99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders

My new book with Doug Fields comes out this month – it just went up for pre-order! – just in time to get it into the hands of your small group leaders. Want to take a look inside – check out the first few pages for free in the widget above. Hope you’ll think about picking up a few copies for your small group volunteers this fall!


Enjoyed reading Jeremy’s post over on REYouthPastor talking about burnout and youth ministry. He asks some good questions, and I’d love to read some of your thoughts on the subject or burnout. Here’s a clip of his stuff, head over there to read the whole thing and comment if you would like:

Pain is part of the youth pastor job description. Does experiencing pain and exhaustion season a youth pastor? One of the biggest negative aspects of being a youth pastor is that working with students stunts our emotional and life growth.

Many youth pastors try so hard to dodge the “burn out” bullet.

We try to take more days off, vacations, see a psycho-therapist, take a monthly spiritual retreat, and pursue spiritual formation but it seems like we are only left with more exposed pain, exhaustion, and burn out. There is this belief that if you burn out, you are a bad youth pastor because apparently you didn’t take enough days off or establish healthy boundaries. I think the exact opposite is true.

America’s best youth pastors are the youth workers who have learned and persevered through their many painful and hurtful church experiences. The youth pastors that persevere make it, but the youth pastors that live in the past and become jaded don’t make it.

My point — the best youth pastors are the youth pastors who burn out or get burned because very early on they learn to forgive and to let go.


Thoughts on Temptation

Silly video we used to illustrate temptation this weekend for week 2 of the back to school LAUNCH series.


Book Review: Soup

 —  August 12, 2010 — Leave a comment

Just finished up reading Soup, another business fable from Jon Gordon. This time he goes after the ingredients of what make a healthy team and focuses on creating a winning team culture that rallies your people to the cause and around an optimistic leader. Honestly the first few chapters really drew me in – not because I’ll ever run a company called Soup, Inc but because he outlines what I’ve felt but been unable to articulate about the importance of team culture. Couple of standout quotes:

  • You create a culture of greatness by expecting great things to happen – even during challenging times.
  • Leadership is foremost a transfer of belief.
  • People follow the leader first and the vision second.
  • It is through relationships that you can shape people to be their best.
  • We are transformed by our spiritual relationship with God and our relationship with family, mentors, and coaches and we transformothers through our relationship with them.
  • Lukewarm isn’t an option. No one likes cold soup.

Good stuff – loved it! Super simple, easy read.


Just finished up reading Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet, a new book by Jonathan Merritt. The book is an attempt to reclaim environmentalism from the left, and make Creation care an issue that everyone should care about, regardless of political sides. According to Jonathan, caring for God’s creation is largely a spiritual issue and an act of worship to the Creator. He’s careful to distinguish between worshipping the creation and the Creator, and is quick to admit the shortcomings of his own journey. I like it that just a few years ago he held many of the traditional (read: irresponsible) views that many Christians still share.

To be honest, green is a “something” to me – I still have a loooooong ways to do – but loved the series we did called Save the Planet a couple years ago and The Refinery at Saddleback was Lake Forest’s first LEED-certified building. All in all, I really dug the first 2/3rds of the book – before it begins to read like any other environmental book you can’t seem to avoid these days. To me, what sets this book apart is the Biblical perspective on creation and our responsibility to care for it, which was refreshing and encouraging to read.


Finished a great book this weekend – Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. HSM has been in a continual state of change the past several years – starting with the change in leadership to the opening of the Refinery student building to now the promotion of some of our key players up into church leadership. Saddleback was built on change, and it is showing no signs of stopping. Anyhow – the book, right?

I absolutely loved Chip and Dan Heath’s previous book, Made to Stick, and this is another of that same incredible caliber. Switch is all about the elephant and the rider – how different forces within each of us interact with each other to push toward or resist change. The book offeres great practical insight, clear direction and tons of exampls to lead and influence significant change. A couple great chapters in particular gave me some insight into why people leave when others stay, how to frame change so it is attainable and letting bright spots lead your change efforts. Brilliant stuff, perfect for what I’m leading us through in our ministry these days. So good.


Over the holiday weekend I read through Pure Scum: The Left-out, the Right-brained and the Grace of God by Michael Sares. It is the story of a pastor who followed God’s wandering path for years through the birth and death of Five Iron Frenzy and the birth of a church called Scum of the Earth. Mike’s story is one of encouragement and solace for those taking the long way into full-time ministry. His church is anything from normal – Mike recounts the history, miracles and values of the movement they are working to create in Denver. His church is church without the usual trappings and traditions, but also without the angst of the anti-church-as-it-is movement. Mike sees a place for both, while fiercely believing all should be busy reaching the low and the lost. For a church planter, or someone wanting to be encouraged to think different about church, this book would be good reading.


Here’s a look at HSM’s summer calendar of events (click the image to blow it way up). Couple of things that we’re trying this year:

Emphasis on low cost events
Camp is really the only event that has a price tag on it this summer – and we’ve decreased the price by more than $100 from last year. Most of the other events might cost a couple bucks, but probably not much more than that. The economy is hitting us where it hurts right now, so we’re making a conscious effort to go cheap.

Tons of relational opportunities
In the summer we still have programs (like our weekend services) but wanted to move away from more events and activities and head toward spaces where we can hang out, play, eat, relax, have fun and challenge students toward Christ. Programs fit us very well in the school year, when we have more time we try to kick back more.

Room for spontaneity and margin
We don’t have a jammed-full calendar this summer – although it looks pretty solid, not empty by any means. We have room for vacation, room for new ideas and get togethers we invent on the fly, time for plenty of conversations, planning and of course … getting ready for the big September back to school launch and small groups.