College Overload!

Chuck Bomar —  October 24, 2013 — 1 Comment

Screen shot 2013-10-24 at 8.43.57 AMSometimes it’s hard to stay focused in ministry and we wonder where we should be putting our energy.  Even worse, we stop wondering this.

Within a 20 minute radius of our church building we have college overload…

Here are the colleges/universities: 

  1. Portland State
  2. University of Portland
  3. Lewis and Clark University
  4. Reed University
  5. Oregon Health and Science University
  6. George Fox University
  7. Concordia University
  8. Multnomah University
  9. Warner Pacific University

Then we have 14 different trade schools…art, mechanical, etc.

Then we have the following Portland Community College (PCC) campuses:

  1. Sylvania 
  2. Clackamas
  3. Cascade
  4. Rock Creek
  5. Mt. Hood (about 30 minutes from our building)

The community colleges alone total over 80,000 students on campus.

This can cause confusion as to where to concentrate our time.

We have thoughts on this, but wondering, what are some guidelines that you use to focus your attention?

Prayer Walk

Colton Harker —  May 31, 2013 — 1 Comment

Prayer Walk

With the school year coming to a close, we thought we would have one last big push for a campus outreach event. We decided to go out with a bang and do a multi-campus prayer walk! Prayer walks are one of my favorite things that we do! It is a completely student lead prayer event that takes place each school campus in our area at the same time. Here are a few reasons I’d push it for your ministry!

Student Leadership Opportunity! It is a great opportunity to give your students a chance to really own something. They are responsible for everything from promoting it to programming it. The cool thing about programming it is that a prayer walk can be done in a ton of different ways. Some schools have their students walk around the entire campus praying for specific teachers, student groups, etc. Some schools have a worship session at the beginning. And some schools even split off by grades and pray for each other! Prayer Walks allow student leaders to get creative with their events and experiment with some cool elements.

Adaptability! There are a ton of different occasions to put on a Prayer Walk. We just did ours because the school year is coming to an end. We prayed for things like graduating seniors and incoming freshmen. You could put them on right before the school year starts, right before finals season, right after a school tragedy, etc. You get to adapt the event to match what is happening in the student’s lives.

Fellowship! Prayer Walks have proven to be a great bonding time for our schools. We have our students promote it through all of the school clubs and push it to any Christians they know. Because of that, students get to be joining in prayer and ministry with students from other churches. Because we have the prayer walks on Sundays, students usually go out and grab lunch together after and just hang out, allowing them to get to know each other outside of school hours.

Is your ministry doing any prayer events? How do you do them?

Colton [Email||Twitter]



GUEST POST: Go To Stuff

Josh Griffin —  December 8, 2012 — 1 Comment

One of the best lessons that I have learned this year is the power of showing up. Whether it is a football game, a jazz band concert, or a chess tournament, your presence can make a huge difference. Since I made student’s events a higher priority I’ve noticed a huge difference in the strength of my relationships with students and the number of relationships I have with students. From my experience, I believe that this is one of the most powerful things we can do in relational ministry. The reason I believe in it so much is that it builds and creates relationships with several different people.

The student(s) you came to watch. Think about the people that came to your events when you were in high school. Mostly parents, maybe a few close friends if it was exciting enough. The people that go to your events are the people that love you. That is what you are telling students when you show up… you love them. You are saying that you care about what they care about. You are entering their world. You are showing them that your ministry doesn’t stop at the door of your church. It is crazy how much it means to them and it something that they won’t forget.

The student(s) that you see when you’re there. If you happen to go to one of those exciting events (football games, basketball games, musicals?, etc.) you might get to run into other students (or you can just bring some with you). It’s cool because the message of love and support that you are sending the student you came for is being seen by all of the others in the crowd. You are letting students know that your ministry cares for students all of the time, not just on the weekends and at small group. It is an awesome opportunity to meet some new students that might not even go to church. How cool would it be if their first impression of your ministry is shaped by you actively caring for a student?

The parent(s) when possible: When you go to a sports game, a play, or a concert, parents notice. It lets them know that you care about their kid… a lot. Make sure you take the time to meet and talk with the parents. It can sometimes be hard to find organic ways to do parent ministry, but this is one of them. You get the chance to brag about how awesome their son/daughter is and it is a chance for them to get to know you better. Your interest in their child and family will help form how they view not just you, but your ministry and church.

You don’t have to go to every game or birthday party, but make sure that every once in a while you’ll be there. Go to stuff and see what a difference it makes in your ministry.

