I saw a movie last night. A really good movie. A tough movie. A movie about mostly good people simply struggling to find their way.

Somehow it made me think about the “movie” of junior highers. It’s a good movie. A tough movie. A movie about mostly good people simply struggling to find their way. Here are a bunch of random thoughts that raced through my head as I drove home last night:

- I wonder if the whole “entitled generation” thing is mostly overblown? Sure, the upper middle class teenagers in our culture have had a lot of stuff handed to them, and feel entitled in lots of ways and to lots of things. But a huge percentage of our population consists of people, junior highers among them, who are hard working, tough minded folks simply trying to figure out how to make their way.

- There’s almost always a story behind the “story”. There’s a reason a student is acting out. There’s a story behind her defensive posture. There’s something below the surface that manifests in his poor grades and distant attitude.

- Family is a big part of the story. For good and for bad, families carry the majority of the influence in the lives of the junior highers in our ministries. I wonder if we sometimes, while pushing the “good” families to have more and more impact, if we forget the fact that some of our students are being impacted in devastating ways by those who should love them the most.

- Life is a journey. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong. And nobody has a more “up and down” record of getting things right, then wrong, then right, then wrong again than junior highers! We can help them learn how to make wise choices, but the realities of life and their immature brains often lead them to make choices they shouldn’t.

- We can’t fix every problem; even when we know how! This one is tough. But the reality is that there will be students, families and scenarios that are simply beyond your ability to fix. You may know what’s wrong, and how to help…but sometimes it won’t matter. Some students aren’t ready for help, don’t really want it, feel like they are beyond it or simply don’t know what to do with the lifeline we toss their way.

- I’m a wimp. Okay, this one has nothing to do with junior high ministry but it’s the first thought that popped into my mind as the credits began to roll, and it’s the first thing I admitted to my buddies: “Guys, one thing this movie taught me is that I’m a sissy…no matter how I act, I’m really just a wimp!” My life was a little bit of a struggle growing up, but not really. And any “toughness” I once had has been diminished by my upper middle class, Starbucks drinking, SUV driving, Orange County living, beach bumming, gym membership lifestyle. Compared to so many, my life is a picnic…all day, every day.

What’s the movie? I’m not gonna tell you because then you’ll go see it and walk away thinking, “Man, that movie had NOTHING to do with junior high ministry!” And you’d be right.

But the first person…other than my buddies or people who already know what movie I’m talking about….to correctly guess the title in the comments below will win a 5-pack of the great new book, 99 Thoughts for Junior Highers!

Shawn Harrison is the real deal.

I remember when he and I first met in the hallway of a hotel. We soon realized we were on our way to the same meeting, so we broke the ice and struck up a conversation. After the meeting, our chat continued and I was struck by the thought, “I need to hear more of this guy’s story.”


You may or may not know that Shawn wrote a book that is redefining the sexuality conversations we have with teenagers. He’s giving away a free copy of his book this week. As he explains it:

The message of God’s redemptive love for those with same-sex attractions is spreading. Stories of churches changing their mindsets and ministry approaches to the gay community are being shared. Parents are learning how to deeply love their gay children without fear. It’s amazing what God is doing! And not just through our ministry, but through numerous ministries who share our passion and mission.

Still, there are churches and families who have not heard about Six:11 Ministries, or our book, Ministering to Gay Teenagers. There are many churches who are struggling to find their footing in ministry to the gay community, and those with same-sex attractions within their congregations. There are many families struggling to understand why their child is gay, and how to love them without compromising their faith. Without sounding egotistical, this is why we need to get our ministry and resources out there. And this is where we need YOUR help!

So get over to Shawn’s blog and learn more about how your next tweet or post can spread the word and potentially get you some free stuff along the way!


Thank goodness the Mayans were wrong and the world didn’t end on 12/21/12… For every $50 that you spend at  you’ll be entered to win $2,500 worth of SYM “stuff”. So, if you spend $50 that’s one entry, if you spend $100 that’s two entries, and so on. This offer only last’s till December 31st at Midnight- SO HURRY and get some good stuff!







Free iPod Nano Band!!!

 —  December 10, 2012 — 4 Comments

I am always on the lookout for cool accessories that will protect my tech.  I just came across a couple cool gadget protectors, and they are kind of flashy.

The first is less about protection and more about form and function. It’s called the Loop Wrist Band. If you own a 6th gen iPod nano this is a great addition.  I have seen several wrist bands that turn the nano into a watch but this one is one of the best I have seen.  Light, silicone, decent price (one for $20 or a bundle of three for $50), safely and securely lock sinto place, and easy to clean. I like how small the 6th gen nano, sad Apple discontinued it.  But there are still millions out there and if you are one of those owners post a comment below saying “I WANT A LOOP WRIST BAND” with your email address and I will choose a winner Friday. If you do not win one head over to and pick one up.

The other item I liked on their site was the Mummy i5 case for the iPhone 5.  I have been looking for a slim case with a little grip, the Mummy i5 is just that and looks pretty cool in the process. The Mummy i5 is sold individually and in bundles of three.  This might be that cool yet functional gift you have been looking to give this Christmas!

Thanks Loop Attachment for the giveaway! NOW GET POSTING COMMENTS PEOPLE!

Trent Johnson – Thanks for reading, look for your email confirmation!!!

The competition was fierce! The photos were great, and some of you have some incredible offices and many of you are working in glorified dungeons as well. But these two were the best of the best and the worst of the worst as judged by loyal Journey Volunteer Morgan K.

Worst Office View Goes to: Will Ray of Celebration Family Church in Raleigh NC.

Why did it win: Lets begin with the Alcatraz vibe, cracked foundation and claustrophobic feeling Morgan got looking at it. It is monochrome and not very soothing and this is why it was the “room with a view” worst view winner!

Congrats Will!

Best Office View Goes to: Doug Ranck of Santa Barbara California.

Why did it win: Morgan is a girl, loves the beach and having a view of the ocean is pretty awesome. It just looks relaxing and inspiring all at the same time.

Congrats Doug!


Winners! I leave for Uganda in a few hours. I will contact you when I get back. Go to and decide what you will spend your $75 on.


Honorable mentions

And the winners of the ThinkGeek Shock Ball are…


 —  April 24, 2012 — 15 Comments

These things are amazing, hilarious, and super fun.  The Shock Ball functions as a random timer turning the game Hot Potato into Shock Potato! Instead of a buzzer telling you that you are out you get shocked and you get to stay in.  The Shock Ball is a great time filler when we need a pick-me-up at the beginning of our time together or when our small group ends a little early.

I know, it is only Tuesday, but this Friday I will be picking two winners to receive a FREE SHOCK BALL!!!  All you have to do is leave a comment below, tell us the summer block buster you are most eager to see.

If you do not win, head over to ThinkGeek, at $14 these things are a great investment…you might need a waiver.

Warning: The Product Emits An Electric Shock. Keep out of reach of children. Not suitable for those under the age of 14. This is a novelty item, not a toy. May interfere with electrical devices such as pacemakers.

The graduation gift set from Simply Youth Ministry is a great idea for your seniors that are heading off to college next year. It includes 3 great resources – 99 Thoughts for College-Age People, Creative Times with God and Live Large, Be Different, Shine Bright.

Want to get 5 sets for free – sent right to your door just in time for the end of the school year and senior weekend? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post here on the blog and you’re in on the giveaway. I’ll pick one comment at random on Wednesday. Worth playing for? Hope you win!