Think Like Them

 —  March 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

Josh and Kurt had a great post about understanding the world your students live in and I wanted to dig a little deeper on the subject:

In our ministry; like many others, Music is a core part of what we do week in and week out. Before and after our service and the Worship time within it, the music creates a vibe and a space where are students can connect with God and each other. When it comes to Christian music there have been few albums more hyped than Hillsong’s newest release “Zion” which has been a top seller in multiple countries and is filled with incredible music that unapologetically points to Jesus.

In the past few weeks of connecting with other youth pastors in my area, the topic of the album has come up several times and one comment I have made to each person that I have discussed it with is that there isn’t any “youthy,”  jump around classic Hillsong United anthem type songs on “Zion” and most of them were content with the departure. As I get older, my taste in music has change, and for a band like Hillsong United, they are getting older too and with the maturation of their members, comes a maturation of their sound as well.

So what am I getting at? As we get older, and our tastes mature it can become easy for us to lose sight of who we are serving and leading. I may be getting further away from high school every year, but the students entrusted to me are still there, and thus I need to be sure to do my best to see the world through their eyes and through their ears. While I may be less inclined to jump around during a worship service than I once was, I need to know that for 16 year old me, there was nothing better. The truth is:

  • The music that you encounter God through will probably be different
  • The games that you find fun to play might not be fun to students
  • The overnight lock-in might be the most dreaded event on your calendar, but the most exciting one on your student’s
  • The style and feel of a night that will make it conducive to a high schooler inviting a friend to is going to be different than what it might be for you.

Our responsibility is to advocate for the needs of our students. Sometimes that means doing events and playing songs that might not speak to our needs or engage us as much, but we are not youth pastors to serve our own interests. This is the place where student leaders and young volunteers are invaluable. Much like your grandparents favoring a rotary phone over an iPhone, we’ll often resort to the familiar and comfortable. There will be things that we might not be able to wrap our minds around at first, that we need to know and be fluent in. It can be challenging to try and continually re-learn the teenage mind, but for us to be effective in our ministry to students, we owe it to our students to understand the way they see the world.

Geoff – geoffcstewart


One of the biggest problems with on-campus Christian clubs is that most don’t attempt to fulfill God’s purposes for the church. It seems as though each meeting is the same. Meet in a room at lunch. Eat together. Listen to someone talk. Leave.

While that meeting model is totally awesome, it shouldn’t be the only thing that the club does. We have been pushing our clubs this year to branch out and organize different activities and events to not just mix things up, but to better serve the school and students on their campus as well. Here are 3 easy and practical activities that our students have done that worked.

Trash Pick-Up: Have the students meet at the beginning of lunch to eat together. Have a student speak briefly about the purpose of serving and what it means to be servant-hearted in our everyday life. Then pass out a trash bag to every student in the room and have them spread out over the campus to pick-up any trash that they see. It is super cool to see the conversations that come out of this. I have heard awesome things about students coming to the club and even coming to church due to the conversations they had with students picking up trash. If you are looking to save a little money, tell the school what you plan on doing and they might even provide some trash bags for you! Tip: Gloves and/or hand sanitizer is always a good idea!

Letter Writing: Have the students come together to write letters of appreciation to different people groups at their school. I’ve seen students write to everyone from the custodial staff to the office administration. Don’t be afraid to get specific! It is a great way to address specific events and issues at the individual schools. If it is homecoming week, it might be a good idea for the club to write to ASB thanking them and encouraging them. If a teacher is having health issues, encourage the club to write letters of love and support. I love this because it is such a simple way for students to love their school. I think it helps them come to understand what it means to be a light at their school.

Worship Session: Have the students spend their lunch worshiping God as the body of Christ at their school. Gather together a group of students that have a passion for leading worship and help them put together a worship session. Encourage them to really think through their program. Don’t have them pick 3 random songs, have them pick a theme to run with (surrender, etc.). I’ve even seen students picking out a passage of scripture for their club to reflect on during the worship. Besides helping students connect with the Lord during the middle of their day, worship sessions really help grow the community within the club as well! Tip: Try to print out the lyrics or even project them on the wall.

What are the Christian clubs at your schools doing to mix things up?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

Sometimes it’s maddeningly difficult to discern where in the world God is taking you. Other times, it’s painfully clear to see where He’s leading. I’m stuck in a furious limbo between the two. So where does that leave me? or lead me rather?

This past September, I just finished out a summer internship with Saddleback Student Ministries worship (Cluster of Students). Before the fall semester started, I was asked by the worship pastor if I’d like to continue interning through the year. I decided to think and pray about it before giving an answer, and after a couple weeks of prayer and counsel I didn’t have total peace about continuing as an intern. As a result, I did what I thought was best for me.

I ignored the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Sure enough, I could feel fatigue setting in. I was spread thinner than a crepe (those really thin pancakes). Between all of the responsibilities that I had, I can’t believe I knew which day was which. It’s funny how tightly we hold onto our own plans. Let’s face it though, we all do it. God says “No,” and we say, “sweet, I was thinking yes too.” By the grace of God, He redeemed the next few months for His glory, like He always does. He also convicted me and the pastor that I was working with that God wanted me elsewhere. We communicated after heavy prayer, and we both heard the same thing. He knew that I couldn’t be a key contributor everywhere. He KNOWS what you need.

