One of our incredible Life Group Leaders put together a final few week of small group with his guys that was truly incredible. First, he wrote 24 Thoughts for Graduating Seniors – a final hit list of things he wanted them to know as a man and as someone who was finished with High School.

Beyond that, he planned a parent beach bonfire night where dads wrote letters to their sons that was incredible powerful as well. Terry is a great leader and after seeing his notes I asked if I could share them here on the blog – felt like it would be a win for others to read and maybe something other small group leaders could rip-off or adapt for their guys as well:

13) Be Yourself

It is so easy to leave home, be in a new place and you try to be someone you are not.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  16 You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out  before a single day had passed. -Psalm 139:13-16

14) Be Humble – Put others first

He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. -Psalm 25:9

The LORD supports the humble, but he brings the wicked down into the dust. -Psalm 147:6

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. -Ephesians 4:2

15) Be Truthful & Stay Close to Truth Tellers

Integrity is noticed by everyone – it will set you apart

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. -John 8:32

Truth provides freedom, Lies keep you from being free. Make sure you find one or two Friends who will be honest with you.  Find a small group or some way to stay connected to God.  You need to have truth put into your life on a regular basis or you will forget about it.  You need someone to help you stay accountable.

16) Stay Positive/Find something good in ALL situations

Only YOU control your Reactions! What’s your Attitude?

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts…. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.

17) Rest – Take care of yourself

What fills your tanks?  Make time for that activity

The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows;  he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths,  bringing honor to his name.  4 Even when I walk  through the darkest valley,  I will not be afraid,  for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff  protect and comfort me. 5 You prepare a feast for me   in the presence of my enemies.  You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings.  6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me  all the days of my life,   and I will live in the house of the LORD  forever. -Psalm 23

18) Don’t let ANGER destroy you – Replace it with Laughter.

Control your temper

And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil. -Ephesians 4:26-27

When Abraham Lincoln had to write a letter to someone who had irritated him, he would often write two letters. The first letter was deliberately insulting. Then, having gotten those feelings out of his system, he would tear it up and write a second letter, this one tactful and discreet.

Don’t send the first TEXT MESSAGE when you are angry – DELETE IT and then write a second one to send!!!

Don’t forget about LAUGHTER!!!  It will do very positive things it your life!

JG

One of our incredible Life Group Leaders put together a final few week of small group with his guys that was truly incredible. First, he wrote 24 Thoughts for Graduating Seniors – a final hit list of things he wanted them to know as a man and as someone who was finished with High School.

Beyond that, he planned a parent beach bonfire night where dads wrote letters to their sons that was incredible powerful as well. Terry is a great leader and after seeing his notes I asked if I could share them here on the blog – felt like it would be a win for others to read and maybe something other small group leaders could rip-off or adapt for their guys as well. Here’s a link to part 1, and part 2 below:

7.) Treat others like you want to be treated

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. -John 15:12

8.) Friends are a BIG deal

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he hath not another to help him up.

One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. -Proverbs 12:26

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. -Proverbs 13:20

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” -1 Corinthians 15:33

9.) The next few choices and decisions are a BIG deal

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.

We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. -Proverbs 16

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11

PRAY – PRAY – PRAY – LISTEN – LISTEN – LISTEN – SEEK OTHERS

10.) When you fall – get back up

“Even if good people fall seven times, they will get back up. But when trouble strikes the wicked, that’s the end of them.” -Proverbs 24:16

Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up. IBM Story of leader who lost $3,000,000

When Thomas Edison was interviewed by a young reporter who boldly asked Mr. Edison if he felt like a failure and if he thought he should just give up by now. Perplexed, Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” And shortly after that, and over 10,000 attempts, Edison invented the light bulb.

11.) Take time to review and look forward every New Year

  • Set Your Priorities
  • Set Some Goals
  • ALWAYS have something to accomplish

12.) Remember it is good to celebrate

Find things to celebrate.  Little things, big things.

