Got what I think is a good poll for you – what presentation software do you use in your youth group?


posted by Scott Rubin

This past weekend, our church celebrated its 35th birthday.

…so we cancelled our regular student ministry services, and our middle schoolers and high schoolers went to the adult service, which we do from time to time. It was a great service, and there are some super-exciting things going on around our church these days!

But the “moment” of the service, for me, came at the very end.

After our pastor spoke, we closed our service with a final song. And because the focus was not so much on the past 35 years… but on what God might want to do through our church in the next 35 years… the adult band & vocalists & choir that had led us in the first part of the service were replaced by teenagers at the instruments and microphones. But cooler than that… after the first verse of the song, all of the students were invited to come to the front of the room for the rest of the worship. For the next few minutes, the stage filled with teenagers.

And I almost couldn’t breathe. Face after face, singing their lungs out to God… reminding me that the future of the church really is in their hands. (I realize that they’re also the “church of today”, too!) As I sang along with them, I didn’t think at all about the past 35 years of our church. But I kept thanking God for students who are striving to SEE Him, to have the guts to FOLLOW Him, and to introduce their friends to Him. I’m not the weepy type, but it was like my eyeballs were melting as I thought about all the life that’s ahead of these students… and our church.

And it reminded me of why I serve middle schoolers, once again. Because they won’t be middle schoolers forever.

If you haven’t noticed, Halloween is on a Sunday this year. What to do, what to do?

I find the whole subject nerve-racking since I’ve found myself in a cauldron of hot water over this subject before. To meet or not to meet? To acknowledge it or not? To show a movie on the evils of the evil one or watch scooby doo cartoons? Gee I don’t know what to say.

But I’m gonna say something anyway. If your group meets on Sunday nights, then embrace the day with as much love and grace as possible. Better their time spent with you than who knows what. Just sayin’.

1) Go trick or treating together if that’s what they’re gonna do anyway. Better with you than alone, right?

2) Or plan some fall, slighty scary fun – like manhunt in the dark but stay away from anything demonic or evil.

3) Go pumpkin tossing in a field with the leftovers from any local pumpkin patch (with their permission to take the pumpkins, of course.)

4) Serve fun, weirded out food snacks like green bubbling punch and eyeballs (cookies with white icing, with a green gum drop for the eye and red licorice strings for the bloodshot part.

Devo’s should cover topics like “if God is for us then who shall be against us” or ” greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.

Ok, plane’s taking off. Chat with ya later.


Have you seen the movie preview for “it’s kind of a funny story”? The movie about a depressed teenage boy who checks himself into a mental facility and ends up meeting girl.

I can’t help but think how this movie reflects something that’s happening with a generation of teenagers. As I talk with girls weekly, I am surprised at how often I hear words related to depression. Even from the girls that I would mostly characterizes as happy go lucky girls are now struggling with intense sadness and pain. I think we, as youth workers, know more now how to handle these situations.

And yet, sometimes I get concerned that we don’t know better. When we encounter a student who is suffering whether it be from depression, suicidial thoughts, eating disorders or anything that can lead to serious harm of themselves and others we must not take these moments lightly. I am still surprised when I hear youth workers make promises for God that they can’t keep. A little over 2 years ago, I heard a youth worker tell girls that if they came up and received prayer for their eating disorders that God would heal them. DON’T get me wrong…I believe God will heal them. But to a young girl what she hears is instant healing in that moment. Which does happen but is not the norm. So what happens? The girls walks away from that moment not mad at the youth worker for their bad judgement but mad at God for believing that he had failed them.

I believe every youth worker should have access to resources for teens and their families to deal with these issues. A list of christian counselors, books, or support groups. We offer prayer alongside tools for which God can bring true healing to these broken students.

What do you do when you encounter a girl struggling with a serious emotional issue?

Interviewed by Dan Kimball

troy —  October 13, 2010 — Leave a comment

This past Saturday my friend Dan Kimball interviewed me in a preaching class he was teaching at George Fox Seminary. He asked some specific questions of me and I fielded some from those in the class. Afterwards, although I didn’t have much time, we sat down for lunch – something we don’t get to do often enough. I have a ton of respect for Dan!

Some questions that were asked that specifically applied to working with college age ministry were:

  1. What role does preaching have in college ministry?
  2. What is the biggest difference I’ve seen between preaching every week in a college ministry versus a church now?
  3. What approach do I have with college age people?
  4. Do you find college age people interested in these times, or are they more focused on “worship” aspects?
  5. What is my prep time like and how do I plan out topics?

Here’s briefly how I answered these questions:

The role of these teaching times is mainly to focus on age-stage issues, setting the tone and pace of the ministry, and plays a small part in cultivating a sense of common ground with the larger Church. There is much to that, and too much for this post. Maybe more on why I said these three things later.

The biggest difference I’ve seen between teaching weekly in a college ministry versus a church is the role of vision casting. A college ministry is part of a larger whole, so preaching doesn’t have as much of an impact on this. Now, preaching weekly in a church (filled with both college age people and older adults), preaching has a much bigger role in the vision and direction of things. A second difference is the pinpointing of issues. In a college ministry everyone is facing very similar issues. In a church setting it’s a bit more of a shotgun approach.

My approach is, and has been, a combination of topic based series’ as well as teaching through books. Each plays a different role and depending on where the people are and what they’re dealing with determines what approach I take. I will say, however, that even when I teach a series I try to use specific passages and do tend to take a more “expository” approach.

I find that college age people are very interested in the teaching times. They are thinking through a ton of things, and if we can concentrate on and teach to some of these issues it’s not only applicable, but very helpful and engaging.

I don’t plan out things very far in advance. Dan has a rough plan 1 year out! I wish I was that organized. However, I tend to go with what is best for where we are at any given time, usually planning things out a month or so ahead – and even then it’s a very brief outline of where I’m heading. My prep time is a full week. I constantly have documents open that I continually add thoughts into. One document is the overall ideas for the entire series or book – I usually break that document up into the weeks/sections and just keep adding thoughts into it. The other document I have open is the one I’m using for this weeks notes. I just keep adding thoughts all week and then on Thursday I start organizing everything. By Friday night I typically have most nailed down, but usually have a few things I need to think through before Sunday!

That is a far cry from an exhaustive explanation, but how does all that compare with how you’d respond or what you find helpful/effective?

iServe Weekend Promo Video

Josh Griffin —  October 12, 2010 — 1 Comment

Nice little video of students talking about serving in ministry. We used it to promote our “join a ministry” fair this weekend in HSM.


Here is an article I wrote for our newsletter.

Should you use a Youth Mission Provider

I hope you find it helpful. Please feel free to let me know what you think.

Are you coming to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this March? It is going to be so much fun – come join us. If you are and want to help spread the word, consider adding a Twibbon to your Twitter profile pic. On Facebook, too!