Weekend Teaching Series: Q with Sean McDowell (series premiere, week 1 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Truth is critically important in our lives and our faith – learn the difference between objective and subjective truth and you can better understand what the Bible and Jesus claims.
Service Length: 91 minutes

Understandable Message: Sean did a super job introducing this series on apologetics by challenging students to understand truth. He talked about the Correspondence Theory of Truth – walking them through both subjective and objective sides of truth. His talk led him to huge topics like abortion, slavery, homosexuality and more. A very heady message but spoken as plainly as possible. It was an incredible kickoff to the series.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The service was too long as it was at the 4:30pm, so we cut most all of the programming to make room for content the rest of the weekend. Sean’s talk was so strong and well-balanced between humor and insight, so the pacing of the service still felt right without anything more or less. Students served everywhere – including a new freshman girl as producer in the control room – she knocked it out of the park (way to go Nikki!).

Music Playlist: Look to You, Forever Reign, Beautiful Lord, Love Came Down

Favorite Moment: When Sean led students through a discussion on abortion, many students suggested it was a matter of preference or personal choice. Sean helped them see that the logical conclusion, and the objective truth of the Bible, says otherwise. Great eye-opening moment in his message. Loved it.

Up Next: “Q” with Sean McDowell (week 2 of 3) [see the whole series arc here]

Talking to the guys over at LeaderTreks this week – they have a new FREE eBook out today that looks really solid. Doug Franklin wrote an 18-page eBook about a subject he’s very familiar with:

Why not look at short-term missions a little bit differently? Why not craft the short-term missions experience to be a greenhouse for student development, using every experience to give them the best chance for growing into a strong and healthy Christ-follower. These trips can give you the materials you need to build a greenhouse for your student’s growth — multiplying the effectiveness of service and tapping into new potential.

Download The Student Mission Trip Greenhouse right here! Here’s a little clip of the inside from the “preparation for the trip” section:

Team Building Training
Every team will experience interpersonal conflict on mission trips. It’s unavoidable. But having team building training beforehand will help them deal with this conflict in a mature way. Teach your students about the power a team can have when they are unified, focused, and caring for each other. Using team building initiatives and games are a great way to build these values. Plus, it’s a ton of fun.

Spiritual Training
Take time in pre-trip training to teach your students about the spiritual value of missions and the ways in which their personal spiritual growth connects with God’s plan for the world. The Kingdom of God is huge, and while your students’ mission trip is just a small part of the Kingdom, it is significant for their future work. We often focus on logistics during our training time and miss the opportunity to train our students spiritually. What a shame if their trip program is prepared, but their hearts aren’t ready.


Posted By Kurt Johnston

There seems to be a fairly common temptation among junior high youth workers: To teach topics that don’t apply at levels too deep for the vast majority of the junior highers in their audience.

The reason this happens, I tend to think, is fairly obvious and quite understandable. After you have taught junior highers for a few years, it is easy to become bored with teaching the same “junior high friendly” lessons over and over and over again.
Seriously, how often can we teach things like “basics of the faith” or “friendship 101″ or “God made you special!”?

The answer: over and over and over again. While you are growing in your faith, getting older, moving into different life stages….your audience isn’t. You are stuck in a strange time warp of perpetual 13 year olds. Every year…year after year…your audience is a bunch of early adolescence in dire need of some of the most basic truths of Gods word.

I’m sure there are some exceptions, but I have found that the most effective junior high ministries are the ones that understand the role of age-appropriate lessons.

Sorta like shampoo….not sexy, but effective. Apply, lather, rinse and repeat.

Taking a break from youth ministry posts for just a moment to ask you a very important poll question this week – which of these 10 nominated films should win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Vote now!


Buddy of mine told me about Yaptap – a text messaging and email service for youth groups. If they could work in Facebook, it might be the ultimate solution! We’re still loving Duffled and/or Simply Txt as our only ways to communicate with students, but thought it looked like something potentially cool you may want to check out, too!


Been talking with a couple of youth pastors who are starting intern programs at their church – thought some of what I wrote for them might be beneficial to you as well. We’ve had some great experiences with interns the past few years – and right now we’ve got a couple of amazing team members that are doing some great things.

Background: the idea we’re running with right now is that interns go through a rotation to gain experience in their first year of the two-year internship. The rotation looks like this for one of our current interns on the high school ministry team:

1st Quarter: Youth Group
The internship kicks off with learning the basics of running a weekly program. The intern will learn how to create a youth group program from start to finish, as well as understand the heart and vision of the weekend services at Saddleback Church. They will be a part of a team, as well as adjust to the office environment and culture. This is a sink or swim start – the weekend rolls around every 5 days (we do services on Saturday and Sunday each week) so you have to get up to speed quickly. If possible, the intern will also learn some technical skills as well, like ProPresenter, iMovie, shooting dos and dont’s, etc.

