Weekend Teaching Series: You Own the Weekend: El Toro Viejo HS (week 4 of 5)
Sermon in a Sentence: You are pursued by God.

Service Length: 66 minutes

Understandable Message: Students (Jake and Cassie) did an incredible job communicating the timeless truths of God and talking about how God pursues us and how we fall short of God but Jesus made a way for us to be restored and reunited with Him. They were some of the best student speakers we’ve ever had in HSM – and Krissy did a great job of sharing her incredible story of faith through her life. God spoke so clearly through our students, it was powerful and I loved watching students respond.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Students made a couple of great videos (here and here). The highlight of the programming was the drumline from El Toro – they killed it during the countdown and surprised everyone by coming back during the worship song “Go” it was really great! Students also made crosses so during the closing songs of the service they could come up and write down what they were pursuing and nail them to the cross. Simple but so strong

Music Playlist: Go, Pure and Holy Passion, How He Loves, We Will Run, Forever Reign

Favorite Moment: I loved that the students had a huge pancake breakfast-for-dinner after the 6:30pm service on Saturday night and between services on Sunday morning. A nice, fun and delicious relational time for everyone to hang out at!

Up next: You Own the Weekend: Tesoro High School (series finale, week 5 of 5)

Awesome new video from HSM this weekend to help introduce the new guys on the team. So fun!


Excited to announce that Travis Prouty has joined the High School Team at Saddleback Church. He’s a great volunteer-turned-staff who is going to be a great minister. Travis has been working on Saddleback’s facilities team for close to 8 years, so knows servanthood and has a big heart for students. Pumped about working alongside this guy!


At our January staff retreat (affectionately known as Student Ministries Staff Camp) we played a few rounds of HSM Jeopardy. It was a great chance to get to know each other better, test our knowledge of youth ministry philosophy and volunteers. Might be a fun idea to play with your people, too! Here were the categories:

  • 1980-Present: questions about Saddleback Church’s history
  • Take a Look: name the volunteer (pictures only)
  • CooCoo Ways: questions about the funny quirks of our people
  • Mascot Mania: questions about our local high school mascots
  • High School Musical: questions relating to music in our ministry
  • Legends of the Fall: questions about our team’s life before youth ministry
  • Nuts & Bolts: questions about youth ministry basics
  • Animal Planet: questions about funny connections to our team and animals

Winner got movie tickets and a gift card to Chilis!


You have a porn problem in your youth group whether you know it or not. High school, junior high, college–it’s present at every age. No longer do students have to go looking for porn, because in today’s age, porn comes looking for them. It might not be an easy topic for most students to talk about, and you may need to find a different way to communicate with students in your group, but it’s a topic that needs to be discussed.

Over the past couple months, we have both taken a week to meet with our junior high and high school small groups to discuss God’s view of porn, how to avoid and battle the temptation, and open the door to conversation. Here are some things we did right, and also some things that we learned from:

Weekend Teaching Series: The Book (church-wide 40 Days in the Word campaign kickoff)
Sermon in a Sentence: The Bible is the only rule of faith and practice and has been preserved and inspired.

Service Length: 77 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we kicked off our church-wide campaign called 40 Days in the Word. In HSM we get to take on the same subjects and theme as the rest of the church but put our own student-friendly spin on it. This weekend I made comparisons of books sales of Hunger Games and Harry Potter vs. the Bible. I also talked about preservation (using the Declaration of Independence as a modern-day example) and the Dead Sea scrolls. It was by far a more historical and classroom-oriented lesson than we would typically have on the weekend, but it was incredibly fun to research and students seemed genuinely interested in this series. Going to be fun to see where this one goes.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we played a quick game of Who Wants to Be a Fraction of a Millionaire featuring Bible trivia questions. We also had too many announcements and a hilarious video called iBible which we ripped from YouTube.

Music Playlist: Brighter Days, Lift Him Up, Words That You Say

Up next: The Book: 40 Days in the Word (week 2 of 6)

Student 40 Days in the Word Campaign

Week 1: The Authority of the Bible
Where did the Bible come from? How did we end up with the Bible we have today even though it is several thousand years old? How is the Bible different than other holy books like the Koran or the book or Mormon? Didn’t men just write it? The Bible is our only rule for faith and practice and was written by the inspiration of God and preserved for us without error today. But here’s the dirty little secret of Christians: no one reads it.

Week 2: Love, God
Why was the Bible written? The Bible is God’s love letter to us. The Bible tells Jesus story. The Bible reveals so much about life, God and eternity. We’ll cover the whole Bible themes as a whole and end with the idea that the Bible essentially ends with “Love, God” and then gives us ultimate challenge to love God.

Week 3: Bible Words You Need to Know
There are some huge words and concepts in the Bible that need to be explained and reveal huge truths about God and our relationship with Him. What does “sanctification” mean? How are we “born again”? Does “Ask Jesus into my heart” appear anywhere in the Bible? These questions and more in this message about Christian language you might here at church.

Week 4: OT Survey
An overview of the entire Old Testament in 30 minutes. We’ll cover each of the major divisions of the first half of the Bible and hit on themes and observations from a look at 35,000ft. A clothesline on stage will be hung with pictures of various important events covered in the Scripture.

Week 5: NT Survey
An overview of the entire New Testament in 30 minutes. We’ll cover each of the major divisions of the first half of the Bible and hit on themes and observations from a look at 35,000ft. A clothesline on stage will be hung with pictures of various important events covered in the Scripture.

Week 6: How to Study the Bible
This weekend we’ll cover the basics on how to study the Bible. We’ll do our best to explain and make practical the Bible study techniques of observation, illumination, meditation, interpretation and application. The message will end with a recap of the series as well as a challenge to spend time with God every day.


Kurt Johnston’s New Year’s Eve message from Saddleback Church on Vimeo.

Here’s part 2 of the video message from our New Year’s weekend adult services at Saddleback. Kurt Johnston, our Student Ministries pastor.