Archives For April 2013

This last weekend in HSM we had workshop weekend. It is not something we normally do but we were in between series and needed a one-off for the weekend. We came up with workshop weekend. In a nut shell, we start off the service like normal, countdown, video, intro, a few songs, but then it usually goes into a message time, instead of one corporate message, we had four messages. 

We had 4 of our staff team up with a student and they co-taught a message. The weekend had an over arching theme of Comparison and Compassion. Each one of the 4 workshops took a more specific approach. Each workshop was in a different part of the building and the students got to choose which workshop they wanted to go based on the title and description. The topics were: Comparing to Those Who are Closest to You, Judging: Good or Bad?, Today’s Compassion: Everyone Has a Story, and Self-Compassion: How to Let Go Of Whatever You’re Holding On To.

Overall, it was a huge success. Here are some of the reasons why I feel it went so well:

Students got to teach: It was awesome to get some more students teaching. Having them being able to work alongside each staff member was such a great learning experience. The students owned it. They came up with some great content and personal stories. Nothing keeps attention during the service more than if one of their own peers is up on stage teaching.

Everyone picked what they wanted to hear: Instead of one overall message, this gives the option to maybe pick something that the students either want to know more about or they picked the certain workshop because it was something they were currently dealing with right now in their life. The workshop I was teaching in, Jordan (the student) and I had a ton of great conversations afterwards about our breakout. Jordan was pumped that his story was able to help others. It was a great to see.

It breaks the service down:  I loved workshop weekend because it got to spilt up the students into smaller groups. I got to meet and talk to quite of few new students or students that I never have met before. It was such a great relational piece on my end. I loved it.

It is a great way to keep things on the toes: Students didn’t know what this weekend looked like. They came in thinking it was going to be just another normal service. I think for the most part they all loved the option of choosing which one they wanted to learn more about. It is always nice to change things once in a while and have it go so well. 


Spring Break Re-Cap

April 25, 2013 — Leave a comment


This is a recap video from our spring break trip. This is one of my favorite trips we do and it is amazing because even weeks later students are still talking about it. We partner with CIY (Christ in Youth) and they help us find different organizations to partner up with. It really is quite incredible to see students pay to go to camp to work their butt off. People we are serving also think that it is quite incredible as well. And the students just kill it. I’m so proud of them.

We get to partner with our junior high ministry as we had 126 student with 12 vans that spread out across the county serving in a whole bunch of different ways. It is not all work. We work until 4pm, we head back to our hotel, clean up and head to a local Christian college to eat. That night we have a program with music, teaching, and worship.

If your group doen not do something like this, you need to. What a great way to start some awesome and fruitful friendships and to really show students how to be the hands of feet of Jesus in this world.

I remember is college one of my professors told me something when it comes to leadership that I have latched on to and practiced ever since then. And it keeps proving to me over and over that this is so beneficial to me and the ministry that I am a part of. I was reminded of way it is so important this week as I was able to talk to a good friend about some real stuff in my life to keep me in check and I thought I would share it. I do not know if my professor came up with it, or it is just something that is known in leadership but I know it has something I have seen played out so many times and I truly believe all in leadership need this model.

It’s the “+” model.

The top of the + is someone that is older and more experienced in you. A mentor basically. Someone who you can go to and be poured into. Someone who you can go to with questions about life, ministry and relationships. Because we as leaders are constantly pouring out into others, we need to make sure we have someone who is pouring into us. My + top is my dad, who is an amazing man of God and who I do to for anything and everything about the Bible, life, leadership. I also try and grab lunch with a few guys on our staff who I look up to in ministry a few times a month. I love those times where I can just sit and learn from some of the best leaders in our church.

The left of the + is someone within your own ministry or church that you have a good friendship with. They are you supportor and friend within ministry so if there is anything internal, you can go to them there and quickly run by something or vent something that you know is a safe place to do so. I have a few of those on my team and in the church and it is so helpful and awesome to know I can have friends whom I can trust internally.

The right of the + is a friend/friends who are in the same stage of life as you and in ministry who do not work at your church. They are in ministry but not at the same place. These people are safe people you can go to for help with your own ministry, to vent about your own ministry and to ask an outsiders opinion. I believe it is truly important to be able to have a safe person to go to outside of your own place of ministry because they won’t be biased and you know you can trust them with what is said. Sometimes you just need to let something out and it does not always work so well with someone in your own ministry. Because they are in ministry they understand and they might be able to speak into your life a little.

The bottom of the + is someone who you pour into. If you are in ministry, you got this one down. You are either pouring into your team, volunteers, students, etc. A lot fot he times we just do this and it can be draining because we are not being poured into ourselves. That is why I believe this + model is so important.

