Do we show our love for Jesus in a “bumper sticker” or in how we live our life? Either way, its the example we are showing students.

Driving on the freeway today I saw a bumper sticker that said, “No Jesus, No Peace…Know Jesus, Know Peace.” Cute, I thought to myself. But it made me think, am I showing students how to love and praise and worship Jesus in bumper stickers or in the way of living my life? Bumper stickers get right to the point, but I want to be an example to students, not in sound bytes, but in the way I act in all situations. When it comes to words, I’m good and witty and clever, it’s one of my spiritual gifts. But I don’t want students to think that “God is my Co-Pilot.” He’s the pilot. Period. I’m not even worthy of being the guy who cleans the plane after a flight. Students need to see that when I get angry, I don’t start spewing a ton of four-letter words, when hard times come my way, I still praise God for what is good and try not to dwell on the bad.

I used to be the “bumper sticker Jesus” guy. I knew the right things to say, but usually didn’t put them into practice. I knew about tithing, but didn’t, I knew about prayer, but usually waited until I was in a bind before I would turn to God in prayer. I knew about the need for a quiet time everyday, but I seldom made the time for one. I’m happy to say I’m not that guy anymore. If I go a day without a quiet time I feel it, I begin to feel disconnected and I don’t like how that feels. I’ve learned to pray throughout the day, not just in the morning or when I go to bed. I want to help students by-pass the “bumper sticker Jesus” time in their life and have them put good, solid ways of worship and praise into their lives. I want to be a good example.

It’s not just about saying the right things at the right time. It’s necessary to live out what you talk about with your students. I can say “love your neighbor,” but if I don’t live that out, what good is it? It not only pushes me backward as a Christian, it shows my students that I don’t really care about what I’m teaching them. If I don’t care, why should they? Is it easy to tell people what they should do and then continue living our lives the way we want? Absolutely. But it’s not what we’re called to do. Maybe you’re not realizing that you do this. Now is the time to evaluate: am I a “bumper sticker” Christian, or am I someone that people know live out God’s Word in my life every day?

What are some steps you take to make sure you’re more than just a “bumper sticker” Christian?

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 can follow them on Twitter and check out their previous blog posts here.

Quinn’s story from Trabuco Hills’ You Own the Weekend in HSM.


Weekend Teaching Series: You Own the Weekend: Trabuco Hills HS (series premiere, week 1 of 5)
Sermon in a Sentence: Jesus brings peace to the stress of life.
Service Length: 68 minutes

Understandable Message: You Own the Weekend is all about students doing everything – and this week several students crafted a 3-part message on the event in the Bible where the wind and the waves were calmed by Jesus. The 3 parts of the talk each focused on a different part of the story, with a testimony (the first live and the second on video) breaking up the segments. The students had so much Scripture to use this weekend they even filled the back of the bulletin with lists of verses on worry and stress. Good stuff.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Students shot and edited several videos for the weekend – including a tremendously off-tune version of We Are the World called We are Trabuco. Painful to watch, hilarious in the a crowd. They also had the school mascots on stage, as well as a fun video shot all over their campus helping set up the big idea on stress.

Music Playlist: Salvation is Here, God is Love, Love Came Down, Salvation is Here (reprise)

Favorite Moment: You Own the Weekend’s big idea is that every student from every school gets an invitation to church. So many non-church students show up and participate in the service, it is incredible to see the turnout and get a chance to meet them. What an incredible weekend!

Up Next: You Own the Weekend: Mission Viejo HS [series premiere, week 2 of 5]

In the last of our 3 youth track sessions we focused on the individual student. We talked about everything we do outside of the large and small groups that are options for individual students to take steps forward in their faith. Here’s a few links for more depth on a few topics:



I am a youth pastor who oversees and teaches 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students. And anytime I prepare to teach a passage of the Bible to them, these are some of the first books I grab. Here’s why these are some of my essentials for teaching:

  • The ESV Study Bible — I use this because it has a very comprehensive section of notes which helps me keep my message on track with the Biblical context. Plus, it gives me other ideas of points I may have missed.
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentaries — I use these because they unpack the cultural background of everything that happens in a passage. So when you read, for example, in Ruth 4 that the kinsman-redeemer took off his sandal and gave it to Baoz, you get 150 words or more on the cultural meaning of this action at the time it was written. This is indispensable for knowing what’s going on and for helping contextualize it for a younger audience.
  • The Illustrated Guide To Bible Customs & Cultures — I use this because it has pictures. And it’s not as heady as the IVP Commentaries.
  • Zondervan’s Teen Study Bible — I’ll check in here to see if there are any teen-friendly explanations/illustrations of a certain part of Scripture. When they do, it’s usually pretty helpful for my audience (and is often something I hadn’t originally thought of).
  • The Student Bible — The one pictured above is the same Bible I used when I was a student in a youth ministry. The publisher put in some short student-friendly thoughts, but this Bible also has my notes and markings from when I was a student. It helps me remember what was important to me when I was the same age as my audience.
  • The Message//Remix — I don’t teach from this translation, but I read it as I prepare to pick up any other nuance I may have missed in the previous resources.

