I don’t know about you, but I was not raised in a Christian home and listened to some pretty foul music as a teenager, music I would never play for my mother let alone my students. I may be embarrassed about it the reality was that I owned those CD’s listened to them all the time; it was a part of who I was. The question is, did I know what I was listening too? Did my mind compute the words that I was saying?

Most of the songs are still up there, rattling around in my brain and recently while out bowling with our leadership team, an old rap song from my teenage years came on, I have not heard this song in 15 years and I knew every single word, profane and all. The words stuck, but what they meant maybe didn’t. I was thinking about what the implications of this are for youth ministry and last fall I was reminded when one of our leaders handed me a set list for approval for our Journeween Party. One of the first songs was “Only girl in the world” by Rhianna. I asked him if he knew what the song was about, and he said no, and was he surprised when I told him the first 11 words of the song are “I want you to love me, like I’m a hot pie”

Our students are hearing the words; all of them, but I am thankful that they are not always computing what they mean. I am thankful that I didn’t always understand some of the sketchy things I was listening too that I never felt compelled to act on, but it got me thinking about Worship and the question:

Do our students know what they are singing? Is worship music heard but not received like the music they listen to on the radio, do they know all the words but have no clue what they mean? Do our students know that we are singing songs of praise to God not songs about God. We have been working diligently to remind our students often to think about what they are singing, recognizing the proclamation they are making with their voices, and that God hears them.

I think it would be really easy for a new student to come in like I did in Highschool, and just sing a long. Lets face it, the songs are catchy and even the some of the bad ones are memorable (ie Banqueting Table) but its that moment when the words matter, when you hear the power in them, and its our responsibility to lead our students to that space. We need to help shape their heart to Worship God with their words, lives and actions, and when we gather to sing corporately, that we do it with clear purpose.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.

Weekend Teaching Series: 2020: The Future is Now (week 2 of 6)
Sermon in a Sentence: Each day matters in creating your future. Take time to get spiritually ready in the morning, respond at noon, and reflect at night.
Service Length: 70 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we zoomed in from the big picture life goals from last week and talked about how each minute eventually becomes a day, that days become weeks, years and eventually your future. We talked through 3 sections of each day and how to give it all over to God. The point of the talk was to not increase the amount of time we give God, but give God everything. It was a fun challenge to give students, seemed like students totally got it. We had a countdown timer on the stage the entire service, started at 70 minutes, the idea was the end my talk right at zero to emphasize the importance of making each minute o our life count.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had the return of Parker from the Future – this time Parker came back to warn us about some new changes to the political situation in the future. In order to stop this from happening, they needed a contestant from the audience to play a Minute to Win It Game called Elephant March. The game was fun, and the return of our guy from the future was great. We had lots of greeters and the choir doubled as cleanup/setup/greeters, too. Played some funny videos in the talk as well as the message.

Music Playlist: Clocks [Coldplay cover], Majesty, Savior of the World, Dancing Generation

Favorite Moment: Having a choir made up of students is always epic. We don’t do it too often, but when we do the energy is super high and the songs seem more powerful than ever. Lots of other great moments this weekend, but watching students worship passionately through song is something I’ll never get tired of.

Up Next: The Future is Now: week 3 (Doug Fields speaking)

Let me start by saying, my name is Geoff and I am not ashamed being part of an attractional youth ministry. A few months back I attended a Youth Pastors gathering in my area, and the topic of attractional vs missional ministry came up, and the proponents of each began to discuss and debate the virtues of each and it became clear that the two camps were miles a part. Not only that, I was told that I was running an attractional ministry and that they are not effective in growing students. EXCUSE ME?? I get frustrated when other Youth Workers write off “Attractional Ministries” as having no substance, and are merely entertaining students. I don’t agree and feel they can be effective and here is why.

You get one chance to make a first impression: Having a student in the Church for the first time is an honor, but it is important to look at it through their eyes. It is important to understand that churches can be intimidating and they are probably coming with preconceptions and ideas of what it will look like and what is going to happen. The fellowship time before we start and the first 15 minutes of our services is designed for new students, seekers and non-Christians, it is intended to help make them feel comfortable and welcome. The bells, whistles and flashy elements are for these students, they ad credibility and help to challenge their idea of what Church is like.

We have Lasers, but they don’t matter: Our Services are packed with Worship, lights, haze and sometimes lasers, but students do not stay because of them. Recently I met a focus group of 30 students and asked them questions about our ministry, and when it came to what keeps them coming back, not one of them said it was lights and lasers. In fact, most said it was having a small group leader who cared about them and challenged them in their faith that was most important.

