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.

HSM Weekend Recap October 8th & 9th

11 10 2011

October 8th and 9th

Series:We are still on our series created for students by students and we had a great time teaching on growing from regret this week. TJ and I team taught and Saturday night was a little rocky so we did a pretty drastic change to the message from Saturday to Sunday. The change ended up going over really well. We also tried something new with the ending to the message. It was more of a charge/commission ending that you might hear from a football coach, so the band played some up beat music behind me as I closed out the message. Students WERE FIRED UP!! It was really cool to try something for the first time and have it work really well.

Worship:We changed it up this week and did 4 songs up front and finished with one song. The change went really well and the more we lead them in worship the more students will jump on board. Rise, Light Will Shine, Came to my Rescue, Aftermath, Freedom is Here.

Fun: Sando did a little mixer and asked students to go around and introduce themselves to one another and talk about what they are going to dress up as for Halloween. We had a lot of energy this week even though a few of our school had homecoming the night before. We have a bunch of Homecomings coming up the next few weeks so we are going to have to keep this trend going.

Areas of Improvement: It was good to have change. I’d like to see us come up with a more consistent plan for how we do games/element of fun during the week.

Next Week: Replay (Week 3) – Suffer Discipline or Suffer Regret.