Who are your top, left, and right of the plus? It is important to get them in your life.

You Talk Too Much

April 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

I was talking to some students this week and were asking them about their small group and how it was going. I sensed some hesitation in their answer of “good” so I dug a little deeper. Overall, they said their leaders talked too much. Out of the hour of the actual Bible study time, the leaders would teach for a good 40 minutes. Basically a sermon. The students said the content was good, which knowing the leaders, I know it was but they wanted more time to talk and discuss.

Small groups for students is where I believe the life change happens. It is where they are able to dig deeper in their faith and that small group allows the opportunity to do so.

The group is for the students, not you.- Save the in depth Bible study for your own time. This is not the time to show how well you studied, but it is a time to be a pastor to your students and hear them out and what they have to think.

Stop talking. – I think the most I have ever taught in a small group setting is 10 minutes, 15 if I really am feeling it. The rest of the time needs to students talking it out. It is really important that they are the ones who are talking all of this through. You just studied in preparation for this group (hopefully), we know you know it. Your students don’t yet. When they are able to actually talk through it, read through it themselves, you are there to answer them. But I try to allow them to try to answer any question among themselves.

Start the fire, walk away. – I like this saying. I’m TM’ing it right now. Your job as the leader is to set the study up, ask the questions and back up and let them answer. I feel what makes a great small group leader is not one who teaches the whole time but is able to facilitate a conversation between a group of people that does not die down but is in a continuous state. Some of what I feel my best nights of group is when I am just asking a few questions and the students are talking out what they are thinking and basically finding their own answers.

Students minister to students.  I think this is my favorite part when we as leaders step back. I know one of my guys in my group has not made the decision to follow christ yet. But he comes every single week. He asked a very honest question, “What does it mean to worship God and how do you do that?” He asked it to me, but I opened it up to the group so they (most of them have been believers for a couple years now) and the results were amazing. I got to watch as these high school guys opened up to share what they feel what it means to worship and how they do it in their own lives. What a cool moment as students were ministering to another student. My heart was full that night.Instead of me as the leader, he got to hear from his peers and I know that was so much more powerful.

It’s a safe place. – I always stress this. Sometimes small group is the only place some students feel that they could vent what they are dealing with in life. They don’t have anyone at home to do it with. Or at school. But group could be the only place. I always stress this and always allow a time in group for prayer requests and so we can allow anyone to share what is going on. It is so important to know that this place is safe and they can be real there. Once that trust is broken, good luck getting them to share again. But it is really hard to share when we as leaders are taking up the whole time teaching and talking.


I’m really excited about Ignite:Engage. If you don’t know what Ignite is, it is basically some of my pastor friends and I trying to get as many churches, as many Next Generation groups (jr. high through college) to get together a few nights a year to tear down the barrier walls and come together worship and learn together. It is really exciting as more and more churches are coming out for this completely free event to be encouraged as believers to go out and love God and love people. 

You can check out Ignite by clicking here and I would love if you “liked” our Facebook page. The next event is May 3rd, at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. 


If you live any where near SoCal, you are invited to come and hang out with your entire group. It’s going to be an incredible light and God is going to move.

Little about the May 3rd’s Ignite teachers and bands:

Brian Holland: Along with being part of the founding duo of Ignite, Brian Holland has been in ministry for 19 years in Southern California. While 17 of those years were spent serving in high school ministry, he is currently the young adult’s pastor at Pomona First Baptist Church. He is an outstanding speaker; he’s captivating, funny, but most importantly passionate to see people come to know Jesus. He is asked to speak at many camps, chapels, and special events all over the country throughout the year. He has an amazing wife, Kelley, who passionately loves Jesus, and two boys, Tyler (8) and Dylan (6). Brian’s purpose for ministry is to exalt Jesus as the greatest – one life at a time.

Ronny Roa: He has been a driving force among Next-Gen leaders for the past 5 years. Having been lead pastor at “Generate” in Corona, CA, he has inspired literally thousands with a desire to see the world changed for Jesus Christ. Ronny is passionate about the local church and training up the next generation. Ronny now works at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA.

Valley Worship:They are a community of songwriters from Christ’s Church of the Valley dedicated to using the medium of song and lyric to equip and empower others into a life of fully devoted worship. They are a movement birthed by a community whose prayer is to be the voice of truth, hope, and inspiration in their community and beyond; to bring forth the Gospel through music that is from the church, for the church. Each of the songs from Valley Worship are rooted out of the desire to worship by the Word, worship daily, and worship unashamedly. Their most recent projects are their self-entitled album, Valley Worship, and their newest released sing, “Alive.”