2nd Quarter: Volunteers
Our amazing group of volunteers is the very backbone and strength of HSM. Our volunteers are our “youth pastors” and this will be your chance to learn how to build a great team. The intern will learn how to interview potential volunteers, care for volunteers and help train volunteers. You will also help troubleshoot problems that arise, as well as learn basic mass email/communication functions by sending out the weekly volunteer email.

3rd Quarter: Missions/Events
Time to turn up the heat! Events is a nice way of saying the interns are going to work themselves to the bone helping to pull off summer camp. Summer camp is our largest and most important event on the summer calendar, and they’ll help lead the team that does it all. I’d expect a real challenge here, this is a monumental task perhaps greater in scope and size than most of what they’ll do in the future. Event planning, invoicing, accounting, budgets, registrations, money handling, and much more. Simultaneously helping plan a mission trip that will take place a month later. Hang on!

4th Quarter: Life Groups
About this time things in most all of the areas in our ministry come to a screeching halt. Except for one area – the one they’re going to be learning. Take a quick breather from the mission trip and know we’re heading straight into Life Group’s peak registration season. You’ll again be tasked with helping pull off event registration, and learn how to order supplies, pull off a parent night, troubleshoot group problems, pair adults and students, and more.

So that’s year one. We then move them into a specific leadership role for their 2nd year. Right now we have an intern who is responsible for all of our student ministry teams. She schedules camera operators, greeting teams, conference programming and more. She is doing a great job!

The simple idea is that interns will leave here with experience in different areas and be well rounded. We also want them to have developed some key particular strengths and strong leadership abilities along the way.


I have spent the last season of my Ministry doing some retrospection, especially when it comes to my values and beliefs coming through in how we teach, what we teach and what we give platform time to. What I have discovered and been struggling with is that I do not feel called to be an overseas missionary neither short or long term. I see tremendous value in Missions, seeing the lost saved, and seeing people freed from bondage through Jesus. But I have been wrestling with whether not it’s okay that I feel no burden to go. But also, is this coming through in us valuing or not valuing global Missions to the extent we should as a Ministry

I am a Pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination, which I suppose makes it stranger that I feel the way I do about Missions. My wife has been to Africa, spent time on the property that our Church owns there; she feels a burden for the people there that I don’t. I can fake it, but its just not there for me right now.

But what is becoming more obvious to me is that the burden that God has put on my heart is much narrower and more focused and I am feeling more and more that this is by design. When we teach our students about ‘the lost’ and ‘making disciples of all nations’ we often talk about overseas, but for me the reality is there are 4000 ‘lost’ teenagers within 15 minutes driving from my office. I find often times Churches will spend a lot of money on overseas projects, yet we forget the brokenness that exists in our own communities.

What if we invested more resources on this Missions field, the statistics prove its worth it in that about 75% of people who give their lives to Jesus will do so before High School is over. How is this not the most urgent thing we can do as the Church?

God has called me to be a Youth Pastor, he has given me a focused passion for seeing the lives of the students in my community transformed by the power of Jesus. I don’t apologize for, or try and explain why I am not going to Africa this summer. Missions trips and Missions work is powerful stuff, but it should be for people who are called to be there, who will take what they have seen and start a movement of change. The last thing a Missions trip needs is someone on vacation.

Please don’t think that we don’t promote missions, I have several volunteers that have been Missionaries, or been overseas short-term, they lead the charge, and they lead from authentic, God placed passion for ‘the lost’ outside of our community and country.

This is my burden and my passion, the High School Mission Fields we work in are dangerous, volatile and hostile but they are frontline of where God is moving, I am leading this charge in our ministry, from a place of authentic, God place passion for these students. My calling may be narrow, but focus is good, and its hard to be great a lot of things.

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.

I’m excited to welcome Sean McDowell to HSM the next 3 weeks – he’s one of the leading communicators to students on the subject of apologetics. Our Q series is quickly becoming a tradition in HSM, here’s what we have planned for him to speak on this year:

Truth or Tragedy
Our culture is deeply confused about the nature of truth. There are only two options: either embrace truth or live a life of tragedy. In this session we will consider the nature of truth, evaluate common objections against the existence of truth, and grasp the powerful implications of truth for our daily lives.

Shattering the Myths of Evolution
Despite its overwhelming cultural influence, Darwinian evolution is in crisis. In this session, we will explore the most common evidences offered in favor of evolution. When these “evidences” are examined closely, it turns out that the case for Darwinian evolution is rather weak.

Is Jesus Really God?
2,000 years ago when Jesus walked the earth he not only claimed to be able to lead people to be God, but he claimed to be God in human flesh. This leaves us only three options: either Jesus was Lord as he claimed to be, or he was a liar, or he was a lunatic. Fulfilled prophecy offers further support to Jesus’ claim to be the unique Son of God.