From time to time people ask us if we have any policies regarding overnighters using the church building. We do! Here’s a quick rundown of how our small group leaders can use it for a fun activity. If it is helpful to you then by all means adapt it for your setting and you’re all set!


We understand how beneficial this activity can be for your Life Group and we believe the Refinery is an awesome place to hold your small group event. We want to be sure that you as the group leader understand the rules and requirements to hold your sleepover/overnighter:

  1. All students participating in your sleepover need to be registered in your group. If you have other kids joining you for the night, please make sure that we are made aware of them in advance.
  2. Please notify our Security Department that you are on campus by calling 949-xxx-xxxx. We have Security Staff here 24/7, please notify them if you have any problems.
  3. We will make every effort to get any cleaning crews in and out of the building as quickly and as early in the evening as possible. Please note that some nights the building requires them to be in the building for longer time.
  4. If the facilities are being used for an event the following day and chairs and tables are set up, those areas might be off limits to you for the night, we can talk about arrangements with you for you to make sure all the tables and chairs are put back in place by the morning.
  5. Everyone needs to be out of the building by 8:00 a.m. the following morning. The building needs to look like you were never there.
  6. Due to Health Department regulations, any places where food is prepared are off limits. Do not go behind the counters. The drink machines are shut off each evening, so please make arrangements for your own food and beverages.
  7. Do not use any of the audio/visual/technical equipment unless you have received permission prior to your sleepover. No exceptions!
  8. Once the doors have been locked for the night by security, students will need to stay in the building and the doors need to remain locked.
  9. Please contact us if we can do anything to assist you in making your sleepover night an awesome experience for your group!


During HSM’s Midweek Bible study this summer we were privileged to have Carl Moeller from Open Doors share with our students the plight of the persecuted church. He gave students an incredible challenge and quite honestly exposed them to some pretty serious issues many if not all weren’t aware of before.

As a takeaway for the message that night, he gave everyone a “One with Them” barbed-wire bracelet. I think they are really great with an awesome meaning, if you’re interested in being a part of this initiative, check out Open Doors USA’s website or watch the video embedded above.


I realize I’m a little late to the party on reading this circa-2001 New York Times best-seller, but I’ve been a Drudge Report fan since just after it came out in the late 90′s. If you aren’t on Drudge Report every day, you’re missing the news. Matt came to power back in the days of dial-up and was at the forefront of this emerging idea that everyone was a journalist. He broke the news on Monica Lewinsky way back in a day, and has continually challenged the ideas that TV and print media had set in stone. If you’re a fan, the book is great – offering you insight and a behind the scenes look at new journalism. If you’re not, the book may read a little incomprehensibly at times and will only be somewhat entertaining. So it was perfect for me.

Here’s a big universal takeaway for all: Matt (and others) blazed a trail giving everyone a voice. You have a voice. Start a website, a blog or a Tumblr and jump in. A-


Recently one female reader left some honest comments here on MoreThanGossip- I emailed her and asked if I could share them here in a post and draw attention to some of her insightful words. Chandra agreed.

Below our portions of her comments from two different posts:

One of the hardest parts of being a teen for me was going to church while living with a verbally abusive father. Saddest part was, I had to hide that part of me at church because there was no one who understood it and no one who really wanted to. I might not have been the only one in that youth group who was living with a hard home life but I was the only one there who ever made an attempt to talk about it and it was met with blank stares or pity eyes. Neither of which helped me.

If you can’t walk into a church and talk about the shittiest parts of life, where you can you do it? And if you wait for the person affected to bring it up, even if you’ve created a “safe place”, it doesn’t help, because it requires the abused coming out of their shell and risking everything to maybe be met with silence or worse, apathy.

So yes, absolutely these issues need to be addressed. Both in laying down the law that those kinds of behaviors are unacceptable for either sex in a relationship and also that there is real support and if needed, help to step in those situations and if need be, put an end to it.

In a later post:

I used to think the tide was changing and the church as a whole was becoming more accepting of women in leadership, using their gifts in many capacities as called. But honestly this is one reason I left the church I was a long time volunteer and later staff member. I stopped feeling like there was a place for me within that body. I found myself in a position where I had just spent 5 years finding out what my gifts and calling were to be left with no where to use it. As I looked around I saw more and more evidence that my particular gifts were not needed or wanted and if they were, my gender would negatively impact my ability to use them.

