This is Church Video

 —  December 7, 2011 — 4 Comments

Pastor Rick used this video in his message in our adults services this weekend. Looks like an organization called Get Out The Box made it, good message!


When Kurt and I came up with the idea of sharing a couple books that influenced us the most in ministry my mind immediately thought of a dozen books that have significantly shaped me as a youth worker. Without a doubt I am a better leader, husband, parent and youth pastor because of the influence of incredible men and women who have shared their hearts, learnings and failures with me over the past 15 years.

As for the Top 2 … well, these are the best of the best. If you haven’t read them, I can’t encourage you enough to pick them up and let the authors pour into you like they did me. Here’s the 2 most influential in my life personally, and a list of runners up you may also want to check out:

The Heart of a Pastor — HB London
I remember reading this book while I was serving in my first church. Ministry then was a series of extremes. It was extremely rewarding and I had a front-row seat to life change for the very first time as a pastor. And was extremely challenging and difficult to figure out how to do youth ministry for the first time. If it wasn’t for a grace-filled pastor and elders I would have (and possibly should have) been long gone. I read this book and one particular phrase continued to stand out to me as a stark reminder of my calling: bloom where you are planted. No excuses, no wandering eyes, no wishing you were somewhere else — God has called you HERE so until you hear from Him, act like it. So I did. Fantastic book.

Purpose Driven Youth Ministry — Doug Fields
This book came at another crucial time in my youth ministry experience. My wife and I had actually resigned our youth ministry position and were finishing up the summer out before leaving “to go to seminary” — translation: we wanted out, and this was the nice way of saying goodbye. During our final months I happened to stumble on Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren and eventually this, Doug Fields’ student ministry version of the book. As I devoured the pages, it felt like what he was saying was what I had always felt — even intrinsically know — about how church could be. We went back to our church that summer and God blessed us with 4 more incredible years at that same church we had resigned from, and the student ministry became something really special. This book played an eye-opening role in my journey to become a real youth pastor. An absolute must-read.

First Two Years in Youth Ministry by Doug Fields
Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries
Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn
Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll
Bringing Up Boys — James Dobson
Handbook on Counseling Youth — Josh McDowell

What books have shaped you? I’d like to read them next!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

This summer we’ve been hosting a midweek Bible study in the Refinery on Wednesday nights called Midweek. It’s been incredible! We lucked out with having Pastor Rick speak on the opening night, which was great, and the last few weeks we’ve had very different voices from a bunch of different places. The picture above is of Debbie Eaton, the director of Women’s Ministry at Saddleback. It was a huge change up for us, but I heard from both students and leaders how great it was!

Here’s why I think it is important – students (us, too, for that matter) get used to the same voice and it starts to lose impact. Familiar speakers get in ruts, and even the best communicators get better with a little margin. Change it up this week and give someone with a new voice a chance, it has been incredible for us this summer!


This is BIG for us – Pastor Rick is teaching our first HSM Summer Midweek! So incredible! Here’s a little video he made for us to promote it this weekend. Beyond excited!


Here’s a new event coming from Rick Warren and Saddleback Church late summer 2011. If you’re from not too far away, come hang out!

An Annual Gathering of College Students and Young Adults

Join us as local college ministries from churches all over Southern California unite for a unique three-day outdoor festival experience. Camp at our beautiful Rancho Capistrano campus and experience the heart of God through the arts, music, workshops, serving, and prayer experiences. As one body, our desire for this weekend is to see a generation of hearts be mobilized by God’s power to do something about the millions in our country and around the world that suffer because of spiritual emptiness, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, corrupt leaders and a lack of education. Join Pastor Rick Warren, worship artist Phil Wickham, and additional speakers (Pete Wilson) and artists (Josh Fox) as our generation rises up to take their place and respond to God’s call to love those who the world has forgotten.

For more details or registration information on the Radicalis Festival, email


Pastor Rick Warren talks with John Piper about The Purpose Driven Life. Good stuff, if you’re into that sort of thing.


I know that I can be a jealous person. Because of that, I have to resist the temptation to feel hurt when one of my students doesn’t come directly tome. At times, I know I set up a wall around my “territory” of students, not wanting to allow anyone else in to help them. They have to get through that wall to get to my students, and I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure they don’t get through the wall. My students are mine. Your students are yours.

That’s when I remember Rick Warren’s famous line, “It’s not about you.” Do we really want to see the student get the advice and help they need, or are we more concerned with our own pride and desire to be the hero that solved the problem? Our goal should be that a student gets the best help possible, and sometimes that doesn’t come from me. Isaiah 5:21 says, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” If we keep on thinking we can fix all the problems, we’ll soon find out we’re not as wise as we thought.

I have to ask myself, “That student feels a bond of trust in the leader he went to, so am I doing everything I can to build up the same level of trust in that student?” The first thing I need to do is realize that we’re all shaped individually to handle different situations. If I know that someone else is better equipped to handle a specific issue, I should be more than willing to send my student their way. We all have been through different fires and come out with a better understanding of how to face the problem. Who better to help a student with a drinking or drug problem than a former alcoholic or drug addict? They know how hard it is to get to the other side, and they can help a student way better than someone who hasn’t had the same experience. We can’t let our pride get in the way when someone better equipped to deal with a problem is called upon. In fact, why not store that in our Rolodex of the mind, so that next time I know who to refer a future student to when they’re dealing with drugs or alcohol? If a student comes to you knowing you’ve been through something like that, it’s also important to make sure their leader knows what they’re going through. It’s great that you can share your past pain or hurt, but their leader needs to know what their student is struggling with as well.

Last week I was faced with this exact issue, but I was the one “trespassing” on another leader’s turf. One of my former students had turned to me in a time of need, but not necessarily because I was better equipped for the situation. I think in this case, he felt comfortable with me as one of his leaders, and he was too ashamed of what he did to talk to his current leader. When it happened, I did my best to counsel him and make sure the situation was taken care of, but I did make sure to refer him back to his leader and make sure to fill him in on everything. Here’s the bottom line: don’t build a “kingdom” in your youth ministry. Know that you have weaknesses and that other people are way better equipped for some things than you are. With God’s help and some discernment, you can turn your youth group from an island into an alliance.

Are you doing everything you can to team up with other youth workers for the benefit of your students?

Matt Reynolds and Steven Orel are volunteer youth workers at Saddleback Church. They approach youth ministry from two different generations and perspectives. Look for lots more from them in the future — for now you canfollow them on Twitter and check out their previous blog posts here.

During staff meeting today Pastor Rick asked us to make some changes to our student ministry teaching calendar – namely to drop in a 3-week series about parents. He is going to do a series in the adult services called “How to Raise Your Kids” and asked us to do a “How to Raise Your Parents” series at the same time. Should be fun!

Here’s how the rest of our High School Ministry (HSM) teaching calendar shaped up for this Spring:

You Own the Weekend: El Toro
You Own the Weekend: Capo

You Own the Weekend Celebration
Jesus: His Life
Jesus: His Last Days

Camp Weekend
How to Raise Your Parents (all-church series)
How to Raise Your Parents
How to Raise Your Parents

Senior Weekend
Promotion Weekend