My friend AC has a great new blog about leaders at our weekend services being active and available in our youth group meetings – here’s a clip of how he is leading our volunteer team on the weekend. Read this teaser, and head there for the rest:

  1. Greet – We want to greet students.  We will greet students instead of wait in a corner for them to come to us.  We will reach out to them instead of waiting for them to reach out to us.
  2. Meet – We want to make sure that we genuinely meet them.  Refer to the hand out “Hand Shake Hi to a Hug Goodbye/”.  I also had them refer to this handout I created to help them really connect with the students “Conversation tactics for youth workers“.
  3. Connect – We want to make sure that we are intentional about our conversation with students.  We want to look for ways in the conversation to suggest a next step.  For new students we want to guide them towards community.  That could range from life groups to serving opportunities within the ministry or summer camp.  You can even suggest grabbing coffee, lunch or ice cream with them sometime.  For students who are already in life groups, you can suggest serving in a ministry, missions or summer camp.  We want to make sure students are getting connected.
  4. Pray – We want to pray for students.  While you are connecting through conversations, once an area of struggle, pain, disappointment, hardship and trial appears offer prayer.  We want to avoid saying “I’ll be praying for you”.  Pray for the student right there on the spot.  Even pray for the core students you already know that have been met, greeted and connected.  Go deeper in conversation and pray for them.  Just because they are a part of our core students doesn’t mean they have everything together.  Every situation will be different but when the opportunity presents itself feel free to pray.


My friend AC did a great weekend leader training last night and shared some of it on his blog. He did a great job sharing the heart behind the role of the volunteer at a service and gave some great questions for them to use when greeting students. Here are a few of his suggestions, might be good to rip off copy/paste in a note to your leaders this week!

  • What has been your biggest struggle in high school and why?
  • Do you have a crazy coach and how do you manage his/her craziness?
  • What are you planning on majoring in college and why?
  • Are you close with your parents and how supportive are they about (fill in the blank)?
  • What are some struggles you’re having in your walk with Christ?
  • How long have you been coming to church and what’s got you coming?
  • What’s the attitude towards Christianity in your family?

Head to his place for the rest!


My friend AC posted (on his blog a great summary about cutting and self-injury after attending a workshop at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this past week. Here’s a clip of his notes, head there for the rest. Might make a solid handout/training for your volunteers:

What is Self-Injury?

It’s listed in the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association as a Borderline Personality Disorder.
Self-harm is a response to a profound and overwhelming emotional pain that cannot be resolved in a more functional way.

What Self-Injury is not!

Self-Injury is not a half-hearted attempt at suicide
Demon Possession
A relationally immature attempt to get attention
Body modification taken to the extreme

Notes: You must understand that it is not an attempt at suicide, but if the cycle continues it could be the result at the end of a fighting battle. The self-injurer is trying to save their life not take it. We must understand that we join them in the fight for their life. While there is definitely a spiritual battle going on, self-injury does not automatically equate to Demon Possession. It’s not just about attention, it’s deeper than that and it needs our full undivided attention.

If you’re interested in a program to help students who deal with tough stuff like this, check out The Landing. Our Landing program meets every Friday night at 7pm – good stuff for hurting students.


Awesome new video from HSM this weekend to help introduce the new guys on the team. So fun!


I’m excited to announce that Justin Knowles joined the HSM team here at Saddleback this week! Justin comes to us from Christ Church of the Valley up north and graduated from APU. He’s got a big heart for students and is going to help us knock weekend services and Life Groups out of the park … maybe even bring back Dinner for a Dozen to help us get new students
connected. Pumped to serve alongside him!


At our January staff retreat (affectionately known as Student Ministries Staff Camp) we played a few rounds of HSM Jeopardy. It was a great chance to get to know each other better, test our knowledge of youth ministry philosophy and volunteers. Might be a fun idea to play with your people, too! Here were the categories:

  • 1980-Present: questions about Saddleback Church’s history
  • Take a Look: name the volunteer (pictures only)
  • CooCoo Ways: questions about the funny quirks of our people
  • Mascot Mania: questions about our local high school mascots
  • High School Musical: questions relating to music in our ministry
  • Legends of the Fall: questions about our team’s life before youth ministry
  • Nuts & Bolts: questions about youth ministry basics
  • Animal Planet: questions about funny connections to our team and animals

Winner got movie tickets and a gift card to Chilis!


One of my favorite traditions we do as a Student Ministries Team here at Saddleback is that we take an annual retreat together. This week I’ve been enjoying a much-needed week away with the team. I needed it for my own soul and refreshment, but our team needs it as well. Here’s why:

We eat/laugh/play together
I laughed last night more than I have in a long time. I laugh a lot, most people even think of me as an easy laugh, but last night was particularly fun. In the “head down” rushing pace of youth ministry sometimes we forget to laugh. Getting away on a retreat let’s you put your guard down. Conversations over meals are the best, and time in the pool or on the tennis courts is super fun.

We share stories together
Last night we had a youth ministry art show – everyone on the team was given a small canvas and asked to create something about youth ministry. It was incredible to see the heart come out and some really unique perspectives on the each others stories and the story of youth ministry.

We make memories together
The more memories, the strong the bond. Staff retreat gives us a chance for spontaneous memories to form and new inside jokes to be created. It helps fill trust reservoirs.

We head home to do battle with the enemy together
The team that retreats together … advances together. Most of the team heads back tomorrow to immediately dive into the final throes of HSM Summer Camp prep. We’ll jump right into an extremely busy season, but filled and ready to fight again for another year.


Weekend Teaching Series: Promotion Weekend (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence:
What I wish I knew in High School.
Service Length: 75 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend the message was taught by all of the HSM Staff. Each of us got on stage and did a short introduction of ourselves and what we did on the team, then taught a single point about what we wish we knew in High School. Subjects ranged from identity, friends, evengelism, purity, the importance of Scripture, etc. It flowed surprisingly well having different personalities on stage – made me happy that our team is so diverse in every way. God uses a ton of different people to come together to minister to all types of students. Awesome.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The weekend had a strong element of fun and lots of student involvment. We had a fun bit up front called “The Freshman Olympics” and played a couple of fun games up front with the incoming 9th graders versus the seniors. We also had a great video-that-turned-into-a-live-performance rap that helped promote summer camp. Lots of students involved greeting, hosting the game, singing and band. Even had a freshman lead one of the songs. Go Brad!

Music Playlist: Summer Camp is Going Down (opener), Rise and Sing, You’ll Come, Holy Holy Holy

Favorite Moment: I love that we can go from a hilarious opener to a powerful worship song at the end with lots of great content inbetween. For sure the highlight has to go to seeing all of the potential of these incredible freshman entering youth group. Pumped.

Up Next: 11 vs. the World (series premiere, week 1 of 2)