Weekend Teaching Series: liveSTRONG (series premiere, week 1 of 4)
Sermon in a Sentence: This first week of the series focused on Paul’s mission to live Christ above everything else.

Understandable Message: I was gone this weekend! So I’m writing this based on what was planned to happen since I didn’t make it to any of the services. Phil Chenery stepped in to speak this weekend, and taught Philippians 1 expositionally. You can read the series arc right here as well. The big idea was that Paul wanted to honor Jesus and did that by putting his interests above his own desires.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we were stripped down to a pretty classic format – music, fun announcements and message. Really straightforward, but totally solid.

Music Playlist: We Shine, Cannons, Savior of the World, The Stand

Favorite Moment: My favorite moment was being able to trust our team to be gone for the weekend. Nothing is better than hearing amazing things that happened without you there. Means you’ve got some incredibly capable people on board, and we sure do.

Up Next: liveSTRONG (week 2 of 4)

Weekend Teaching Series: Promotion Weekend (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence:
What I wish I knew in High School.
Service Length: 75 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend the message was taught by all of the HSM Staff. Each of us got on stage and did a short introduction of ourselves and what we did on the team, then taught a single point about what we wish we knew in High School. Subjects ranged from identity, friends, evengelism, purity, the importance of Scripture, etc. It flowed surprisingly well having different personalities on stage – made me happy that our team is so diverse in every way. God uses a ton of different people to come together to minister to all types of students. Awesome.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The weekend had a strong element of fun and lots of student involvment. We had a fun bit up front called “The Freshman Olympics” and played a couple of fun games up front with the incoming 9th graders versus the seniors. We also had a great video-that-turned-into-a-live-performance rap that helped promote summer camp. Lots of students involved greeting, hosting the game, singing and band. Even had a freshman lead one of the songs. Go Brad!

Music Playlist: Summer Camp is Going Down (opener), Rise and Sing, You’ll Come, Holy Holy Holy

Favorite Moment: I love that we can go from a hilarious opener to a powerful worship song at the end with lots of great content inbetween. For sure the highlight has to go to seeing all of the potential of these incredible freshman entering youth group. Pumped.

Up Next: 11 vs. the World (series premiere, week 1 of 2)

One of the most frequent questions we got after youth workers saw our Summer Camp 2010 highlight video was about black light dodgeball. If you’re curious to know what we used, how it worked and how you can do one, too – Phil recently updated his blog with the details. It was SO much fun!


Weekend Teaching Series: I <3 Xmas (series finale, week 2 of 2)
Sermon in a Sentence: Christmas is a time of salvation – the manger was the beginning of a story of new beginnings.
Service Length: 87 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend Phil finished off our Christmas series – we’re not having youth services this Christmas/New Years so this was our last service of 2010. Phil brought some great Christmas humor wrapped up in the best Christmas present of all – salvation through Jesus Christ. It was another great week of Christmas fun, warmth and focusing on the real message of Christmas.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We opened up with the epic killball video as countdown filler this week, and had an acapella quartet from one of the local high schools do a sweet Christmas opener. Csnap and Asizzle worked hard on a Christmas rap music video about Santa’s health and we played a quick round of Let’s Make a Christmas Deal. Lots of holiday fun, lots of student greeters, fun Christmas decorations and the return of our digital fireplace (flatscreen with a looping yule log in a fireplace frame one of our volunteers whipped up like magic).

Music Playlist: Christmas Acapella Quartet opener, Silent Night, o Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to the World, With Everything

Favorite Moment: It was awesome to sit in the balcony for one of the services (I didn’t have any responsibilities on stage, yeah!) so it was awesome just to soak in the whole scene. Great students, inviting their friends, and the clear plan of salvation being shared at Christmas. Love it!

Up Next: HSM is taking off the next 2 weekends to celebrate Christmas and New Years as a whole church family.

Weekend Teaching Series: I <3 Xmas
Sermon in a Sentence: Christmas is a time of celebration that God is with us. Immanuel.
Service Length: 80 minutes

Understandable Message: This week Phil Chenery taught the opening weekend of our 2-week Christmas series. He is from England, so explained a ton of the differences between our Christmas cultures, and how different it is celebrating it in the US. He transitioned to talk about the real meaning of Christmas, focusing on the celebrations of Christmas. It was a great message, with some great fun elements as well. One of the best moments was Phil reading the Christmas story, and a volunteer built us a “digital fireplace” – a flat screen with a fireplace video on a loop playing on a flat screen. Super cool.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we used the Spin the Wheel game and decked out all of the prizes for Christmas. One of the prizes was “meet an elf” and we had one of our interns come out and angrily shake hands with the player than promptly leave. Dry humor there, everyone loved it. At one service, the prize was “egg nog” and she came out and tossed a carton of egg nog on the stage toward the contestant … and it exploded all over the stage. Hilarious! And I’m sure it’ll smell pretty rough this weekend … hahahhaa.

