Video from this weekend’s message for Freshman Weekend called “What I Wish I Knew in High School”.

JG

ashley_senior_map

I’m so excited about this! About a year ago I had this fun idea that we create a senior calendar to show where students are headed after they graduate from high school. One of the challenges of our youth ministry is keeping track of students once we get to the finish line – we were hoping this was a way we could celebrate and build community for students as they finished up. Ashley is one of the students who heads up the Create Ministry in our youth group and put in a ton of time making this random idea a reality. We started using it this weekend at youth group – during services students could fill out little cards with their information on it and drop it into a small collection bucket. Ashley or one of the other student leaders would then make pins for their school and/or add them to an existing school already on the map. For some seniors who have already dropped out of youth group (argh) we’re trying to get their information from Instagram and Facebook so it is complete as possible.

So in addition to the visual display for the next two months, we could use use the information to keep in contact with students all over the US, send care packages and help them find Christian community more quickly, too. It has already been such a fun exercise – I’m sure it will become one of the most interesting places for people to check out as they walk through our church.

Here’s a closer look at it, notice how each state is themed in some way in the fabric choice – the attention to detail is insane!

senior_map_close

I absolutely love how it turned out, and a much simpler version could be made with a $10 map and pushpins if you want to get one up in your ministry by next weekend. I hope this is something you steal or inspires you to do something even cooler in your church!

JG



Values are the ideals or principals that help shape the way in which we live our lives, or in our case, execute our ministry. They protect our ministry. They help us define what is we pursue and what we abandon in order to build our ministry. Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries says this about them, “Values protect a youth ministry from becoming so goal-oriented that it sacrifices the things that matter most.” For a lot of us, this can be a really convicting statement. Whether you have made a conscious decision about what they are or not, you have values. Being ignorant can be dangerous, because your ideals might actually be more harmful than helpful.

Can you clearly define your values? If not, identify them. Think about the things that will keep you from sacrificing the most valuable parts of your ministry. For me, I’m going to start valuing grace. I feel like too often my desire to have a great event, a solid weekend service, or a thriving program keeps me from showing grace to the rest of my team when things don’t go the way we planned. When I start to care more about reaching my goals than the people around me, then I know my priorities are off. Setting grace as a value is a step I want to take towards protecting my ministry.

Spend some time writing down your values. Pray that God reveals to you, what DeVries would call, the values that will keep your ministry from sacrificing the things that matter the most.

Already know your values? Share them below!

Colton [Email||Twitter]

One of the books that I have been recommending a lot to students recently is “Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods” by… Rick Warren. In the book, Rick gives 12 different ways for us to dig into scripture. It is the perfect book for a student who wants to switch things up with their time in the Bible. The methods are:

1. Devotional- Meditate on a short piece of scripture and then find a personal life application for it.

2. Chapter Summary- Read a chapter of the Bible at least five times and then write down your thoughts about it.

3. Character Quality- Pick a character trait that you would like to have/grow in, then look at and study what the Bible says about it. Find out how you can apply that to your life!

4. Thematic- This is one of my favorites! Start by picking some theme of the Bible and write down a few questions you have about them and try to answer them by looking up the theme in various areas of the Bible.

5. Biographical- Choose a character from the Bible and read all that you can about them. Take notes about their traits and character and see how you can apply them to your own life.

6. Topical- Organize a list of scripture about a certain topic. Put it into an outline from that you’d be able to share with another person.

7. Word Study- Choose an important word from the Bible and see how it is used and how many times it comes up. Go and find out what the original meaning of the word is!

8. Book Background- With the use of Bible reference books, study the historical context of a book of the Bible to understand how the history affected the meaning.

9. Book Survey- Read an entire book of the Bible several times to get a good idea on what the book is about and then study the background of the book and take notes.

10. Chapter Analysis- Take a careful look at one particular chapter of the Bible. Take it apart word-by-word, verse-by-verse.

