Josh is in New Mexico on a mission trip with HSM. Here are 15 things you can do to pass the time until he can reply on April 15th:

1.) finish your taxes
2.) count the number of times someone says “like” in a conversation
3.) purchase a Koi and watch them lazily swim around
4.) send an email to if something is urgent
5.) come up with a new nickname for yourself
6.) get caught up on LOST so you can enjoy the series finale next month
7.) go see a movie, I recommend Sherlock Holmes at the $1 theater in Irvine
8.) dig an inground pool in your backyard. Fill it with more Koi
9.) play the games from NBC’s Minute to Win It with your family tonight
10.) pray for safety of the students with Griff in NM
11.) read Josh’s blog
12.) book your space flight on Virgin Galactic – cost: $255,000
13.) follow Josh on Twitter @joshuagriffin
14.) preorder Doug Fields/Josh’s new book = Live Large, Be Different, Shine Bright
15.) Catch the Koi – batter and fry – enjoy

Weekend Teaching Series: Q (week 2 of 3)

Sermon in a Sentence: A study of the scientific evidence points to an Intelligent Designer.
Service Length: 75 minutes

Understandable Message: This week guest speaker Sean McDowell took a look at evidence that contradicts Darwinism/evolution that specifically points to an Intelligent Designer (Creator God) of the universe. He used some great pop culture nods [Family Guy, Friends] that demonstrated the pressure on us to believe evolution because it is rational and has tons of evidence to back it up. But then he started to demonstrate evidence and ideas that put those things into question – how perhaps the gaps and holes in the evolutionary theory actually point us to the Creator, and how even evolutionists are starting to admit it. Some really good stuff, so glad he’s here to help our students get this stuff.

Volunteer/Student Involvement: Students jumped in on most of the supporting roles of the weekend – greeting, cameras, lights, sound, control room, etc. The student band was also great, and adult volunteers jumped in for conversations and greeting. Several new volunteers this week, which is always GREAT!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: During the countdown again this week we used to have students send in captions for a photo (I posted a screenshot of one as an example above). We kicked off the weekend with a cleaned-up version of some Rick Gervais stand-up act about Creation that was done live by Phil, the latest member of the HSM staff. He’s a full-on British import, and nailed it perfectly.

Music Playlist: Run, Indescribable, Cannons

Favorite Moment: We had fun with Rebeckah Holley this week – she’s been an intern on the HSM staff for the last year and a half who is finishing up in August. She got engaged this past week (to Brian, the student pastor from Saddleback’s Corona campus), so we brought her on stage to tell the story and have some fun teasing her about her new last name. Cute!

Up Next: Q: (series finale, week 3 of 3)

The Internship Was My Idea

 —  February 12, 2010 — 2 Comments

Want to work in HSM? Intern at Saddleback – maybe not you but someone you know. Pass it on! Details here. The video was, of course, written/shot/edited by interns. Special thanks to Becka for leading the charge to pull it off!


Weekend Teaching Series: Each 1, Reach 1

Sermon in a Sentence: Sharing our faith should be a normal part of our lives – we show it by our actions and our words.
Service Length: 70 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we took a panel approach to teaching the lesson on friendship evangelism, Taffy (our worship pastor) was the speaker and he enlisted 10 students to come on stage and answer questions as he gave his talk. It gave the message a very grounded feel – these are normal students like you, praying for their friends, walking as best they can with Jesus, and sharing their faith. This is always a tricky subject to teach on at our entry-level program, but it gave me a chance to affirm our belief that the weekend is the place to invite your friends for the first time and give them an idea of the exciting stuff in the weeks ahead for HSM.

Volunteer/Student Involvement: Students greeted and ran the lights, camera, sound and band. Students appeared on stage as part of the panel in the message and cleaned up after each service as well.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We were weak this week in this area – we had a nice highlight video of the recent Killball tournament, as well as some funbanter over HSM’s latest Facebook page, called You Know You go to Saddleback’s HSM When … which got a good response. I liked this video, too.