We are about seeing the Lost Saved: The lights, the smoke, the videos, it’s all a lot of fun, but the purpose is not to entertain, its to compete. Not competing against my buddy Tyler or Kevin’s Ministry down the road, but against X-box, TV, drugs or just plain apathy that keeps students from coming. My heart is to see the Holy Spirit get a hold of these teens, but if that means having fancy lights to get them in the door, I will do that. There are 4000 High school Students within 15 minutes of our Church, they need to know Jesus.

Students are sharing their faith and serving : If you ever have wondered how community kids end up at a Youth Group, they are invited, intentionally. Encouraging students to invite friends to Youth allows for conversations to happen, about God, faith, Church and life. Having a place that is safe to invite your friends to is a good start. Having more elements of the service allows more students to serve in ways they are passionate about. We add elements to allow more people to serve, one in four students serve on one of the Worship or Technical teams, this is a great way to develop a Kingdom building group.

We share the Gospel with students: I have been told in the past that Ministries like ours water down the Gospel, or worse don’t share it at all. I can tell you this, that no matter if your are Missional or Attractional or both, Jesus is the center, he is the reason we get up in the morning and come to work. We share the Gospel in its fullness and apply it to the lives of today’s students, relate in a way that they can understand, and wrap their minds around and hopefully engage it in a real way. We equip our students with the Gospel so that they would follow the Great Commission, and bring those friends to a place where they can be learn, engage and be discipled.

This subject tends to put a bee in my bonnet, I love being a Youth Pastor and if a Youth Ministry can attract students to come to the Church, learn about Jesus, challenge them to know Him better, facilitate them being involved in our community and build his kingdom, then I am all in. God deserves everything I have, every resource I can use to help build His Church. Before you write of a Ministry, go check it out, hear the heart of the Pastor for their students and go see what God is doing there.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MoreThanDodgeball.com. You can, too! See how right here.

Got what I think is a good poll for you – what presentation software do you use in your youth group?


I got a chance to speak at Fantastical this weekend with our student ministry worship pastor Taffy and in our notes we shared the songs we’re singing the most often this fall. Thought it might interest you – what are you playing in your student ministry? Got an undiscovered gem you want to get out there? Share in the comments!

Top 10 songs right now for our student ministry
1. “The Earth is Yours” Gungor
2. “Savior of the World” Ben Cantelon
3. “Burning Ones” Jesus Culture
4. “How He loves”Jesus Culture or David Crowder
5. “With Everything” Hillsong United
6. “Rise and Sing” Steve Fee
7. “Love Came Down” Ben Cantelon
8. “Beautiful Things” Gungor
9. “Our God” Chris Tomlin
10. “The Stand” Hillsong United
11. “Tear down the walls” Hillsong United


Met a youth worker Chris from Authentic Youth at the Fantastical Conference – we were talking about the blog and he said he loved the idea a while back about the message outline hooks – and brought me one of theirs, too! Taffy (our student worship pastor at Saddleback) and I have had a blast meeting so many great youth workers this week. How cool!


Taffy and I promised all of the youth workers in our track at David Crowder’s Fantastical Conference a few forms and graphics for them to download. Here you go!

1) get the CRUD form. This is the document we use for students in bands. Could be super valuable to you! CRUD stands for Commitments, Requirements, Understandings and Dress Code. Thanks to Taffy over at RiceandWorship.com for the freebie.

2) here are some links to graphics and videos that may help you with the worship (in music):


Matt and Steven have been doing a good series of posts from the youth ministry volunteer perspective over on Volunteer Youth Ministry. Here’s the 2nd one in their series of 10 upcoming posts, this one focusing on the importance of volunteers attending an adult service. Good stuff from a rookie and veteran volunteer. Here’s a clip, head there for it all:

I really love serving in Student Ministry. I love the feeling I get when I interact with students, and I love being able to talk a student through a problem. I love seeing a student who came in with a sad face and something heavy on his heart, leave the service with a smile on his face because God worked through me to help a student work out his problem. I’d love to be able to serve at all four of our high school services each week, but I also know I can’t serve and really worship at the same time. I can pray, I can get students excited about worshiping, I can praise God, I can sing Hosanna with the best of them, but it’s not the same as attending a worship service where I am totally focused on God.

Attending worship service can make even my worst day a good one. I feel re-energized and revived and ready to serve God because I strengthened my connection to Him. I’ll pick up tidbits from worship that I’ll use in next week’s high school small group lesson. I can feel a difference when I connect with God through worship every week. Here’s the other thing….parents of my small group students often see me in worship each week.