I was incredibly blessed this week to be invited to one of our Life Group’s very last meetings as graduating seniors. They have been together 8 years as a group (so from 4th grade on!) and called themselves the Band of Brothers. On this final meeting the leader bought each of his guys a special ring to symbolize their years together and to commemorate their journey apart in the days ahead. He had invited all of the parents and myself to the ceremony and celebration. They all shared a ton of memories – it was one of the coolest finishes I’ve ever seen to a high school small group.

At the end of the afternoon, the boys and their parents gave Kevin an award as well. It was awesome – we circled up and prayed over them as a group, commissioning them as they head to schools all across the country. At the end a couple of the guys got baptized, too. It was a GREAT reminder of how important and how powerful Christian community can be. Way to go, Kevin!

Oh, and if you’ve ever read the book Doug Fields and I wrote, 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders – there’s a story near the end that involves Hooters, leadership and how to gain trust back with parents. This was that group! Amazing how God has shaped all of these guys, their leader and undoubtedly how He will use them all in the future as well.

JG

Senior Weekend was incredible with seniors owing the weekend – speaking, sharing their testimony, videos, decorations, theme – a strong ending to an incredible 4 years in HSM. Here’s one of the students who shared – Melissa Minkovsky did a great job of walking students through her past, present and future. Love it!

JG



One of our incredible Life Group Leaders put together a final few week of small group with his guys that was truly incredible. First, he wrote 24 Thoughts for Graduating Seniors – a final hit list of things he wanted them to know as a man and as someone who was finished with High School.

Beyond that, he planned a parent beach bonfire night where dads wrote letters to their sons that was incredible powerful as well. Terry is a great leader and after seeing his notes I asked if I could share them here on the blog – felt like it would be a win for others to read and maybe something other small group leaders could rip-off or adapt for their guys as well.

19) Enjoy Everything in MODERATION!!!  There can be too much of a good thing!

20) When you SIN / Fall Away – Confess your sin to God – He ALWAYS forgives

Prodigal Son Story – “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. -Luke 15:11-32

21) Work hard at a job you love

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

God gives the birds their food, but He doesn’t throw it into their nests.

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. -Colossians 3:17

22) Family first

I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.

Nothing can ever take you away from being part of your family.  Love them and care for them – There is no replacement.

23) Change will happen

The key to change… is to let go of fear.

Don’t Forget to INCLUDE God in the change process

This is an excerpt from a letter sent to President Jackson in 1829.  As you may know, Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed. Martin Van Buren Governor of New York

Don’t be afraid of change – Embrace it and learn through it.  It can be very exciting, it can be very challenging, but change is going to happen.

24) Live Life to it’s fullest

God came to give us a rich and satisfying life.  He has given you everything you need to make the most of your life.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. -John 10:10

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once told of an incident that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow’s flight, and then young Frank’s tracks meandering all over the field.  “Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again,” his uncle said. “And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that.” Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life.  “I determined right then,” he’d say with a twinkle in his eye, “not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had.”

In Everything Be A LEADER: Don’t let Fear get in the way

The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.

Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.

The world needs leaders. who cannot be bought;

whose word is their promise; who puts character above wealth;

who possess opinions and a will; who are larger than their vocations;

who do not hesitate to take chances; who will not lose their individuality in a crowd;

who will be honest in small things as well as in great things; who will make no compromise with wrong;

whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires; who will not say they do it “because everybody else does it”;

who are true to their friends through good and bad , in adversity as well as in prosperity;

who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning, and hardheadedness are the best qualities for winning success;

who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth when it is unpopular, who can say no with emphasis, although the rest of the world says yes.

JG


One of our incredible Life Group Leaders put together a final few week of small group with his guys that was truly incredible. First, he wrote 24 Thoughts for Graduating Seniors – a final hit list of things he wanted them to know as a man and as someone who was finished with High School.

