article.2013.02.05New, new, new!

For many youth workers a big part of their job description seems to include “Think outside the box on a regular basis”… constantly coming up with new ideas and innovative programs that are bigger and better than last year, last week, and last night. And while there is certainly a place for risk-taking and improvement in each new season, sometimes what you really need is tried and true, solid stuff. Stuff that is actually totally inside the box!”

Ask yourself these questions as you look at planning the season ahead:

  • What has worked really well in the past year?
  • What is a “classic” that would be fun to revive?
  • What were people talking about after last summer?
  • What is MY favorite event of the year?
  • Where did we see the most life-change in the last season?
  • What is easy to plan but brings the ministry a big win?

There’s a fine line between tradition and boredom, so be careful as you plan—but sometimes, the best things you can do are ones that already worked in the past.

Here are a few examples of ideas that started off as new ideas and have become traditions in our youth ministry:

You Own the Weekend—This is a series where students completely run youth group. It has had an incredible response every year!

Pumpkinfest—We don’t do a ton of big events, so we tend to really do our best to go “all in” on just a couple a year. One is this fun festival in the fall that students now know and love.

Guys Trip / Girl’s Trip—These fun summer overnighters have become really popular with out students and were one of the highlights of just last year. So guess what? We’re doing them again this summer.

Take a second to think inside the box for your next season of ministry!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

This summer of ministry has been incredible! There have been some incredible highs and some … great learnings for us as well. So picking a few favorite moments has been incredibly difficult but thought I would take a crack at it. Here are a few of my top moments in ministry this past summer:

Having Pastor Rick at Midweek
Midweek for the past 3 years has worked incredibly well for us. In the summer we pause small groups to let host homes and leaders recover before they re-up for the next season. In place of Life Groups we run a 7-8 week summer series called Midweek. This year we had Rick Warren come and teach one of the nights – it was incredibly fun and powerful way to start the summer. My favorite moment that night was gathering around him and laying hands on him as a student ministry and praying for God to bless him, to give him wise leadership and to grow his faith.

HSM Summer Camp
The gang over at Christ in Youth (aka CIY) did an amazing helping us pull off our Summer Camp this year. I love the environment of camp, the energy, the passion, the decisions, the baptisms. Summer Camp works SO well for us – it is a huge platform for our leaders to relationally minister to students, it forms new small groups, it connects incoming freshman. Simply incredible all the way around.

Guys Trip
We brought back this event from forever ago called Guys Trip – we took a smaller group of students up into the mountains for some total dude time. I wrote quite a bit about it here, but in general terms it was one of the most original and fun couple of days all summer. There’s something special about getting away with the guys and no distractions (read: cell phones and girls).

Working with Summer Interns
I love summer interns! This year we had 5 of the most incredible interns that made me smile all summer long. They are great youth workers, awesome friends and worked incredibly hard. I think learned a TON this summer, I certainly learned from them as well.

How about you – what were your highlights of summer 2012?


HSM’s Guys Trip 2012

 —  August 20, 2012 — 13 Comments

Years ago HSM used to have the tradition of a “guys-only” trip filled with adventure and wonder. The summer it was time to bring it back! And while the girls ran a parallel trip but with painted nails, ocean views and fancy dinners – the guys trip took a slightly different route. And while much of what happened up there has been sworn to secrecy, here are a few of the highlights of our amazing overnighter in the mountains:

  • The Log Cabin Mansion (sleeps 30)
  • Since there was 50 of us, we shot BB guns at a target to see who got a bed
  • All-U-Can-MEAT (17 different kinds/cuts of meat, it’s whats for dinner)
  • Wilke Waffle Extravaganza
  • Gladiator ring w 3/events
  • 4-mile hike to the start of the hiking trail hike
  • devotion on Samson
  • quite time in the morning for everyone to spend time with God
  • Midnight capture the flag
  • Opening speeches on Why America is the Greatest Nation of All (alternate topic: Why America Dominates Everyone Else)
  • Medal ceremony – 10 medals for various reasons (courage, purple heart, fearless, going to bed early like a sissy)
  • NERF SWAT missions to kill the VIP
  • Xbox 360s linked with Halo
  • Every kind of Pringles, every kind of beef jerky
  • 11 boxes of Pop Tarts and an unlimited refillable snack bar with 10 different options

Here’s some of the promo we used to get students to sign up:

“The wolves howl at the bright moon as they rip into the freshly killed caribou. The pack lowers their heads in submission as Kodar, the Alpha male, pads softly forward to claim the still-beating heart, his by right. He devours it quickly. The wolves howl their approval and continue their feast. It is a good night.”

What does this have to do with Guys Trip? If you have to ask yourself that question then you shouldn’t be going. Guys Trip is THE overnight right-of-passage journey into manhood that you have felt the longing for in your soul. Join us, if you dare, as we head to the mountains to live off the land, eat nothing but meat, embrace adventure, and develop much needed skills to survive. The limit is 50 men. So sign up now.

It will be a trip long-remembered!


From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog for YOU to answer. What advice would you give this youth pastor who is asking about starting over again in a much smaller context than his previous experience. I’ll post some of my thoughts next week on how I answered him over email, but was hoping you could weigh in with your thoughts, too. Weigh in!

I’m newly on staff with our church and just wanted to pick your brain a little! I’m working on some outreach ideas for our students and trying to put together some “guy specific” events and ideas and just wanted to see if you wouldn’t mind sharing some knowledge. If you get a chance, if there’s any way you could just let me know a couple things that have worked for y’all, or maybe like your top 2-3 ideas, or even a resource you could point me to, that would be fantastic!

I replied to his email … but would love for you to Weigh In, too! Leave a comment!