas of youth ministry for the whole of our youth ministry career, covering a wide range of areas on which to focus to develop strong ministry:

  1. Starting a group and building a vision, developing a thriving team and moving on well

  2. Additional needs, working with parents, involving the whole church and the always-challenging subject of health and safety

  3. Programming teaching, socials, discipleship, outreach and residential events

  4. Teaching the Bible well, including really practical material on getting the big idea out of a passage, structuring a talk and writing Bible study questions, but also less talked about subjects like managing a response time

  5. There are regular '10 Top Tips' to enhance your thinking and practice, but which can also be used to develop a team.

This book calls us to keep going in Christian youth ministry. 

raising the bar