Weekend Teaching Series: Before and After: a study through Ephesians (week 2 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Orphan to being a child of God, from a fan to follower and being a true disciple.
Service Length:
66 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend Jessica Torres (HSM’s Life Group coordinator) taught our weekend service and Justin Knowles (weekend coordinator) jumped in to teach a point as well. We are continuing our look through Ephesians – this week they concentrated on who we were before Christ and the continuing transformation that must happen as we mature in our faith. They both did an awesome job of helping the Bible come alive with personal stories, admissions and illustrations. Good stuff!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we went to the Orange County Fair and shot some short videos that a contestant on stage would have to guess the outcome. How fast could someone eat a Krispy Kreme friend chicken sandwich, how many shots would we make in the basketball challenge and who would shoot out the star in the BB gun game. The games were simple and fun and the person on stage got prizes that stacked as they got correct answers. Fun, easy and felt very summery!

Music Playlist: Break Free, Your Love is Strong, Revelation Song, Love Came Down

Favorite Moment: Jessica is one of my favorite youth workers on the planet. She is such a great teacher, so warm and invites you to really listen and engage with what God has taught her. So good! And loved Justin getting his first taste of teaching in HSM, too. Great people!

Up next: Before and After (series finale, week 3 of 3)

Weekend Teaching Series: Before and After: a study through Ephesians (series premiere, week 1 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: The person that I used to be and the person I am in Christ.
Service Length:
66 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend AC taught for the first time in HSM – he walked students through Ephesians 2 and how we were before Christ and the life-change that happens at salvation. He did a great job explaining sin, the traps of Satan and salvation by God’s grace. The highlight of the weekend was when he had a student come up and share the story of her life, including a recent departure from God’s path that cost her things she could never get back. Her story clearly illustrated the amazing grace of God and how

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend was really straightforward with lots of welcoming students, a fun recap of our recent Rwanda mission trip and our 80’s skate night from this past Friday.

Music Playlist: Somebody That I Used to Know (A capella cover), Here For You, Majesty, What Would I Have Done, Savior of the World

Favorite Moment: Cayla sharing her story was incredible – made the whole message come to life. Incredible testimony to God’s grace!

Up next: Before and After (week 2 of 3)

We’re doing a new series in July called Before and After – a 3-week study from the book of Ephesians. For each series I like to do what I call an “arc”- a simple description of where we want to take students and what the messages will be about. Here’s where we’re headed in July!

3-week study through the book of Ephesians

Week 1: The Person I Used to Be (AC)
BEFORE we were broken, sinful and trapped in darkness by Satan. AFTER we have been freed by the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. This message proclaims the truth that our past is past and our future is with Christ – a celebration of salvation and an invitation to those who have never followed Christ to step across the line today.
Central text: Ephesians 2
Keyword: Savior

Week 2: Above Nothing (Jess)
BEFORE we would live for ourselves and focus everything on us. AFTER we realize that God made us for a mission and we are to love and serve others. Our salvation is not of works, but the saved serve.
Central text: Ephesians 3
Keyword: Servant

Week 3: All Out War (Josh/Parker)
BEFORE we were unaware of the spiritual battle that rages on behind the scenes against us. Christ is our savior and we are His servants – but AFTER we still fight temptation, struggles and problems. Time to do battle by putting on the armor of God!
Central text: Ephesians 6
Keyword: Soldier


Some of the most popular posts of all time here on my blog are simple lists of sermon and series ideas for youth groups. Here’s a collection form a recent brainstorm session that might inspire you to create something in your student ministry:

  • Greater Than >
  • HE>I
  • Abandon Ship
  • Taboo Topics
  • Stuff Churches Don’t Talk About
  • Shhhhhhh …
  • #YOLO
  • I am ___________
  • Lie, Cheat, Steal
  • Be Careful Little Hands
  • More Than Words (How they hurt and how they can help)
  • Workshop Weekend
  • Stuff Jesus Said
  • Things Jesus Didn’t Say
  • Ready for Re-entry
  • Back to School
  • Booty, God, Booty
  • “The Other 6”
  • Apologetix
  • Liar, Lunatic or Lord?
  • Creation, Fall, Grace, Glory
  • IDK- “I don’t know?”
  • Ask Anything (Panel weekend, text in questions)
  • Ctrl, Alt, Delete / Apple+Q
  • Restart
  • Life Apps
  • “There’s an App for that!”
  • Lone Ranger
  • The Rest of the Story
  • “I can’t believe that’s in the Bible”
  • Insta-life
  • Behind the filter
  • <3 Like
  • Poser
  • Geeks, Freaks and Posers


Super excited about a new series we start in HSM right after Easter. We did a sermon brainstorm meeting and came up with the teaching arc of the series – here it is:

Week 1: Living in the Grey (Josh)
As followers of Jesus, we are to walk in the light. The problem is – the draw to the darkness of the world is pulling us away from the light. Too often, Christians believe the lie that there is a grey area where we can love the light but walk in the darkness. Somehow we have become complacent/lukewarm/brainwashed about living in the middle, in the grey. We have been brainwashed to think that is is okay.

