Noticed that Doug and Matt’s YM Daily yesterday had some great thoughts about looking back and taking time to debrief, evaluate and celebrate the past season. They had some great questions to think about (which I think I’ll answer in a future blog post) that would be good to think about this week as you enter the new school year.

  • …| What happened during the summer that was great? What do we want to be sure to repeat in the future?
  • …| Where did God show up? What victories could we celebrate?
  • …| Where was I surprised? What last minute “audible” or changes was I forced to make?
  • …| What went wrong? What could have been better?


A fantastic testimony shared during the Life Groups weekend of the LAUNCH series. Parker finished his story live on stage – talking about God changing his heart and encouraging students to join small group as well.


A strong testimony using during the LAUNCH series to help encourage student to see the importance of joining and HSM Life Group this fall.


Weekend Teaching Series: LAUNCH: Ready for Re-Entry (week 3 of 5)
Sermon in a Sentence: Launching into a successful school year includes getting accountability and community by being a part of an HSM Life Group.
Service Length: 73 minutes

Understandable Message: This week was all about Life Groups. Our small group year starts in just a few weeks, and registration for the big launch ends in 14 days. This weekend was taught by Life Group volunteers (Matt and Mel – Team M&M) and they hit on the importance reasons to be in one using an acrostic (L-I-F-E-G-R-O-U-P-S) and testimonies both live and on video. If a student wasn’t in a small group, they would sure want to be at the end of the hour.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: Matt did a good job of bringing humor into his talk – he made references to Justin Bieber and Batman and made comparisons to the pop stars and comic books of his day. There was a very positive environment to the weekend – you could tell the community that they were teaching on was genuine in their group and a goal for all of HSM’s Life Groups.

Music Playlist: Rise and Sing, Beautiful Things, How He Loves, Burning Ones, With Everything

Favorite Moment: The power of story is always amazing to me – when a student gets up to speak the students listen intently to what they have to say. And it totally works both live or on video. I’m also so impressed by the strength of the students who got up to share their story this week. Epic stuff.

Up Next: LAUNCH week 4

Awesome opening video made by one of our HSM volunteers (Nathan is one of the tech arts dudes for our adult services) for the Launch series this weekend. The emphasis was on community, this video went after showing that to our entry-level students.


Thought that Adam over at Life in the Middle had some good thoughts this week on how to respond after a youth group that just doesn’t go well. You wake up the day after youth group bombs (or you’re mulling it over in your mind in your bed that night) with that feeling that things just didn’t go well. Other than trying to learn from what didn’t work and trying to shake it off – what is the correct response? Here’s part of his answer, hit his site for the complete thought:

  • Let the night go - We have to realize that the night is behind us and we cannot redo it. We cannot continue to replay the night over and beat ourselves up on where we feel like we failed. The only thing we can do is let go of the night behind us and move forward.
  • Start getting ready for next week — It’s time to start getting ready for next week. It’s time to start praying, planning, and preparing for the next weeks service. Set your eyes on what’s next.


DC is on a roll this week – he just posted some great thoughts about how to have a great Fall kickoff. Hopefully something in there will stir up an idea and trigger something cool as you prepare for the launch. Here’s an excerpt, more thoughts if you head over to his place:

  • Push Momentum generators. This is a great time to push what your focus for the fall/school year will be or whatever builds momentum in your group. Our students love each other so we push Small Groups HARD the first three weeks.

  • Have all your ducks in a row. I think this is more important in high school than in middle school (we all know middle schoolers love things more when the ducks are NOT in a row, haha). In my experience some high schoolers are looking for a reason to discount the church as “not relevant to their life” or “just a knock-off of pop culture” and if there is a lack of excellence this opens that door for them…NOT TO MENTION GOD DESERVES OUR BEST! (Also note: You have to define excellence for your context, don’t judge it off of another church, it must be contextualized.)
  • Meet the minimum expectations THEN EXCEED THEM. This one sounds odd at first but most students come to our ministries with a bare minimum expectation of what could/should happen. Some minimum expectations are things like: We will read/open/hear about the Bible, Jesus’ name will probably be used, someone will pray, there might be music, someone will likely talk to us, I’ll have opportunities to spend with my friends. So we try to meet those bare minimums every week (because they’re good ones) AND THEN completely exceed them by trying to constant “redefine church/youth group”. This is especially important considering during the launch phase there are usually lots of new students. (Comment if you want me to write more on this topic).


Weekend Teaching Series: LAUNCH: Ready for Re-Entry (week 2 of 5)
Sermon in a Sentence: Launching into a successful school year includes preparing your heart and mind for how to respond in times of TEMPTATION.
Service Length: 75 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend I asked Taffy to teach on temptation. I had my hands full with all four kids while my wife, Angela, is serving on a medical missions trip in Kenya. Taffy is the Student Ministries Music Director and a wonderful pastor of students. He has an infectious laugh and guides students with care and intentionality. His role is to advise, mentor and train young leaders of music ministry. He is a natural on stage and gave a wonderful message on the in and outs of temptation. This message was tag-team taught with Tom Reagan, a recent HSM graduate and summer intern, and college student at Gordon Conwell in Boston. After discussing the origin of temptation and that, it in itself, is not sin, nor is it bad, advised the students to 1) Persevere for God’s glory 2) recognize Practical temptations of life and 3) rely on the Power of God. The central verse was 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We opened the service by covering the song Airplanes by B.O.B. featuring Hayley Williams and had a couple of funny videos called “Deep Thoughts”.

Music Playlist: Nothing but the Blood, Savior of the World, Same Power that Conquered the Grave, and Our God.

Favorite Moment(s): Two again this week — 1) a great student volunteer (Bree) helped do the announcements and welcome and killed it! 2) There were 3 videos in the service that were great spoofs on what Christians believe, very engaging and made a good point (Deep Thoughts from a Shallow Christian).

Up Next: LAUNCH week 3