Beyond that, he planned a parent beach bonfire night where dads wrote letters to their sons that was incredible powerful as well. Terry is a great leader and after seeing his notes I asked if I could share them here on the blog – felt like it would be a win for others to read and maybe something other small group leaders could rip-off or adapt for their guys as well:

13) Be Yourself

It is so easy to leave home, be in a new place and you try to be someone you are not.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  16 You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out  before a single day had passed. -Psalm 139:13-16

14) Be Humble – Put others first

He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. -Psalm 25:9

The LORD supports the humble, but he brings the wicked down into the dust. -Psalm 147:6

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. -Ephesians 4:2

15) Be Truthful & Stay Close to Truth Tellers

Integrity is noticed by everyone – it will set you apart

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. -John 8:32

Truth provides freedom, Lies keep you from being free. Make sure you find one or two Friends who will be honest with you.  Find a small group or some way to stay connected to God.  You need to have truth put into your life on a regular basis or you will forget about it.  You need someone to help you stay accountable.

16) Stay Positive/Find something good in ALL situations

Only YOU control your Reactions! What’s your Attitude?

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts…. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.

17) Rest – Take care of yourself

What fills your tanks?  Make time for that activity

The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows;  he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths,  bringing honor to his name.  4 Even when I walk  through the darkest valley,  I will not be afraid,  for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff  protect and comfort me. 5 You prepare a feast for me   in the presence of my enemies.  You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings.  6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me  all the days of my life,   and I will live in the house of the LORD  forever. -Psalm 23

18) Don’t let ANGER destroy you – Replace it with Laughter.

Control your temper

And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil. -Ephesians 4:26-27

When Abraham Lincoln had to write a letter to someone who had irritated him, he would often write two letters. The first letter was deliberately insulting. Then, having gotten those feelings out of his system, he would tear it up and write a second letter, this one tactful and discreet.

Don’t send the first TEXT MESSAGE when you are angry – DELETE IT and then write a second one to send!!!

Don’t forget about LAUGHTER!!!  It will do very positive things it your life!

JG



One of our incredible Life Group Leaders put together a final few week of small group with his guys that was truly incredible. First, he wrote 24 Thoughts for Graduating Seniors – a final hit list of things he wanted them to know as a man and as someone who was finished with High School.

Beyond that, he planned a parent beach bonfire night where dads wrote letters to their sons that was incredible powerful as well. Terry is a great leader and after seeing his notes I asked if I could share them here on the blog – felt like it would be a win for others to read and maybe something other small group leaders could rip-off or adapt for their guys as well. Here’s a link to part 1, and part 2 below:

7.) Treat others like you want to be treated

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. -John 15:12

8.) Friends are a BIG deal

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he hath not another to help him up.

One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. -Proverbs 12:26

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. -Proverbs 13:20

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” -1 Corinthians 15:33

9.) The next few choices and decisions are a BIG deal

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.

We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. -Proverbs 16

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11

PRAY – PRAY – PRAY – LISTEN – LISTEN – LISTEN – SEEK OTHERS

10.) When you fall – get back up

“Even if good people fall seven times, they will get back up. But when trouble strikes the wicked, that’s the end of them.” -Proverbs 24:16

Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up. IBM Story of leader who lost $3,000,000

When Thomas Edison was interviewed by a young reporter who boldly asked Mr. Edison if he felt like a failure and if he thought he should just give up by now. Perplexed, Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” And shortly after that, and over 10,000 attempts, Edison invented the light bulb.

11.) Take time to review and look forward every New Year

  • Set Your Priorities
  • Set Some Goals
  • ALWAYS have something to accomplish

12.) Remember it is good to celebrate

Find things to celebrate.  Little things, big things.

JG

One of our incredible Life Group Leaders put together a final few week of small group with his guys that was truly incredible. First, he wrote 24 Thoughts for Graduating Seniors – a final hit list of things he wanted them to know as a man and as someone who was finished with High School.

Beyond that, he planned a parent beach bonfire night where dads wrote letters to their sons that was incredible powerful as well. Terry is a great leader and after seeing his notes I asked if I could share them here on the blog – felt like it would be a win for others to read and maybe something other small group leaders could rip-off or adapt for their guys as well. Here’s part 1:

24 things I want to leave you with!!

In less then 100 days most of you will be out of your house!!!  Life is going to change… no more curfew, no more “asking if you can do something.” You can eat all of the cookies you want for breakfast and will have a greater amount of freedom then you have ever had.  How are you going to handle it? Here are 24 things I want you to know as you leave the house, your family and our Life Group:

1) The BIBLE is filled with wisdom for living

This book will keep you from Sin or SIN will keep you from this book. God wrote down his plan for our lives.  All you need to do is READ IT (and then Apply it).

