Why am I so excited for this event? The whole Refinery, filled with Xboxes.


My times spent with kids in an un-programmed environment outside the walls of the church have been some of the most rewarding and effective discipleship moments for me. Youth group events are only one way to minister to kids.

With the new school year right around the corner, there are great opportunities to connect with your youth group kids and meet new students who need to hear about Jesus. These 12 ways to connect are divided into three main categories, each category moving to a deeper level of relationship.

Ways to meet new kids and hang out with current youth group kids
1. Volunteer coach a sport at a local school — Coaching gives you a chance to meet dozens of kids. I had the opportunity to coach track this past Spring and I still have kids who call or text me for advice or just want to talk.
2. Give out free food at lunch — Last Fall I bought a couple dozen tacos from Taco Bell and passed them out to kids at lunch, just asking for their name. I met tons of new kids, a few who I still keep up with.
3. Volunteer at a school club that fits your interest
4. Tutor for free — Some schools have after school tutoring, volunteer for that in a subject you know well.

Connect and develop relationships with kids
5. Ride with a sports team to away games — Great idea from the guys over at YL Help
6. Help a student work on a project or hobby — Especially helpful during science fair season, or other big school projects. Participating in their personal hobbies are great ways to connect, too.
7. Offer to drive a student to something they want to do
8. Meet a student’s friends and/or family — You can meet an exponential amount of kids by constantly meeting students’ friends and then meeting their friends. It takes time and effort but it’s well worth it.

Disciple kids/transfer life skills to kids
9. Ask a student to help you complete a project — Let them know you need their help and/or expertise.
10. Invite a kid to hang out with your friends and/or family — Let them know that you are human too, not just some guy or gal who still hangs out with high schoolers all the time. Exercise wisdom here and keep good boundaries.
11. Invite a student to help you lead a certain event, then evaluate it afterward — This is a great way to transfer leadership skills through hands-on learning. For example, I invited one kid to help me lead a video game night, asking him to consider “What do video games have to do with Jesus?” During our debrief time (which ended up going just as long as our video game time) we talked about video games as a means to build relationships and how relationships are key to evangelism and discipleship. I bet he learned more through that experience than any youth talk.
12. Be a student of God and invite a kid to learn with you — Pray with a kid, or listen to a sermon together, or read the Bible together. Be an avid learner and invite kids along to learn with you.

There are plenty of other ways to connect with kids. How are you planning to develop relationships with kids this new school year?

Nick Arnold is the youth pastor at New Hope Community Church in Sunland, CA. Hit up his blog at http://ministryallies.com and his Twitter @nickarnold.

If parents come to you seeking wisdom about video games and their kids/teens, I would point them to this new website GetGamesmart.com. Looks like a cool resource to point parents in the right direction about videogames. There’s always the ESRB, and for the parent who wants to really get up to speed, maybe consider having them read the book What Every Parent Needs to Know About Video Games.


Oh man, how have I missed this? Looks incredible.


Tonight our Xbox 360 gamerscore crossed another milestone – 27,000 points. Thanks largely to Tom Clancy’s HAWX and Air Combat 6 – as well as a smattering of The Bee Movie Game and Paperboy with the kids. My Xbox360 blog is downright blissful right now!


Weekend Teaching Series: Promotion Weekend
Sermon Title: 4 Ways to Survive the Next 4 Years
Sermon in a Sentence: Some keys to surviving your high school years: good friends, a tight small group, serving and sharing your faith.
Weekend Scale of Difficulty: 6 out of 10
Service Length: 64 minutes

Understandable Message: Coming off the road trip made for a short week of prep. Instead of my usual manuscript (2,000 words or so) I wrote up some talking points around the main theme and Scripture. I tried to stay targeted on freshman specifically, but made sure the teaching was appropriate for all classes to take something away from. I talked through the way friends influence us – they can get us in trouble – and used this clip from Land of the Lost to illustrate it. At the end of the talk, we used PollEverywhere to let upperclassmen give their advice to the freshman (in 140 character bits), and it made for some hilarious moments. Some were serious and some were funny – but they were all great.

Volunteer/Student Involvement: It was an all-student band, students also ran cameras, lights and sound. Students and volunteers also greeted and did setup/cleanup. We had a high-energy crowd, so there was far more talking than usual. We’re gonna have to add something to the program to address it.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had a Rock Band opener that during the bridge transformed from video game to the live student band. We jammed on the plastic instruments while they played – it was totally fun. We also had a fun game up front based on Scene It! that was good, too. And of course Uncle Zed, a hick character played by one of our team members, who read a children’s book to all of the freshman, an annual tradition in HSM.

Music Playlist: When You Were Young. We Shine, Til I See You, Hosanna

Favorite Moment: This weekend is the 1st anniversary of The Refinery! Hard to believe we’re already one year into the new building. We had cake to celebrate and started something new called After Party, a 10-minute connection time for first-timers.

Project Natal: Milo

 —  June 9, 2009 — 5 Comments

I posted last week in sweet amazement the awesome technology coming to the Xbox 360. Project Natal is truly groundbreaking – this new video (embedded above) shows the system in action. You can read reviews of the technology from people that have actually tried it – Engadget, Gizmodo, Kotaku, 1UP and IGN. Apparently, this is the real deal – brilliant!



We added Netflix to our Xbox360 a couple of weeks ago and have been loving it. My only thought has been, “Why didn’t we do it sooner?”

You may know we don’t have cable anymore, we’re strictly a streaming media family. So for about $8 a month, we get 1 DVD to send back and forth and immediate access to 12,000 movies and TV shows to instantly stream on the computer and on the TV. Pretyt good deal, since our nearest Blockbuster is going out of business next month, too. The technology works flawlessly, my wife who isn’t an uber-geek like me has had no problem understanding and owning the process. There’s something super cool about adding a movie to your Instant Queue and seeing it show up 4 seconds later on your 360. My only minor gripes seem to be answered in the upcoming patch releasing next month. Near flawless execution. A+