Music Playlist: Drummer Boy, sorry I forgot the rest.

Favorite Moment: A student shared his testimony in the middle of Phil’s talk – Kevin did a great job and his story was amazing. God is truly working in the lives of our students. Excited about this next weekend, it will be the last HSM of 2010!

Up Next: I <3 Xmas (series finale, week 2 of 2)

Weekend Teaching Series: 2020: The Future is Now (week 4 of 6)
Sermon in a Sentence: Our health is critically important for our future – physical health is good, spiritual health is most important.
Service Length: 71 minutes

Understandable Message: This week Phil Chenery jumped in and did the message (our guest speaker canceled) talking about spiritual and physical health. He took it from the perspective of an athlete, and not being super athletic himself he had lots of great bits and humor helping students see the importance of health in the march toward their future.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The weekend opened up with an OK-go treadmill extravaganza of “Here We Go Again” that was really fun. The band played it live and then we had students do a routine on 4 treadmills on stage. It was super cool, then the treadmills played the part of set design during the talk about health, exercise and spiritual determination. We also had a fun video called “Buffets Gone Wild” and played a couple of the always crowd-pleasing Matt McGill Sports Instructional videos.

Music Playlist: Here We Go Again [OK-go cover], Your name on high, How He Loves, Breathe On Me

Favorite Moment: The OK-go treadmill opener was really, really fun. Took lots of work, but had a fun payoff in the program.

Up Next: 2020 — The Future is Now: week 5 (Doug Fields speaking)

Was going to post about this weekend’s Life Group Retreat, but was happy to read more insight than I would have offered over on Phil’s blog. The idea for the retreat was a concentrated relational time with students and their Life Group leader. We had students from all classes present, but new groups and freshman/sophomore groups were the most likely to participate. My pitch to leaders was that while the event was optional, it would give them 24 hours with their students in one weekend, something they would be hard-pressed to do in a semester of group meetings. Here’s some of the insights on doing something similar, head there for lots more thoughts and logistics:

1. If we do it again I would rename it “Life Group Overnighter” or “Life Group Hangout” or something that gives a better indication of the low-key nature of the event and doesn’t encroach upon our programmed events (like Winter Camp and Summer Camp)

2. It is worth shopping around for hotels and a personal visit will help.

3. Check if the hotel has a rewards program.

4. When you submit the room list, request that girls and guys are on different floors.

5. As trip leader arrive hours earlier than the students/leaders, you will have to reorganize a few rooms around and fix a few errors.

6. Be proactive. I usually check with the front desk during the evening/night to see of there have been any problems. This gives a good impression and helps you head off any potential problems early.

7. Keep the programmed part of the event short. We met together and played a quiz that gave everyone the chance to in something for their group (ranging from a giant bag of popcorn to a deck of cards). Students will be hyped up to stay in a hotel so anything more than that will be tough. It’s just a chance to check everyone is ok.


Phil is back again this week with great learnings about how to budget for an upcoming youth event like summer camp, a retreat or help pull off a student leadership conference. Reading over the list, I can assure you these are born straight out of some experiences in the past year – it’d do you well to look it over to help you develop skills with numbers. Here’s a few of them, worth the trip to get the rest:

11. Think about whether you need to make a scouting trip before the event. You may need to factor in money for this as well.

12. Do your research. If you are thinking about providing a “takeaway” at your event (perhaps a water bottle or wristband with the theme Bible verse printed on it) then figure out a realistic cost, don’t just guess.

13. Look for fixed cost items (rather than costs related to group size). If you can find items or activities that are a fixed cost this will help you as once you reach your target number, additional registrants will be bonus.

14. Factor in leader/volunteer cost. If you cover the cost of volunteers at your event, make sure you factor that in early.

15. A large event needs a buffer of 5-10% of the total budget. This will hurt to add but it will hurt you more if you don’t. If it’s the first time you’ve run this event or the first time at a new venue make your buffer ~10%, if you’ve done it before you might get away with ~5%.