Investing into the relationships that you have with your local high schools can be a total game changer for your ministry. To continue building our relationships, we are sending Christmas gifts to some of our local high schools. While we would love to give a gift to each member of the faculty, our budget only allows us to give a couple per school. This year, we decided to send gifts to the principals (because they run the school) and the ASB directors (because they put on the campus events).

To each person, we’re sending:

  • A Starbucks Card
  • Card with our Christmas service times on it
  • Handwritten note (communicating the three points listed below)
  • Contact information

Our gift isn’t extravagant, but I believe that the Lord can use it in huge ways. My prayer is that the recipient will know three things from getting our gift. I pray that they know:

We are thankful. I want them to know that our church is deeply thankful for what they do. I want to celebrate their passion for seeing students grow and develop. We know how hard it can be to work with high schoolers and how rarely words of appreciation are heard, so I want them to stay encouraged and know that we see what they do.

We are here. I want our schools to know that our church is here to serve in any way that we can. If they have a wall that needs to be painted, we want to paint it. If they are putting on a canned food drive, we want to promote it. If something happens to a student, staff member, or the school as a whole, we want to pray for them.

We care. I want them to know that we love their school and that we love them as an individual. This is huge for those that aren’t Christians. To them, our ministry isn’t representing just our church, but the Church as a whole. Every letter, phone call, service project, and cookie plate is a chance to reflect Christ’s love. Investing in these relationships can mean investing in incredible evangelism opportunities.

What is your ministry doing for your schools this Christmas?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Director at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.

As some of you know, this Wednesday was the annual event, See You at the Pole. SYATP (See You at the Pole) is a national day of prayer, where students come to school early to pray and worship together at their flagpole. Our ministry made a huge push for it this year and it turned out to be a huge win! I would promote SYATP to any youth group and here are a few reasons why:

-Unification. This event is geared towards uniting the Body of Christ at a school. One of the responsibilities of the student leader in charge of SYATP is to promote this event to all of the Christian clubs and organizations at the school. I think that when there are more than one Christian club at a school, there can be a rivalry that develops, but events like these, if done right, shatters this and helps them realize that they both have the same goal, to be a light and serve at their school. It is also fun to go and meet and build relationships with students and youth pastors from the area… you can never have too many friends!

-Long Term Results. While SYATP is a totally awesome program, it is only once a year. What we wanted to see happen was a fire sparked in the campus’ heart. We wanted this to inspire the Body at their school to love and serve their school in a way that they haven’t before. What was cool was seeing students posting their ideas on how to keep things like this going. There have already been talks of a campus prayer walk at one of our schools!

-Leadership Experience. SYATP is a completely student lead activity, which I LOVE. The cool thing is that the SYATP website (syatp.com) sets students up for success. It has a checklist of all of the things you need to do/think about when you are planning the event at your school. One of the cool things about this event is that it is a success/fail opportunity. One key element of growing leaders is giving them the freedom to fail. As their pastor, we are willing to help if they ask, but we can’t waste these unique opportunities to build up leaders. Failure doesn’t always mean the event is a complete disaster; failure can look like weak programming, bad promotion, poor team communication, etc. We just need to be there to help them learn from their mistakes so that the experience wasn’t in vain.

I am a huge believer in See You at the Pole and I hope that it is something that you at least look into for the schools in your area! Do you have a story from a See You at the Pole event?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.



The start of the new school year has meant that the process of reintroducing myself to our local high school’s Administrators has begun as I re-explain my motives and purpose for visiting the high schools. It is a lot of work, but the fruit that comes of it is immeasurable. Here are 3 reasons why we do it.

Encouragement & Support: Showing up at a high school, walking down the hallway and remembering a students name is a powerful thing to them. You are telling them that they matter. They might be having a bad day, but you arriving on their turf, just to visit, can provide a huge boost. Pulling them aside and praying for them or just being interested in what is happening says a lot to a student that feels invisible in a school of 2000+ people (this is assuming that every youth goes to a school of 2000+). Talk about being like Christ, showing up where people are at, in their school. It’s really enjoyable to see students in “their natural environment”

Connection: Showing up in the school gives me face time with students I would likely never have the opportunity to spend time with, and for a student that has not shown up at our program for a few weeks, it might be an opportunity to reconnect, check in, and find out what is going on. Perhaps there is something they need prayer about. Just this week, I went to a local school to meet up with a student that was struggling to transition into High School I met up with her and happened to bump into another student (God moment) who just moved here and was in the same boat. We hung out, ate lunch, they swapped numbers, and the rest, well, we’ll see…..

Conversation Catalyst: We do not hand anything out while visiting school, nor do we invite anyone to our youth group because that is not my role. My absolute favorite bi-product of visiting the high schools is that I will often meet groups of two or three of our students and inevitably one or two of their friends who are not connected to the Church. We shoot the breeze, talk about their weeks, how school is going etc., give them a high five, and that’s it. But what happens after is incredible, because afterwards I often here, these words.

“Who was that?”

“Oh, that’s my Youth Pastor, Geoff”

“Youth Pastor? You go to church?”

“Yeah, I do……..

I don’t always know where those conversations go, if they end quickly or carry on, but I do know that many friends of students that I met have started attending our youth group, gotten connected, and given their lives to Christ.

Visiting the high schools can be time consuming, and for some really intimidating, but what an encouragement we can be to students, and from what I have seen even help important conversations about God happen, just by being there. Make time for it. It’s incredibly important to be in the schools if they are willing to let us in.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.