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.

I was incredibly blessed this week to be invited to one of our Life Group’s very last meetings as graduating seniors. They have been together 8 years as a group (so from 4th grade on!) and called themselves the Band of Brothers. On this final meeting the leader bought each of his guys a special ring to symbolize their years together and to commemorate their journey apart in the days ahead. He had invited all of the parents and myself to the ceremony and celebration. They all shared a ton of memories – it was one of the coolest finishes I’ve ever seen to a high school small group.

At the end of the afternoon, the boys and their parents gave Kevin an award as well. It was awesome – we circled up and prayed over them as a group, commissioning them as they head to schools all across the country. At the end a couple of the guys got baptized, too. It was a GREAT reminder of how important and how powerful Christian community can be. Way to go, Kevin!

Oh, and if you’ve ever read the book Doug Fields and I wrote, 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders – there’s a story near the end that involves Hooters, leadership and how to gain trust back with parents. This was that group! Amazing how God has shaped all of these guys, their leader and undoubtedly how He will use them all in the future as well.

JG



This summer I read-most-of-and-skimmed-the-rest of Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love by Mark Scandrette. It was a book that when I got it I thought this was going to be another book challenging safe, complacent Christians to sell-everything-and-live-the-simple-life. And it somewhat is, but a little different from the ones that Shane Claiborne and others made famous. Mark challenges everyone to take part in experiments of faith that challenge us to get outside our comfortable and safe Christian box. He wanders through experiments in community that push us to be more like Christ and more effective for Christ. While this isn’t in my wheelhouse of topics/books I normally read, I liked someone messing with the normal suburban life and pushing us to be more like Jesus and out to the fringe.

JG