Finished a great book this weekend – Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. HSM has been in a continual state of change the past several years – starting with the change in leadership to the opening of the Refinery student building to now the promotion of some of our key players up into church leadership. Saddleback was built on change, and it is showing no signs of stopping. Anyhow – the book, right?

I absolutely loved Chip and Dan Heath’s previous book, Made to Stick, and this is another of that same incredible caliber. Switch is all about the elephant and the rider – how different forces within each of us interact with each other to push toward or resist change. The book offeres great practical insight, clear direction and tons of exampls to lead and influence significant change. A couple great chapters in particular gave me some insight into why people leave when others stay, how to frame change so it is attainable and letting bright spots lead your change efforts. Brilliant stuff, perfect for what I’m leading us through in our ministry these days. So good.


I was playing ping pong with Jon the other day when we stumbled on an interesting learning moment. Jon is a 2-year intern with Saddleback’s High School Ministry, he’s been great so far and is wrapping up his time serving with HSM through this September. About halfway through the match we noticed that a ton of the ceiling tiles above the tables were out of place. Not a couple of them, but about half of them, all cock-eyed and messy. It looked really poor, so much so that we both commented on them.

After a few more rounds of table tennis (I was up four games to nil at this point), we started to fix the skewed ceiling. It wasn’t necessarily convenient for us, we had to mess with a few of them for a quite a while to get them in place. Some were breaking apart a little bit and getting that nasty dust in our faces and hair. Some were just out of reach so we had to pull over a chair to get them in place. But all in all, it took just a few minutes to get everything back perfectly in place. It went from messy chaos to clean and sharp. Perfect!

A short while later, a lady came over from the other side of the room that had been watching us the whole time. She said things like, “isn’t it terrible how students treat this building?” and, “I noticed how bad those ceiling tiles looked earlier and was going to say something.” She had a few other general complaints about the condition of the facility and made note to remind us of the significant effort we had just put out. She continued to mutter about things as she walked away.

I turned to Jon and said, “Dude, what a missed opportunity that poor lady had. She even noticed the problem and didn’t do anything about it. Worse yet, she sat there frustrated about the problem. Then she watched us take care of it! Dude … never become that person. Don’t let our students grow up to be that person. We have enough adults in our church who just sit and sour over stupid things. Just fix the ceiling tiles.”

I hope our few minutes fixing the ceiling tiles sticks with Jon for a while. I know it will for me. Jon went on to destroy me in game 5, possibly because I was mentally writing this blog post instead of concentrating on the game.

Don’t be that person in your church. Be a servant in your church this week. There is enough people sitting around pointing out trouble and the trouble-makers. Fix the ceiling tiles.


Last weekend I got to help serve pancakes at saddleback HSM.

What a cool thing for them to do: a couple schools had prom on Saturday night, so they decided to offer free pancakes on Sunday morning. Simple. Cheap. Fun. Great idea.

(yea, I’m pessimistic to also think, “Why didn’t I ever think about that?”)

My job was to flip the flap jacks and it was a ton of fun. Some of the students even said thanks, which very nearly gave me a heart attack. As I drove home, all I could think about was the greatness of the HSM team.

….| I showed up a few minutes earlier than expected, thinking they’d need help with set up. Everything was in it’s place and ready go. Organization really does set volunteers up to win (read that sentence twice if you know that you need to).

….| We needed to start cooking early, of course, because once the students descended upon us, they would be devouring everything in sight. A few adults wandered by to get a pancake “before they were all gone.” Naturally this made me throw up in my mouth. I bit my tongue (you don’t EVEN know how hard that was.) I was impressed when one of the HSM team came by and politely shooed everyone away and said, “it’s for the students…” good stuff. Really good stuff. Why? Entitlement ruins lots of ministry.

….| I brought my two oldest boys, 8 and 7 years old, and they were playing dodgeball with some high school students. Naturally, my oldest wasn’t paying attention and got decimated by a ball. I turn away from the grill to hear the full story through the tears. Within minutes, one of the HSM team got him some ice and another a chair. Very cool. (although I normally tell Max to just pretend his hand is like ice and it’s pretty much the same thing.) Thanks for caring about my kids.

….| The five of us who were volunteering were thanked about 100 times by each of the HSM team members, also very cool. People need encouragement.

….| Doug Fields spoke that weekend, and as I was walking up I overheard one of the HSM team thanking him for being there. That one shocked me, because it highlighted a weakness in me: specifically not being thankful toward Fields very often. We’re very good friends, and it’s easy (for me) to slip in to ruts like this, and assume “he knows.”

And then, CRAZY ON TOP OF CRAZY: Fields even bought my lunch after church, and it took me 30 minutes to say thanks even though 40 minutes before I was thinking about how little I say thanks!

Yeesh. And I thought I was just going to serve pancakes.

Most of these are small things–a word or a moment’s worth of work–but life has a lot more small things than it has big things… Jesus said it like this:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.”

Excellent leadership from the HSM team! I’m gonna quit serving if I get convicted so much!!

Finished up reading Steering Through Chaos: Mapping a Clear direction for Your Church in the Midst of Transition and Change. It wins the award for the longest subtitle in book history – and it is a great read if you’re in transition. And let’s be honest, who isn’t? Even in a “change-friendly” church like Saddleback, there were great moments in the book where I nodded about resistance to change and the importance of early and strategic change to spur on more growth. Too often leaders are too eager to make change or miss the optimal window – both cause problems and division. One of the best keys in the book was recognizing the chaos that leadership creates when we make change, and how that is part of the process. It hits on a few familiar themes like authenticity and the leadership gap (with frequent nods to Good to Great, etc), and forges new learnings with chapters focusing on all too often overlooked prayer and celebration. The last couple of years in HSM has been nothing but change so lots to connect with for me, this book will help you navigate it in your church, too. Good stuff.


