Saw this article in USA Today over the weekend, thought there was an interesting application for student ministry. With the economy down and our budgets being cut (HSM is about -20% of last year’s budget) people are turning to the church for help. This means less expensive activities, more scholarships and thinking about how you program and even care for volunteers. Here’s a clip:

Pleas for help — spiritual and financial — are flooding U.S. churches, from tiny congregations to megachurches, as recession woes seep into the pews, a new survey finds.
Pastors say they’re giving out benevolent funds in record numbers, increasing ministries to the unemployed and the financially fearful, even reaching into their own pockets more to help.

Nearly two in three pastors (62%) report more people from outside their church asking for help, and nearly a third (31%) see more such requests from church members, according to a survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors.

The survey, by LifeWay Research, a Christian polling firm based in Nashville, finds that 40% of pastors say they have church members out of work, and 37% say their church has increased spending to help the needy. (The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.)



Weekend Teaching Series: Refuel (week 2 of 3)
Sermon Title: Stop, Collaborate and Listen
Sermon in a Sentence: God wants us to live a refueled life, we have to stop and be quiet to hear His voice.
Weekend Scale of Difficulty: 6 out of 10.

Attendance: Up 1% from the previous weekend, up 63% from this same weekend last year
Service Length: 72 minutes
Understandable Message: This week’s talk was one I was living out for sure these days between prepping talks, the PDYM conference and getting ready for a New Mexico mission trip. No family time, no margin, no time with God! Truth is, we’re too busy and fill our lives with too much noise to hear God’s voice! We talked through the story of Elijah and used a stop light to describe the actions we need to take to create the opportunity for God to speak. I really love the video we made to illustrate the concept of crowding voices on our connection to God.

Volunteer/Student Involvement: Students and adult volunteers ran the control room, computer, lights, sound and cameras. Volunteers were great and jumped in all over the place. I gave the announcements in the adult services this weekend as well, and ran down just in time to teach. Sweaty!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We opened up with Jake’s Not Fair music video and also played a game where students had to guess the correct definition of a long and unheard of “re” word. Everyone voted in the crowd which definition was correct, and the contestant had to agreed or disagreed. All in all, great fun opening in keeping with the “re”fuel theme.

Music Playlist: Stop and Stare, One Pure and Holy Passion, You Deserve, Til I See You

Favorite Moment: We asked students to tell us the ways that they would commit to stop and be quiet this week – we used Poll Everywhere to have them text in whatever they want to say in 140 characters. The responses, moderated then displayed during the first song, were amazing. I’m excited to see what happens when we listen to God’s voice this week!

Next up: Refuel, series finale

New Mexico Promo Essay

Josh Griffin —  March 20, 2009 — 1 Comment

Based on these observations about out marketing of the New Mexico mission trip, one of our team members put together some unique last-minute promo for it last weekend. It was really fun:

I love New Mexico and You Are Too
By Josh Pease

There are some people who say that New Mexico is lame — “I’m not going on the New Mexico trip” they say. But these people also think the Jonas Brothers make good music, so clearly they can’t be trusted. Also, people who dislike New Mexico hurt baby seals. That’s a medically proven fact.

You know who doesn’t hurt baby seals? New Mexico, that’s who. New Mexico LOVES baby seals. New Mexico also has super awesome gnarly rocks like this one here. This rock is actually called Shiprock, which is kind of a weird name for a rock in the middle of the desert, but whatever. Shiprock also happens to be the name of the town we’ll be staying at April 10-15.

While in New Mexico we will stop at a place called “four corners” where you can look really weird trying to stand in four states at one time. We will also enjoy a local delicacy of the Navajo people called the “Navajo Taco” which in addition to sounding like a rhyme from Dr. Seuss are absolutely delicious.

During the trip we’ll spend as much time as possible helping repair the Navajo homes, hanging with the kids, and even putting on a carnival that we’ll do ourselves with face painting, sno cone machines, a dunking booth, and other fun games.

The reason we’re doing all of this is because the Navajos are one of the poorest people groups in America. Due to a history of being abused and marginalized, the Navajo’s are still very distrustful of outsiders. And they are especially wary of Christianity, with only 5% of them claiming to follow Jesus.

And this, ultimately, is why you should go on the New Mexico trip. It’s chance for those of us, who have been given so much, to give to others. It’s an opportunity to show Jesus’ love in a practical way to a group of people who desperately need to hear it.

