youthgroupI actually did this a year ago where I listed some things we should be talking about and discussing in our youth groups (check it out here). And wow, the response was crazy good!! So I wanted to do it again. This time I want to focus on a few topics I believe students are already talking about in other social settings, and really need to know where the church stands on these issues. So here we go:

Homosexuality - Students need to know where God stands on this issue. They need to know where their church stands on the issue. So that they can make a choice on where they stand based on the truth of God’s word. Our culture is definitely letting them know where they stand, while giving them a false view of where God stands. Right now the world is pretty split on the issue concerning it being morally wrong. And right now the media paints those who oppose it as haters and those who are for it right. Students need to know what God says about it and what their response should be.

Sin - It’s not enough to just talk about sin in passing. Students need to understand what it is and how it affected our relationship with God. A lot of times students don’t mind partaking in or excusing sin because they don’t really know a lot about it. All they know is Jesus died for their sins, but they don’t really understand why He had to die. I believe with a better understanding students will begin to mourn the sin they commit and see it for what it really is. If your students don’t understand sin, your teachings are really nothing but motivational talks. When you reference the world they picture people who don’t know Jesus as the enemy. We need to be talking about sin.

Pornography - 93% of boys and 63% of girls are exposed to porn before the age of 18.(source) And they are watching it all; from same-sex porn to child porn. It’s very assessable, and for some students they find it not even looking for it. You need to be talking about it. Here are a few suggested areas to cover.

  1. God’s view.
  2. The lie culture tells us about it.
  3. The spiritual damage it causes.
  4. The relational damage it causes.
  5. The personal damage it causes.
  6. Share some hope and help.

Grace - Here’s a topic I think we all need to be taught and reminded of. We speak about grace the same way we do sin. We talk about it in passing. Students need to know what grace is and why it exist. They need to know grace is not just something that we were given, but grace is something we need to extend to others. And it’s hard to give away something that you don’t fully understand. I believe understanding grace is understanding the cross. Sometimes it’s about getting back to the basics.

Mental illness - Only 20 percent of the children living with mental illness have been identified and receiving the healthcare they need. And over 90 percent of adolescents who commit suicide struggle with a mental disorder. We need to be a safe place to talk about topics like this. The goal is to remove the stigma that keeps students from reaching out for help. We must speak about and become educated on this topic.

Identity - This one may be a no-brainer but it has to make the list. When sin came into the world it didn’t just rob us of our relationship with God, it robbed us of our identity in God. Sin tells us we are our wants and desires. Culture has joined in on sins crusade, and the only cure is God’s word spoken boldly concerning who we are and who we belong to. It’s a huge deal that we speak on this topic.

Empathy Vs Sympathy – I believe this generation needs to know the difference between these two motives when it comes to serving. They both cause us to want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but only one really puts you on the right path as you begin to serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Students need to know that the sympathy we feel should move us to empathy. Otherwise our service may do more damage than good. I believe we as believers are called.

Real Love - We take the word love and we apply it to so many things that it looses its true meaning and worth. Students need to understand what this word truly means and how it should be used and applied. Teach about it.

The Church with a capital C – It’s important that our students know that they are not just a part of the local church, but that they are a part of The Church. They need to understand that the Church is bigger than their congregation. The need to know the importance of the Church in the world and who belongs to it, since so many people are claiming to be a part of it. They even need to know the history and the future. Teach about it.

What would you add to this list?


Hope it helps,


Weekend Teaching Series: Hollywood Jesus (series finale, week 3 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Our identity must be in Christ or we will feel alone, fall and believe the lies of the world.
Service Length: 62 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we wrapped up the Hollywood Jesus series – using clips from a movie to help illustrate biblical concepts. This week Travis Prouty spoke in HSM, and chose Muppets in Space as his movie. He used several clips of the movie and weaved a talked about our identity in Christ throughout. My favorite moment was when he talked about how insecure he was growing up as a missionary kid in China and on top of that being home-schooled as a kid. Great vulnerability and helped students easily relate to their own insecurities and identity issues. It was his first time speaking to that many students, and he did a great job.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We played a fun video we made last year called Parker Don’t Shoot and had a great new game using the Nerf Bazooka. Students had to shoot at cup targets around the room and win a gift card. As a surprise bonus, students who sat around the targets (risking getting hit by the bazooka) got to keep the cups at the end of the game and get a free Coke after the service!

Music Playlist: Man ha Man ha Man ha (Muppets cover), The Earth is Yours, Christ in Me, Avalanche, What Would I Have Done

Favorite Moment: For sure this weekend’s highlight (and lowlight, honestly) was saying goodbye to Hope – a bittersweet goodbye to such an incredible part of our team. She served as an intern for the past 2 years and has grown dramatically as a pastor and woman of God. I am SO proud of her – at each service we laid hands on her and prayed for her future as she wraps up her internship.