JG



One of our incredible Life Group Leaders put together a final few week of small group with his guys that was truly incredible. First, he wrote 24 Thoughts for Graduating Seniors – a final hit list of things he wanted them to know as a man and as someone who was finished with High School.

Beyond that, he planned a parent beach bonfire night where dads wrote letters to their sons that was incredible powerful as well. Terry is a great leader and after seeing his notes I asked if I could share them here on the blog – felt like it would be a win for others to read and maybe something other small group leaders could rip-off or adapt for their guys as well. Here’s part 1:

24 things I want to leave you with!!

In less then 100 days most of you will be out of your house!!!  Life is going to change… no more curfew, no more “asking if you can do something.” You can eat all of the cookies you want for breakfast and will have a greater amount of freedom then you have ever had.  How are you going to handle it? Here are 24 things I want you to know as you leave the house, your family and our Life Group:

1) The BIBLE is filled with wisdom for living

This book will keep you from Sin or SIN will keep you from this book. God wrote down his plan for our lives.  All you need to do is READ IT (and then Apply it).

2) Be careful out there
There was once an elderly gentleman who loved playing golf. But he was almost eighty, and his vision was not very good anymore. He always had partners with him when he went out to play so they could watch his ball and tell him where it went. One day his buddies did not show up. It was a beautiful day for golf, and as he waited at the clubhouse he got more and more upset that he wasn’t going to get to play his round. Another elderly man in the clubhouse saw him and asked, “What’s wrong?” The man explained his predicament: “I was really looking forward to playing golf today. But I don’t see very well anymore, so I need someone to watch the ball after I hit.” The second man was even older than he was, but he said, “That’s no problem. I’ll be glad to ride around with you. I’ve got 20/20 vision. I can see like a hawk. You just hit the ball, and I’ll watch it fly right down the fairway.” So they went out on the first tee, and the old man hit the ball right down the center. He turned to his spotter. “Did you see it?” The man replied, “I saw it all the way until it stopped rolling.” “Well, where did it go?” The older man paused for a moment and then said, “I forgot.”

Having 20/20 vision does not always mean you can find what you are looking for!

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. -Matthew 10:16

3) Money is the base of the problem for lots of people

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like. Bible’s guide: 10/10/80.  Save 10%, Give 10%, Spend 80%

Whoever loves money never has enough money; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. -Ecclesiastes 5:10

For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry of facing either plenty of poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me. -Philippians 4:11-13

4) Always be a learner

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. NEVER STOP LEARNING.

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. -Proverbs 1:5

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. -Proverbs 18:15

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. -II Timothy 3:16

5) Step up and take some risks

A man would do nothing, if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done. Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.

Parable of the Talents

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. — Matthew 25:29, NLT

When Jean-Claude Killy made the French national ski team in the early 1960s, he was prepared to work harder than anyone else to be the best. At the crack of dawn he would run up the slopes with his skis on, an unbelievably grueling activity. In the evening he would lift weights, run sprints–anything to get an edge. But the other team members were working as hard and long as he was. He realized instinctively that simply training harder would never be enough. Killy then began challenging the basic theories of racing technique.

Each week he would try something different to see if he could find a better, faster way down the mountain. His experiments resulted in a new style that was almost exactly opposite the accepted technique of the time. It involved skiing with his legs apart (not together) for better balance and sitting back (not forward) on the skis when he came to a turn. He also used ski poles in an unorthodox way–to propel himself as he skied. The explosive new style helped cut Killy’s racing times dramatically. In 1966 and 1967 he captured virtually every major skiing trophy. The next year he won three gold medals in the Winter Olympics, a record in ski racing that has never been topped. Killy learned an important secret shared by many creative people: innovations don’t require genius, just a willingness to question the way things have always been done.

6) Always treat women well

Never miss an opportunity to tell them they’re beautiful.  Treat them like God’s Daughters!!!

