Rented a few games this week (and got to enjoy a little time off watching the kids with my wife away at our annual Minister’s Wives Retreat). Spent some time with the kids playing videogames on the Xbox 360 – beat Tron: Evolution (C-) and Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (A+). Good times!


Smaller youth groups and tightening youth budgets sometimes don’t allow youth pastors to take advantage of the technologically centered world we live in today. Texting is a huge tool in a youth pastor’s world to stay connected with their students, but but budget doesn’t always allow for us to use services provided by others.

If you are a Mac user, I’ve devised a way that takes a little more work, but it allows me to send messages like I would with any other service offered. Sometimes there are some hiccups due to the email factor, but it works well most of the time.

If you can collect your students phone numbers, you need to turn them into email addresses using the appropriate email ending after their phone number (ie Take that information and store it in the Address Book app with a name. Address Book doesn’t easily give you an option to select primary email addresses. To fix that, there is a link to a plugin that will allow you to do that with a simple right click menu. If you are already using Address Book with your students, this will save you a ton of work.

In Address Book, there is a sub-heading called “Department” and you can create smart groups based on this information. I will fill in this information with “High School Teen” or “Adult Leader” and based on this text, the smart groups can be created.

You’ll need an email address to send emails from. If you use MobileMe you can create an alias email that will send to your primary account. It works better if your students can remember the email. Use the Mail app to send emails and you will be able to call up the group right from the “To:” address bar (This is where the address book plugin makes a difference because it will recall the primary email only). It makes it very easy to send messages to an entire group of students or leaders.

Students can then respond to the texts or contact me at any time without running up the texting bill on my phone.

For my group, this has been a super valuable tool. I can post this email as a way for students to get in touch with me anytime of the day, I don’t have to worry about my personal phone number getting into the hands of solicitors or pranksters, and I can reply straight from my computer. If you’re in a tight budget, this might just work for you.

Curtis Suuppi is the Associate Pastor of Teen Development at Country Christian Church in North Branch, MI.

I know that I can be a jealous person. Because of that, I have to resist the temptation to feel hurt when one of my students doesn’t come directly tome. At times, I know I set up a wall around my “territory” of students, not wanting to allow anyone else in to help them. They have to get through that wall to get to my students, and I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure they don’t get through the wall. My students are mine. Your students are yours.

That’s when I remember Rick Warren’s famous line, “It’s not about you.” Do we really want to see the student get the advice and help they need, or are we more concerned with our own pride and desire to be the hero that solved the problem? Our goal should be that a student gets the best help possible, and sometimes that doesn’t come from me. Isaiah 5:21 says, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” If we keep on thinking we can fix all the problems, we’ll soon find out we’re not as wise as we thought.

I have to ask myself, “That student feels a bond of trust in the leader he went to, so am I doing everything I can to build up the same level of trust in that student?” The first thing I need to do is realize that we’re all shaped individually to handle different situations. If I know that someone else is better equipped to handle a specific issue, I should be more than willing to send my student their way. We all have been through different fires and come out with a better understanding of how to face the problem. Who better to help a student with a drinking or drug problem than a former alcoholic or drug addict? They know how hard it is to get to the other side, and they can help a student way better than someone who hasn’t had the same experience. We can’t let our pride get in the way when someone better equipped to deal with a problem is called upon. In fact, why not store that in our Rolodex of the mind, so that next time I know who to refer a future student to when they’re dealing with drugs or alcohol? If a student comes to you knowing you’ve been through something like that, it’s also important to make sure their leader knows what they’re going through. It’s great that you can share your past pain or hurt, but their leader needs to know what their student is struggling with as well.

Last week I was faced with this exact issue, but I was the one “trespassing” on another leader’s turf. One of my former students had turned to me in a time of need, but not necessarily because I was better equipped for the situation. I think in this case, he felt comfortable with me as one of his leaders, and he was too ashamed of what he did to talk to his current leader. When it happened, I did my best to counsel him and make sure the situation was taken care of, but I did make sure to refer him back to his leader and make sure to fill him in on everything. Here’s the bottom line: don’t build a “kingdom” in your youth ministry. Know that you have weaknesses and that other people are way better equipped for some things than you are. With God’s help and some discernment, you can turn your youth group from an island into an alliance.

Are you doing everything you can to team up with other youth workers for the benefit of your students?

Matt Reynolds and Steven Orel are volunteer youth workers at Saddleback Church. They approach youth ministry from two different generations and perspectives. Look for lots more from them in the future — for now you canfollow them on Twitter and check out their previous blog posts here.

We used this experience during our 2006 mission trips. God used it in some pretty incredible ways that summer. It’s called the “Bread Body” and it’s a powerful visual of Christ’s sacrifice. It should work well during the Easter season and as an experience that flows into Communion or the Eucharist (depending on your church). I wanted to pass it along in case your looking for a good experiential time of worship this Easter season.

Bread Body

He is Risen!

Simply Youth Ministry just put together a new graduate gift set for your church kids who are about to head out to college. Check out the Graduation Gift Set – which includes a book written by Doug Fields and I, too! Here are a few things I think about when we start thinking about gifts for graduates:

Give them something personal
Write a note inside the gift you give them. The note may be as important than what you actually buy. If there’s a book you personally love or have heard good things about that makes for a good choice.

Give your seniors a Bible/Bible study
This may be one of your last significant chances to influence a student before they head off to school – give them a tool or resource to help them walk with God when they walk away from high school. For years we gave our students a nice Bible to use as they began their college journey.

Give them a memory
Maybe go through old youth group photos and send a few to Walgreen’s to print off and stick in the book or gift. A memorable trip, event or inside joke will mean a lot to them as they take off.

What are you getting your seniors this year?


New killball tournament this weekend – and some special rules this week. Get lots of details (forms, rosters, rules and more) on Taffy’s blog Rice and Worship.


Weekend Teaching Series: You Own the Weekend: El Toro HS (week 4 of 5)

Sermon in a Sentence: What are you searching for? The only answer is the Christ who satisfies.
Service Length: 77 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend the students went all out – the auditorium was decorated with all of the El Toro colors from streamers to giant signs on stage. The students liked the theme “the Christ who satisfies” and talked about how we are all searching and when we fully accept the true Christ He is what ultimately satisfies. Two students shared – Tyler did the introduction to the talk – sharing what God isn’t (a bandaid, a genie) and Kyle shared about the true Christ (salvation message, conversion of Paul). It was a great weekend, proud of the students for sharing a clear invitation to God’s life-changing salvation.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The students opened up with a fun version of Satisfaction, complete with a choreographed dance group as well. Very fun opener, and the live DJ during the countdown was really, really fantastic. Love it!

Music Playlist: Shoot, forgot to write them down!

Favorite Moment: Seeing a newer student Jake on stage singing the opening song was so fun. He’s been coming for the past 10 weeks, and is totally finishing his senior year right. Love that guy!

Up Next: You Own the Weekend: Capo HS [week 5 of 5]

I asked my 4 year old, “What’s the name of our church?”

She replied, “Daddy’s Work.”

Yep. Pretty much…