Music Playlist: Solution, With Everything, To The Ends of the Earth, Tell the World

Favorite Moment: We gave each student a candle on the way in this week, and at the end talked about the power of each one, reaching one. In just a few seconds the entire room was filled with candlelight, which students’ help through the song. We encouraged them to pray for their friends that they could invite, or look through their recent calls/texts and consider how they might be a part of that person’s spiritual journey.

Up Next: Q: (Aplogetics series featuring Sean McDowell)

Saddleback’s High School Ministry has experienced incredible growth over the past two years. Here’s a little of what I shared at HSM Staff Camp this past week to my team as we focus on what’s next for HSM:

I think there is a direct correlation of strong relational youth ministry and participation.

When a ministry focuses primarily on programs and steers clear from getting their hands dirty in the real-life issues facing a student, growth will be short-lived. Now, please hear me on this – I love programs, I sometimes wish we had lasers in our youth room. But I know that while fun is very much one of our values and programs are very important – the best youth ministry happens in small groups, or one-on-one, sharing life. The best youth ministry happens when a caring adult is invested in the life of a student.

HSM is at a turning point in our ministry – I believe that we have two choices – we can rely on more programs and hope to keep the growth, or we can focus on “good enough programs” and turn as much energy as possible into people. When we pour into a volunteer, we exponentially affect our youth ministry. When we pour into a student, we turn a nameless person in the crowd into a participant.

  • What would happen if that kid who visited your ministry for the first time went from “came with a friend” to “genuine seeker”?
  • What if a Sunday morning kid went from “forced by my parents to be here” to “diving deeply into my own faith”?
  • How about if “that one kid” became your example of what a student leader looks like?

I think it is possible – but only with a laser focus on relational ministry. Not on lasers.

I imagine a typical life-cycle here – a youth ministry that eventually plateaus in participation and ends up with a nice highly-programmed youth ministry. The growth was amazing, but sometime (maybe even years) later interest wains and the ministry begins to return to the new normal. The youth pastor leaves for another ministry while participation is still pretty much on top, and ever since there is only talk about “the glory days” of old. Still good youth ministry, still lives being changed, but leaves me with a lot of “what might have been” questions and thoughts.

I imagine a future where programs still exist, but primarily as vehicles for conversations. We still focus on creative programs and be inventive about teaching the Bible, but there’s more than the show. Leaders always have time for people. We have ranks of volunteers waiting for small groups of students to fill them. And then it happens – after a little dip in participation (some kids only came for the lasers) participation grows to new heights. Because people are primary.

So just how are we going to pull this off? More soon.


This week is the time of the year when I take the HSM team away for a morning and give the State of HSM address. It isn’t as epic as it might sound, but we do sneak up to have hot chocolate at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel and sit in front of the fire while I diesel on our youth ministry for a while. It is now an annual event, and each year we mark the occasion by taking a group picture in front of the giant tree. Here’s what I hope to accomplish in our time together:

This is a time of just thinking back through the year and telling stories that happened through the course of the ministry. Usually there are some funny stories in his part, and some tears when a particular memory strikes a chord. Pausing to reflect is a huge key here – if we continue to go, go, go – and even grow, grow, grow – we lose the heart behind what God is doing and can become gears in a machine churning out a product. Reflection brings us all back to the heart of why we do what we do.

This is a time to talk about specific people – we think about each other, strengths and successes of the past year. Usually some funny stories come out of this time as well, as well as life-giving words of kindness as we build each other up.

We haven’t had to do this too often, but from time to time a team-wide dysfunction creeps to the surface. I would always lean toward individual discipline as needed continually, but when something affects everyone or everyone is participating, a time to bring it out into the light is wise. This is usually brief and direct if it is indeed necessary.

