yhst-95977426524948_2249_4827794At the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this past weekend they released Kurt Johnston’s new book for students, This Book Gets Around. They created a

This Book Gets Around is a fun way to learn something new about your friends or family members, neighbors, co-workers, teammates, whoever! (You might even uncover one or two surprising things about yourself, too.)

Pass the book around, let people answer imaginative questions and do some creative activities, and then see what’s written on the pages.

Give the book to specific people or let it follow a random path back to you—whatever way you use it is fine. Get the fun started today, and discover something cool, unusual, surprising, or amazing about the people you already know!


Got back from an incredible weekend up in the mountains here in Southern California. We took our students on our annual Winter Retreat. Thought I would share a few of the highlights –

  • We stayed 2 nights up at Mile High Pines Camp – no snow, but nice and cold this time of year.
  • Ron Merrell was our speaker. We had him 2 summers ago at camp and loved him, had to bring him back.
  • Student-led workshops (30 minutes each, students could pick 2) were also really strong. Students prepped really well for them and did a great job.
  • Simple music – just a guy and a guitar. SUCH a great change of pace.
  • It was incredibly fun to honestly sit back and watch our volunteers really pastor our students. At this simple 48-hour camp volunteers drove pretty much everything.
  • We’re developing a pretty strong sense of story. Whenever we gathered together the leaders the first question we would ask was looking for stories, and we were never disappointed.
  • Fun to have some longevity! Been doing camps for quite a while now – fun to have old friends there every year as leaders, and break in some incredible new rookies as well.
  • The event broke even! Woohooo! We didn’t lose money!

Great weekend for sure. Are you doing Winter Camp/Retreat this year?


A second fun Winter Camp promo video. Again, super simple, clean and easy. Went over surprisingly well!


I really liked this simple approach to promoting our upcoming Winter Camp. Simple, clear ask – not super clever or funny but a direct approach to someone who wants to grow spiritually. Love it.


Every event the question comes up: How are we getting the word out? And, of course, every few months the answers morph and change as the world of communication evolves. What we’ve learned is that there is no one answer that suffices. We have to repeatedly communicate to both kids and parents in lots of ways. We utilize our website, posters, invitation cards, text, Twitter, but far and away the most effective the past few years have been Facebook and YouTube. I work with middle school students, so some of them are not old enough or their parents do not allow them to have a Facebook page yet. However, the majority of families in our community either have a student or a parent who’s on Facebook, so we have a profile for our ministry that we update daily. The challenge is to keep up with where students are at and be creative in capturing their attention. Every week we have students make announcement videos, and when we have a special event like camp we’ll make special promo videos. Here are 2 fun, creative videos we made to promote our winter camp this year.

Kevin Mahaffy is the Middle School Pastor at Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells, CA. Check out his blog and more at http://revkevjr.blogspot.com/.

Wrote this parent email up on the bus ride home from our Winter Camp discipleship retreat this past weekend. Thought it might be a good base for you to use or inspire you to write something better and share it on your blog, too:

HSM Winter Camp Parents,

What an amazing weekend! Thanks for trusting us with your teenager the past few days – for many of them it will be a weekend they’ll never forget. I wanted to encourage you to take them out for lunch today or perhaps over dinner tonight you could spend some time talking about the decisions they made and their reaction to the messages this weekend.

Our speakers were Chris Schmoltz (a pastor from San Diego) and Tom Holladay (adult teaching pastor at Saddleback) as well as student-taught workshops each day. The topics focused on intimacy with God, spiritual community and ways to grow in your faith and walk closely with God. We had great snow and great food to boot!

Here are a few questions to get you started as you encourage your student in their next spiritual steps:

  • what was your favorite part of the weekend?
  • what message spoke to you the most?
  • did you make any spiritual decisions this weekend?
  • we heard about the tri-tip all the way back here. What was the best meal?
  • who was your cabin leader?
  • did you have any great talks with him/her?

Thanks again for all your support of HSM and if there is anything we can do to help your family in any way please don’t hesitate to ask.

Josh Griffin and the HSM team


This weekend I talked through the 5 things we’re doing this Winter/Spring for extended discipleship in our youth ministry. These is in addition to weekend services, Life Groups and the regular stuff we do. Some of these are very new, some of these are very old. Either way, we’re really pushing students to grow this next season:

  • Winter Camp – our spiritual growth retreat happens next weekend – there will be plenty of snow, student-taught workshops and main session teaching by some fantastic adult speakers.
  • Examine the Evidence – in a week our adult ministry is putting on a class in The Refinery for seekers, doubters and believers. The topic for the night is the Four Crucial Questions About Christianity. I’m excited to promote an opportunity for our students to grow in an adult environment, plus it is zero work and potentially a huge return for us.
  • Apologetics Series – In 2 weeks we start a new series called “Q” with one of the world’s-leading apologetics teachers Sean McDowell. He’ll be teaching us in our weekend services for 3 weeks.
  • The Grow Booth — this ongoing effort in HSM is packed with Bibles, studies, books and journals to help students grow on their own. We’ve given more stuff away this year than we have in a long time – Life Group leaders also have a “Grow on the Go” tub as well (more details on that here) so as they identify students who should take another step they have a resource to give them immediately.
  • Life Group Workshops – In March we’re launching a brand new idea for Life Groups, offering a series of workshops on topics you can attend only with your small group. One of our adult teaching pastors is teaching a 4-week study on the End Times, and one of our Life Group leaders will teach another set of classes on cults and other religions a few weeks later.

What are you doing to help students grow this Winter/Spring?