Do you do Lent?

Tony Myles —  February 28, 2014 — 4 Comments

lent3Lent is an odd thing.

For some, it’s their chance to be noticeably religious for 40 days.

For others, it’s a dare to do something zany for that time. How many people have heard another person say, “I’m giving up Mountain Dew for Lent!”

Others write it off as something only a certain group of people do. “Isn’t that a Catholic thing?”

What if Lent could be a season of reinvesting into something genuine with God?

I wrote an article a couple of years ago on it. Here it is:

lent2The ideas I propose include ways to approach it through the “Greatest Commandment” (heart, soul, mind, strength, relationships), or even a day of the week. For example:

  • “Money-free Mondays”: Go through your entire day without spending money on anything.
  • “No-TV Tuesdays”: Turn the TV off, including any screen that involves entertainment or video games, and invest into something else that nurtures friendships.
  • “Weird Wednesdays”: Try new foods individually or as a household that you normally wouldn’t.
  • “Thumbs-Free Thursdays”: Give up all cell phone activity, including text messaging.
  • “Friendship Fridays”: Become attentive to others who are often overlooked.
  • “Something-New Saturdays”: Try something productive that you haven’t ever done before, such as take a class or conquer a fear.
  • “Sacrificial Sundays”: Make an intentional sacrifice to grow with God.

(Read the full article)

Any thoughts or observations on this?

  • What’s been the weirdest or coolest way you’ve seen someone experience Lent?
  • Any thoughts on how we can reclaim this out of it’s traditional, religious stereotype and let the Life of Christ take it over again somehow?

Maybe the goal isn’t to do Lent… maybe the goal is to let Lent undo you?


When I was 16 years old, I had my first opportunity to preach in a church service. I was nervous as could be. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. For some strange reason, my youth pastor felt it was worthwhile to put me in front of an auditorium full of people and be the main speaker for “Youth Sunday.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Equipping our students to become preachers of the Word not only impacts their future in ministry, but can be a great encouragement to their peers, the youth group and the church as a whole. Most of Jesus’ disciples were teenagers. He believed they could do the work of ministry, so should we.

How do we go about equipping our students to do this facet of the work of ministry?

1. Look for those who may have a calling to full-time ministry.
Guard against just investing in the popular students or those who are in student government at school. Passion for Jesus trumps popularity every time. Plus, you would be surprised how many “diamonds in the rough” are in your church waiting to be discovered. I happened to be the geeky-nerd-hyperactive kid. Pray and ask God to open your eyes to see those students whom you could potentially invite to preach.

2. Invest in them relationally.
Before you just throw them behind a pulpit, spend some time letting them see your heart and passion for Jesus and helping them continue to grow in theirs. Maybe lead a small group Bible study with all the “potential candidates.”

3. Stick with them during each step of the preparation process.
As the student begins to prepare a message to share with your youth group or church, be sure to stay along side them through each step of the process ( This is a crucial part of their equipping. The last thing you want to do is just throw them in the deep end and see if they can swim.

4. Celebrate with them after their message.
Take the time afterward to not only review how they did, but celebrate what God did through them. Students typically need extra affirmation and encouragement – especially after getting up in front of people and communicating the Word of God.

As with any mentoring and equipping that you do with students, remember the age-old equipping process:

  1. I preach.
  2. I preach with you watching the process.
  3. You preach with me alongside you in the process.
  4. You preach.
  5. You equip someone else to preach.

PRACTICAL TIP:  Attempt to schedule having your students take the lead in speaking/teaching/preaching in your youth group or church at least one series per calendar year. This could be in the form of a “Youth Sunday” or a “You Own the Weekend” series annually.

Matt Maiberger has been involved in full-time student ministry for over 16 years. He and his family are currently in the process of moving to Fort Collins, CO where he will become the Associate Pastor of Life Church. Matt is also the founder of Youth Speaker’s Coach committed to the resourcing of youth pastors, youth workers, and youth speakers to help them become better communicators for the post-modern students represented in youth ministries today.

We start each student leadership meeting with what we call, “celebrations”. Celebrations, a tradition inspired by our weekly staff meetings, is a time where our student leadership team reflects on the things that God has done in the weeks since we last met. Students will share things like a great conversation they had with a classmate, a powerful moment they had at the small group they lead, a story from an event they threw at their school, or even them getting into a college! This is one of my favorite parts of our meetings because we are able to slow down, take a breath, and acknowledge all of the great things the Lord has done through our team. Through this reflection, the Lord continues to work and helps us build a great community and teaches us some really great leadership lessons.