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. -Ephesians 5:22-33

JG

Had a neighbor invite our family over to an open house for their daughter today – this was her last weekend in Saddleback’s high school youth group and she is heading off to college this very week. The family is so great and it was awesome hanging out with them, they loved our kids and it is always great being in someone’s home.

They had balloons and cake and pretty much what you would expect at something like this, but it went beyond a traditional open house. In fact, they called it an Open House and Day of Prayer.

How cool is that? They invited their friends and family to drop in at any point in the afternoon and eat, laugh and pray over their daughter. They asked people for wisdom on making the big transition from high school to college life. They shared some stories and memories as well.

I just thought it was a next-level rite of passage. Not just your typical give-me-a-card-with-money-in-it kind of thing – it was really something special, something very spiritual as well. I think I just found an idea I’m going to steal for my kids someday. Thought maybe you could, too!

JG



We have just this week returned from another epic adventure known as our senior trip or as we call it in Canada our grad trip. It is our second year of what we hope to be many of celebrating those students who finished their tenure in our youth ministry and giving them an amazing time and encouraging them on their future endeavors. Our Church is 30 minutes South of Vancouver B.C. and we decided to take our grads this year to Disneyland, and I can say after debriefing the trip, it was a success beyond what we could have imagined. Here a few of the reasons we did it.

The Dangling Carrot: We started the senior trip tradition last year with a bus charter to San Francisco and Six Flags which was a great time and the students involved had a blast. The trip is the end, it’s the prize and in many cases a bit of a carrot that we dangle that keeps our grade 12′s from becoming infected with senioritis and leaving mid-year. Knowing that the trip is coming, that it’s an incredible experience, and that its well worth going on meant that this year we had a huge percentage of seniors finish the year out. Having seniors stick around means that we had more older students being active leaders to the younger ones and being great spiritual role models to them as well.

Creating a team: The Church does not pay a dime for trip, we take a deposit to cover the flight cost and the students then have to fundraise the money themselves. This year we put ads out to the church offering to do any job necessary by donation. The students worked hard, worked together and watched the donations roll in. They served the church, helped seniors, walked old ladies across the road, dug holes, trimmed trees, weeded gardens, and they did it all together. It took two months, but they raised enough that all of them including their small group leaders and Youth Pastor (wink) could go for free. The Church loved it, the students bonded and connected before the trip and on it.

Bridging the Gap: Getting students to connect into college ministry is tough, and we recognize this. Each year we have several hand picked members of the college ministry team not only come on the trip, but be a part of the fundraising process as well with the hope of building some meaningful relationships. I feel that this year more than last that having the group come together so tightly will allow a great opportunity to land and grow in our college ministry. It is unfortunate how many students graduate their faith after high school and our heart is that we feel we can foster a scenario where that is less likely to happen as they more successfully make the transition into the next phase in ministry.

As a Youth Pastor, watching students grow in their faith is a blessing and being able to be a part of the process from grade 7 through to graduation is unbelievable. We place a high value on celebrating those students who finish youth well, and are seeing the younger students take notice and get excited about their opportunity to do the same. Our senior trip, while on the surface might seem to be solely for fun, is really a strategic move to build into the future of our students that they don’t leave their faith after high school.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.

Josh Riffle pointed me to an article on CNN that seems to be an important read for youth workers about students being shallow in their faith and what strong students of faith have in common. Seems to get a bit on the USA Today bandwagon from earlier this month, but some good insight nonetheless:

No matter their background, Dean says committed Christian teens share four traits: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future.

“There are countless studies that show that religious teenagers do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high-risk behavior,” she says. “They do a lot of things that parents pray for.”

Dean, a United Methodist Church minister who says parents are the most important influence on their children’s faith, places the ultimate blame for teens’ religious apathy on adults.

Some adults don’t expect much from youth pastors. They simply want them to keep their children off drugs and away from premarital sex.

Others practice a “gospel of niceness,” where faith is simply doing good and not ruffling feathers. The Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, she says.

JG