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.




Read Part 1 of this 2-part series right here

Anyone who ministers in a city with more than five non-Christians needs to be able to do apologetics and they need to do it well.

The truth is that everyone is an apologist at some point– some are good ones and some are rather poor at it. Many of us in youth ministry are great at loving students, leading leaders, planning events and preaching but we make lousy apologists. I was never offered one apologetics, logic or biology class in Bible School. Despite a lack of training and value in it, I believe that everyone (pastors included) is an apologist because everyone will eventually ask themselves the difficult questions of faith and life such as, “How can I be sure there is a God who created the Earth?”, “How could God allow so much suffering in the world?”, “How do we know the Bible can be trusted?”, “Is it good if my vacuum sucks?” et al. How will we answer these questions when we either ask them or they are asked of us?

Our ignorance in such matters is very costly to your students and the many who struggle with the tough questions being raised today.

In his book, The Weight Of Glory [1], C.S. Lewis gives a prophetic call to all of us, in this case those of us who are interested in reaching and keeping our students in the faith. Lewis calls us to answer the call to engage in the intellectual battle going on in our world,

To be ignorant and simple now — not to be able to meet the enemies on their ground — would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

The role of apologetics can change someone’s life. Jesus tells us, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Truth has a very freeing and empowering element to it. When the disciple Thomas understood the truth of the resurrected Jesus, he believed fully that Jesus was the Messiah (John 20:28) and, according to early Christian tradition, was killed in India for proclaiming Jesus as Lord.

Apologetics can be intimidating, especially for those in ministry who “just love people.” “Save apologetics for the stuffy intellectuals,” they may say. “We just specialize in loving kids.” That’s great, we must love people but doing good apologetics as a form of what love necessitates. In Jude 22, Paul exhorts, “Have mercy on some, who are doubting.” Apologetics, then, is a form of showing compassion to people. This can be an expression of the loving priestly role of a ministry leader.

Ephesians 4:12 calls the work of pastor to love his people and “equip the saints for works of service.” To Pastor Tim Keller, equipping people in a secular world must not just include training them in the traditional spiritual disciplines. These days, to engage the post-Christian world for the purpose of making disciples, we must teach them apologetics as well. Keller writes,

In ‘Christendom’ you can afford to train people just in prayer, Bible study, evangelism– private world skills–because they are not facing radically non-Christian values in their public life–where they work, in their neighborhood, etc… the laity needs theological education to ‘think Christianly’ about everything and work with Christian distinctiveness. [2]

Ways we train our people to “think Christian” in a secular world is:

1. By not assuming that they already think “Christianly”.

2. Taking opportunities to show how biblical truth applies to various modern day events and circumstances in their world.

3. Helping our people think critically about the media they consume.

4. Learning from and providing online resources to quality apologists like William Lane Craig (reasonablefaith.org), Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias (rzim.com), Greg Koukl (str.org), C.S. Lewis, etc. This act of pointing to others is a very helpful way for any leader to draw from the abundant resources that are available to us today.

It is important to note that not every pastor has to understand how the elements of mitochondria point to intelligent design and be able to teach it to a third year university class. They should, however, be able to point their people to someone who can do that. Apologetics does not have to be intimidating in today’s information age. The rational defense is out there somewhere, you just have to learn how and who to point your people to.

That is our job as Ephesians 4:12 youth pastors.

[1] Lewis, C.S. The Weight Of Glory. (Harper Collins, New York, 1949). Page 50.

[2] Tim Keller. “The Missional Church” June 2001. http://www.redeemer2.com/resources/papers/missional.pdf

For the past four years, Jon has served at Coquitlam Alliance Church just outside of beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. Jon is the young adults pastor in a ministry called Ethos. Check out his blog at http://jonmorrison.ca

Hey everyone from NYWC 2011!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from Every 7 Minutes: Keeping Students Engaged During Your Talk workshops I promised you today:


Hey everyone from NYWC 2011!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop on small group leaders so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from the 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leader trainings I promised you this weekend:


As a result of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, the Susquehanna River flooded to levels around 30 feet – destroying roads and bridges, inundating entire communities and washing away the first 2 floors of many homes. We’re partnering with the people of Bloomsburg, PA, one of the communities devastated by this flood, to bring help and hope to the people of that community.

For 4 consecutive Saturdays in October you have the opportunity to make a real difference. The dates are October 8, 15, 22, and 29. You can find more information here. We’re making this event a little different than most The Big Day of Serving. We want anyone and everyone 12 years old and older to come serve – not just your youth group. You can invite the men’s ministry, women’s ministry, adult small groups, Sunday school classes, pastoral staff, etc. to come with you to help. We’ll take everyone who can help.

Please consider bringing your youth group!

The Big Day of Serving – Bloomsburg, PA Disaster Recovery



Jade’s Story

Josh Griffin —  September 29, 2011 — Leave a comment

Stumbled on this video of Jade’s story … she was a senior in high school when this happened and is just back from a season serving in Kitale, Kenya. Amazing young woman, so proud of her. Hat tip to Shane McCann for the video work. Nice.