I pull these books off the shelf each week as I prepare to teach my students the truths of God’s Word. And for me, I’ve found them to be essential teaching tools in youth ministry.

Sean Kahlich is the Mid-High Youth Minister at The Kirk of the Hills — check out his youth ministry blog called Awaiting Epiteleo.

September may seem a long way away, buts it’s a good time to start finding people to join the team for next year. Depending on your situation, finding people might be easy; it’s finding the right people that can be a lot more work. It may seem early to be looking for volunteers, but in my experience, the longer you wait, the more reactionary your decision making becomes, but being proactive allows for you bring together a focused team of people who are called to serve and will take it seriously. Here are a few things to consider when looking for new volunteers for the ministry.

Be Selective- Its early, and you have the chance to start hand picking the people you want to start talking to, it could be young adults, young marrieds but keep your eye out. I remember hearing someone say that when looking for volunteers they would look for people who brought their Bible to Church and closed their eyes when they Prayed (hilarious). For me, its going up to people and planting the seed by saying “I think you would be a great youth leader, have you ever considered it?” Choosing people now means that you won’t have to settle for people you are unsure about later to meet a need.

Give them the vision- Where is your ministry going, what are its core values. People want to be a part of something, and if it’s a ground up rebuild, the people you need are different than adding to an existing team. Invite them out to a youth night so they can see the ministry in action, no commitment, just experiencing the culture. This is also the time to let them know the time commitment they are making and the basic expectations of being a leader. You want people all in, but they need to know in advance what being all in looks like.

Give them options- Not everyone is going to be a small group leader, but if they have a heart to serve, give them other options. We have a hand out that includes eight different options of how they can serve and includes expectations as well as the value that will be added to the ministry by that person filling that role. Its likely that most outsiders would think that to be involved in youth ministry means that you have to have a small group, and that you can’t volunteer unless you are willing to do so and this is not always the case.

Give them time- This is where being proactive pays off, because now the person has time to pray and consider this opportunity to serve. We ask leaders to sign up for 11 months and they are free agents in the summer and ask them to re-sign by the second week of August. The best leaders are the ones who God has called and committing to serving every week is a big deal, and one that should not be taken lightly. Pray for them as they consider, but let them seek the Lord guidance on leadership.

Recruiting leaders now makes life easier in the fall as you are being proactive and not reactive. But the message it sends to the people you ask is that you see a gifting in them, and you feel that they would be a great role model and spiritual mentor to your students. Great leaders are hard to find, so think about starting the search now.

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. You can, too! See how right here.

For those of you that are traveling by airplane to SYMC, here are my best flight travel day tips all rolled into one:
Wear a shirt that won’t show the spills in case of turbulence.

ALWAYS go to the bathroom right before ur flight cuz u never know.

Make sure those things u can’t live without (like phone charger) are with you and not checked).

Never leave home without a few snacks in ur backpack; in case of being stuck on the tarmac, you could sell them and fund ur next mission trip.

Have extra room in ur suitcase for cool stuff u’ll bring home from the conference.

If ur connecting through ATL, stop at Savannah’s Candy kitchen. (I love white chocolate best.)

Freebie…bring me a picture of you and ur flight crew and you’ll win a random bag of cool travel stuff.

Posted by: Scott Rubin

It’s frigidly cold outside as I write this, and there are mountains of snow in every parking lot it Chicago. School-getting-out is the last thing on my mind – even though I am definitely daydreaming of flip-flops & cookouts. (please no taunting from you lucky warm weather people!!)

But this month I’ve been starting to plan for May & June — because The Transition is coming. Of course, some of you also oversee elementary kids ministry, or high school ministry, or Both! But as the last day of school approaches, lots of us start thinking about “graduating” middle schoolers, or “welcoming in” brand new ones. (The average height in our ministry plummets by about 12 inches in one week — it’s crazy!)

What kind of plans do you have in place, if you have to “bring in the new”, or “move up the old”? I’m not just talking about meeting new kids — maybe you already know them. But how are you going to help them mark the transition into the next phase of life?

It’s one of the reasons that I love jr. high ministry. I think that a 12 year old can own so much more of their faith than an 8 year old can. And a 12 year old’s brain is accessing new dimensions of thinking every day, it seems. (other days, it seems like their brain takes a little vacation… )

This year, we’ve moved our summer camp earlier into the summer.. right after school gets out, actually. And we’re inviting the “new 6th graders” to come with us. If we communicate it right to parents, it could be a fantastic way for these newbies to connect, and get fired up about their next 3 years with us.

Besides that — it give me a great excuse to think about summer… I can almost feel the sunshine again…

Any tips anyone wants to share about how you Transition Well??