Archives For September 2012

Not every day is an easy day in student ministries.  Anyone the is even two months in on a good internship can tell you that.  Well, today was a day and a half for me.  While I won’t go into why, I will go into what I learned from this difficult day.  Anyone can choose to do a tough day alone, with Jesus, or with their spouse.  Occasionally, going it alone will be okay, other times, one may suffer for choosing to go solo.  Moreover, moving through a difficult day with a team can also be varied in a few key ways.  Recently, the team that I am a part of, has been faced with a couple of rocky days- emergencies with students, families, and each other; all things that are normal in any church environment.

However, today was different in that the whole team was in the office, and we all dealt with the emotion of the situation at the same time.  For us, timing was key.

I learned a few things today:

  1. It’s good to have a team that has your back.  Maybe your team is made up of staff in your department, or maybe it’s your church staff working as a team, or maybe your team is made up of elders and veteran volunteers.  Any of those options can make a great team.  If you don’t have a team, find one!  If you feel there is a rift in your team right now, be part of the solution to fix it!
  2. Moments of honesty are healthy.  You need to have moments where you can speak freely with your team.  Be wise and don’t let this become gossip, because we all know that it can.  However, as a team, with trust and confidentiality, you should be able to be honest.  Speak your mind, vent if you have to.  If you don’t have some one to vent to, find someone pronto!
  3. It’s good not be a workaholic.  While I am sure that the idea of being a workaholic is a blog post all in itself, being part of team and having people in your life that don’t let you become a “non-stop worker” is a good thing.  It means they care for you and don’t want to see you burn out.  Listen to them, and be willing to speak it back to them if need be.
  4. It’s good to laugh together.  After our tough day, I sent a funny video around to everyone in hopes that they would laugh.  The winning idea is that there will be more bad days, not just one, not just ten, but MANY.  So if you take every shot personally, if you let it be the issue on every team members mind, your doing a disservice to the team.  Have fun- you know fun right!  We all need to have that now and then, especially after a bad day.
  5. It’s necessary to take time to process.  Whether the struggles are related to volunteer leaders, students, or parents, make sure that you know the process or chain-of-command, to make sure that you not making it up as you go along.  When tough things happen, it is easy to be flustered and shocked, especially if it really is unexpected.  I know that every situation is different, but guess what, if you have some idea of what to do in a given situation, you at least have a starting point or a lead staffer that can delegate what needs to be done.

What do you think? What am I leaving out?  What do you do after a bad day at the office?  Share some tips and tricks for other youth workers like me to use for next time.  Trust me, there will be a next time, the only question is- Will you be prepared?

Justin Herman (@heyjustinherman)  is currently serving as the Director of Ministry for Jr. High at Mariners Church (@marinerschurch) in Irvine, CA.  Mariners is a large multi-campus church serving the people and needs of orange county.  Their vision is, “transforming ordinary people, into passionate followers of Jesus, courageously changing the world.” He has been in youth ministry for eight years in various roles from intern to full time.  His passion is students.  You can connect with Justin on Twitter ( or on Facebook ( or follow his blog (<>)


I think this is one of my favorite videos that the HSM weekend team has done so far. We just closed our registration for our small groups and this video was used at our small group leader training and to open our weekend services last weekend. I’m pretty sure that this is a direct transcript from one of our girls small groups. Enjoy!

Last Week I posted the first part of this topic (You can check out the first part HERE). Here are the last three key things that I do to set the tone for my small group for the year:

This group is like Vegas:  I let all of my guys know what is said in this group, stays in this group. I explain to them the importance for the group to have trust and to be able to have a safe place to open up if there is a need. If we do not have trust then this group means nothing. I let them know that if they were to break this rule that we would have to have a conversation and they do not want that. I hit hard on this one so they know the seriousness of the trust aspect of our group.