As the ministry changes, shifts in focus or adapting to growth – we may have to move some players around. I try to save any significant team changes for this meeting, though it isn’t always possible. Team changes seen out of context are often a cause of team conflict and strife, changes made in the backdrop of this annual vision usually accepted far more quickly because one can easily see the big picture.

This is where it all comes together – we’ve celebrated where we’ve been and built each other up. We’ve gone after any team-wide course corrections and set up the infrastructure to build on where we think God is taking us in the coming year. And then we put it all out there – where are we headed for the year – what are our goals – what is success for our ministry until we sit around the fireplace in the Grand Californian next year? Then we pray about it, eat, and get back to work.


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Weekend Teaching Series: Do Something (series finale, week 3 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: People all over the world are hungry – let’s do something about them in Jesus’ name.
Service Length: 61 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend the message was all about action – there wasn’t a ton of talk needed! For the previous two weeks we’ve been doing something – packing shoeboxes for kids to have a Christmas and hear about Jesus, signing up for ministries, bringing in hundreds of canned goods and clothing items to give to the needy. And this week, we put out the most impossible goal: to pack 100,000 meals in one weekend. We would be packing food for our Saddleback food pantry, local foodbanks in the community, and food items to be taken on mission trips to Mexico, even Africa. The message this week was in the activity – my heart was that the experential elements of this weekend would create a memory that would last a long time in students’ minds.

Volunteer/Student Involvement: This weekend was the culmination about 5 weeks of meetings, logistics and empowerment. Honestly, the whole project kept growing and growing until we had more than 30 pallets of bulk food ready to be packaged for families. It was an incredible concert of moving parts and personalities, we learned a TON and despite a few minor hiccups and blowups the whole thing really came together. Student leaders stepped up, our adult team was unreal, and as always, my teammates on our HS team were super.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This was work this weekend! But we had some fun by doing the “big church” welcome live from down in The Refinery. It was a total blast, and helped the whole church see what we were up to. We had a great background playlist going as well, so lots of great music (Party in the U.S.A. was the most popular, by far, right or wrong) filled the gym as everyone pitched in to package meals.

Music Playlist: iPod playlist

Favorite Moment: The whole event was run by one of our killer 2-year HSM interns, making that by far my favorite moment. Becka took this thing to a whole nother level and things really came together, she is a great minister with a huge heart. Other highlights: amazing students staying late, student leaders being at many/all services, an exhausted late night Denny’s run, seeing everyone work so hard, watching pallet after pallet being loaded up on the trucks.

Up Next: STORIES (1-off)

Weekend Teaching Series: none, between series
Sermon in a Sentence: Biblical leadership requires serving.
Service Length: 77 minutes
Bible: John 13

Understandable Message: This weekend Jason Petty (HSM discipleship pastor) taught the passage about Jesus washing the disciples feet. He asked a strong question: What do you do when you’re the most powerful person in the room? He talked about Jesus’ serving as a model for us to serve, and how so many use their influence for their own gain. He also announced the start of Student Leadership this year, too.

Volunteer/Student Involvement: Students made up the band and ran lights, camera, sound and the control room. We had a volunteer help run one of the games on Sunday morning, and other volunteers positioned themselves as greeters and helped everyone feel welcome.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had a costume contest on Saturday night that had some good energy (Sunday not so much) – the kids dressed as John and Kate + 8 did very well, I might add. We also played a “throw it on the ground game” called Smashing Pumpkins where we tossed the PumpkinFest decorations toward targets and watched them splatter. Fun shooting a live bit outside of the High School room, too.

Music Playlist: Everything, You’ll Come, Center

Favorite Moment: This weekend was the last weekend for HSM team member Zack Barker. He’s a great music/worship leader and is asking God what is next for him. He’s praying about leading music and letting God lead. Great dude, happy for him heading toward where God is leading, but very sad to see him go.

Up Next: A new 3-week series called “Do Something” starts next weekend!