We can’t change Chandra’s story but we can learn to do differently.

1. We need to be ok with pain. Youth Ministry culture tends to lend itself to trying to make life look perfect and easy. Sometimes we seem to live in denial. Students are hurting. If you are not creating a place for students to get real life help and if you aren’t talking about real life issues in your ministry than you are sending hurt students out to a world without help or healing. Don’t run from pain, don’t avoid it…ask, listen and care.

2. Be alert. When the Holy Spirit puts that feeling in your stomach that something isn’t right…follow up. If it’s nothing than a student is still cared for and if your feeling is right than a hurting student receives the care that they need.

3. Don’t put people in a box. If someone wants to serve in a certain capacity of ministry but they don’t match what you had in mind (gender, appearance, age, etc)- give them a shot. Likely both of you will learn something. I’ve seen hurting students find healing in the significance of serving.

What will you do for the Chandra in your ministry? (She’s there.)

*By the way, I know Chandra now as an adult and she’s amazing. She is following a God given dream in the arts.*

I’ve been having a blast creating The Simply Youth Ministry Today newsletter this past month. It is a free daily dose of youth ministry shot right into your email inbox. Want to get it? You can sign up here to get in on the action!

Here’s a few of the topics we’ll cover in the coming months:

  • Top 2 Books that Have Influenced Me in Ministry
  • How to Respond to an Angry Parent
  • Youth Ministry Frequently Asked Questions
  • How to Write a Youth Talk
  • The Future of Youth Ministry
  • 6 Great Non-Youth Ministry Books You Should Read

Sign up, my friends!


Posted by Scott Rubin

So my parents were in town visiting this past weekend.
That usually means that at some point they start telling stories about “stuff I did as I kid”… and lets just say that I’m not always the “hero” in the story. Most of the stories they tell are ones that they’ve told over and over again. But this weekend I heard a new one, and it made me really think.

When I was about 5 years old, we were going to a church (I don’t know how regularly).
But that summer my parents put us kids into a Vacation Bible School at a different church closer to our house.

After a few days of VBS, I came home & told my mom “My Sunday School Teacher loves me”.
So my mom said “Well Scott, it’s so nice that she told you that, she sounds like a nice lady.”
And apparently I told her, “Oh… she didn’t say that she loves me…
I can just tell.”

As my mom tells it, that caught her off guard.
And got her thinking.
If this church has people that love my kid… and my kid can actually feel it… maybe that’s the kind of church we need to be around more often.
So — after some conversation with my dad, they actually decided to attend this church regularly. Mostly motivated by the comment of their 5 year old kid.

Even though 5 year olds are different from middle schoolers… I do think that middle schoolers can “just tell” if the people at church really care about them.
- By how people welcome them when they show up
- By how people talk to them … and listen to them
- By how people respond when they do something they weren’t supposed to

God, please help us make our ministry a place where junior highers can Just Tell they are loved!

Posted by Kurt Johnston

If you haven't had a chance to catch the new Simply Youth Ministry Show, here are the first three episodes.
Show 1: The Maiden Voyage

Show 2: Communication with guests Adam Mclane, Terrace Crawford and Tim Schmoyer

Episode 3: The Adolescent Brain with Guest, Mark Oestreicher

Check out this post at SimplyInsider.

Mark Oestreicher and some friends are organizing this event just for you – if you work with Middle School students. It’s gonna be a great time. Let’s be honest about this: it’s not every adult who wakes up thinking, “How can I spend some time with 13 year-olds today, and influence them for Jesus?”

That calling, that wiring, is extremely unique and wonderful. And our wise and wonderful God, who cares so passionately about the young teens in your church, chose YOU! You are truly one of the few, one of the unique; and you are God’s plan for showing love to middle schoolers.

But this ministry is difficult, and sometimes lonely. You need to be surrounded by others who understand you, who share your calling. That’s why we created the Middle School Ministry Campference.

Check here for more info. Toby and I will be there as well…

If you work with junior high or middle school students, you owe it to your self to at least check out this event.