I’m on my way to work with a few church ym’s in Indiana. Word on the street there says they’re deep into Autumn. I’m excited about fall foliage, pumpkins, patches and corn mazes, scarecrows, etc., ’cause we don’t get that in Houston.
So in 3D in a half-dream state, small church YM and the calendar season are merging into one inside my sleepy head. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1) Like the falling leaves, some YM programs have to die before new ones can sprout up. Its about trusting that growth will happen, even when we don’t see it yet.

2) When pumpkins rot, it usually starts w/ one tiny spot left unchecked. The spot grows and grows till the rotteness takes over and the whole thing explodes at your feet. Lesson? Cut out any tiny rotten places in your YM before it gets bigger.

3) Scarecrows are meant to frighten animals away from the vines in a garden. Good for a patch; not good for a youth group. Scary, grumpy people can frighten students and their parents away from getting connected to The Vine.

4) Both October and youth group events usually mean there’s candy involved.

Your turn! Why don’t you add some more similarities? Now build some lessons around these and there ya go!


Posted By Kurt Johnston

Since it is still toward the beginning of the school year, and the small group season is still fairly young, I want to give away some small group video curriculum!

Here’s how to win: leave any comment, and at the end of the day Wednesday we will randomly pick a winner. The prize is your choice of any TWO of our 5-week video curriculum.

Game on!

The start of the new school year has meant that the process of reintroducing myself to our local high school’s Administrators has begun as I re-explain my motives and purpose for visiting the high schools. It is a lot of work, but the fruit that comes of it is immeasurable. Here are 3 reasons why we do it.

Encouragement & Support: Showing up at a high school, walking down the hallway and remembering a students name is a powerful thing to them. You are telling them that they matter. They might be having a bad day, but you arriving on their turf, just to visit, can provide a huge boost. Pulling them aside and praying for them or just being interested in what is happening says a lot to a student that feels invisible in a school of 2000+ people (this is assuming that every youth goes to a school of 2000+). Talk about being like Christ, showing up where people are at, in their school. It’s really enjoyable to see students in “their natural environment”

Connection: Showing up in the school gives me face time with students I would likely never have the opportunity to spend time with, and for a student that has not shown up at our program for a few weeks, it might be an opportunity to reconnect, check in, and find out what is going on. Perhaps there is something they need prayer about. Just this week, I went to a local school to meet up with a student that was struggling to transition into High School I met up with her and happened to bump into another student (God moment) who just moved here and was in the same boat. We hung out, ate lunch, they swapped numbers, and the rest, well, we’ll see…..

Conversation Catalyst: We do not hand anything out while visiting school, nor do we invite anyone to our youth group because that is not my role. My absolute favorite bi-product of visiting the high schools is that I will often meet groups of two or three of our students and inevitably one or two of their friends who are not connected to the Church. We shoot the breeze, talk about their weeks, how school is going etc., give them a high five, and that’s it. But what happens after is incredible, because afterwards I often here, these words.

“Who was that?”

“Oh, that’s my Youth Pastor, Geoff”

“Youth Pastor? You go to church?”

“Yeah, I do……..

I don’t always know where those conversations go, if they end quickly or carry on, but I do know that many friends of students that I met have started attending our youth group, gotten connected, and given their lives to Christ.

Visiting the high schools can be time consuming, and for some really intimidating, but what an encouragement we can be to students, and from what I have seen even help important conversations about God happen, just by being there. Make time for it. It’s incredibly important to be in the schools if they are willing to let us in.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.


Neely McQueen —  October 4, 2011 — Leave a comment

Oh Stereotypes! What do you do with them? I cringe at times by their overuse and I use them freely in my speaking/writing. Talk about confusing!



Maybe what really bothers me is the “spin” given to the stereotypes. Maybe they don’t bother me when they are used in a way that is helpful versus hurtful.


What do you think of stereotypes? Specifically related to gender…what’s your thoughts?

