Yesterday I posted the first half of the frequently asked questions about our large group program at Saddleback Student Ministries. We’ve been assembling them for the Radicalis Conference here on campus this week – our student ministries track is jammed packed with info and thought I would share some here on the blog as well. Here’s the other half of the questions, hopefully these will be helpful to you in some way, too:

[READ THE FIRST 5 QUESTIONS HERE]

6. How often do you (as the primary leader of the ministry) teach?
a. Wildside — although he is our Student Ministries Pastor, Kurt teaches 50% of the time in Wildside and the remaining 50% are split up amongst the Wildside team
b. HSM — I speak a little over half of the time, we spread out the rest over guest speakers (mostly internal) and students during You Own the Weekend.
c. Crave – Pastor Brad speaks about 35 weeks a year

7. What roles do volunteers play in your service?
a. Wildside — volunteers lead our music, run games, give announcements, lead grade groups, host sections, run audio/video, etc.
b. HSM – volunteers greet, work crowd, keep order, do announcements, etc. We use student leaders equally or perhaps even more than adults at this level program.
c. Crave – message research, worship leaders, greeters, tear-down/setup, ushers, A / V, 1st time attender’s party and more.

8. What percentage of the service is made up of music?
a. Wildside — approximately 20% of our service is worship through music
b. HSM — we usually have 3-5 songs each service.
c. Crave – approximately 30%

9. Do you use secular music at all? And if so, how?
a. Wildside — Yes. We use appropriate secular music as opening songs, videos, music videos, background music, games, etc.
b. HSM — we use it every weekend during the countdown, often for opening cover songs, sometimes behind games/announcements, etc.
c. Crave – Rarely; we sometimes play it before and after the service just so non-believers hear something familiar.

10. What is your follow-up strategy for connecting with students after the service?
a. Wildside — We aren’t great at follow-up, mostly because we don’t do check-in/out, and thus have a tough time getting accurate contact info on our students. We do encourage our leaders to take note of grade group attendance as best they can, but with four services that gets tough.
b. HSM — our large group time is totally anonymous, if a student gives us their information on a response card we take it very seriously. If a student trusts Christ, we send out a new believer’s packet. If a student checks the “first time” box we send out a little card. Those are the pulse of our ministry, response cards are like gold to this level service.
c. Crave – We email, Facebook and sometimes call those who’ve made commitments or are seeking greater involvement.

JG


If you were at the youth track today at Radicalis you heard about a ton of links and resources to help you with small groups. Here’s a little cheat list to get quick access to the things we love and stuff we use every day. Enjoy!

JG


Live Different by Youth Ministry 360 Now Available



This week at Saddleback’s Radicalis Conference some friends and I are doing a session in the youth ministry track about our large group gatherings (our weekend services). We put together a FAQ to go in the notebook to help answer some questions about our ministry. Here’s the first 5 questions if it is of any interest to you:

[Wildside = Junior High, HSM = High School Ministry, Crave = college-age ministry]

1. How long is your typical large group gathering service?
a. Wildside — 1 hour and 15 minutes
b. HSM — 65-75 minutes
c. Crave – 1.5 hours

2. How long is your typical sermon/message?
a. Wildside — we average approximately 20-25 minutes
b. HSM 25-35 minutes
c. Crave – 30 minutes

3. How far in advance do you map out your teaching calendar?
a. Wildside — for the most part, we have a two year calendar that we continually teach thru (we are 7th and 8th grade only)
b. HSM — we do a year in advance during planning, but adjust as needed
c. Crave – 6 to 9 months

4. How frequently are you teaching topically versus exegetically?
a. Wildside — our goal is to teach 1/3 topical (JH survival), 1/3 exegetical (doctrine), and 1/3 other
b. HSM — we are largely topical and felt need, but try to get through a couple books of the Bible each year as well
c. Crave – 70% topical and 30% exegetical

5. How extensive is your stage design/theming of your large group program?
a. Wildside — we go in seasons; sometimes we do nothing and other times we go all out, but a lot of that depends on how the series/topic lends to stage setup
b. HSM — this is a great place to use volunteers. We have a group of students that help create designs as well. It also largely depends on budget, the length of the series, and whether a series is conducive to it.
c. Crave – Less is more for us. We rarely do any stage design.

JG


I’m always excited when someone I dig starts blogging – can’t wait to see what they contribute to the conversation of leadership and ministry. If you’re responsible for college ministry and/or want to know some great principles to lead the church in reaching the next generation, you’ll want to check out Brad Baker’s new blog. He’s already got a nice handful of great posts, so be sure to check it out or even subscribe.

JG



We’re making some little name shifts in our youth ministry these days – moving away from calling events by catchy, cool names and calling them by far less cute but very clear names.

Over and over again it feels obvious that insider names are nice for the core kids, but completely alienating for outsiders and confusing for people who bounce in and out. If you’re using a cool name for your youth event, plan on explaining it to parents and new students. If you’re using a Greek word for your small groups, your effort to please your hermeneutics professor will be lost on a 13-year old incoming freshman.

Clear wins every time. Here’s a few examples of what I’m talking about:

HSM Summer Camp
We used to call our summer camp by the destination camp we were attending, so we would call it Hume Lake or Camp Ojai. I love the traditions, but think it requires explanation to adults and clarity when a student shares their testimony about what happened there. Why not just call it camp? So now we call it HSM Summer Camp, enabling us to be very clear about what it is and less about the actual location. It also allows us to change camps without losing momentum or rebranding.

HSM Winter Retreat
This one had a great name originally – Chi Alpha (which means Christ First or Christs’ Ambassadors) – but honestly it wasn’t working in our culture. The students that attended last year loved the event, but when talking about it they would inevitably call it a “spiritual growth retreat” or “discipleship retreat” – so why didn’t we? Now that I think about it – even “discipleship” might not be clear, maybe we should even be considering a more student-friendly and clear word like “grow.”

We’re simply called HSM
I know that “the high school ministry at Saddleback Church” or “HSM” isn’t the sexiest name on the block. I hear of youth group names like IGNITE, maXimum or Warriors of L.I.G.H.T. and I think how boring ours sounds. But the clarity is worth it. Even within our own church, and I love our college ministry (Crave) and junior high ministry (Wildside), but they have to be constantly explained to outsiders.

So that’s what I’m thinking, and where we’re moving these days. Anyone agree/disagree? I’d LOVE to be convinced of the value in creating brand and identities with creative and unique names for groups and events.

JG