Prayer is HUGE: I tell them that prayer is going to be a huge aspect of our group. The last 10 minutes of every group they are to go with a different guy in the group each week and spend 10 minutes of swapping prayer requests and praying for each other. I have them switch people every week because this will bring all of them closer to each other and they hear and pray for the other guys in the group through out the year. We will always end out night with this, so they need to get used to it and be able to be open to pray for their brothers.

This will be fun: Group has to be fun. I would imagine that when Jesus was hanging out with the disciples that it was not all business and that they would have a blast together. I mean Jesus was 100% human as well as 100% God. I tell all the guys that the year will be so much fun. We will have fun while hanging out, we wil have fun as we learn and grow in Christ, and there will be nights where we just simply hang out and go to the movies as a group…. just because. If we cannot have fun as a group while still learning about Jesus, then what are we doing? If I expect them to block off Wednesday nights why not make it worth their while and have them actually WANT to be there.

These are just some things we go over on the first night of group to set the tone. What are some things that you tell your group?

If you have not seen the Korean music video “Gangnam Style“… you probably do not have a computer or a TV because it has over 200,000,000 views on Youtube, it has been on SNL, Ellen and probably has been played in every student ministry in the nation (I wouldn’t be surprised to be honest because it’s super catchy).

We just had our fall kick-off and our students wanted to do our opener with this song. They did a “translation” of the words as well. They went all out and it was so fun. So here it is:


One of my favorite things in the world is leading a small group. In fact, this year is the 10 year anniversary of me leading a group of younger guys in a small group setting. I just realized that. Dang. Anyways, I love it. At the end of this last school year I took over a group who are now going to be juniors this year. These guys have been together since they were in 7th grade, so I am the odd one out really, but over the summer we got so close and I can’t wait for the school year. Last week we had our first meeting of the school year and I always start off the first group the same way to set the tone for the year. I thought I would share some of the things we go through and hopefully it can be of some help.

FOOD!: Notice how that is in all caps and bold? Because I feel it’s that important. Our small group always meets from 7-9pm on Wednesdays. I tell them there is always going to be food and hang out for the first hour. Always. For high schoolers, nothing brings a group together more than eating and just talking while eating. Sometimes at the same time. When Jesus was hanging with His disciples it was around a feast. There is something about sharing a meal that just brings people together. This can get expensive I know, so we create a a list in which each mom will be responsible for a meal that feeds 15 one time during the year, and it is awesome. Usually they jump at the chance.

Commitment: I explain to my guys that for the year, my Wednesday nights for the year are blocked off from everything so that I can be at group and lead them. I explain that this is a non-negotiable for me and that I expect them to treat group the same way. When they signed up for group, they are committing to do their best to be there and participate. I tell them I understand sometime sports and family stuff will need to take priority at times, but in general I expect them to be there and they know that. If that is not a high priority then it would be a waste of both of our time.

#RealTalk: #RealTalk is something we say when it is time to get down to business. The first hour of us being together is hang out and eating and messing around, the second half of our time is #RealTalk where we dive into Scripture. Whether we are going through a passage or a curriculum, I tell them my job as their leader is to create discussion and then step back. I want them to do most of the talking and teaching and just talk through some of the stuff we are going through. I tell them that I am going to push them to think and that I am not afraid of silence because “silence is men thinking”. I let them know right off the bat, that if they are not going to take #RealTalk serious, that I will ask them to go home if they are being a distraction to our discussion. It is okay to have fun and be dumb while we are eating and hanging, but not during this time.

To be continued…


This is a video we did for our Fall-kick off last weekend as the countdown to the start of service was going on. It went really well and got some laughs. It was a ton of fun to make.

Missing Miracles

September 18, 2012 — Leave a comment

I have been reading through the Gospel of John lately, and in chapter two I found something that I never really noticed before that sort of stopped me in my tracks. John 2:1-7 says,

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”“Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[bJesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.”