Community Building. Through celebrations, students are able to identify with each other; they see that they aren’t alone in the trenches and that they have a community that is there to support them with their projects, ministries, or events.  For example, Delaney shared that the Jr. High small group she leads finally opened up to each other. McKenna (who is also leading a Jr. High small group) revealed that she was having trouble getting her girls to be open and honest and asked for help. One by one, other students who lead small groups began to share advice and things that they had been learning. It was awesome to see a community instantly built through one student sharing about what God did in her small group.

Leadership Training. Celebrations are also an awesome way to teach applicable leadership lessons. I love this because we get the opportunity to teach on more than the book we are going through or the podcast that we listened to. For example, Lauren shared that the event she threw at her school was a huge success. She went on to admit that she was really scared at first and almost backed out completely. She shared that she knew God was calling her to lead the event but she felt like she wasn’t the right person for the job. But then she remembered the story of Moses and that God provided for him each step of the way, and that God was glorified through Moses’ weaknesses. Boom! A student just taught an incredible leadership lesson that anyone can identify with!

Our “celebrations” have really grown us as a team. I think a lot of the success comes from how organic it is. We get to learn and get closer together without a structured lesson or game. It just feels like a group of friends laughing together, supporting each other, and loving each other. A total win!

What activities is your ministry doing to build up your student leadership team?

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

You wake up exhausted. Was that overnighter a dream? Where did your black eye come from? Why is your arm in a cast? Why are there 13 missed calls from various parents? What speeding ticket?

If you’re like us, after a big event or activity the last thing you want to do is re-live all the details. If nobody died, you probably count your blessings and move on to the next order of business (or should we say the next order of “busyness”?) And it’s the busyness of youth ministry that typically keeps youth workers from taking the time to evaluate our events and activities.

After all, you spent 2 months getting ready for summer camp…why spend one day debriefing it upon your return (that’s a rhetorical, sarcastic question)? So, after a big activity, get some rest and when your head does clear of sleep deprivation, here are a few ways to debrief like a professional event planner:

Gather the troops to celebrate
Have an evening after a big event already marked on the calendar to take time to celebrate what God did at your event. Make a sort of reunion feel to the night, including pictures, video, even a student testimony or screenshots from Facebook™ of people talking about the event. Make it known that debriefing will be part of the celebration. We reserve this type of nights for camps, retreats, mission trips etc. There’s probably no need to plan a special night just to celebrate a successful bowling outing.

Talk about “The Good”
Start with the highlights — this will get everyone centered on why you did the event in the first place and get the discussion going so it’s easier to share the lowlights. What did God do? What were the stories and celebrations from the event? What went flawlessly? What was surprising?

Talk about “The Bad”
Potential improvements are easy for some people to see — so work on creating a list of what wasn’t best and quickly think of how to improve them. Time is best spent creating a list of things that could be improved rather than focusing on solutions — it is much easier to attach someone with a particular skillset to a problem later. Start the debrief asking people to “speak the truth in love”.

Talk about “The Ugly”
Things happen. Stuff gets broken and things bomb. Only the worst offenders get on this list — don’t put things that could be easily fixed here, only stuff you swear you’ll never do again.

Send off apologies/thank yous
In the course of youth ministry events you may be required to apologize for something that happened. You may want to offer to fix a lamp that was broken. Or return something that was stolen. And for sure a quick thank you to everyone involved in the planning, pulling off and follow-through of the event will go a long ways in making sure the next one is even better.

Here’s hoping your next event, and the debrief afterward, go great!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

I’m pretty sure that baptisms are my favorite part of doing ministry. This weekend we talked about the who, what, why and when of baptism, with live baptisms after each service. So much fun and so powerful. The video (above) is of one of our seniors, Shane, getting baptized after the service. Love the small group moment at the end, too.

Here’s an excerpt from a note he left on my Facebook wall, too:

“my main man at the big S.C. haha thanks for baptizing me. it was kinda a leap of faith because i wasn’t planing on getting baptized until you said everyone come u who wants to be baptized. but i just knew it was the right time. and going first was no easy way to help my nervousness. hahah :) i was freaking out. i am gonna miss you next year buddy.