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That’s right, I said it. There are actually tons of perks those of us fortunate enough to work primarily with young teens enjoy that the rest of the youth ministry nation doesn’t. For example:

- Parents are somewhat interested in what we are teaching on Sunday, where we are going to camp, and what movie we are showing at the lock-in. Yep, that’s actually a perk.

- Most of the stuff you teach is brand new to them! For the rest of their lives when they hear old, worn out, illustrations and stories they’ll think to themselves, “Hey, this dude stole my junior high pastor’s story!”

- Their enthusiasm and energy. I know it drives you crazy sometimes (errrr, most of the time), but the fact that junior highers are almost always “all in” is a wonderful thing.

- They almost always look back at their time in the junior high ministry favorably. For some reason, the further removed from the ministry they get…the better the junior high ministry was!

- You get to cherry pick high school and college age volunteers who already understand your ministry and want to follow your leadership because they spent two or three years in it themselves.

- Junior highers say really funny/awkward stuff:
“Rachel, our van stopped on the way to the girls trip to feed a Hobo.”
“Kurt, your nose is big! But that’s cool ‘cuz there’s lots of great smells out there.”

- You are viewed as a Martyr in your church. Sure, many of the adults in your congregation don’t understand why you do what you do, or what you actually do…but they LOVE that you are the one doing it, not them!

- You get paid piles of cash! Ummm….scratch that one.

Add your favorite “perk” of working with junior highers in the comments!

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Weekend Teaching Series: Workshop Weekend (1-off)

Sermon in a Sentence: This weekend we had 4 messages – students got to choose which one they would hear.

Understandable Message: This weekend we had a couple videos and a couple songs, then divided up the students into1 of 4 workshops for them to hear about a topic they chose for the weekend:

1. The Comparison Trap: A workshop about the dangers of comparing yourself to your siblings, classmates, celebrities, etc. Learning about how to appreciate who God created you to be. Even showed the Dove video.

2. Modern Day Compassion: Learning to have compassion on other people because everyone has a story. Everyone has their own struggles. They went through Bible stories of compassion and learned how to compare them to everyday life.

3. Judging: Good or Bad? We all have heard about judging being wrong. It can be hard to live out. So they took an in-depth look at what the Bible says about it. Learn how and why God calls us to stay away from judging.

4. Self: Compassion: Learning how to let go of what you’re holding onto. God has forgiven you, and you should forgive yourself as well. The workshop helped students understand God’s love better through teaching them about God’s compassion for us. It is hard to have compassion on others if we can’t have compassion on ourselves.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Didn’t have much in this department this week – pretty straightforward service for sake of time. Good stuff!

Music Playlist:  Holy Moment, Like an Avalanche, All I Am

Favorite Moment: Seeing students and leaders team-teach the workshops was SO cool. LOVED this idea. It isn’t sexy or flashy like some of our other stuff, but I like it a lot.

Up next: Crazytown (series premiere, week 1 of 3)



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Pretty excited for our students (and maybe yours if you don’t live too far away)to participate in a 2-day Student Worship Conference here at Saddleback Church. Here’s a little bit from the website that just launched this week:

To be quite honest, this conference is probably similar to other worship conferences, however, this is geared specifically to students to truly build them and see a bigger picture of what it means to lead people to the throne of GOD. Even more, this Student Worship Conference is intended to help equip students with the basics of what worship is and what it means to be a musician and/or a vocalist in ministry. Many adults volunteers, youth pastors, worship leaders or pastors assume students are to already know what they need to know when it comes to leading worship through music. WRONG!!! No student knows what they are doing. For the most part, most adults do not even know what they are doing. We need to teach all students to become worship pastors and not just worship leaders, because anyone can lead worship (we will explain that more at the conference).

There will be lots of special guests, student bands and fun here at the Refinery at Saddleback. Get more details here, hope you will join us!

JG

Pastor Rick sent this to our church late last week … would love your prayers for his family and our church:

To my dear Saddleback Family,

Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.

No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.

You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a beeline to that person to engage and encourage them.

But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.

Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said, Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain? but he kept going for another decade.

Thank you for your love and prayers. We love you back.

Pastor Rick



Every series we take students through has an “arc” or a journey from point A to point B we want them to grow in. Here’s the series arc, as I call it, for our 40 days church-wide campaign called You Are Here. We took the adult curriculum, What On Earth Am I Here For and made it more student-friendly:

January 19/20 = You Are Here (week 1)
You matter To God! At some point of everyone’s life there are questions of ones purpose, meaning and importance in one’s life. Trust me, you are not alone. When we have those feelings they are just a lie the enemy feeds us, but the good news is that we matter to God. This week we will be looking at what exactly this means and how it applies to our lives.

January 26/27 = You Are Here (week 2)
When we think of music, our minds immediately go to music. That is only part true. Worship is something way more than singing songs; it is a life style and has way more importance in our lives than just singing. Worship is about surrendering, but surrendering to God is not about loosing, it’s about gaining. This week we will take a deeper look into what worship looks like.

