Posted by Kurt Johnston

The tragic tornado that hit Joplin, MO this past week, and the various tweets, emails etc I have received about people rushing out to aid in relief efforts got me thinking about a story that happened on a similar trip our church led shortly after Katrina.

Our church sent numerous teams of willing adults to New Orleans, and they fulfilled a wide variety of roles, mostly just doing whatever our local church partners needed done. One team was asked to spend most of the week several miles away from “the action” in a gymnasium sorting and folding donated items of clothing.

On the second day of clothe-folding a women declared to the team leader, “I cancelled a trip to Hawaii this week so I could do some important work here…I didn’t come to fold clothes.”

The team leader thanked her for her honesty….and put her on the next plane to Hawaii.

I hate the over-played “jumbo shrimp” contradiction analogy thingy…but it works here. Serving…but on our own terms…is a contradiction; like jumbo shrimp.

I like to pick on the Katrina lady, because it seems like such a classic example of people who say they want to serve, but really only want to do so if it is sexy. But the truth is, I often find myself in a similar boat.

…thankfully never sent home on a similar plane.

Ever wonder why people join your church? Here’s reason #8 based on research from 8,000+ new members at Saddleback over the past few years …

#8 — Missions
According to the results of surveys in our new member class – missions isn’t that important to potential members. If you’re looking to attract new people, having an amazing missions program doesn’t seem to make too huge of an impact on their decision to join. I would imagine that if this was a survey of long-time or mature members, the results would be far different.

Youth ministry application: Missions trips are an important part of a balanced discipleship process and an experience most students would completely benefit from during their time in youth group. They may not be the thing that attracts new members, but I’ve got a feeling they’re really important once they get even somewhat involved.


This weekend we hosted a parent panel in HSM and it was incredible. I’m going to post some of my learnings about the setup this week, but wanted to point you toward a great article from Forbes that helped me a ton beforehand. I saw a link randomly on Twitter from DC Curry, and it was so good I passed it on to each of the panelists during the preparation week, too. Here’s a clip of it, follow the link for the rest:

  • Don’t feel compelled to let every panelist answer every question, but do make sure each one gets some air time, but do try to keep their contributions short to allow others to participate. I don’t believe in contrived one-minute rules, you have to use your judgment.
  • Keep the time tight, redirect mercilessly if they run on. You are the boss!
  • Tell the panelists at the outset that you will call on them at the end to give 2 sentences to give their takeaways at the end. Stick to it. Keep them breathless. Keep everyone breathless.
  • In advance of the panel, get each panelist to give you at least one question they would like to be asked by the other panel members, and one they would like to ask others.
  • If you can swing it (I can in most cases), have a 15 minute huddle with the panelists before, start a fist fight there, and then stop it just before the panelists come to blows. Let them take the fight into the ring. Fist-fight interruptus works every time.


Ever wonder why people join your church? Here’s reason #9 from a Top Ten list taking shape here at Saddleback …

#9 — Availability of Church/Campus Near Our Home
Here’s an instant win for why people become members of your church – it is close to where they live! According to the research of over 8,000 new members at Saddleback Church - convenience and location plays a small role in why people choose to attend and engaging as members. But coming in so high on the list – 9 out of 10 makes it clear that location isn’t everything – it matters, but probably not as much as you or I may think. To me, anything in the Top 5 matters most and should get a majority of attention and funding. If this response is indeed accurate it would sharply contrast the current trend of the local church going multi-site or expanding quickly into regionals.

Youth ministry application: Your best chance of success is working to create a healthy youth ministry. While it may be easier for some churches to win simply based on geography or in that they happened into a prime location – people will go the distance for a great church. People will sacrifice comfort for a remarkable experience. They will drive past other great churches and youth ministries for other reasons (like the things on the rest of this list, I’d imagine) to be at yours … or they’ll drive by yours for the same reason.


Doug, Katie, and Josh all managed to make it to the show on time, however Matt couldn’t make it. Did the show survive without him?


A friend posted this video to my facebook page. I love it…I love hearing from girls who have read the book. When I wrote this book, I believed that it could lead to potential life changing conversations between youth workers and girls in their ministries or parents and daughters. I still believe that.

Consider getting one for the girl in your life!

Doug, Katie, and Josh all managed to make it to the show on time, however Matt couldn’t make it. Did the show survive without him?

Weekend Teaching Series: How to Raise Your Parents (series finale, week 3 of 3)

Sermon in a Sentence: Real-life parents answer your real-life questions. Each service will be completely different!
Service Length: 76 minutes

Understandable Message: This week we tried a first in HSM – the parent panel. I’ll post more later about my learnings on how to run a good panel, but for now, I’ll just say it was awesome. We had parents commit to at least 2 services if possible, so we had different parents throughout the weekend. It was incredible to hear their heart and passion, as well as their vulnerability and love for their kids. We had some parents, who I introduced as not perfect by any means, but that loved Jesus and loved their kids. It was awesome. I have almost 500 questions that students sent into us during the 4 services, excited to do a series of posts on them in the future – I think they will be super insightful for youth ministry or even parents themselves.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had pretty straightforward programming this weekend – lots of student greeters and student leaders running the night. We had a video testimony about trust/parents featuring a Life Group leader, Blair Wilson, who really messed up as a teenager – that was solid, too. Tons of student involvement with students texting in their questions to which we moderated and pushed to the screen.

Music Playlist: Dancing Generation, Mighty to Save, Sing Sing Sing

Favorite Moment: The parents were incredible. They made the services – and I loved the unpredictability of each service. You didn’t know the questions, you didn’t know the answers – so each service was unique and honestly, really interesting. Oh, and using my iPad2 to push the questions students had texted in right on to the big screen was techno-fun, too.

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