2) Be careful out there
There was once an elderly gentleman who loved playing golf. But he was almost eighty, and his vision was not very good anymore. He always had partners with him when he went out to play so they could watch his ball and tell him where it went. One day his buddies did not show up. It was a beautiful day for golf, and as he waited at the clubhouse he got more and more upset that he wasn’t going to get to play his round. Another elderly man in the clubhouse saw him and asked, “What’s wrong?” The man explained his predicament: “I was really looking forward to playing golf today. But I don’t see very well anymore, so I need someone to watch the ball after I hit.” The second man was even older than he was, but he said, “That’s no problem. I’ll be glad to ride around with you. I’ve got 20/20 vision. I can see like a hawk. You just hit the ball, and I’ll watch it fly right down the fairway.” So they went out on the first tee, and the old man hit the ball right down the center. He turned to his spotter. “Did you see it?” The man replied, “I saw it all the way until it stopped rolling.” “Well, where did it go?” The older man paused for a moment and then said, “I forgot.”

Having 20/20 vision does not always mean you can find what you are looking for!

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. -Matthew 10:16

3) Money is the base of the problem for lots of people

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like. Bible’s guide: 10/10/80.  Save 10%, Give 10%, Spend 80%

Whoever loves money never has enough money; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. -Ecclesiastes 5:10

For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry of facing either plenty of poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me. -Philippians 4:11-13

4) Always be a learner

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. NEVER STOP LEARNING.

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. -Proverbs 1:5

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. -Proverbs 18:15

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. -II Timothy 3:16

5) Step up and take some risks

A man would do nothing, if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done. Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.

Parable of the Talents

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. — Matthew 25:29, NLT

When Jean-Claude Killy made the French national ski team in the early 1960s, he was prepared to work harder than anyone else to be the best. At the crack of dawn he would run up the slopes with his skis on, an unbelievably grueling activity. In the evening he would lift weights, run sprints–anything to get an edge. But the other team members were working as hard and long as he was. He realized instinctively that simply training harder would never be enough. Killy then began challenging the basic theories of racing technique.

Each week he would try something different to see if he could find a better, faster way down the mountain. His experiments resulted in a new style that was almost exactly opposite the accepted technique of the time. It involved skiing with his legs apart (not together) for better balance and sitting back (not forward) on the skis when he came to a turn. He also used ski poles in an unorthodox way–to propel himself as he skied. The explosive new style helped cut Killy’s racing times dramatically. In 1966 and 1967 he captured virtually every major skiing trophy. The next year he won three gold medals in the Winter Olympics, a record in ski racing that has never been topped. Killy learned an important secret shared by many creative people: innovations don’t require genius, just a willingness to question the way things have always been done.

6) Always treat women well

Never miss an opportunity to tell them they’re beautiful.  Treat them like God’s Daughters!!!

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. -Ephesians 5:22-33

JG



Had an incredible night tonight with our HSM Life Groups – here’s the hit list from our senior dinner this year:

  • The event was run almost completely by volunteers
  • Scrolling pictures of Life Groups (from all 4 years)
  • Great food, and plenty of it
  • Slips of paper to write affirmations on and put in an “affirm-mason” jar (groan! hahaha)
  • Student ministries challenge
  • Youth leader challenge
  • Sophomore in college challenge
  • We gave everyone the book “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman as a senior gift
  • Prayer for the leader of the group – circle up and pray around her/him
  • A final prayer from the leader to his/her group

The night was so incredible! Excited to potentially make this a new annual rite of passage.

JG

From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog for YOU to answer. What advice would you give this youth pastor who is asking about a good problem – but still definitely a problem. Was hoping you could weigh in with your thoughts, too. Weigh in!

We have a few groups that are growing to the point where it is unsustainable for the two leaders that are already in place.  I’m looking for thoughts on what others would do in a similar circumstance.  Splitting the group is one thing we DON’T want to do.  Do we just add more leaders to the existing group?  Add a new group with no one in it and only add new students there?  I was just curious if you had any thoughts and if this was something anyone else is struggling with?

How would you answer her?

JG