Up next: Worship Together Weekend #3

Weekend Teaching Series: Thread (summer camp registration kickoff weekend 1-0ff)
Sermon in a Sentence: You are God’s masterpiece.
Text: Psalm 139:13-16
Service Length: 66 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we brought in this summer’s HSM camp speaker to promote this summer’s big event in HSM. We had picked Ron Merrell and were so excited to have him teach what has now become the official registration kickoff weekend. Now, we’ve never done a weekend like this before, and honestly hadn’t heard or seen much from Ron so it was a risk. To some degree, this was going to be a preview of summer camp. It was awesome! Ron is a great communicator and students were introduced to his heart and passion for Christ. Students walked away challenged about their identity in Christ and many were already buzzing about HSM Summer Camp. Mission accomplished, great weekend.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week had some fun on stage with a game of “Let’s Make a Deal” and a cover of a OneRepublic song. We had lots and lots of balloons (goes along with the summer camp theme) and a huge camp signup/info table. Lots of student greeters and energy, especially considering we were coming off the week break from Easter.

Music Playlist: OneRepublic opener, Our God, Divine and Holy, Your Love is Enough

Favorite Moment: I think we just established a new tradition in HSM – the summer camp kickoff weekend. Really inspiring and awesome, proud of the team and excited for our students. The only way it could have been better was if we had the summer calendars to handout, too (my fault, I’m a little behind from vacation still). I spent some of the weekend up in big church doing the announcements and promoting summer camp registration to parents, too.

Up Next: How to Raise Your Parents (series premiere, week 1 of 3) [read the whole series are here]

Weekend Teaching Series: You Own the Weekend: Tesoro HS (week 3 of 5)
Sermon in a Sentence: The world will try to steal our identity, but our true identity is in Jesus Christ.
Service Length: 74 minutes

Understandable Message: This week two students shared the message on identity – how God gives us a new identity in Jesus Christ and how the world is constantly trying to steal that identity away from us and claim us as one of their own. The message was taught by students who had a couple of really engaging elements to their talk. The first was the giant “T” on stage painted in school colors, actually transformed to a cross at the end of the message. They talked about how the point of their teaching was that our true identity was in Christ and the cross, not in what school you attend. It was a great moment in the service! The students also made a little takeaway, where you could put your thumbprint on a business card which had a verse on it and was to be a remidner that we are Christs, our identity is in Him.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Tesoro opened with Hello, Goodbye (Glee Cast version) and students decorated the refinery with all sorts of pictures of Tesoro students. They did a great job of theming the student room, as well as creating shirts and having tons of greeters. They also had a little spoken word piece before and after the message – driving home the concept of identity in Christ. You Own the Weekend is all about students doing everything … and it seems like they did think of most everything. Super cool.

Music Playlist: Yours Forever, One Pure and Holy Passion Work in Us, Burning Ones, Yes You Have

Favorite Moment: The transformed Tesoro logo into a cross became part of the response time during the last couple of songs. Students were asked to come onstage and place their thumbprint on the cross as a symbol of their identity in Him. Everyone of us is unique (thumbprint) but also one in Christ as followers of Him. Great moment and teaching!

Up Next: You Own the Weekend: El Toro HS [week 4 of 5]

Video from Tesoro’s You Own the Weekend services this weekend which focused on our identity in Christ.


I’m super excited for my friend Neely McQueen’s new book, 99 Things Every Girl Should Know, which comes out this week from Group Publishing. You may already read her blog about girl’s ministry at and she will be a guest on tomorrow’s live SYM Podcast undoubtedly talking about her new book. Here’s a little more info on the book and the table of contents:

In her book 99 Things Every Girl Should Know, veteran youth worker Neely McQueen shares a wealth of wisdom on becoming and being a girl who knows that she is valuable, meaningful, and loved. That isn’t the message many girls receive from our culture. We live in a world that says we’re only valuable, meaningful, and loved if we look a certain way, dress a certain way, and behave a certain way. God has a different opinion.

With a little help from her friends, Neely shares thoughts that would have helped her better survive the teenage years. These pages are filled with encouragement, inspiration, and insights that will help the girls in your youth ministry–or other girls in your life–explore their beauty, their worth, and their world.

Table of Contents

  • Being BFFs
  • Shh…It’s a Secret
  • Boys, Boys & More Boys
  • Let’s Talk About Sex–and Pregnancy
  • All in the Family
  • Seasons of Being a Girl
  • The Good News About School
  • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, What’s the Truth About Beauty?
  • The Clothes We Wear
  • TV, Magazines, and Movies…Oh My!
  • Surviving the Digital World
  • Tweets From Friends
  • Hot Topics
  • The War Between Shopping and Saving
  • Just Plain Random
  • The Best Boyfriend Ever
  • Old-School Ladies
  • Women of the World
  • Why Being a Girl Rules
  • One More Thing…


Wonderfully Made from Wonderfully Made on Vimeo.

Thought this was a great video for an identity series, self image, or girl’s event. Good stuff!