For the very first time one of my kids traveled with me to speaking engagement. The D6 Conference was an incredible time and even had prepared generously for my oldest son (he’s just short of 10 years old) to be there with me at the event. They had a little speaker gift bag waiting for him and welcomed him into the green room with all of the main stage speakers. It was incredible. We were so blessed by the little touches from their team and generosity!

But the best part was when happened when the conference was over – they took us back to the airport and instead of flying home we got a cheap economy rental car and checked into a hotel for the weekend. We’ve been planning on spending a few days together just him and I and working through the James Dobson Preparing for Adolescence CDs and workbook. Thanks to priceline.com we scored a 4-star hotel for less than $50 a night. Crazy deals!

You see, my dad took me on a trip just like this when I was about this age. We worked through the same CDs (actually tapes, at the time, haha) and it even happened in Dallas. We ate junk food, talked late into the night, and went go-karting. I learned about growing up, peer pressure, sex and puberty that week. It was just one of many life conversations with my dad, and 25 years later I still remember it to this day. I can’t believe I’m old enough to be taking my son on a trip like this.

We set the bar high for my other 3 kids, we had a blast (and better start saving for trip #2 now). One of my life goals is to be the best dad in the world, and it was awesome to watch my son grow up before my eyes this past weekend. I’m sure I’ll journal (and possibly blog) more about this experience in the future, but it was life-changing for both my son and his dad.

Dad speaks @ D6 Conference
Poncho’s Mexican Buffet
Movie: Dolphin Tale 3D

Disc 1-4 [growing up, identity, peer pressure]
Go Karting
Dickey’s Pit BBQ (ribs)
Dollar Theater: Zookeeper
Watch UFC 135 at Buffalo Wild Wings

Disc 5-6 [puberty and sex]
Legoland Discovery & Sea Life Aquarium [free admission from a stranger]
Travel to Lewisville (I lived there as a kid for a few years)
Mr. Jim’s Pizza
Waffle House

Disc 7 [faq, testimonies]
Monday Night Football at Cowboys Stadium

[$30 tickets on StubHub]

As you can see from the schedule, we planned an epic weekend – my wife reminded me more than a couple times to make sure we actually got through the material and didn’t just play. We learned a ton. We played hard. We ate lots of junk food. And we basically burned through the speaker honorarium from D6. Oh well!

It was so worth it. One of the most incredible, bonding things I’ve ever been a part of. I shared my dreams for my son with him. I shared with him God’s plan for his life and God’s best plan for sex, marriage, purity and manhood. The door that most parents are afraid to even crack was kicked wide open. My almost 10-year old boy is now a man. Couldn’t be more proud. What a weekend!


I just started reading Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin- I am not done yet so I am not sure where I’ll land with it…you can expect a book review when I am done!

Before than I wanted to share with you a portion that caught my eye – here’s what Andrew Marin said:

“Research now reports that the average age of someone who first realizes a same-sex attraction is thirteen years old. It also shows that the average age of someone who declares their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is fifteen years old! Think back to when you were thirteen, fourteen and fifteen years old and add onto those already insecure awkward years the extra burden of having these new sometimes frightful sexual thoughts and not knowing where they came from. Who do you tell- your parents? Church? Friends?”

Wow! Think of some of your students…13, 14, or 15 years olds…trying to understand what is going on in their hearts and bodies. Who do they tell? What would we do if they told us? Am I a safe place? Is our youth ministries a safe place?

Here’s the deal- I realize that there is a theological conversation (or more than one) that needs to happen but I am pretty certain it’s not the most important conversation when it comes to a 13, 14 or 15 year old and their journey. There is so much to offer a struggling student from scripture…hope, grace, love, peace, forgiveness, identity in Christ…really the list could go on and on.

I found this clip (again- I haven’t seen the full film…but I plan on it…and I will report back). My heart breaks for these young adults. I am thankful that we have come along way in the conversation and how to handle students…I wonder how much more of the conversation is yet to be had?