February 2/3 = Worship Together Weekend (week 3)
This week at Worship Together Weekend we will continue our You Are Here series up in the Worship Center as a whole church family talking about fellowship. Being in Christian community is one of the keys to living a life for Jesus. It allows us to share our lives, experiences, services and suffering together as one body. There is nothing like being able to do life with people who love you and love God. How cool is it we’ll be all together for this weekend, too?

February 9/10 = You Are Here (week 4)
God doesn’t want us to just know Jesus Christ, he wants us to become like Jesus Christ. This has been God’s plan for us since the very beginning. How do we do that? We become disciples. Not only do we become disciples but a good disciple makes more disciples. We will be looking at how we can become better disciples of Christ and how God uses our life circumstances to become even more trusting in Him.

February 16/17 = You Are Here (week 5)
Everyone is called to do ministry, whether you know it or not. There is no such thing as a non-serving Christian. What matters in life is not how long you live but how you live your life. We want to help you find your SHAPE in how you can serve God and serve others while we are here on this earth.

February 23/24 = You Are Here (week 6)
We are supposed to tell others about Jesus and the hope that He brings them. But why this is such an important aspect in our walk with God? How do you do that without being “that guy” or “that girl”? It is our calling and responsibility to share Jesus and this week will be learning on how to effectively do so.

JG

For World AIDS Day this week we held a student design contest for a T-shirt that would be printed up and given to every high school student in our ministry. It was really fun – thought it would be good to share the idea and show you the winning design (above):

High school students! The HIV&AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church is sponsoring a design contest and will print 2,000 T-shirts that will be distributed for free to high school students. The goal is to raise awareness about HIV&AIDS and to increase service hours to those infected and affected in Orange County.

Here are some sobering statistics to help you process and may be used in the “Getting to Zero*” design:

  • Nearly 30 million people have died from HIV&AIDS.
  • More than 34 million people are living with HIV&AIDS around the world.
  • In the US, 1.2 million people are living with HIV&AIDS.
  • In Orange County, there are over 6,600 people living with HIV&AIDS.
  • Every day 5,000 people die because of HIV&AIDS.
  • Saddleback’s HIV website is www.HIVAIDSInitiative.com

*Getting to Zero is a 3-year global campaign to get to zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, zero babies born HIV+, and zero stigma. Saddleback Church is on board with this campaign and in addition we are working alongside Rwandan leadership to help reach their goal of emptying their orphanages – getting to zero children in orphanages by 2014. That means 3,300 children need permanent families and homes in the next two years!

TO ENTER: Simply share your design on the Saddleback HSM Facebook wall! All entries must be posted on or before November 14th, 2012. The winning entry will be featured on Saddleback.com and the designer will receive the new iPad mini!

The contest was great – and the shirts turned out really well (we used Mission Shirts to print them) and everyone is wearing them this week in their schools and inviting friends to church to hear Kay Warren speak on the subject in big church as part of Worship Together Weekend at Saddleback. Awesome!

JG



Weekend Teaching Series: UFC Weekend w/Mark Munoz (1-off)
Service Length:
82 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we invited Mark Munoz, an incredible Ultimate Fighter, to come share his story and testimony for Christ with our students. He talked about his upbringing, how God used painful situations in his life to shape his journey into wrestling and how God is using him and his influence to further God’s Kingdom. Really fun stuff, spoke to a ton of students who came just to see him and left with a new relationship with Christ.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we had a fun musical opener, a couple of quick videos (one we ripped from YouTube and one promoting Winter Camp) some great songs and not much else to give time for the speaker.

Music Playlist: Survival Song, We Are the Free, Hosanna, With Everything

Favorite Moment: Mark Munoz did a good job speaking – but was INCREDIBLE doing question and answer and hanging with students afterwards. He is one of the most accomplished fighters in the UFC, and is humble and completely likeable. He isn’t on the “speaking circuit” but I promise you he will be because God used him in big ways in our ministry!

Up next: Worship Together Weekend: World AIDS Day (1-off)

Weekend Teaching Series: Stuff Jesus Didn’t Say (week 2 of 2)

Service Length: 74 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we had Kay Warren (Pastor Rick Warren’s wife) speak at all 4 services to high school students. She had offered a few weeks ago at an HIV/AIDS meeting we were at so I quickly adjusted the calendar to get her in right away – it was SO great! Not only was it an incredible message about following Jesus, it was great to have support from the leadership of our church. She taught about Jesus talking to the crowd, but specifically referencing the disciples in the crowd. She challenged students to rise up out of the crowd and be fully committed disciples. Not that the path of the disciples is easy – it requires dangerous surrender, a disturbing and surrender to the mission He has chosen for you. Powerful stuff!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we left it pretty clean except for one fun music video called “A Whole ‘Notha Level” by my friend AC and one of our students. Hilarious student-made video that helped everyone have a smile on their face.

Music Playlist: Take It All, The Earth is Yours, God Above All, All I Am/Learn to Love/All for Love/With Everything Medley

Favorite Moment: This weekend Kay gave away a TON of copies of her book, Dangerous Surrender, to whoever promised to read it and ask God what He wanted to do with their lives. We gave away so many she had to get more on Sunday morning! Having her in our high school ministry is such a treat – great weekend.

Up next: Worship Together Weekend (November)