The promo music video for the upcoming You Own the Weekend student-led series in HSM.


If you were at the youth ministry track today at Radicalis, I promised that most everything I shared was on the blog. Here’s a quick rundown to get it quickly – and if you weren’t there some stuff from the archives that might interest you, too:


 —  February 22, 2011 — Leave a comment

For the next couple of weeks you can get a huge discount on Group’s Week of Hope. If you don’t have a mission trip lined up for this summer – this might be something to check out. If you pay for 5 students, the leader goes free! Here’s some of the details, click the image to learn more:

Week of Hope is the affordable one-week camp where your youth will build meaningful relationships with those they serve, those they serve with, and most importantly, a deeper relationship with Jesus. Service projects on this youth mission trip might include running a VBS, preparing meals for the poor, or cleaning the home of an elderly person. A Week of Hope is a personal, friendly setting of about 100 youth…ideal for getting to know everyone.


avoiding the trainwreck

 —  February 22, 2011 — 4 Comments

Have you ever been drawn into a reality show? Where you find yourself just sitting there watching someone else’s life turn into a complete trainwreck? I know I have. Recently, I was watching a show that came recommended to me by a friend…she told me that I would love it and that it would be highly educational for me. And, while I don’t necessarily love it…I can’t turn away from it and it is highly educational. The show is called Intervention. Have you ever seen it?

If you haven’t…basically, it follows a family preparing to intervene for a family member who is struggling with an addiction or other self destructive behaviors. It’s very intense and very sad.

What struck me in the few episodes (thanks netflix!) that I watched, specifically the ones focused on girls were that of the 5 shows I watched 4 of the girls had family trauma during their teen years. What happened to them during their teen years directly effected how they are living as an adult. (Surprised?) I wondered if the whole trainwreck could have been avoided if a caring adult would have been there to help encourage and walk with the girl through the traumatic event.

Thoughts on how we can help girls avoid the trainwreck:

  • Know their stories.Seems like a simply thing to say, right? Yet, I find myself surprised sometimes when a girl I have known for awhile begins talking to me about something tough going on in their home…and I realize that I had no clue. Ask them to share…are their parents divorced? Are both parents living? Is there family struggling because of the hard financial times? The more we know the better we can care!
  • Believe them. People, not just girls, have been known to exaggerate the truth and in some cases when a girl shares her story the details may seem far fetched. But, here is the deal…whether truth or an exaggeration of the truth…a girl telling a story is crying out for some kind of help. Maybe you do a little research on the story before you assume anything but right away you believe that a girl needs help!
  • Engage the whole family. If we want to really help, it may mean engaging the family. Allowing yourself to minister to the whole family not just the girl in their homes and on their turf. You are modeling real compassion and embracing the girl in the midst of her situation NOT just when it’s easy and she’s in your youth room.

We (the Church) need to surround these girls that are on their way to a trainwreck. I am more convinced than ever…if they should be any place, it should be in the church. Jesus is not just for the healthly but the sick…He is not just for the girl whose got it all together but he is for the girl that is completely falling apart. Is it messy? Yes. Is it hard? Yep! But do we have the hope for them? YES!

Join the conversation- what are other ways we can help girls who desperately need help? Are these girls welcomed in your youth ministry?

This week at Saddleback’s Radicalis Conference some friends and I are doing a session in the youth ministry track about our large group gatherings (our weekend services). We put together a FAQ to go in the notebook to help answer some questions about our ministry. Here’s the first 5 questions if it is of any interest to you:

[Wildside = Junior High, HSM = High School Ministry, Crave = college-age ministry]

1. How long is your typical large group gathering service?
a. Wildside — 1 hour and 15 minutes
b. HSM — 65-75 minutes
c. Crave – 1.5 hours

2. How long is your typical sermon/message?
a. Wildside — we average approximately 20-25 minutes
b. HSM 25-35 minutes
c. Crave – 30 minutes

3. How far in advance do you map out your teaching calendar?
a. Wildside — for the most part, we have a two year calendar that we continually teach thru (we are 7th and 8th grade only)
b. HSM — we do a year in advance during planning, but adjust as needed
c. Crave – 6 to 9 months

4. How frequently are you teaching topically versus exegetically?
a. Wildside — our goal is to teach 1/3 topical (JH survival), 1/3 exegetical (doctrine), and 1/3 other
b. HSM — we are largely topical and felt need, but try to get through a couple books of the Bible each year as well
c. Crave – 70% topical and 30% exegetical

5. How extensive is your stage design/theming of your large group program?
a. Wildside — we go in seasons; sometimes we do nothing and other times we go all out, but a lot of that depends on how the series/topic lends to stage setup
b. HSM — this is a great place to use volunteers. We have a group of students that help create designs as well. It also largely depends on budget, the length of the series, and whether a series is conducive to it.
c. Crave – Less is more for us. We rarely do any stage design.


Tip #2 – It is important – nay, imperative – that you take a nap at least once on a sack chair.? It is a spiritual thing;? a holy moment? God has set apart for you, body and soul. I know this because at the conference 2 years ago, I stepped out of the key note message at general session to take an important phone call. I sat down on a sack chair so I could be comfortable while listening…and fell asleep. I woke up 45 minutes later. (Sorry Doug; I heard I missed a really great message.)

Today’s Freebie – the first person to buy a sack chair at the conference,? show me the receipt plus a picture of themself being carried around the conference bookstore ON a sack chair wins a? copy of one? of the keynote speakers’ books (in case of? a repeat occurrence of above? referenced sleepage).?


I shot this video on my phone as we were coming down the escalator at the airport coming home from our 11-day short-term mission trip to Kenya. I’ve never seen a welcome home like this – signs, screams, balloons and lots of love. Really incredible youth ministry moment. Made me happy.


Weekend Teaching Series: Taffy Owns the Weekend (1-off featuring Gungor)
Sermon in a Sentence: God desires a heart that is hot or cold – not lukewarm.
Service Length: 61 minutes

Understandable Message: For the first time in a very long time not all of our 4 youth services were identical. This weekend the band Gungor did their Beautiful Things Experience (basically a stirring 90-minute concert) at the 4:30 service on Saturday night, and then we and 3 identical services the rest of the weekend. At those services, Gungor played a few songs and Taffy spoke from the book of Revelation on the church of Laodicea that was lukewarm. A very good challenge on the weekend before our completely student-led series coming up next: You Own the Weekend.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The atmosphere was definitely more concert-like than a normal weekend. Taffy was super warm and did a great job including all of the local high schools, and we had a fun music video stirring up excitement for the next 5 weeks, too.

Music Playlist: Dry Bones, Ancient Skies, How He Loves, Beautiful Things, The Earth is Yours

Favorite Moment: Loved sitting in the crowd and watching and listening to our students worship through song. We sing several of Gungor’s songs on a regular basis, so having them there to lead us was a great experience. Our student culture largely listens to secular music, so I’m hoping they’ll also pick up some solid Christian music as a result of this weekend, too.

Up Next: You Own the Weekend: Trabuco Hills HS [series premiere, week 1 of 5]