I couldn’t be more excited to launch a new non-program for discipleship in our ministry we’re calling Grow on the Go (actually we’re revising and bringing this back from HSM past). We’re taking some simple small plastic bins from Target and dropping in some great biblical resources to help our small group leaders challenge students to take a spiritual step. To get a fuller understanding of how small groups are connected to spiritual growth and discipleship, maybe check out 5 Parts to a Typical Small Group Night or 6 Ways to Help Small Group Students Take a Spiritual Step.

So when a Life Group leader recognizes an opportunity to challenge a student to grow on their own, they have some tools right there (or in the trunk of their car) at their disposal. So what’s inside the bins? Glad you asked! We put 1 or 2 of the following resources in the mobile version of our Grow Booth:

I’m convinced that including a little bit of training on these tools at the beginning of the year and putting them in leader’s hands will make a big difference!


99 Thoughts on Leading Well is the first book by Reza Zadeh and seventh in Group Publishing’s line of 99 Thoughts (I’ve written 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers and 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders). Reza’s little book of leadership wisdom is a collection of his learnings in his experience as a college pastor, as well as a collection of principles gleans from a host of other sources. If you’re an avid reader of leadership books (like me), the book may feel familiar in parts and only take stride near the middle and through the end. If you’re not overloading on leadership books from everyone and their mother, this assortment of experience and acumen will help guide you as you serve students and your volunteer team.


SIDE NOTE: The cover looks an AWFUL lot like it has a fried egg on it, right?

Today was a huge step in a more recent dream for our high school ministry – we are in the preparation and launch phase of a new care system. Simply put, we have some incredible volunteers that are willing to pray and be available to the students at a specific high school in the area. Like many youth ministries, we serve multiple schools – so there will be two campus pastors for each (of the phase one) local high school. There will be one guy and one girl – we figured the team approach works best and liked having both genders represented as well as those types of specific needs arise.

This is a non-program, just caring adults who want to engage with the students on campus. Here’s the thinking behind the challenge I asked them to take on this morning:

Be available for contact
We’re going to publish this list of volunteers and their contact information in a ton of places – the announcements during the countdown, at our student leader meetings, etc. We want them to get some attention! This is not a program, so it is all about students organically contacting their campus pastor when they have a need. When a new student comes to our ministry from one of these high schools, we’ll immediately get them the contact person of their campus pastor to help follow-up. A girl named Bethany visited this weekend – how awesome would it have been for me to give her the text number of a caring adult who will pray for her and grab coffee with her after her first couple of days of school?

Be ready to care/counsel
I posted a couple weeks ago about Caring for Students, and I think I’m ready to add this new layer to that drawing. These campus pastors will be available, trained and eager to jump in and listen to students needs and pastorally care for them. They aren’t meant to replace a small group leader or The Landing, but be a bridge to a next step.

Show up on campus
Be visible at sporting events and fine arts stuff. Walk the campus occasionally and pray for the students. Use your relationships with core students to meet their friends and expand the reach of care. When there is a need or crisis in their life or at the school, our prayer is that their first thought is to turn to you for help.

Speak occasionally in clubs
From time to time speak in the high school Bible club, FCA or Cookies for Christ. Identify and encourage teachers who are representing Jesus in the public schools. Take advantage of the club platform to help students grow into campus pastors themselves.

Each school will look different – none of them are programs, just opportunities for relationships with students right in the school. Excited about this idea! Just a thought that might trigger something for you – maybe pray about 3-4 volunteers to step up in your context and take on a similar role.


Book Review: The Slow Fade

 —  September 15, 2010 — 2 Comments

Over the weekend I read The Slow Fade: Why You Matter in the Story of Twentysomethings by Reggie Joyner, Chuck Bomar and Abbie Smith. Despite the fact that I don’t work with college-age students, I enjoyed the book quite a bit. The different perspectives are interesting (Reggie observing the slow fade from afar, Chuck addressing it as a pastor, Abbie living it out) and there were a couple of really exceptional learnings from the book.

The actual “answer” in the book is deceptively simple. To combat the Slow Fade of college-age people leaving the church, they must be connected to a caring adult. That inter-generational ministry is the answer to this problem. Each of the authors go after the “older should teach the younger” Scripture in Titus 2 and I Timothy 5. The other thought that engaged my mind the most was the discussion of the youth ministry finish line. That we take students to the end of their senior year then set them free. The challenge in part of the book was to extend the finish line through college – that small group leaders, mentors and adult figures should continue on through this most crucial time in a young person’s life.

Some good stuff to think about – the book isn’t quite as long as it appears at first, there’s quite a bit of filler appendixes and a chapter of another book in the back. Good read if you work with upperclassmen and/or college Twentysomethings.


This weekend one of our amazing small group leaders and geeks put together an incredible announcement video. It was the perfect end to our LAUNCH series back-to-school kickoff and a much-needed change of pace from talking head announcements. So fun!


Tonight I had the strong urge to write a blog post about saying goodbye in youth ministry. It hit me because we’re going through it again – first Robby (leaving HSM to be a lead campus pastor for a regional Saddleback) and now Becka (leaving HSM at the end of a fantastic 2-year internship). I wanted to post to be about how saying goodbye is just part of the gig we’re called to, that we have team members, volunteers and graduating seniors that eventually leave our life and we have to be OK with that.

Then I did a quick search of the blog and realized that I already wrote that exact post just 2 months ago (Saying Goodbye is Part of Youth Ministry). So tonight, in my sorry of saying goodbye again, I wanted to focus on how saying “hello” is part of youth ministry, too:

Hello to incoming freshman
This is the time of year when freshman are coming into your high school ministry for the very first time. As your students go back to school and rubbing shoulders with their friends, expect some new faces to show up. Make it a point to seek out new freshman and be particularly welcoming them into your community.

Hello to great volunteers
The beginning of the school year is when new volunteers, particularly small group leaders, typically enter the ministry. Take the time to make them feel welcomed, trained and encouraged as they begin their time serving students. Your relational investments and the community you build could help keep them around for years.

Hello to great members of the staff
As hard as it is for us to say goodbye to great team members – even staff – it gives us a chance to see God putting the pieces together for what is next.

Every goodbye is a chance for a new hello. As you mourn the loss of a great senior class just a few months ago, pour into the new freshman. As you think about that long-time volunteer who finally steps away, remember the new team forming for the next season. And when you have to say goodbye to a great pastor on staff, remember God is about to introduce you to who He has next.


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!


I couldn’t be more excited – my latest book with Doug Fields is here!

99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders is now available for pre-order from Simply Youth Ministry. Super proud of this one – we took some serious time creating what we hope is an insightful, helpful and practical book for you and your volunteers. I’ve included close to 150 thoughts in the book, and some additional content from voices in our small group community. Good discounts if you order 10+ – ships September 29th. Yeah!