I’m going to be a dad + the most amazing last two weeks in HSM

1 02 2012

There are a lot of exciting things going on right now in my life. My wife is pregnant, 36 students accepted Christ two weeks ago in Student Ministries, and 105 students expressed interest in going to Haiti with HSM this summer this past week. I feel like there is a movement going on in Student Ministries and there is definitely a bunch of new and exciting adventures going on at my house (like not getting any sleep because my wife moves around all night trying to get comfy. She is so insensitive!).

Here’s the story I shared with HSM two weeks ago:

Back in September of last year my wife and I realized something was missing from our life. We were really happy with how everything was going. We both had great jobs, awesome friends, an amazing marriage, a cute dog, and an unwavering faith but we still felt like something was missing.

 November rolled around and I went on a mini vacation with a few friends and when I got back my wife told me that she bought me something. I asked her what it was and she said a new shirt. I was thinking, “man she is excited about this new shirt she got me.” But my wife loves buying people gifts so I kind of brushed that aside. As she went to go get the shirt she told me to close my eyes and when I could hear that she was about 8 feet away from she said, “alright open them.” There in front of me was my wife holding up a little baby outfit. 

 The first thing I said was “that’s not going to fit me.” And she said “Can you just be serious for once?” So I focused in and asked her if she was pregnant. She said yes, we hugged, texted our parents and a few friends and sometime around July 20th I’m going to be a dad. The thing that was missing for us was a kid. We were ready to be parents, we felt like God was pushing us in that direction and the thing that was missing for us will no longer be missing in a few months.

This then led into a message about something missing in our lives and for a lot of people the missing component is Jesus Christ. This has been one of the most exciting couple of weeks in my life and I still feel like the best is yet to come!

Here’s a little recap of the lat two weeks.

Series: We are in the middle of our series on the Armor of God called “Ridiculousness”. On Jan. 8th we taught a message right out of Perry Noble’s (senior pastor at Newspring Church) book telling our students that Found People Find People. We encouraged them to invite their friends back on January 22nd. (We also started a pretty big buzz on social media surrounding that day by asking our students to hash tag everything with #J22. It was really cool to see them rally around that.) They responded in a huge way and that weekend 36 students that we know about texted us and told us they were ready to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The following week we encouraged students to move forward with what God has equipped them with and serve. In response to a one of our three new service initiatives in HSM that were presented to our students this past weekend, 105 of them said they wanted to go to Haiti with us this summer. They responded to the vision to take action.

Worship: Jan 22- The team opened with a song by Rhianna (We Found Love) and played Awake my Soul by Mumford and Sons halfway through the message. Kevin and I had a blast incorporating music into the message and the students really responded. They then finished with an awesome song of celebration called Freedom is Here.The goal was to create an environment that a student who has never been in the doors of a church would feel comfortable in.

Jan 29- Hear the Sound. Oh My God. From the Inside Out. One Thing Remains. Tyler led and did a great job!!

Fun: Jan 22- Played a couple Minute to Win It games that went really well. Jan 29- Played a game that ended with Steve S. (one of our apprentices) with whip cream all over to him. The students lost it!!

Areas of Improvement: We need to bring this energy, excitement, vision, etc. EVERY WEEK! We saw our potential and now we know we can make that happen week in and week out. Time to get to work.


Why We Do What We Do

6 01 2012

One of our High School students recently showed me the essay he wrote for his college application. I asked him if I could post it on my blog because of how much it encouraged me and the reminder for us “why we do what we do.”

Here it is:

Pepperdine University is a Christian university committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. How are you prepared to contribute to Pepperdine’s mission and community of faith, learning, and service?

“What? Why?” my mother said. Her question was not rhetorical. I had just announced my plans to go Haiti. I hadn’t even approached my father yet. Telling them why I wanted to go, I heard myself professing faith.