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.

One of my favorite things to do is meet up with other youth pastors. I walk away from each meeting feeling challenged, encouraged, and/or inspired. I recently got to meet with an awesome youth pastor named Jon from a church that is doing some pretty incredible things with campus outreach. Over some coffee, we talked about what we’ve done, what we’re doing, and what we’re going to. I walked away with a ton of really great ideas and (hopefully) he walked away with one or two. Here is a little of what I shared about our campus outreach projects:

Sticky-Note the Girl’s Restroom: At the beginning of the school year, some of our student leaders put encouraging sticky notes on every student’s locker and we were blown away by how well it went over. One of our student leaders was inspired by the success of the project and started planning another that was aimed at girls. So she rounded up some friends and put encouraging notes all over the girls’ restrooms at her school. The notes had encouraging Bible verses on them as well as affirmations like “you are beautiful,” “you are precious,” and “you are loved.” It was such a great and easy way to do ministry for girls.

Janitor Breakfast: When we were looking at different people groups that we could be serving on campus, we almost forgot about the janitorial staff. They are some of the most unnoticed/unappreciated people on the campus, so our leaders wanted to make sure that they knew they were seen and loved. Our leaders are planning to get to school before the janitorial staff so that they could serve them a fresh, warm breakfast and spend some quality time with them. I am a huge fan of projects like these because it has students serving and ministering to adults! We are currently making our way through the office approval system (fingers crossed)!

Trash Pick Up: A great way to keep Christian club meetings fresh at school is to mix them up. Most of the time, Christian clubs will sit, eat their lunch, listen to someone talk, and leave. Sometimes that works great, but Jesus called us to do more than just that. We are encouraging our school club leaders to put their club members to work. One of the lunchtime serving opportunities that we came up with was trash pick-up. If you haven’t seen a post-lunch high school campus recently, let me tell you, they are a warzone. Picking up trash not only helps put a dent in the litter problem, but it also makes a huge statement. Let’s face it, litter patrol isn’t a glamorous job and any student that does it is instantly going to be set apart, providing them with incredible opportunities! If a student gets asked why they are picking up trash, than they are getting an awesome opportunity about their love for Jesus and their love for their school!

How is your ministry doing with campus outreach? What ideas can you share about how to do ministry on campuses?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.



Have you ever felt like a failure? Okay, we all have at some point, because we all fail. We all do certain things that may be great ideas, but go about it the wrong way, and utterly fail. One thing that I desire is for others’ to learn from my mistakes and failures. I try to do this with learning from others’ failures, and hopefully they can learn from mine as well. Today, I want to give you the top 5 failures that I have committed in student ministry:

  1. Epic Fail #1- Train and Equip Parents- As I have grown in student ministry (not going on 7 total years), I have learned that the parents represented in our ministry is as important as the students we are ministering too. Now, I am trying to teach, share resources with, and help parents become better parents to effectively parent the teens of today’s culture. If you are first starting out in ministry, go ahead and begin equipping the parents to build stronger families.
  2. Epic Fail #2- Recruit a team of adult leaders- In my earlier years of ministry; I had a couple of leaders, but did not set up an adult leadership that would take us to the next level like I should have. Regardless of the number of students in your ministry, it is important to begin building a team to take your ministry to the next level.
  3. Epic Fail #3- Inform parents when disciplining a student- There have been some times where a student gets in trouble, and I do not inform parents, and then the parents come back with a twisted story from their teenager, and I have to backtrack a bit, and build their trust and relationship back. I have learned that when a student gets in trouble or has to be corrected in our student ministry on an event or on Wednesday night, it is always important to mention it to the parents. I do not care how small, but in doing so, it builds relationships with the parents, and builds a greater trust from them to you.
  4. Epic Fail #4- Think through games and pranks- I am a prankster, and am personally okay with pranks. My failure is that we have not totally thought through pranks in our ministry. At camp we decided to play “human clue” and fake a real murder with the students. It seemed like a fantastic idea, but when it played out, we had students crying, had a girl faint, had a young boy call his mom for a lawyer, and upset some families that were at camp. What seemed like a fantastic idea was horrible, because it was not thought out. Think out your ideas of what could happen, and it will save you a lot of problems.
  5. Epic Fail #5- Building relationships with the local schools- Do this first. This should be one of the top things in your ministry that you are consistently doing. I have wasted time in this area at my ministry, and now am trying to play catch up. Building relationships with schools takes a great deal of time, and it is important that you stay at it, and consistently plan time to build this relationship.