Ryan Hall: Along with being the second part of the founding duo that started IGNITE, RYAN HALL is active in leading worship and Next Gen ministries at Living Waters Church in Pasadena. He has been leading worship for over 10 years, and in 2009, he released a debut album of original songs. Last year, three of Ryan’s songs were featured on the Pasadena International House of Prayer’s (PIHOP) first worship album “Worthy of it All.” Ryan has been blessed with a number of opportunities to lead worship at Mexico Outreach with Azusa Pacific University, at PIHOP and at several churches and events in Southern California and around the world. Last year, he and his wife Karen welcomed with joy their first baby girl, Lily. Their heart is to see this next generation not only catch the transformational power of worship but to see them lead lives fully surrendered to Jesus.

Last year we thought we would throw a dinner for all of the senior small groups as we end our school year. It was such a hit! We thought it would be a great way to thank and celebrate the seniors and the group leaders, most of which have been together for four years, as a way to say we will miss you when they are out of our ministry hands.

It was such a hit we decided to do it again and the RSVP’s are coming in hot! We even had to move it into a bigger room this year. So exciting. This is a great night and I thought I would highlight some of the things we do to send off our senior groups well. I’m not saying this is the best way to send them off, it is just our way of doing it. I hope it can spark some ideas!

Free Dinner- We feed them. That is always a plus. We have our kitchen cater the event and it is always good to get students and their leaders around circle tables and just share a meal together.

Special Speaker- We bring in Kurt Johnston, our hd of all student ministries here at Saddleback, and he talks to them about life after high school and challenges them to keep going on in the faith. It is always good.

Prayer- We have a time of prayer for the students and the leaders for them to pray as group for the upcoming summer before they all go off to college.

Stories- Stories are so powerful. And funny. So we prompt some questions like, what was one of your favorite, funniest, best conversations, etc that you had in small group over the years.

Photos- We ask the leaders to start gathering pictures of their group over the last few years and put it in a slide show that we play during dinner and while people are just hanging out. It is so great to see all of the pictures of the leaders with their groups and how much they have grown.

Affir-MASON Jars- This was Jessica’s idea, but they were a hit. There is a mason jar in the middle of the table, and we had the students write affirmations about their leader and put them in the jar. Each student had one as well. So the whole group throughout the night were able to put encouraging notes to their leader and small group mates so they can read later. Very sweet idea.

Free Resource- We gave all the seniors the book “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman. Just to have and to read and encourage them in their faith walk when they are no longer in our ministry. This year I have a few books in mind. The top one so far is “Jesus is _______” by Judah Smith. But we will see.

This event is such a great way to celebrate our seniors and our senior group leaders. And it was a huge hit last year and it’s looking to be another huge hit this year.

I had a conversation with a buddy who works in the junior high ministry. He just got the job over there and was telling me how much he loved it so far. He has been in youth ministry before but not in an all junior high setting. We were talking and her said he loved junior high because they almost accept you immediately. If you like to have fun and you tell them to go wave at that random person, they will and think you are the funniest person ever. I told him I wish it was like that in high school. You almost have to prove yourself to high schoolers before you can have any sort of relationship with them. They are more on the defensive about you until you can get a good rapport with them. Junior highers are like dogs who love you immediately and want to be your best friend and high schoolers are like cats who you need to prove your loyalty to them first before they love you. So how do you do that?

Here are some ways I have found it easy to win over a high schoolers heart for them to start a relationship with you:

Food. It truly is the way to a high schoolers heart. If you look at Jesus and how he got to break down the walls between Him and sinners, he was always around a table eating a meal with them. There is something about free food that screams, “Hey, I like you” and will break down the guard. My small group has food before every group. The moms take turns cooking full-blown meals. It’s awesome. I really do think our group has grown so much closer this year because we spend an hour at the table eating and talking life.

Invade their space a little. Get on their campus. Who cares that when you are on their every student knows you don’t fit in there and they know you are an outsider so they stare at you. Get past that. Because when your students see you at their school 1) they are so surprised 2) they ask, “What are you doing here?” and when you say, “Just wanted to come hang out with you all a bit” they are so stoked 3) you get a chance to meet their friends and 4) it shows you think about them and care for them outside your group on whatever day you meet. That means a ton to them. When you leave, you are bombarded by students coming to you and saying they will see you at services. It’s awesome. Of course, don’t sneak on, always follow the rules on getting on campus. Oh, and if you can bring food to them while invading their space a little, double points.

