One of the coolest things I get to do at Saddleback Church is act as the director of our student ministry building that we call “The Refinery.” It has special meaning to me because this building was basically the brain child of one of my student ministry heroes, Doug Fields. The name “The Refinery” was chosen because we are refining young souls for Christ. The building is 50,000 square feet and was designed to look like an old run down refinery mill. I get calls from churches all over the country that are looking into a new student ministry building and they want to know what we did, how we did it and what would we do different. If you’re looking into changing or building a student ministry facility, here are some of my ideas:

1. Build as big a building as you can. Even if it means you cut back on furnishings or stuff you can add later. It’s less expensive to add furniture later than to add on to a building. During the construction of our building as construction costs were going up we cut down on the size of the building. It’s still a huge facility, but in three years we have out grown the building.

2. The Refinery is a ministry, NOT a building. That’s one of my catch phrases that I instill into the staff that work in our student building. The Refinery attracts students to our campus, students who might not otherwise step foot on a church campus. We invite the community to use the meeting rooms and the gym for “non-church” functions. Our local high schools use it for sports banquets and functions. It’s great exposure to students and it definitely brings them back to a weekend church service.

3. Video camera monitoring. We have 41 cameras throughout the building. It’s an easy way for us to monitor the entire building and keep an eye on things without students feeling a negative presence. We can easily see when a teenage boy and girl are “fellowshipping a little too close” and need to be told to “leave some room for Jesus between them.” If an incident happens we have video available to find out what exactly occurred and who was involved.

4. Staffing. This has been an issue for us since the day the building opened. I want staff working in the building to interface with students, talk to them, and play games with them. I want the building to be a place where students can come and have fun, feel safe, and meet friends, all while growing in their faith. We are in the process of trying to grow a volunteer program, but even with a church the size of Saddleback it’s hard to find volunteers.

5. Security. We have some policies in place so that we can insure the security of students in the building. For example, during service times (Saturday night and Sunday morning) the upstairs of the building where all the games are located is off limits to adults. Occasionally a parent will question us on this rule but we just explain its one of the ways we keep students (including their kids!) safe from any predators. Not something that’s easy to talk about but we have to consider all potential issues. We use a LOT of grace first and only resort to calling parents and sending kids home when we absolutely have to. We have to keep order and keep everyone safe, but we also want kids to be able to have fun!

Matt Reynolds is a Security Supervisor with Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and is also the Director of the Refinery — the Student Ministry Building at Saddleback. He is addicted to student ministry and blogs and teaches volunteer student ministry leaders with Steven Orel, who is also on staff at Saddleback Church. Their blog can be found at www.gentogenym.com.

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!

JG



This might be one of the funniest/best promo cards we’ve done in HSM. Love it … steal the idea for your summer camp if you want, I’m sure Parker would be OK with it.

JG

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!

RADICALIS
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 stephanieb@saddleback.com

JG



Each day this week I’ve been posting the results of a new member survey from our church. Here’s reason #4 from a Top Ten list of why people join our church … and the one I’m most excited about:

#4 — Children’s and Youth Ministry
Children’s and youth ministry are VERY important to the church. Actually, that isn’t exactly what the research is saying. Children’s and youth ministry are VERY important to a family deciding which church to attend. Yup, that’s more accurate. Know this – when someone walks through the door on a Sunday morning they are looking for a safe environment for their children. They’re looking for a vibrant youth ministry. They’re looking for spiritual partners in helping raise their kids. If you don’t have one or give it a low priority/visibility, it will show up in who does or doesn’t stick.

One aside: this was #4 on the list of “most important when choosing a church” including plenty of people who didn’t have kids/teenagers at all and those with children long out of the house. Makes me think this one would be even MORE important for those specifically in this life stage.

Youth ministry application: You are an incredibly important part of your church. It might not show up in a ton of affirmation, perks or even understanding, but you are. Youth ministry is one of the key reasons that people choose your church. So make it great. Stick it out through the tough times. Make it better. Always remember the importance of what you do and your calling.

JG

#10 – Special Events and Activities
You might think that pot lucks and ice cream socials, but according to the research of over 8,000 new members at Saddleback Church - special events and activities rank the lowest on this best of 10 survey. Most churches spend an inordinate amount of time on planing events and activities for their people – when in fact it is only a minor factor in keeping people engaged as members. What would it look like if we reduced the glut of activities and events that are usually more work than they’re worth anyhow? If they play such an insignificant role, why not redirect some of that budget and manpower to something that is more important?

Youth ministry application: activities and events certainly have their place, but don’t waste your most precious resources on them. Chances are, maybe a few larger, annual events would give you a better return on your effort, without the total drain on the family, calendar and budget.

Whats your take on the importance of special events and activities?

JG



Weekend Teaching Series: How to Raise Your Parents (series premiere, week 1 of 3)

Sermon in a Sentence: Your relationship with your parents is up to you.
Service Length: 69 minutes

Understandable Message: This week Doug Fields taught students from God’s Word about their relationship with their parents. He did a great job helping students understand that they control much of their relationship with their parents – if they respected and honored their parents, it would take them far. His usual mix of rumor and truth was super.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we had some more fun with HSM Talks, and Chris did a really creative announcement that was part live and part video – a dream about going to HSM Summer Camp. Simple, clean and solid weekend.

Music Playlist: Go, Divine and Holy, Revelation Song, Hosanna

Favorite Moment: My favorite moment was that during each service our junior high services dismissed the 8th graders out for a little root-beer-float-HSM-summer camp promo time. We had a couple students share about their camp experience, and had a raffle for a free camp registration. Super fun relational time with the soon to be freshman.

Up Next: How to Raise Your Parents (week 3 of 3, parent panel and series finale)

Last summer was incredible so this summer we’re hoping to build on what we learned and have another great break. Here is a little insight behind what HSM has planned for this summer. If you haven’t seen the calendar and list of events yet, you can check it out here:

All about relationships
The summer is all about hanging with students. We embrace the beauty of time off from school and the different pace around the church office. Summer = relational ministry goldmine.

Free, free, free
Summer camp is the signature event to kickoff the summer and the only one that costs money – after that every event is totally free. In the past we have had events that each charge admission, and over time these add up to frustrated parents and limiting participation.

Low prep time
The events on the summer calendar are meant to be low-prep time events. They are basically excuses to do relational ministry. Prep for Free Coke Friday? Grab some frisbees and a cooler of Gatorade. Done!

Regular recurring events
Want to remember the summer schedule? Every event happens 7 times this summer. 7 Midweeks, 7 Free Coke Fridays, 7 Bagels & Bibles. If you come to one, you can figure out the schedule for the summer. If you’re free on a Friday, you know what we’re up to that day.

Lots of Bible time
One of the big emphasis of our summer is plenty of time in the Word. One of the advantages of no small groups and no high school classes is that we have blocks of time and regular opportunities to pull off our own classes fr spiritual growth.

What should we try next summer that is working for you?

JG