This weekend is your last chance to sign up. The cost is $425 dollars and it happens over spring break, April 5-10. If you want more information find the blue registration sheet right outside that door or find anyone on staff and we’ll point you in the right direction.

So sign up now … do it for the baby seals.


Just read through Killing Cockroaches by Tony Morgan – and it instantly felt familiar to me. Of course, I’ve been a TM-stalker since the early days of his blog. Tony has put together his favorite blog posts, articles, writings and probably some new ideas into a little book that meanders through his leadership learnings over the past several years. The book has no chapters and reads like a slowly dripping mind dump from one of the modern day thought leaders of the church. Tony is engaging, casual and at times funny as he helps us think different about leadership and the church. A


I’m a GPS Hero

Josh Griffin —  March 9, 2009 — 7 Comments

For my wife’s birthday a couple of weeks ago I got her a Garmin Nuvi 200 GPS unit for the minivan. Honestly, she wasn’t super excited about it at first, but fell in love with it in 10 days. It couldn’t be easier to use, and while it doesn’t know everything, you can train it pretty quickly. For a little over $100 I’m now a GPS hero in my house. I find myself driving the minivan a bit more just to use it lately, too … so fun.


One of the most memorable programming moments from the conference this past week for me was the rockets vs. airplanes battle during the Saturday night pre-show.

Here’s how it worked: we handed out about 30 of the hand-pumped rockets launchers (from Wal-Mart, $5/each). Then we threw in a couple of Air Hog F-18 fighter jets (from Target, $35/each) screaming around the convention center main hall. The goal was to hit down the planes, and save the world from the attack. Of course, it was all set to the theme of Top Gun, so Highway to the Danger Zone was blasting and missiles screamed into the sky.

I still smile every time I think about that 15-minute section of the night, with one plane getting stuck in the lights and the concentrated fire to bring it down. People have asked me where you can get the stuff, check out the Amazon product links below if you’re interested.


Book Review: It

Josh Griffin —  February 18, 2009 — 4 Comments

It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It by Craig Groeschel is a fantastic book on leadership and the local church. We’ve all been to churches that have “it” and visited some that clearly didn’t. From the first page of the book to the last I was nodding my head in agreement with’s pastor as he journeyed me through what a church must be and it’s leaders have to become.

He boils down the modern church with all of it’s trappings to come up with a description of what a healthy “it” church looks like. He focuses on walking with God, failures, teamwork and other classic leadership teachings. He profiles maybe a half dozen churches (Granger, NewSpring, etc) that have “it” right now and warned everyone that “it” comes from God and isn’t because of personality or performance. Groeschel borrows from tons of other leadership books and teachings but frames it in such a way that you can intuitively see whether a church gets “it” collectively or not. The best part of the book aren’t specific principles, but in the way Craig details how they do and don’t do those things. Brilliant transparency about the good, the bad and the ugly.

Here’s the challenging part – as you read the book, you’ll throw what he says up against your church. You’ll question whether your church has “it” or not. And I think that’s the point – he is giving a friendly reminder to all churches and church leaders, like yourself, to strive for what God intended the church to be, not what it has become.

Next year, I want you on the “it” list. A


In part 1 yesterday, I listed 5 equipping strategies we were challenged to dream about for 2009. Here’s the list of 4 connecting ideas that Kurt and I came up with, too:


SSM Online — We want to launch an online church experience for students. The Student Ministry internet campus will feature live chat, a series archive, live service streaming and immediate reponse through pastoral volunteers. It will be enhanced by a stronger online community presence on Facebook and other social media as well.

Text-based response cards – We want to do away with printed response cards and go strictly digital. For example, we would use for High School Ministry a number like 949-HSM-TEXT for baptisms, salvations, communication and more. People could text the number a keyword and it would automatically send them the info they were looking for. It could also get updates on trips and arrival time status after an event, too.

Parent Campus Connection Nights — Our goal would be to find parents in the same life stage and with students in the same class or better yet the same school. It would be a connection point to help them sharing the experiences together and sharing the load of caring for the school. They would spend time connecting together, but also in prayer and spreading the word about projects or initiatives that would concern the Christian parent.

ThumbSWIPE- One of the biggest ways we can care for our students is launching a comprehensive weekend digital check-in and follow-up system. The system uses thumb scans to track attendance and automatically generates reports, emails and texts to those who haven’t attended in a preset number of weekends.