(this weekend in review was written by Justin Knowles since I was speaking at YS San Diego this past weekend. Check out Justin’s blog right here, good stuff!)

Weekend Teaching Series: Heroes and Monsters (1-off)

Service Length: 70 minutes

Understandable Message: We had author and speaker Josh Riebock. He spoke at HSM’s summer camp 4 years ago and it was awesome to have him back. “Every one of us is both a hero and a monster, and the world we inhabit is both beautiful and twisted. We are shaken by changes, losses, gains, insights, desires, mistakes, and transitions. And just when we’ve gotten settled back down, things get shaken up again. This is the life we’ve been given. So how do we make sense of life’s unexpected nature, find a way to embrace the tension, and live with a sense of peace despite pain?” Josh went over these questions and gave a little bit of his testimony  and killed it in our weekend services. You can get his book on Amazon and I know many students who resonated with his life and story.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had one of our favorite openers to our services that we ever have done. Because we were talking about heroes and monsters, we thought we would start off the service with the ultimate monster/villain, Darth Vader playing guitar and rocking out. We also had HSM Sports Minute Video Volume 4, and a sweet video with a ton of students to promote our tail gate party for our two big football rivalries. Overall it was a very powerful and fun weekend.

 Music Playlist: Imperial March, Go, What Would I Have Done, One Thing Remains

Favorite Moment: I have two. Is that allowed? 1) The Star Wars opener. It was so much fun. 2) Watching so many students respond to Josh’s message that many came to two services or brought a friend because they wanted to hear the message again.

Up next: Stuff Jesus Didn’t Say: You Have To Perfect (series premiere, week 1 of 2)

SPAM Prevention…

 —  October 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

Have you noticed an increase in spam after signing up for some newsletter, giving your email when registering at a hotel, or after purchasing something from a website? This drives me crazy! I want the hotel to have my email so I can get a digital copy of my receipt, and I sign up for a news letter because I want specific information, and I need to give online purchasing places an email for purchasing confirmations but then those places often take my info and sell it.

For the past year or so I have been using an alternate email address when signing up for just about anything.  This allows me to give out an email without worrying about how it will be used.  If I purchase something form a new site I just go get my receipt immediately, and I do not care of they write ever again.

If you decide to create a spam address do not use the word SPAM in the name.  I once had something like “donotspambrandon@gmail.com” and often sites would say, “invalid email.”Here are a few tips…

  • Make it sound legit
  • Remember the address
  • Remember the password

This should help keep your inbox clean after future online endeavors.

Fun little video promoting a couple of HSM’s upcoming tailgate parties. Lots of energy and capturing that awesome school spirit. We picked the 2 biggest games of the year that hit 4 of our big 5 high schools. Going to be a GREAT night!


Got a chance to interview Jeff Foxworthy, host of GSNTV’s American Bible Challenge! You can read part 1 of the interview right here, here’s part 2! Be sure to tune in Thursday night for the season finale!

Q: Are your kids involved in a youth group?
Yeah, but they’re 18 and 20 now.  My youngest is a senior in high school.  Just won homecoming queen Friday night, but asked me on Saturday, “Hey dad, will you go with me on a mission trip to Kenya.”  She’s been 3 or 4 times.  That’s how they spend their spring breaks, working in a slum in Kenya.  She’s popular and she’s pretty, but she’s been to Africa, Russia and China.  She and her sister have partnered with Compassion International and have helped raise money to help more kids.  They’re living it out.

JG: Love it! Tell me more: how have you gotten your own kids to study the Bible?
Well, my kids went to a Christian school, so my wife and I figured they got most of the formal stuff, there in the classroom.  We kind of wanted to make sure they ‘see’ it in action.

So, when my oldest was 14, there was a group of guys, we all took our oldest kids with us on a mission trip.  So my shy little girl, who wouldn’t spend the night at her grandmothers house a mile away, went with me to Kenya to work with people there. She came back and said, “There ought to be something kids here can do. I know kids don’t have much money.”  So, she did some research online and learned that more kids die there of Malaria than anything else in Africa.  So she found a place where she could buy mosquito nets for ten bucks.