Although raised in a Catholic family, I was not actively involved in the church until I began attending a Christian church with my best friend. I was 15 and attending church with my friend was more an act of fun than act of faith. Before I even realized it, I was embedded in the system, frequently attending trips, activities and retreats with the youth group. I hadn’t recognized the progression in how or why I was choosing church events over other activities. Over time, I was choosing events with less rock walls and sports courts and more food banks and shelters. Service had become a part of my personal pursuits and I had not recognized the changes in how I felt or acted toward others.

On one retreat at Hume Lake I was up late staring at the sky waiting for my personal burning bush. I acknowledged in the night’s quiet, there would be no sign. I realized that an emptiness I had never named, was now a presence. That was the relationship with Christ people spoke of, the feeling within. I said to myself in that moment, I am a Christian, now what? I began wondering about values and commitment. I knew that I needed to discover more, and try to live life for the man that died on the cross for me. So, I brought my church to school where I founded a faith leadership chapter at my public school focusing on service and leadership and continued to attend church and youth group service activities.  The Haiti project was soon realized and I worked to raise money for a building project and service trip.

Once in Haiti I wasn’t off to a great start. I wasn’t taking things seriously, was obnoxious and had accidentally broken the only Haitian toilet leaving everyone without a restroom for two days. The Pastor sat me down for some re-direction. I questioned him, “What is the big deal? I didn’t do anything.” As if that wasn’t making his point for him? That was a long night in one of the poorest countries in the world, realizing that it is ridiculously easy to be ridiculous. It is so easy to get caught up in your own reality, to be afraid and dismissive instead of kind and curious. As Charles Hall, Dean of Seaver College wrote in an article in Pepperdine magazine (2011, Vol 3, Issue 3 p.5), “what people do most when they are confronted with difference- they stay with each other”…you could live a whole year in another country without knowing anything about people outside your own group”.  Faith shouldn’t be insular or afraid. Service is an act of faith, it has heart. Faith is an act of love, it has arms.  Leadership is loving with that heart and helping with those hands.


HSM Weekend Recap Dec. 17th & 18th

21 12 2011

December 17th & 18th

Series: This was the last week of our series “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” The theme for this week was that God saves us. Jay and I team taught again and had a really good time teaching together. It seems like we do a pretty good job of playing off one another. This week we taught through the story of Jesus’ birth found in Matthew. We talked about why Jesus came and what our response is. I thought the morning went really well and I think this series was a big time win for us.

Worship: Phenomenal this week. I sent a tweet out about how cool it was to have Dani and Michaela singing together because I was blown away while they were singing. Hark the Herald Angels Sing. O Come All Ye Faithful. The First Noel. Silent Night.

Fun: TJ came up with a game that had to do with understanding slang. He put a team of staff vs. a team of students and it ended up being one of the funniest games we have done in a while.

Areas of Improvement: I would still like to get our timing down a little better. The more time we have in the back end the better. It just means we need to a better job of cleaning stuff up near the beginning of the worship gathering.

Next Week: Off for Christmas

HSM Weekend Recap Dec. 10th & 11th

14 12 2011

December 10th & 11

Series: This was the third week of our series “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” The theme for this week was that God understand us. So far we have gone over “God does what He says He is going to do” and “God with us” leading up to this week. Jay Foulk was supposed to teach this week but came down with a 102.5 degree fever on Saturday night (he’s all better now). I through something together on Sunday morning and it seemed to go pretty well. I shared about how Jesus came and lived the same life that we live and that he understands our pain, hopelessness, loneliness, and hurt. I also talked about Mary and how she chose to rejoice in the midst of a trial.

Worship: Angels We Have heard on High. Furious. Beautiful. Aftermath. O Holy Night. (And let’s not forget “Joy to the World” 🙂 I played it at the beginning of the message).

Fun: TJ and I led a Christmas Carol gargling game. Students were laughing and really connecting with what was happening on the platform. We also showed a really funny video to start the service that showed different reactions to Christmas presents. Great job on the fun element this week.