Invite them places. Every Sunday we have an hour break between the two services. usually the students who are involved in the services are just hanging out. So I started to invite students (mostly difference ones every time) to do an AMPM run with me while we are just hanging out. We get slurpees. It is such an easy way for me to get to know these students a little better and they feel like I actually want to be with them and know them. I do the same when I need to run errands the ministry and always invite students to come and hang out. Again, time with them means a ton.

Time and intentionality. It takes both putting time in and being intentional about it. Both of these things are big when it comes to getting in high schoolers good rapport. They can smell a fake from far away. They know when you are genuine. The more and more you spent time with them and intentionally want to hang out, trust is built. And when the time does come where they come to you for help in any matter, it means a ton. They also vouch for you to their friends about how you were there for them and it can open up the doors to more students to gain a rapport with.

Just some tips on my end that has helped me with students. What would you add?

Here is my latest message from HSM a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed this series. This is week 4 of a 6 week series. I got to talk (with some help from my friend Colton) about how we were made to serve. Check it out.

I think every ministry wants to have stellar worship. I think every youth pastor/worker wants to see their students passionately worship. Want to see their student who are welcoming new students. Want to see their students bring their friends to church. Want to see their students pray for other students.I think every ministry wants to see their students read the Bible and study it in a way that changes their lives. Am I right?

I was thinking about this the other day. I was thinking about how some students do not do any of this. I got a little annoyed. But then I felt conviction. I had the thought of, “Are they not doing it because they do not see me doing it?” I felt two feet tall. If we are really honest with ourselves, a lot of the time we are so busy talking about all of the things above to our students that we are not actually living it out ourselves. Our ministry gets distracted by doing…. well, ministry. It was and has been a real gut check for me.

When music is going, do I stop and passionately worship?

When I meet a new student, do I stop and really get to meet them instead of running around pre-service getting ready for the service?

When I told to a student, do I stop and pray with them right then and there or do I say, “I’ll pray for you.” and then forget to later?

Am I reading my Bible everyday and study it in a way that will change my life?

Am I really bringing my friends who don’t know Jesus to church with me?

Stop and really ask yourself these questions. Maybe we are not seeing our students do these things because they do not see their pastors doing these things. This is something I am trying my hardest to do. I’m not going to lie, I have seen quite  a difference in student’s reactions to these things since I have been doing them. Maybe it’s catching on.

If we are leading, we need to lead by example. Lead it.

Jesus and Small Groups

April 11, 2013 — 4 Comments

As a Christian we are to be Christ like. We are to mirror the image of Jesus and the ideas of how he did ministry. Jesus was a fan of small groups because with his small group of 12, it was the back bone of His ministry when he was not physically there anymore. Jesus loved the huge crowds, he hung out in them, preached to them, did miracles in them.

But he spent a majority of the time with his disciples  A group of 12 men. And even within the group, their was an inner group in which he would focus on. It’s just something that I noticed when reading. I’m not saying that every small group is like this but I look at mine, and I can see a very similar structure.

The Crowd: Jesus preached to the crowd. Spent some time with them as a whole. This is our youth groups. What ever night you meet would be your crowd. You love them, hang out with them and know them by name. As the leader you need to spend time with them. Large group is important. Jesus would spend time on a midweek or weekend main service. We need to do the same and go all out to reach non-believers.

The group: This is your group or your leaders small group of students that they spend their time with outside the crowd. This is the Bible study, the group of people they will “do life” with on a weekly basis. It’s not so general but its more specific on their lives and their lives with you in it. Jesus spent a majority of His ministry with his disciples. He knew them. He hung out with them. He had parties with them, laughed with them, ministered to them far beyond what we did with the crowd.

The 3: Jesus had 3 men within the group he spent more time with than the others. Peter, James and John. These are the 3 he took with him on the mountain with Moses and would take to pray off to the side. This doesn’t mean that he loved them more or was playing favorites, he he invested more in these men because they later became huge pillars in starting the Church.

We can do the same with our groups. There are students within the small group that come on a regular basis but miss here and there because of business or sports. But there are always a few that do not miss at all, who are there every single week, who ask you to hang out outside of group and you do. Those students you invest into because you simply get more time with them and you get to dig deeper into their lives.

The One: John was the Beloved Disciple. He seemed to have this special relationship with Jesus that just clicked. He was the one that God revealed to him about Revelation and whom Jesus loved. There is that one student who you see that if you were to specifically and intentionally hang out with, they would be your one because you see the potential that they have in Christ. They tend to be your helper, the one who you might ask to help you out in ministry more outside of group. It’s the one that maybe take in your own footsteps.

This is just something I thought was interesting as I was looking at small groups and how Jesus ran his. Does your small group fit this model?