We all have heard this story before. Jesus turns the water into wine. It is His first miracle that He does in public, but I do not want to focus on that. I want to focus on the servants who filled up the water jugs. Think about it, they were given the “blah” job. These were jars that held around 30 gallons of water EACH! It was heavy times six jars. Not a glorious job by any means but they did not say “This is not our job” or “This is not necessary”, they just simply obeyed and got to be apart of a miracle.

“His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[bJesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.”

By simply obeying Jesus by what seemed like a menial task the servants got to be apart of a huge miracle that launched Jesus into ministry and His name was spread. If we do what we feel Jesus is calling us to do, no matter how small and insignificant the task seems, we can have the opportunity to be apart of a miracle in someones life simply because we obeyed.

Doesn’t matter matter what it is, don’t miss out on a potential miracle because you thought yourself too good for a certain task. My prayer is that I always carry out what Jesus calls me to do, no matter the task, so that I may be able to be apart of the miracle to have His name spread like in John 2.

GUEST POST: Humble Beginnings

September 13, 2012 — 3 Comments

Recently I accepted the position of Saddleback Huntington Beach Student Ministries Director. I cannot begin to tell you how surreal that sentence is.

I come from a church in a small town where you are bound to run into at least ten people you know on a daily basis wherever you go. I had the honor of being the Jr. High Director for my home church for almost two years. I watched our ministry start with a handful of students and grow to 300+ in the course of a year. I’ve seen God do incredible things in our students lives on a daily basis.

Coming from a ministry where everyone “gets it” to a ministry where you have the challenge of starting from scratch really teaches you about humble beginnings. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” – Zechariah 4:10 NLT

I have the privilege of taking these handful of students back to the basics. I get to teach them why it’s important to read their bibles, why they should take notes, why they should serve, and why they should reach out to their friends.

Was it always an exciting feeling to start from scratch? To be honest… No. I knew it would be a challenge, but I also knew that God had called me to this and I also knew that He would be there every step of the way. I know ministry can be discouraging when you feel like students aren’t getting it, or when you feel like what you’re saying is going in one ear and out the other. I encourage you to celebrate the win.

What do I mean by that?

Every week I remind my students to bring their bibles and journals. For the first couple months I got nothing. The other day I had a student walk up to me and say “Hey Brenda! Look! I brought my bible and journal!” You better believe I celebrated that all morning! I even gave him a shout out during service for setting the example.

These things may not seem like a big deal, but to a ministry that is going back to the basics to build a solid foundation it is a huge step in the right direction. I celebrate that they stepped out and talked to someone. I celebrate that they invited a friend. I celebrate when they take notes. I celebrate the first time a student raises his or her hand in worship.

What gets rewarded gets repeated.

We may not be celebrating that we had 100’s of students show up on a Sunday morning (yet), but I am celebrating that they are making progress. If you aren’t moving forward then you’re standing still.

My advice to anyone in ministry: Celebrate the WIN. We so often as ministry workers tend to hear and fixate on the negative. I pray that we start recognizing that even if just one student gets something out of your weekly message then you’re doing something right and someone’s life is being changed.

Brenda Medina is the Student Ministries Director for Saddleback Huntington Beach. She is a lover of Christ. Encourager. Over analyzer. Writer. Reaching the next generation with passion and heart. Devoted to building up leaders, Brenda is available for any suggestions or comments.

Brenda Medina. Student Ministries Director | Saddleback HB

T: @_Bren_

F: BrendaSays


This is one of my best friends Jeremiah Mullins. We worked together at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas and we also lived together for 2 years. We shared a bunk bed as 23 year old men. I’m not ashamed to admit it. He’s in my wedding in 2 months. Love this guy with all my heart.

He just got hired at in Oklahoma as the Associate Worship Pastor on their main campus. This video is from of their worship experiences that they record for their satellite campuses as they wait for their live feed. It’s pretty incredible. Needless to say, I’m super proud of him on following where God has called him to go. He’s killing it out there and this video proves it.

Take a look.


Follow his music on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Who (a friend in ministry) can you send a quick text or note to encourage them and tell them your proud of what they are doing for the Kingdom of God? You should do that today. Who are you going to tell today?