Areas of Improvement: I think with the message getting thrown together last minute things went pretty well this week. We had to get extra chairs out this week and I would say the area we need to improve the most on is asking staff or students to be prepared to make that happen earlier. All in all a really good week though.

Next Week: The Most Interesting Man in the World: Week 4-”God Saves Us”


HSM Weekend Recap November 27th & 28th

30 11 2011

November 27th & 28th

Series: This was the first week of our series “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Our focus for this series is going to be centered on HOPE. We taught through the Isaiah 9 passage this week and explained to the students that God does what He says He is going to do. Students are going through a pretty tough time right now with the passing of a Livermore High School student and I think a message of Hope really resonated with a lot of them.

Worship: We ended the message with upbeat music playing behind it. I think it went really well and I felt like Tyler and the band rocked it this week. Light Will Shine. Blessed Be Your Name. You Never Let Go. Revelation Song.

Fun: We played some game involving sweet potatoes. It seemed like a filler. We definitely need to bring something better to the table next week. We also showed a baby headbanging video that could have been set up better.

Areas of Improvement: Well the element of fun is easy for this week. I think we figured out what happens when we try to throw something together last minute. I’ve always said that we aren’t going to do a game just to do a game. This week we did. Looking forward to improving that for next week.

Next Week: The Most Interesting Man in the World: Week 2-“God With Us”

10 Reasons Why I Am THANKFUL for Our Volunteer Staff

22 11 2011

  1. They are consistent. There are so many inconsistencies in the lives of students that the church better be consistent. Our volunteer staff is one of the most consistent things in our students’ lives.
  2. They are selfless. Students and their needs are constantly put in front of the needs of our staff. I love seeing our staff serving in this ministry because they care about our students and not just because they want to be a part of the team.
  3.  They are active. About once every day I hear a story about one of our staff taking a student out to lunch, going to his/her sporting event, recital, play, or show, or driving countless miles just to hang out with them. These aren’t passive relationships, they are very ACTIVE.
  4. They are present. Students know that when they come to our staff they will encounter someone who is FULLY there. This is another one of those things they don’t experience very much.
  5. They are concerned. Our staff not only cares for our students but they really want to know what is going on in their life. If there is a problem they want to fix it and if there is a joy they want to celebrate it.
  6. They are an example. The lifestyles our staff projects are of lives fully committed and centered on God. They project and live it!! Enough said.
  7. They are good. Our staff is really good at what they do. I would take a lot of people from our volunteer staff and put them up against full time, paid youth pastors around the world.
  8. They are strategic. Our staff puts a lot of time and energy thinking through how to be effective. Their thorough thought process makes our ministry way better than if there were just a few of us trying to figure out how to reach students.
  9. They are compassionate. I can say without hesitation that our staff really does LOVE our students. It is a love that communicates the value and worth of a teenager and it creates a healthy environment for students. The community our staff is building goes deeper than most communities I have experienced.
  10. They are leading the next generation of the church. I know I may be a little biased here but High School and Junior High School students are the most important group to be investing in. These students are not only the next generation of the church but are the next leaders that will do MIND-BLOWING things for the Kingdom of God.


HSM Weekend Recap Nov. 12th & 13th

15 11 2011

November 12th & 13th

Series: This week we had Becky teach on Emotional Health to close out our Biggest Loser series. She did a great job explaining the importance of opening yourself up to God and giving him any of your struggles worries, hurts, pains, fears, etc. Students left knowing that God wants those things from you because He cares about you. It was really good to have a strong female presence on the platform this week. We also had Ali do announcements with me.

Worship:Worship connected with the students, the message, and you could tell that everyone on the platform had a fun time playing with one another and worshiping God together. Light Will Shine. Amazing Grace. Beautiful Things. Everything.

Fun:TJ had a game planned that we didn’t end up getting to. We showed the video of parents telling their kids that they ate their Halloween candy and then sang Happy Birthday to all of our November birthdays. It was a ton of fun and created a lot of energy.

