For World AIDS Day this week we held a student design contest for a T-shirt that would be printed up and given to every high school student in our ministry. It was really fun – thought it would be good to share the idea and show you the winning design (above):

High school students! The HIV&AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church is sponsoring a design contest and will print 2,000 T-shirts that will be distributed for free to high school students. The goal is to raise awareness about HIV&AIDS and to increase service hours to those infected and affected in Orange County.

Here are some sobering statistics to help you process and may be used in the “Getting to Zero*” design:

  • Nearly 30 million people have died from HIV&AIDS.
  • More than 34 million people are living with HIV&AIDS around the world.
  • In the US, 1.2 million people are living with HIV&AIDS.
  • In Orange County, there are over 6,600 people living with HIV&AIDS.
  • Every day 5,000 people die because of HIV&AIDS.
  • Saddleback’s HIV website is

*Getting to Zero is a 3-year global campaign to get to zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, zero babies born HIV+, and zero stigma. Saddleback Church is on board with this campaign and in addition we are working alongside Rwandan leadership to help reach their goal of emptying their orphanages – getting to zero children in orphanages by 2014. That means 3,300 children need permanent families and homes in the next two years!

TO ENTER: Simply share your design on the Saddleback HSM Facebook wall! All entries must be posted on or before November 14th, 2012. The winning entry will be featured on and the designer will receive the new iPad mini!

The contest was great – and the shirts turned out really well (we used Mission Shirts to print them) and everyone is wearing them this week in their schools and inviting friends to church to hear Kay Warren speak on the subject in big church as part of Worship Together Weekend at Saddleback. Awesome!


My boss Kurt put together a great post called Things Are Getting Sticky at Saddleback talking about the origin of something new we started this summer called Worship Together Weekends. Here’s a little of the backstory, head there for the full perspective:

  • About a year ago, I started really digging into the Sticky Faith research and asking myself some tough questions.
  • About 10 months ago, I started using my allotted “report back” time in our executive meetings to share some of my learnings, to let the senior leadership of my church know that I saw some changes on the horizon.
  • About 6 months ago, I suggested the radical idea (radical in our setting) of taking tangible steps to get our teenagers more involved in the overall life of the church. These ideas included combined missions trips, ministry teams, discipleship classes, etc.
  • At the same time, I suggested the idea of creating a monthly “Worship Together Weekend”. I pitched the idea that on the first full weekend of every month we cancel our JH and HS church services, completely shut down our youth building and encourage families to go to “big church” together. In essence I proposed that we spend 25% of our time NOT doing the type of ministry that our church has been built upon.


Some big news that starts this July – our church has decided to cancel student services once a month for what we’re calling “Worship Together Weekend.” It is a chance for everyone in the church to take time to worship together instead of age-specific programs and services.

We don’t know too much, honestly, we’re right in the middle of figuring that out. But here’s the scoop so far:

On the first full weekend of each month (beginning July 7/8) our junior high and high school ministries will join the adults of Saddleback for church services in the Worship Center. This is a chance for adults and teenagers to enjoy church with each other, as one big church family!

On the first full weekend of every month during the 4:30 and 6:30 services Saturday night and the 9 and 11:15 Sunday services.


  • July 7/8
  • August 4/5
  • September 1/2
  • October 6/7
  • November 3/4

Junior High and High School services in the Refinery are cancelled, and the Refinery will be closed during church services on Worship Together Weekends. If you don’t have somebody to sit with at Worship Together Weekend look for a friendly face in a Wildside or HSM T-shirt and we will set you up!


All this talk about working to integrate our students into church before they have to make a huge leap from youth group to the adult services is helpful. But what isn’t helpful is the voices who simply want you to drop everything you’re currently doing (and is working) and go with some new plan.

Sometimes you have to get rid of something and start over completely—but we’re not convinced this is one of those times. So here are a few suggestions to help you take baby steps toward the integration of youth ministry and the church.

Serve together…mostly
An easy way to get some quick inter-generational ministry happening in your church is to combine some of your serve projects immediately. Consider cancelling the majority of your youth group service projects and join those in place for the church at large. Imagine the conversations that will take place as people serve food, rake leaves, or paint together. Chances are the older people in your congregation will be just as surprised as your teenagers at how fun it was to serve side-by-side!

Worship together…occasionally
Most youth groups have their own worship service or Sunday School happening at the same time the rest of the church is gathered for worship. What if you completely cancelled your youth stuff once a month so the teenagers could attend church with their parents? Sure, some might choose to stay home that weekend, but it’s a fairly simple way to make a statement that says, “25% of the time, our church worships together…and we need the teenagers to be part of the action!”

Mission trips…maybe
One of the big steps we’re considering is to integrate mission trips. Offering a Spring Break trip? What it everyone got involved? Is there a big church-wide trip to South America or Africa? Get behind it and take some students! Each church has their own missions agenda/format, but this is something worthy of consideration.

Hey, there are some things adults are happy are totally separate from them. Keep overnighters this way…but be thankful for the adults who do show up, give up sleep, and care for your students.

Where else is there opportunity for easy integration between your youth ministry and the church?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.