She started baking cupcakes and doing car washes and my shy child starting getting local restaurants to give her a night and she would set up a little table about it.  Then she made a little video and partnered with Compassion International.  By the time she was in 10th and 11th grade, she was flying around and speaking to youth groups about having been there and what she was doing. By the time she was a senior, she was invited to the White House to speak to a conference of kids who are changing the world.  Now she’s a senior in college and helps run the Compassion program at her college campus and has raised over $2M to buy about 200K nets.  I said to her, “That’s 600K kids that probably won’t get Malaria because you took one small step”.  She’s been to Africa 5 times now.  For her, the Bible is alive and in the doing.  That’s probably what she’ll end up doing with her life, working for a non-profit.

Recently, someone was interviewing her and asked, “Is it weird for you to be at the high school lunch room and they’re talking about what pants or sunglasses they’re going to buy, and you’re raising money for these nets”.  She said, not wanting to judge anyone, “Well, that’s not their fault.  I’ve just seen something they haven’t seen.  But because I have seen something, I have to respond”.

Q: You have the attention of thousands of church youth workers right now.. anything you want to share with them?
Well, for years and years, on Tuesday mornings I’ve led a small group at a homeless mission in my city.  (Jeff adds humbly, “not for publicity or anything like that obviously”).  We started out with about 12 guys, and now I have about 20 guys that help and it’s grown to 120 homeless guys.

There is probably a connection between where these guys are at, and young people today.  That message is… Everybody wants to be worth something.  You know, I think that’s the struggle for youth groups and teens.  “Where do I fit in?”  “Do I matter?”  “Am I relevant?”  And GOD answer that he whispers and he showed it right there at the cross is that you’re worth EVERYTHING to me.  EVERYTHING.  Look right there, that’s what your worth to me.

If you could ever get that in the heart of a kid, then I think they would quit worrying so much, that I have to do this to be liked or do this to fit in.  When you start understanding really who GOD is and really how GOD feels about you, and it’s not based on your goodness, that it’s based on HIS goodness.  That’s what makes it a perfect love, because then the things you do, you do in response, not because you “love” so much, but because you’re “loved” so much.

(JG: Hear an incredible Bible story from Jeff and this group of homeless guys, watch this video on GSN’s website)

BONUS QUESTION: My blog is all about youth ministry being “more than dodgeball”. Do you have any horror stories from playing a particular game or funny memory from when you were part of a youth ministry or church?

Jeff: (Laughs…) Well… I grew up Southern Baptist… I don’t know that we had “youth group”.  We had Sunday School, Church, Sunday night service and Wednesday night prayer service.  I liked Wednesday night prayer service the best, cause they had really good hamburgers at my church for the Wednesday night supper.

I’ll tell you this… in terms of “more than dodgeball” and being more than a youth group, I have a story.  I came to my faith when I was 7 years old.  I remember being in church,  they were doing an invitation, and I said “I’m going”.  I remember my mom grabbed me by the shirt and said, “NO, you’re too young, you don’t understand what this is all about”.  And apparently, being Jeff, I argued about it all the way home, to the point that they had the preacher come to our house that Sunday afternoon.  He sat down and talked to me and on the way out told my mom, “He knows what he’s doing” so we went back to church that night so I could go down.  I just did a benefit for YoungLife in Knoxville, TN and that preacher was there and brought the bulletin from that Sunday, 40+ years later.

My struggle was at that youth group age, is that I would look at the church people who were so straight-lined in their dress and the way they acted and I knew I wasn’t wired like that.  I would think you know I love them, but I can’t dress like that and act like that.  It took me a long time in life to feel like I heard GOD whisper, “I know you can’t, I don’t want you to be like that.  I knitted you together, I know you’re not a straight-lined guy.  You stay with me and we’ll go places that are perfect for the way you’re wired”.