Areas of Improvement: We finally got in to our new room this week and there are a lot of things we need to figure out how to do better in that room with the new set up. We need to provide something for students to interact with and do before the service starts. We need to figure out how to make the room more welcoming to a HSer. It’s exciting because there is a newness and excitement and we want to get the most out of that right now!!

Next Week: Guest Speaker form “Christianity and the Middle East” Conference

HSM Weekend Recap Oct. 29th and 30th

1 11 2011

Oct. 29 & 30

Series: I heard the end of our Replay series ended really well last week. I was in Hawaii with my beautiful wifey but it sounded like a real moving weekend. This week we started our newest series, “The Biggest Loser”. I taught on what it means to be spiritually healthy and told our students that the best way to be spiritually healthy is to read your Bible and reflect on what it says. I taught on Ezra (mostly chapters 7-10) and challenged the students to read Psalm 119 and allow it to become a part of them.

Worship:Worship went really well. The band did a great job prompting the students this week. Light Will Shine. The Stand. Amazing Grace. From the Inside Out. Everything.

Fun:TJ and Sando did announcements in a Turkey and pilgrim outfit. Really strange but I think the students liked it. They also did a Halloween Trivia game and it all led in to promoting our biggest event of the year coming up Wednesday night.

Areas of Improvement: I need to do a better job of getting everyone on the same page. It was tough being gone this week but I also really appreciate knowing I can leave for a week and everything is going to be taken care of. I think we need to continue to grow on the programming end, the fun end, the teaching, the worship, etc. (If you’re paying attention that is pretty much all we do. We haven’t arrived and I hope we keep the mindset that we need to continue to grow as we surrender the weekend to God and let Him do His thing.)

Next Week: The Biggest Loser- Physical Health (Week 2)

HSM Weekend Recap October 15th & 16th

19 10 2011

October 15th and 16th

Series: This was the second to last week in our series on regret and we changed it up a little bit more today. I team taught again but this time we had the opportunity to hear a female perspective. Becky Fitch and I taught on disciple and how being disciplined keeps us from regret. Becky did a fantastic job and I can’t wait to hear her teach again! We also had the best Saturday night program we have ever had. Instead of teaching we broke up into small groups and I’m pretty convinced that we have to stick with that game plan for now.

Worship:Worship was a blast! So much energy and excitement and during Come Thou Fount at the end of the service the students sang louder than I have ever heard. I love seeing and hearing them praise God with everything they are. Rise, Here is Our King, Like an Avalanche, Come Thou Fount

Fun: TJ and I did a hot seat with a few students and it definitely could have gone better. We also started something new this week with our “Video of the Week”. Each week we will find a funny video and use it to kickoff our gatherings. I’m really excited about finding more ways to have fun together.

Areas of Improvement: I think the big one this week is programming. Our bumper video didn’t start on time and some of the sound stuff didn’t really click. Not a huge deal but I think we can improve here.

Next Week: Replay (Week 4)- Students share how they have grown from regret.

5 Expectations of a GREAT Weekend Volunteer/Student Leader

12 10 2011

5 expectations of a great HSM volunteer on the weekend:

  1. Be on time to the 10:45am prayer meeting.
  2. Consistently greet, sit, and connect with students (Not in the back with other leaders).
  3. Look for new students and students sitting alone.
  4. Solve problems and have a mindset of service.
  5. Look at every moment as an opportunity for spiritual growth in the lives of students.

5 expectations of a great HSM student leader on the weekend:

  1. Be on time to the 10:45am prayer meeting.
  2. Make sure you and your crew knows what their job is and is making it happen.
  3. Consistently greet, sit, and connect with students (Not just other student leaders).
  4. Look for new students and students sitting alone.
  5. Solve problems and have a mindset of service.
  6. Look at every moment as an opportunity for spiritual growth in the lives of other students.