11. Book Synthesis- After you’ve used the Book Survey Method and the Chapter Analysis Method on every chapter of the book, summarize the contents and the main themes of a book.

12. Verse Analysis- Select a passage of Scripture and examine it in detail by asking questions, finding cross-references, and paraphrasing each verse. Record a possible application of each verse you study

I love this book because there is really something in here for everyone, no matter if they are in high school or seminary! Each method is unique in its approach and in its complexity. The methods are organized from simple to complex, so I usually advise that students start in the front and work their way back. So far, students have loved this book! It has helped many of them get out of their quiet time “slumps” because it shakes up the way that they have gotten used to looking at scripture. It is perfect for a student that is looking at taking their time in the Bible to the next level!

Some people that often hit “slumps” are college freshmen. This could be a really great gift for some of your recent graduates!

What is a resource that you have been giving your students recently?

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

 



My first year in ministry has been incredibly awesome, incredibly hard, and easily the best year I’ve had yet. It has been so great to look back and reflect on all of the successes and… not successes that I’ve had this year and see how much God has taught me along the way. I thought I would share a few of the big things that I have learned this year.

Look Around. I’m an ambitious person. I am always looking ahead at what is coming next and always looking at achieving my goals. This has been really helpful in my career, but at the same time, really challenging. It keeps me from pausing and embracing where I am. It seems like it’s so hard to be present. I found before I started working on it, I was rarely satisfied with where I was or what I had. It kept me from taking a break and trying to see what God was trying to teach at that moment, to see what opportunities He was trying to present. So I learned to not just look ahead, but around as well. I learned to try to find out the purpose God has for me in this stage of my life. It is far more important to achieve God’s goal for my life than my own.

Ministry is a Rhythm. A couple weeks ago, our church’s head pastor spoke to our Student Ministries Team. One for the most impactful things that he talked about was that ministry is a series of rhythms. Sometimes we take the things we want to spend our time doing (family time, personal time, ministry time, etc.) and prioritize it or faction it out. We try to make sure that at all times, every part of our life is getting attention. The problem is that isn’t how ministry works. Sometimes you need to spend more time in ministry. You will spend 60 hours in the office and have an event every night of the week, but that is okay. Its okay because you will (eventually) have a time where you don’t need to spend more time in ministry and you will have more time to spend more time by yourself, with your family, or whatever you need. Ministry is a series of ebbs and flows; give and take. This is guilt-free ministry.

Be Expectant. I was originally going to title this point as “Trust God,” but I think that “be expectant” does the idea more justice. Trusting God is an action, a great action, but being expectant is a mentality and a lifestyle. The last year was filled with uncertainty. Whether it was the success of an event or my future in general, I was so afraid that God wasn’t going to provide and I focused more on being okay with things not working out than expecting God to show up. I wasn’t praying the “big” prayers because I was afraid I’d be disappointed if it didn’t come through. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes God doesn’t provide in the ways that we want and that can be disappointing, but He always provides in the ways that we need. We need to be praying those big prayers and expecting God to show up in big ways.

For most of you, your first year of ministry wasn’t very recent… but you are still learning! What are some of the biggest lessons God has taught you during your time in ministry?

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

GUEST POST: Paint Slide!

Josh Griffin —  February 10, 2013 — 4 Comments

One of our student-run ministry teams is our Create ministry. Twice a month, the ministry has an “Open Studio” event, where all artists are invited to our church to work on their art and hang out with other artists. Sometimes the creative-types are hard to reach, so it is an awesome way for shy students or new students to get connected to our ministry.

I recently challenged Ashley (the student leader in charge of Create) to think outside the box and do something we have never done before. She came up to me with an cool idea inspired from a blog she saw, a paint slide!

It is exactly what you think it is; a Slip-n-Slide that uses paint instead of water! At the end of the slide was a 3 foot white sheet that had “You Are His Masterpiece” written on it in tape. The idea was for students to slide down and then paint on the sheet with their body. Some finger-painted, some walked on it, and some rolled on it. After the paint had dried, Ashley took the tape off and the piece looked incredible!