So, I don’t speak in a lot of churches, but I love to speak at things like Wild Game dinners.  I bow-hunt, fish, I love the outdoors.  I’ll speak at one of these dinners where there are 3 or 4 thousand show up.  Half of them wouldn’t go to church if you paid them. But I can do comedy for half an hour and make them laugh and roll that over into a story of sitting in the woods and watch the sun rise and come to life, you have to say to yourself, this is no accident.  There are too many things interacting with each other, this had to have been created on purpose.  And if that’s created on purpose, then you’re created on purpose by a Creator and here’s his purpose.  Time after time, guys will come up to me and say “I’ve never heard it like that before, as a love story.  It’s always been you better quit smoking, you better quit drinking, you better quit…”

And with that … we had to quit, too! Don’t forget to watch the American Bible Challenge season finale tomorrow (Thursday night) on the Game Show Network!


When you prep your talk, think about three audiences in your youth group. It doesn’t matter if they’re all actually in the room or not, thinking about them will prepare you for when they are.

As you look to an application of your talk, consider these three people in the crowd:

The “So What?” Student
When you’re working on your talk, be sure to address the non-believing or seeking students in the audience. Share the Gospel with them. Invite them into a relationship with Christ, or at least back to hear more about the Jesus you spoke about tonight.

Invite them to process what they’ve heard and let them know you’d be happy to address any questions or concerns they might have as they think about whether what you’ve shared is relevant to their world.

The “So-So” Student
Don’t forget about the lukewarm or apathetic student in your group either. As you turn toward application think of steps big and small that they could take to get back on track. Gently nudge them toward Jesus and invite them to a closer relationship with Him.

The “Sold-Out” Student
In every youth group you’ve got students who are on the right path—compliment them for the way that they’re following the teachings in the message you just gave. Ask them to celebrate what God is doing in that area. Challenge them to stay on the right path and continue their faithfulness to Christ.

Are we missing anyone else? Who else is out there in the group you should think about as a communicator?

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.

As soon as I saw the title of the book I got excited about what I hoped was on the inside. I was hoping for a tongue-in-cheek humor book to help me laugh and love my calling to youth ministry. Well, Steve Case and the Youth Cartel did not disappoint! The Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry is one of the funnest books I’ve ever read about youth ministry. The book is good for a quick laugh – I’m not sure it is intended to be read through in one sitting (although I have to admit that’s exactly what I did! I couldn’t stop!). All in all a great book that made me laugh, wince, cry uncontrollably (OK not quite) as I walked through my youth ministry journey.

Well done … time for a YM encyclopedia next?


By now, you are likely familiar with The Youth Cartel, the cool new start-up youth ministry company led by Marko and Adam McLane.

One of their goals (which is a great one!) is to create space for “up and coming” voices in the youth ministry world. To that end, they are set to publish resources that either A) are outside the normal criteria for traditional publishers or B) are created by folks traditional publishers may not yet have on their radar.

The Youth Cartel’s Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry is one such resource….AND IT’S AWESOME!

If you want a fun, easy, read that will make you chuckle…..and who doesn’t……you need to grab yourself a copy!

GroupDo App

 —  October 16, 2012 — 5 Comments

GroupDo is an iPhone app that categorises 250 team building games with unique search filter to select a game that best suits your group. Each game has a description with a step by step process with images helping explain how to play the games. Inside the app you are able to favourite the games and share your experiences with your friends on facebook. The search allows you to select the right game depending on the group by narrowing down the game type, game duration, group size, accessibility and difficulty level of each icebreaker.

This is a great resource for only $1.99.  Show GroupDo some iOS love and buy your download here.  BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!!  I have 2 copies of GroupDo to giveaway.  Leave a comment to this post sharing your favorite game resources; tech game, book name, link to a site, etc.  We will pick TWO winners this Friday.

Website: groupdo.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groupdoapp
Twitter: http://twitter.com/groupdoapp
Instructional video: http://groupdo.co.uk/support/
GroupDo app store link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/groupdo/id562066388?mt=8



And the winners are Bill Ver Velde and Dan.