Have you read Love is an Orientation or seen this documentary?

One of the coolest things I get to do at Saddleback Church is act as the director of our student ministry building that we call “The Refinery.” It has special meaning to me because this building was basically the brain child of one of my student ministry heroes, Doug Fields. The name “The Refinery” was chosen because we are refining young souls for Christ. The building is 50,000 square feet and was designed to look like an old run down refinery mill. I get calls from churches all over the country that are looking into a new student ministry building and they want to know what we did, how we did it and what would we do different. If you’re looking into changing or building a student ministry facility, here are some of my ideas:

1. Build as big a building as you can. Even if it means you cut back on furnishings or stuff you can add later. It’s less expensive to add furniture later than to add on to a building. During the construction of our building as construction costs were going up we cut down on the size of the building. It’s still a huge facility, but in three years we have out grown the building.

2. The Refinery is a ministry, NOT a building. That’s one of my catch phrases that I instill into the staff that work in our student building. The Refinery attracts students to our campus, students who might not otherwise step foot on a church campus. We invite the community to use the meeting rooms and the gym for “non-church” functions. Our local high schools use it for sports banquets and functions. It’s great exposure to students and it definitely brings them back to a weekend church service.

3. Video camera monitoring. We have 41 cameras throughout the building. It’s an easy way for us to monitor the entire building and keep an eye on things without students feeling a negative presence. We can easily see when a teenage boy and girl are “fellowshipping a little too close” and need to be told to “leave some room for Jesus between them.” If an incident happens we have video available to find out what exactly occurred and who was involved.

4. Staffing. This has been an issue for us since the day the building opened. I want staff working in the building to interface with students, talk to them, and play games with them. I want the building to be a place where students can come and have fun, feel safe, and meet friends, all while growing in their faith. We are in the process of trying to grow a volunteer program, but even with a church the size of Saddleback it’s hard to find volunteers.

5. Security. We have some policies in place so that we can insure the security of students in the building. For example, during service times (Saturday night and Sunday morning) the upstairs of the building where all the games are located is off limits to adults. Occasionally a parent will question us on this rule but we just explain its one of the ways we keep students (including their kids!) safe from any predators. Not something that’s easy to talk about but we have to consider all potential issues. We use a LOT of grace first and only resort to calling parents and sending kids home when we absolutely have to. We have to keep order and keep everyone safe, but we also want kids to be able to have fun!

Matt Reynolds is a Security Supervisor with Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and is also the Director of the Refinery — the Student Ministry Building at Saddleback. He is addicted to student ministry and blogs and teaches volunteer student ministry leaders with Steven Orel, who is also on staff at Saddleback Church. Their blog can be found at www.gentogenym.com.

…in no particular order

1) Any youth worker who doesn’t read “Indispensable Youth Pastor” and put it into practice is just asking to get fired. @ymarchitects ? http://ymarchitects.com to order

2) I shouldn’t be writing this blog on a Saturday and you shouldn’t be reading it because its a family day.

3) Small church youth workers do relationships REALLY well. They don’t have as much at stake job-wise and so they’re freed up to use what little tools they have: ? building relationships with less politics.

4) There’s A LOT of self-promotion happening on Twitter by youth workers; a “see and be see” style. And when did we get so quick to criticize with an “I’m cooler than you” air?

5) I really like the new Simply Tools product; it? does it all. http://simplyyouthministrytools.com

6) My hubby wants to write my next blog. This should be…interesting.

7) My column deadline for the smaller church youth ministry column in Group mag is due next week and I have no idea what to write about.

8) I like coffee a lot.

9) Steve Schneeberger, the executive director of Youth Ministry Institute out of Orlando – and good friend of #symc, has put together a great training event for Oct. 12-15th called, The Academy. http://yminstitute/academy.

10) Candy corn only tastes good this time of the year.