Week 2: World vs. 10 commandments (Parker)
Looking how the world’s way completely is opposite of the God’s way. Take a closer look at each of the 10 commandments and you’ll quickly realize that we all have a choice. So when the Bible says, Do not covet our neighbors things,” we need to realize that the world tells us that we need more and more and more.

Week 3: Transforming Your Mind (Josh)
There is a battle for our mind – how can we have victory? Our minds must be washed in the the glory of Jesus so we begin to think and act in a way that is glorifying to Him. This weekend ends with a special time of commitment and celebration of walking in God’s way. Each student will be given a squishy brain with the series/ministry name logo on it as a reminder of the series, too.


Right after the Simply Youth Ministry Conference I always get asked the same question: how did you do that!?! I love a good idea – I love stealing good ideas, too. If anything you saw on the main stage was interesting to you or maybe inspired you to bring something back into your ministry setting – here’s the scoop on what we used or how we did it!

Poll Everywhere – the polls on the big screen were powered by PollEverywhere.com. The technology is free for up to 40 responses (perfect for most youth groups) and scales really well to have thousands of responses per poll. Be sure to check them out – we use it all the time in our youth ministry, it is so fast and fun!

AR.Drone – one of the new ideas this year was to use an AR.Drone to hover over the crowd with a gift card attached to it on a long string. The Drone is controlled by an iPad/iPhone/iPod/Android and streams live video from the hovering airship to the big screen. With all of the signals in the conference room it got bogged down a bit, but overall it was a super fun experiment.

Facebook Hack – This is a game we invented in our youth ministry a couple of months ago. You can read more about the game and download the title slide right here.

The Interlude – a fun dance you can download right here.

Digital Stachethese are the dudes behind lots of magic on the screens. We had an idea, they did it. Really stunning guys with tons of freebies and youth ministry resources totally worth checking out!

Twitter – this is actually a feature in the latest version of Propresenter (5, from what I understand). It is a super cool way to put up a paricular hashtag on the screen – it includes full moderation capabilities as well. Looked super slick up there!

Was there something else at the event you would like to know about? Hit me up in the comments!


Kurt just posted the 3-week series arc for their series about sex in our Wildside (junior high) ministry the past month. Worth checking out for inspiration for your own series, and be sure to head over there to check out some other insights about teaching about sex/relationships to junior highers, too.

Week 1: Developing Healthy Friendships With Each Other. We simply took a look at some of the differences between guys and girls, and how an understanding of some of these differences can help us be better friends with each other.

Week 2: Dating: We took a look at what begins to happen when a friendship becomes more than just a friendship. We addressed such questions as: When is it okay to start dating? Who should I date? How should I date? What role do should my parents play in all of this?

Week 3: Sex This weekend, we will wrap the series up by talking about sex. I feel a little overwhelmed because ONE lesson on sex isn’t enough. I am afraid I will try to cram too much into the lesson, thus making it too complex, and more confusing than helpful.


Really enjoyed teaching at YS’ NYWC this past week. During my Grande Seminar called Creating a Series from Scratch, the group come up with a great list of sermon topics and series ideas. Thought it might benefit you or inspire you to come up with something great, too!

  • Superheroes
  • In-n-out (of church)
  • Live love. Live loved
  • LinkedIn: Get connected
  • Stressed Out
  • Church History 101
  • I (Heart)
  • I hurt
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Social Injustice
  • Lair, Lunatic, or lord?
  • Personalities of the disciples
  • Trinity
  • Old Fashioned (manners, tradition, etc)
  • What’s Next? (heaven, hell, etc)
  • Amazing Grace
  • ZERO to HERO
  • The Loser Club
  • Epic Fail
  • Steadfast
  • Family Feud
  • Survivor (dealing with teenage problems)
  • More Than a Song (studying the lyrics and background)
  • Cults
  • Explaining Christian symbols
  • What’s He like?
  • God is…
  • “Christianeze” – understanding church lingo
  • Scary Stories of the Bible
  • Zombies Apocalypse
  • The Other 6
  • Speedbump: Walls, Hurdles and Roadblocks
  • When Life Knocks You Down
  • Heroine of Bible
  • Fearless
  • Discovering your gifts
  • Church for dummies
  • Spiritual disciplines
  • Share your faith
  • Who’s your neighbor?