Jessica Torres (on the HSM team) is responsible for mentoring and shaping the final weekend of the You Own the Weekend teaching series in our ministry. She’s been coaching her Tesoro High School students on a great greeting ministry and shared some great thoughts with them this week. I asked her if I could share them here on the blog – thought it might be helpful in your ministry setting, too:

Before the service
Everyone be in “places” 10 minutes prior to service starting.
Open doors 5 minutes before service starts.
Greeters in room – encourage students to “move in”, carry bulletins and pens in hand.
Greeters at doors – welcome students, pass out pens and bulletins.

During service
There must always be a greeter in the theater by the doors welcoming and passing out pens/bulletins to latecomers.
Quickly help students coming in late to find a seat.
Sit with a student who is alone and be engaged during the service (singing, listening, taking notes-you are part of setting the mood).
Be available to pass out pens/bulletins to students we missed as they entered the theater.
Don’t be afraid to politely ask “chatty” students to please step outside if they wish to have a conversation.
DO NOT stand in the back of the theater blocking the doorway.

End of service
Make sure to prop doors open right before the service ends. Be in position before all of the students are dismissed.
All greeters be at doors at end of service to collect pens.
Clean theater. Pick up trash, pens, etc. that might be left on the floor.
Make sure you’re all stocked up with pens/bulletins for the next service.


This week HSM was happy to announce that Phil Chenery was added to the HSM staff here at Saddleback. He originally interned here the past 2 years with children’s and junior high before landing on the high school team.

He just completed his Master’s event and has already proven himself as a master event planner. He has a great heart for missions – he was on HSM’s recent trip to Kenya and planned the New Mexico mission trip, too. I couldn’t be more excited to welcome him to HSM! Oh, and he’s British – what an accent!


This is Jon Varner – he’s the latest addition to the HSM team. Jon is finishing up his 2-year internship with Saddleback, with a ton of recent transition in our staff he’s landed with HSM, and I couldn’t be happier (especially since he looks a bit like Wolverine). Jon has helped with regional campus ministry, spiritual growth and now student ministry. Pumped to have him through September of this year!


Thought it might be interesting to show you the actual texts we sent parents during our recent mission trip to New Mexico. I didn’t come up with a fancy 3-point strategy beforehand, my heart is to simply help parents know that 1) their kid is OK, 2) a little bit of what we’re up to each day, and 3) invite them to share in this experience from a thousand miles away. Hmm … that looks an awful lot like a 3-point strategy. Genius!

  • (3 days out) Hey New Mexico parents – here’s the first txt from HSM! Weather will be in the 60’s in the day, in the 20’s at night. Pack accordingly!
  • (2 days out) Hey NM parents! Check in starts at 11pm this Sunday night, we leave at midnight. If you have any questions, hit up
  • (1 day out) Hey NM parents – you can get trip updates, starting this Monday, on the HSM blog: Have a great Easter wkd!
  • (1 day out) Hey NM parents – Yes! HSM will get replies you send to these text messages. There is a delay, but we get them – now back to packing!
  • (day 1) Good morning, parents! In Williams, AZ grabbing breakfast after a great night’s sleep on the buses to New Mexico. Lots of hungry kids!
  • (day 1) We made it safe and sound! The NM team has arrived – thanks for your prayers and replies. Pizza time!
  • (day 1) Hello from NM! Chapel time is over and everyone is heading to bed. Work projects start in the morning – everyone is doing great! ZZZzzz
  • (day 2) Everyone is about to head back from all-day service projects here in NM – we’ve got a great chapel planned – dinner at Denny’s soon!
  • (day 3) Back to serve projects today here in Shiprock – lots of paint on houses (and each other). 28 degrees this morning, but all is well!
  • (day 3) Hey NM Parents – amazing day! Please take a second and reply with a funny message from you to be read in chapel to your child tonight!
  • (day 3) NM Parents, you are AMAZING! I can’t wait to read these in chapel – HILARIOUS! Printing now, your kids are coming back from dinner …
  • (day 4) NM work projects are wrapping up – so its time to ramp up for the carnival. This will hopefully be one of the highlights of the trip!
  • (day 4) The carnival was a HUGE success! The weather was perfect, great crowds, amazing students pulling it all off. You’ll be so proud!
  • (day 5) Everyone is packing up the bus right now, one last village share time and we’re headed home! Still tracking on late tonight-stay tuned!
  • (day 5) We’re shooting for 11pm, and will text updates as we figure out the ETA. You bet!
  • (day 5) WE ARE OUTTA HERE – buses are leaving Farmington, NM right now. We’re headed through Shiprock toward home! See you tonight!
  • (day 5) We emailed everyone a summary of the week and discussion questions. If you didn’t get it read it here:
  • (day 5) The buses crossed the state line. We’re in California!! We should be in before 11. Here we come!
  • (day 5) Hey NM Parents! If all goes well, our ETA is 10:45pm. Meet in the UPPER parking lot (by the pedestrian bridge elevators.)
  • (day 5) Tracking on 10:45pm at the church – see you there!
  • (1 day after trip) Enjoying having your teen back from New Mexico? Yes! Encourage them to attend HSM this wkd – it’ll help cement the decisions/experience