What an example of God’s conviction and His grace! I disobeyed; He redeemed it. Next time you find yourself at a crossroads, between decisions (Del Taco or Carl’s Jr?), here are a few things that you can do first to save yourself from your plans.

Ask Your Dad . . .  your heavenly one. Trust me, He has a better way. We don’t consult God because we want to include Him in OUR plans as if we have any idea what we’re doing. We invite God in because HE has a better plan than we do, and He wants to guide you for your benefit.

Address Your Sin . . . like I didn’t. I desperately wanted to be, well wanted. As soon as I found out that somebody wanted to work with me for the next year, I had an opportunity to fulfill that insecurity. Instead of listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I listened to that little voice that craves the approval of people. Sin has a habit of blinding you to the picture that God is painting. It’s a beautiful picture, it’s worth seeing.

Abide . . . in the vine. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the joy and peace of God. He has an abundance to give, and He wants you to overflow with it. Be in the word, be in fellowship, and be in REST. Practice sitting in your room or on a couch, and soaking in the Lord’s presence. No pretense, no rules. Just soak. Some hang time with your creator will make any decision sound much less daunting.

Chance Espinoza is a college student from Orange County that loves Jesus, music, and eating breakfast until he falls asleep. He has been serving in youth ministry for 7 years with a heavy heart for worship and creativity.

One of the questions of interest that comes up pretty often when youth workers visit our high school ministry is what songs we are currently playing/singing in youth group. Taffy (aka Student Ministry Worship Guy, aka Rice and Worship) sent me the most recently Top 10 we’re enjoying right now:

1) What Would I Have Done (Bethal Live)
2) All I am (Phil Wickham)
3) Christ in Me (Written by Tim Timmons) Free Download on
4) Overcome/Blessed Assurance (Desperation Band)
5) He is Alive (COS) Free Download on
6) Here for You (Matt Redman)
7) 10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)
8) Like and Avalanche (Hillsong United)
9) God above all (Hillsong Youth)
9) LIft Him up (COS)
10) Learn to Love (COS)


We are in a transition right now in our group as our Youth Worship Pastor has recently stepped  down. He did a great job of leading our students and bands but I regretfully don’t know a lot about the lifestyle expectations that those in the band had. Let me unpack this a bit more and ask this:

Does a student in the band qualify as a leader?

Are they held to the same standard as a college age leader?

Is a lead singer treated differently a percussionist?

Where is the line?

Is the Worship team a front door to the ministry where non-believing students can come get connected?

Or is a place where only those students who have proven to be mature in their faith can lead others from the stage?

So many questions!

What are your criteria for a student interested in  serving on a youth worship team? Does it change depending on the role or involvement?



Its been a while since we have compiled a list of the songs that our worship teams are playing these days so here they are. It would be great to hear some songs that are really resonating with your students as well. So add a comment with your current top ten.

          Josh at HSM – Saddleback

  • We Are The Free – Matt Redman
  • All I am – Phil Wickam
  • Learn To Love – Cluster of Students
  • Child of God – Tim Timmons
  • Saviour of the World – Ben Cantelon
  • Forever Reign – Hillsong United
  • Divine and Holy – Cluster of Students
  • One Thing Remains – Jesus Culture
  • God Above All -  Hillsong United
  • We Can Change The World – Matt Redman


        Geoff at Journey – Peace Portal Church

  • Unending Love – Hillsong United
  • Saviour of the World – Ben Cantelon
  • All Glory – Nikki Fletcher
  • We Are The Free – Matt Redman
  • Reign In Us – Starfield
  • You’ll Come – Hillsong United
  • How He Loves Us – Jesus Culture
  • God is Able – Hillsong United
  • Dancing Generation – Matt Redman
  • Tear Down The Walls – Hillsong
GS – Twitter


Weekend Teaching Series: Worship (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence:
The power and purpose of music.

Service Length: 78 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend our Student Ministries Worship Leader Taffy took over the services in HSM and created a fantastic weekend talking about the purpose of worship, the power of music and the trigger and emotion of what we listen to. It was a FANTASTIC weekend that carried incredible power with students understanding and participating in worship music.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend was typical for this time of the year – we’re typically down in the Spring but this weekend had great energy. We had a hilarious boy band parody video to kick it off, and a fun “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” type element in the middle of the message. Lots of students involved, a great student band, lots of weekend leaders, lots of fun.

Music Playlist: Divine and Holy, Grace, The Stand, We Shine

Favorite Moment: I love Taffy – he’s the best pastor at Saddeback and this weekend was the culmination of years of hard work caring for, pastoring, training and discipling students. SO proud of him!

Up next: XXXChurch (series premiere, week 1 of 2)

A video we made for this past weekend’s service on the power of music and why we worship. You’re welcome.