In any position, expectations are important…very important! The person applying for a job needs to know what is expected of him first. If the boss does not lay out the expectations from the get go, he cannot expect for his employee to meet those expectations. Therefore, I blame this on the boss. In student ministry, it is important that you lay out the expectations for the youth leaders ahead of time. When I came to this student ministry, we already have had youth leaders in place, and I have not had to go out recruit much, but when I do, this is important. Lay out clear expectations for your youth leaders. Okay, we got that…now, what are some expectations that I should have for our youth leaders? Here are a few of those for you to start out with:

  1. Maintain a healthy growing time with Jesus– Youth leaders time with God will show in how they approach their ministry! If they have not been growing in the Word, you will see it lived out in youth group, and you cannot have this! Youth leaders must be steadily growing in their relationship with Jesus if they ever want the students to grow.
  2. Be faithful to church/youth group– This is a no brainer in our minds, but let me tell you from experience, the youth leaders need to hear it! It is important and vital that you stress this. We cannot ever expect our students to be faithful to church if we cannot be faithful. Tell your leaders that you expect them to be at church when the doors are open so that is applicable to however your church does its service times.
  3. Attend youth events– Now, there are going to be times when some youth leaders cannot attend certain events throughout the year, but they should be at many throughout the year for sure! This is their responsibility. Attending youth events is one of the best ways to build relationships with the students. They love seeing their leaders at stuff. It is tough, but from experience the leaders with the best relationships with their students are the ones who try to come to every youth event!
  4. Build relationships with their small group students’ parents– This is HUGE. I actually had a breakfast meeting this morning with one of our youth leaders discussing how we can be more involved in the home and the parents lives. I am learning that we are ministering to our parents as much as the students and your youth leaders must understand this from the get go! Therefore, they must try their best to talk with the parents and build a solid relationship with the parents throughout the year.
  5. Participate with enthusiasm– This is important to me. The reason is there is nothing worse than you being excited and no one else is. That is awful for the student pastor. If you have leaders (and you should), this should never happen! Meaning as long as leaders are there, there should never be a dull moment in youth group. If there are, it is the leaders responsibility to kick up the enthusiasm and energy. Expect this from your youth leaders.
  6. Follow Rules & boundaries of church– Every church and youth group have certain boundaries. Sometimes they are crazy and far-fetched, but every youth leader must know that they are responsible for teaching the students to follow rules whether or not they agree with them.
  7. Offer suggestions for improvement– I desire this from every youth leader. If you have 5 youth leaders, that is 5 different perspectives that you need to hear! I love hearing feedback from our youth leaders, but you should expect every leader’s feedback, not just the same few every single time.
  8. Attend training and leader’s meetings– This is another big thing that we struggle with. If you have a leader who skips out on all of the meetings that you have, they are not going to be much good. It is your responsibility to find the best time for the most leaders to attend and schedule it. Schedule them far in advance so that the leaders can plan accordingly. After that, it is the youth leader’s responsibility to attend! They must plan around important meetings.
  9. Follow through on responsibilities– If you give them a responsibility, follow through with it! Youth leaders who sit on things for a long while are not going to be good leaders. Find leaders who are eager to get things done for you. Also, if they suggest for you to do something, you must follow the example and the expectation of getting it done in a timely manner as well.
  10. Pray daily for the student ministry– This is another no-brainer, but it sometimes goes unnoticed. We expect so much when it comes to the program, but when it comes to the biggest thing like praying, we do not stress this! Every youth leader should be responsible and held accountable that they are praying daily for the student ministry!

I could go on and on, but these are 10 expectations that you must have! Remember to lay out the expectations early. The student pastor’s who are frustrated with their youth leaders and their performance are normally the ones who have not laid out the expectations that they desire!

*Josh Evans is the student pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church in the Winston Salem, NC area. You can connect further with Josh on this blog or send him a direct email at