A few months ago we talked about our first steps in helping our students develop a more Sticky Faith. We interviewed Kara Powell about how to help students have a faith that lasts beyond graduation and how churches are working to build communities that are integrated to a degree but still have effective age-specific ministries as well. If you missed the interview please check it out right here.

The second half of that week we talked about what our church was introducing that very week: Worship Together Weekends. The plan was to cancel youth services once a month in order to encourage families to attend the adult worship services together. The hope was that exposing our teenagers to the larger church experience at Saddleback would help them feel like part of the overall church family, not just part of the youth group.

We’ve been getting a ton of questions about it and many have asked for an update, so here we go!

So far, so good!
The first several weeks of Worship Together have been really great—by cancelling youth services the first weekend we actually also happened to coincide with several holidays (July 4th, Labor Day, etc.) so having the joint services was helpful on the lower-attended weekends anyhow. The real test is probably still coming soon, but it has been great so far.

We have a student section.
Yes, we have a section that is specifically designed for students—but we encourage students to sit with their families and friends first before heading there. Some choose to be there and our student ministry team is very present at all services that weekend, meeting parents, greeting, or on stage for announcements or welcome.

No momentum has been lost.
You would think that cancelling youth group once a month would kill momentum, but we haven’t had adverse affects yet. We communicate with texting and Facebook almost exclusively with our students so they know exactly what’s happening each weekend if we’re on or off. Hasn’t been confusing at all, which is a slight miracle.

So where will we go from here? We committed to a one-year experiment, and so far it seems like everybody is pleased with the results, and we’re excited to hear about other churches that are experimenting with new ideas to help students STICK!

Are you trying new things to develop Sticky Faith in your students?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

This weekend I taught the message a little differently than normal – some of it was live and some was on video. This was the first of 2 videos we played to help teach the first week of the series called Stuff Jesus Didn’t Say.


I’m not a big baseball fan.  I grew up in Chicago and when I was young there wasn’t much baseball to root for in either the Cubs or Sox.  So, you can understand if I’m not passionate about our nation’s past-time.

I have however been watching a little of the playoffs this year.  I’ve really like the winner take all games (the one game Wild Card playoff and the game 5).  The pressure.  The intensity.  The “if I don’t do this now our season is over” feeling you see on the players faces.  It’s crazy sometimes how it all comes down to one play…

I remember a similar feeling in my youth ministry.  The feeling that every event, every Bible study, every mid-week meeting was that one moment that would give someone a chance to find Jesus or not.  It was intense…  I felt pressure.  It was like every illustration, game, discussion, every talk… every word was going to bring a student closer to Jesus… or not.  It caused me to plan and rehearse and schedule and, well, do all kinds of crazy things.

I now realize that Jesus uses any and all experiences to bring people into a deeper relationship with him.  It comes during planned times and spontaneous times.  Jesus connects with us wherever we are, whenever the time is right.  I don’t believe I would plan and schedule and stress the same way with any youth group I was leading.  I would want to create an environment in youth ministry where Jesus could step in at any moment – where Jesus was free to break in and change everything.

I guess it would be like a home run in the bottom of the ninth – without the fear of striking out.

Okay, I think this will be my last post for this series.  Here are some final little random tips.  I hope this series has given you some decent ideas for you trip this winter.  If you would like more information on this, see College Ministry From Scratch.  Here is my last bit of tips:

• Let students lead aspects of the trip. Leaders in your ministry will naturally take on things, but make sure to use this as an opportunity for others to step up and take on responsibility as well.

• Choose an age range for the trip (like 18-25), make it clear, and make no exceptions. Make sure you think through how you will address those outside of this age range beforehand. There can be some sticky situations, so make sure you think through your reasoning for the range you give.

• Have a theme and use that theme in as many aspects of the trip as possible (shirts, messages/studies, decor, etc). Have one thing you want people to embrace and then make sure that one thing intermingles in between everything.

• Do activities that everyone can participate in.

• Make sure any promotional material is clear and precise. For instance, if you’re not covering all meals, specify which one’s you will be and what they should expect for the others.

• Utilize internet based advertising. This can really save a lot of money. Having fliers can be beneficial, but maximize the tools available at no cost.

• If you’ve never done a trip before, use pre-registration as a tool to get an idea of how many people will attend. A good thing to do is have them make a non-refundable deposit by a certain point. It doesn’t have to be much, but this can give you an idea of how many people to expect actually going. But, be prepared for anything.

• Be careful with “mixers.” I’m not saying don’t do them, but for some people these can be very uncomfortable and feel forced. On retreats we don’t need to push relationships, they will happen naturally.

• When it’s time to clean up, make sure you do the bulk of it at a time when the most people can pitch in and help. For instance, have all the clean up take place right before the last meal or meeting.

We’d love to have you join us at SYMC this upcoming March! There’s a bunch of stuff dedicated to those who work with junior highers, too! Here’s a little promo I was asked to create. Hurry, because the early bird deadline is October 31.

HUGE rivalries this week in our local high schools – made another fun video to celebrate. This series will slow down after football season, but has been so much fun all fall!


This past week in the Refinery we did something really fun – our Life Groups are kicking off the year together and we set up a simple photo station outside the youth room. We took pictures of all of the groups – some serious, some goofy – and put them up on Facebook for people to check out. Couple great but simple things are happening without us saying anything at all:

  • Groups are sharing the pics on their walls and making them profile pictures, spreading the reach of Life Groups
  • The pictures serve as a constant reminder of who is a part of the group and to keep the group going strong through the year
  • They are just plain fun, the groups demonstrate/model Christian community even in their humor

Fun idea that might work for you or inspire you to do something even better!


Connecting with Students

 —  October 23, 2012 — 1 Comment

AC had a solid blog post a couple days ago about connecting with students. He is a master relational youth worker in our ministry – definitely some good stuff we all can learn from him. Here’s a clip of the who article, head there for the rest:

  1. Lead by example and with words. – Preach and promote from first hand experience.  Would you buy a Ford from a salesman who drove a Chevy?
  2. Never miss an opportunity to point the student to Christ. – We believe Christ is the answer, the cure, the end all be all. In my experience a lot of the students problems are centered around where Christ is in their life.  You still have to be mindful of your approach but all roads should lead back to Christ.
  3. Never miss an opportunity to listen. – I cannot stress enough how important it is you become a listener.  I know some people are good at it naturally and some of us have to work at it.  It is truly a quiet mega strength that connects you with any student.