Wrapping up our Trinity series this weekend – how could we talk about God the Spirit and not play this little gem? The original Jake Rutenbar brilliance, long before Not Fair or I’ve Seen it All.


Earlier this week, I answered a good question from a new youth worker:

“In the past at camp, the adults and youth directors either permitted or looked away from what I consider hazing. Do you have a list or a standard of what is and is not considered hazing?”

This is great! Through the years, I’ve wrestled with tons of guys . . . a handful of times things spun out of control (sorry @jakerutenbar), but most of the time it’s great ministry. We’ve never had any regular “hazing,” but there’s been plenty of horsing around.

We’ve never had a list or standard, this is something we’ve always handled verbally or “culturally” (new leaders learning through watching and experiencing). After thinking about some conversations I’ve had with some of our leaders (you know who you are), here are some questions that I’d consider to keep things from getting too wild:

1. When it’s all over, will the kid feel more accepted and belonging or rejected and humiliated?

2. When it’s all over, what would the kid’s parents say if they were standing there?

3. Is this something you’d do to your own kid, better yet, how would you feel if someone else did this?

These aren’t perfect questions; and it takes discernment to know the difference between good fun and too far. It’s more my style to outline boundaries and goals rather than come up with a detailed list of do’s and don’ts.

Anything can be circumvented and justified, and it takes leadership to make course corrections along the way. If “hazing”/rough housing is done with a good spirit, if things do get out of hand, it’s much easier to work through an apology and build restoration.

THANKS ADAM for the great question!


Was in Kenya with the newest member of the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast team (Katie Edwards, to replace Jana who is sadly moving away) so Doug Fields, Matt McGill and Jake Rutenbar did the show last week. Enjoy!



Weekend Teaching Series: Step by Step (3-week discipleship series)

Sermon in a Sentence: Studying God’s Word is how God speaks to us, we need to approach it openly and follow its instructions.
Service Length: 80 minutes
Bible: Luke 24:13-35

Understandable Message: This week Jason taught about the experience the two men on the Road to Emmaus had with Jesus. Former summer intern Taylor Ishii also got his first shot at teaching a point of the talk as well – super excited to see him take this big step!

Volunteer/Student Involvement: Students and volunteers were involved in all levels of the weekend – band, greeting, lights, sound, and control room. We still need to concentrate on recruiting more adults for the Saturday night services – I won’t tell you the ratio of student to leader, but it wasn’t pretty!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we kicked off the service with a falling New Year’s ball (made by a volunteer) and an opening cover song from Miley Cyrus – in the background we played the music video where the guy does sign language, too, so great! The energy in the room was great – students obviously loved getting back together the weekend before school was back in session. Packed!

Music Playlist: Party in the USA, His Glory Appears, Came to My Rescue, With Everything

Favorite Moment: Jake Rutenbar did one of his crazy on-stage characters this week – this week he was a special guest that took pop songs (from Taylor Swift and Black-Eyed Peas) and put in lyrics about Bible stories. He was totally brilliant – the story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea to the tune of You Belong With Me was absolutely priceless.

Up Next: Step by Step (week 2 of 3)

Amazing new Christmas music video from our HSM students for our Christmas celebration weekend. Featuring Jake Rutenbar, too!



Weekend Teaching Series: Why I Need Christmas (Week 1 of 2)

Sermon in a Sentence: I need Christmas because I am broken and I need fixing; but it’s been done for me by Jesus coming to earth and dying for my sins.
Service Length: 80 minutes
Bible: Romans 3:23, Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:6-8

Understandable Message: This weekend the action steps for students were to know the cost of our lives and then change our lives accordingly. In the middle of the busyness of the season, we encouraged students to take a moment to look at their current life state and remember the real reasons that they NEED Christmas. Jake Rutenbar filled in for me this weekend, I was enjoying some time off with the family.

Volunteer/Student Involvement: Students made up the band and ran all of the lights, cameras, sound board and control room. Adult volunteers were around to greet and love on students. Student leaders also jumped into to fill some of the gaps for a weekend where a few staff members were away.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Everything was centered on Christmas – the stage was decorated, all the slides and backgrounds were Christmas themed, and we showed a couple of funny Christmas videos. We also played “Who Wants to Be a Fifty-onaire” with Christmas trivia.

Music Playlist: We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Solution, Safe, Tear Down the Walls

Favorite Moment: Robby Boyd, playing host of the game, handed his personal cell phone to a student to “phone an elf” as one of the lifelines. In the middle of the fake phone call, the student handed the phone back and told Robby he had a text message from a friend. It threw Robby off for a bit but he recovered by replying to the text while the student took too long to answer the next question.

Up Next: Why I Need Christmas Week 2

(this report was written by our two killer HSM interns Rebekah and Haley – love them so much!)

One of our fantastic HSM volunteers Parker created FACE, a character that turns our screen into a living breathing person. He was voiced by Jake Rutenbar during the service, and is sure to make a appearance again soon. You can now even control him yourself right now for fun!

Mouse – controls eye movement (click and drag to move)
Q through O – controls the eyes
A through G – controls moving mouths (hold to make mouth move)
Z through B – controls static mouths (hold to make them stay on the screen)
Space Bar – controls talking mouth (hold to talk)



Weekend Teaching Series: Happy: Week 1
Sermon Title: Step One: Realizing I am not God
Sermon in a Sentence: A study of recovery and hope from the beautitudes.
Service Length: 78 minutes
Bible: Matthew 5:3 (NCV)

Understandable Message: Doug Fields kicked off the new series this weekend in HSM. The entire church is doing this study – Life’s Healing Choices its called in big church and Happy in HSM and Wildside (jr high). He covered the first step in happiness, which is realizing that you are not in control but that God is. Doug used a couple of powerful illustrations to help our students think about the path they had planned for their lives, and presented them with the opportunity to follow God’s path. He kept things interesting a clip from Shark Tank, and a fantastic story of one of our high school students from a local high school.

Volunteer/Student Involvement: This was choir weekend which we do about once a month, so we had students everywhere and the energy was fantastic. Students sang and played in the band, and also made up the greeters, cleanup/setup and even helped me host an opening game. Students also manned lights, sound, cameras – and for the first time ever – completely ran all of the positions in video control room and computers, too. TONS of students involved!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had some fun with a little character called FACE, an animated smiley face that we could have do all sorts of funny expressions and voiced totally improv by Jake Rutenbar. We also had a fun game up front – a Search and Seizure game that turned into Let’s Make a Deal – all in keeping with the theme where the winner would become ‘very happy.’ Lots of fun, and epic music rounded out a solid weekend. Download the program sheet here.

Music Playlist: Sweet Home Alabama (during countdown), Yours Forever, Your Name High, Song of the Broken, Hold Me Now, Your Name High (reprise)

Favorite Moment: Doug used an illustration about playing in the dirt vs playing at Disneyland that has really stuck with me (and I hope our students this week). Really clear illustration of what we think is happiness, but God opening the gates to His kingdom to us when we follow His ways.

Up Next: Happy, week 2