One of the best parts about it was that it was totally FREE (for us at least)! The slide was made from tarps that a student had laying around in their garage, the sheet used for the “You Are His Masterpiece” project was an old sheet in a student’s house, and the paint was brought by the students that came to the event ($2 Walmart paint). Quick note: Make sure to use washable/non-toxic paint so that you don’t kill your grass!

I had two big highlights from the event. First was seeing two of our lesser-known freshmen hanging out with our plugged in seniors and building cool friendships! The second involved a student that comes to the “Open Studio” nights but isn’t really involved with our ministry. She brought a friend to the event and we got to hang out with them and invite them to our weekend services. It was so cool!

Here are some pictures from the slide!
SS1
SS2
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Thinking about doing this yourself? The only thing I’d do different would be to do multiple slides for multiple color croups (brights, warms, cools, etc.) Even though the paint did mix together a little, it still turned out great!

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



We recently had a youth pastor ask us where to start with campus-based ministry. At the end of the day, our campus outreach program is based in 3 relationships:

Students: We work a ton through the Christian clubs on campus. I meet regularly with the leadership teams of each club and help them out with service projects (lunch trash pickup, writing encouraging letters to the staff, etc.) events, getting speakers, advertising, and I provide them with resources and connections. I help them think big and make sure they know that they are callable of HUGE things. I make sure I am available to help encourage them, pray with them, and help them work through any issues they might have.

Other on campus Christian organizations: The main organization in our area is Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They are awesome. They already have some roots laid out at our schools, making them a valuable ally. They recognize that they aren’t a church, so they love to point their students to local churches. So we make ourselves available to them in whatever way we can help. That could be giving them resources, providing connections, making our buildings available, prayer, or more. We help each other out. One of the things we are working on now is a leadership summit for all of the Christian club leaders in the area.

Staff/Administration: We consistently look for ways to build our relationships with schools. We are focusing right now on principals and ASB (student government) directors. Right now, I am meeting with all of the major principals and ASB directors in the area so that I am more than just a name in an email. I want to be able to build a friendship with them. I want them to know that they can trust us and that we are here to serve. Together, we brainstorm different ways that we can serve their campus, students, teachers, and staff. Besides the meetings, we have built relationships through simple things like Christmas cards. The service projects that we have done on their campuses have also been able to help our relationship.

Campus outreach is a slow build, high reward ministry. It takes time to build relationships and find a system but, once you do, the potential is limitless.

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

Here are a couple apps and one feature that I have been using a lot recently:

Over- If you have an advertisement to make and don’t have a graphic design bone in your entire body, than this is for you. In a nutshell, the app allows you to put words on any picture saved on your phone. Students have made this app (or others like it) famous by putting cliché quotes over sunsets and kittens, but you can redeem the app by using it for ministry! I have been using it to make advertisements for our ministry’s Instagram account. While it isn’t a total substitution for a graphics guy, it will help you make ads that look clean and professional.

Group Text- Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone, but I am not a huge fan of the “group chat” feature. When I want to make jokes with my friends, group chat is great. When I am trying to coordinate student volunteers, group chat is awful. To avoid it, I use the app, “Group Text.” Group Text allows you to create multiple lists of contacts and lets you send them all individual text messages rather than the “group chat” feature the iPhone defaults to. I use this almost everyday to communicate with my small group, volunteers, and parents. Love it.

Encouragement Photo Album- This one isn’t an app, just a cool idea. When I first started in ministry, my mentor told me to keep all of the encouraging notes in a box so that, when I get discouraged, I can go through them and remember why I do this. I loved the idea, but had no clue what to do with texts and emails. The solution: “screenshot” all of the texts and emails and save them into an album solely dedicated to encouragement. Simple. Easy. Free.

What apps/features are you using right now?

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