So, do not fail at these things, and try your best to learn from the epic fails that I have done in our student ministry.

Josh Evans is the student pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church in the Winston Salem, NC area. He has been a mentor and pastor to students for 4 years. You can connect further with Josh on his blog or send him a direct email at joshhevans@gmail.com.

During a recent brainstorm of ways to love and serve our local campuses, we decided to focus on ASB (student government). I don’t know about your schools, but our ASB teams work so hard so support and entertain their schools. Because of their hard work, we came up with a few ways to show our support:

-Encouraging Notes. As youth workers, we know how hard it can be to entertain teenagers. Unfortunately, so does ASB. It is rare for these hard working to receive praise or acknowledgement for their effort. Try to get all of the names of the student government at a school and have some of your students write letters to them. Being able to tell the ASB that they are loved and appreciated is a guaranteed win at any school.

-Event Set-Up/Clean-Up. Having your ministry as a whole be available to help them set up and tear down their events can be huge. Sometimes the events that ASB throws are  massive (i.e. dances, shows, etc.) and they require a lot of manpower to pull off. Again, we know how tiring it can be to be the first to arrive to an event and the last to leave, so we know how much it means to have someone offer to help. This is a great way to have your students be servants at their school.

-Bringing Food. This was an idea that one of our students came up with. Offering to bring a home cooked meal on a day that ASB is working late could mean the world to them. And it doesn’t always have to be some extravagant ordeal; it could even be something as simple as brownies or cookies. Putting in that effort could go a long way with showing love to the student government.

-Treat the Director. Don’t forget to include the ASB director! They are the ones that really help pull everything off! They are the ones that are empowering their students to make a difference at their schools. Many of our students’ lives have been changed by being in ASB, so it was so important to us to make that known to the directors. This could be something as easy as a Starbucks card and a handwritten note. Make sure they know how much they are appreciated and make sure they know your ministry is here to support them. Include your contact information so that they can let you know if they could ever use a hand. It is a GREAT way to build relationships with faculty!

We could not be more excited to get moving on all of these projects! Our ministry really believes in putting effort into campus outreach. It makes a huge impact on not just the campuses, but in our students as well.

Supporting ASB is one of the ways we are doing campus outreach, what is your ministry doing to serve the local high schools?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.



As some of you know, this Wednesday was the annual event, See You at the Pole. SYATP (See You at the Pole) is a national day of prayer, where students come to school early to pray and worship together at their flagpole. Our ministry made a huge push for it this year and it turned out to be a huge win! I would promote SYATP to any youth group and here are a few reasons why:

-Unification. This event is geared towards uniting the Body of Christ at a school. One of the responsibilities of the student leader in charge of SYATP is to promote this event to all of the Christian clubs and organizations at the school. I think that when there are more than one Christian club at a school, there can be a rivalry that develops, but events like these, if done right, shatters this and helps them realize that they both have the same goal, to be a light and serve at their school. It is also fun to go and meet and build relationships with students and youth pastors from the area… you can never have too many friends!

-Long Term Results. While SYATP is a totally awesome program, it is only once a year. What we wanted to see happen was a fire sparked in the campus’ heart. We wanted this to inspire the Body at their school to love and serve their school in a way that they haven’t before. What was cool was seeing students posting their ideas on how to keep things like this going. There have already been talks of a campus prayer walk at one of our schools!

-Leadership Experience. SYATP is a completely student lead activity, which I LOVE. The cool thing is that the SYATP website (syatp.com) sets students up for success. It has a checklist of all of the things you need to do/think about when you are planning the event at your school. One of the cool things about this event is that it is a success/fail opportunity. One key element of growing leaders is giving them the freedom to fail. As their pastor, we are willing to help if they ask, but we can’t waste these unique opportunities to build up leaders. Failure doesn’t always mean the event is a complete disaster; failure can look like weak programming, bad promotion, poor team communication, etc. We just need to be there to help them learn from their mistakes so that the experience wasn’t in vain.

I am a huge believer in See You at the Pole and I hope that it is something that you at least look into for the schools in your area! Do you have a story from a See You at the Pole event?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.

HSM Sports Minute: Episode 1

Josh Griffin —  September 19, 2012 — 1 Comment

Experimenting with connecting our high school ministry more directly with high school culture – here’s a take on sports that played during youth services last week. Fun, and shows us caring about their world. Not sure how much legs it’ll have, but I sure like the concept!

JG