Category Archives: Ministry

Kalahari Retreat 2011 – By the Numbers

2543 – Total chairs set up for sessions and meals

1225 – 1ft x 1ft sheets of bubble-wrap

1200 – Glow-sticks, glow-necklaces, and glow-bracelets

1181 – Students and adults

200 – 2ft x 2ft x2ft white cardboard boxes

82 – Hilarious minutes spent with comedian Michael Jr.

60+ – 1st time decisions for Christ!

19 – Giant cardboard heads of youth pastors and leaders

10 – Amazing worship sets

8 – Dancers

7 – Great musicians in the worship band, Exodus

4 – Parody videos (“Love the Way You Slide”, (“Flip-Flops”), (“Kalahari, Kalahari”), (“Kalahari Gurls” – stay tuned)

3 – Students sharing their testimony of how God has worked in their lives

2 – Air mattresses ridden across the crowd

1 – Amazing weekend

Have any numbers to add?



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MSM Mission Trip – Dayton Recap Vid

We (Middle School Ministries) went on a mission trip in July to Dayton, Ohio to partner with a church plant for some local service projects and other ways to help them reach their community. We took 20 7th and 8th graders and here’s our recap video of the week.

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A Typical Night IN Small Groups

Written to our Small Group leaders…

The previous post talked about the overall flow of a night at Small Groups. This will talk about the flow within that 50 minute block while you are actually IN the Small Group. This is not set in stone, but more of a guide for how to use that time with your students and minute designations are just estimations.

5-10 min – Week Recap – Don’t expect to just ‘jump right in’ with whatever lesson is on for that night. Some students haven’t seen each other since last Small Groups and maybe you haven’t seen any of them since last time either. Take a few minutes at the beginning to catch up with the highlights (or lowlights) from the past week. This will give them a designated time for sharing and this will help them focus for the rest of the time.

15-20 min – Devo Recap – With our new format for student devotions, we are placing a high priority on students being actively engaged in Scripture outside of church. By devoting a good chunk of time to recapping what they’ve read, they will see its importance and want to participate in the discussion. So instead of just asking “How many days did you do your devos?”, you can actually say, “Ok, Jimmy, on Wednesday when we were reading in _________, what did you put down for #3?”

20 -25 min – Lesson – This is where you (as a group) discuss that night’s lesson. I’m sure as you are looking through your leader guide, you will see there’s probably enough material for a 3 hour discussion. So pick a couple of your favorite questions/illustrations/etc (or come up with your own!) and use those to get a ‘solid’ 20 minute(ish) discussion out of them. Remember, this is not meant to be a 20 minute lecture where you (the leader) talk and they (the students) listen. Emphasize discussion and inclusion of everyone in it.

10-15 min – Prayer Requests/Prayer – This is an easy one to rush through or skip all together. Since it’s usually at the end, it becomes expendable, but fight the urge to just say, “Well, who wants to close in prayer?” Have students share requests and have them write down those requests so that they can (ideally) pray for them during the week. This is also for you so you can follow-up with requests during the week (through Facebook/email/text message) or just at a later meeting (“Hey Jenny, how’s __________ going?”). It shows that you care and helps build into the students a value of prayer in their own lives. Be sure to give students opportunities to pray OUTLOUD for each other too. It might seem weird and scary for some, but after awhile they might feel comfortable enough to join in. Again, we (you) are building the value of prayer and praying for each other into their lives.

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Filed under Middle School, Ministry, Small Groups

A ‘Typical’ Night @ Small Groups

After taking the Summer ‘off’ from Small Groups, Sunday night kicked them back ‘on’ for the school year. In case you are/were wondering what our Small Groups look like on a ‘typical’ night, check it out below.

**I will be using our Sunday nights as the model, so for Wednesdays, just start everything an hour later.

5:30-5:50 Leader Pre-Meeting

5:45-6:05 – Students arrive and hang out in Student Ministry Center Lobby

5:50-6:05 – Talk with students in Student Ministry Center lobby as they arrive

6:05-6:20 – First 15 (Group activity w/all students & leaders)

6:20-7:15 – Actual ‘group time’ in meeting room

Later this week, I will be posting some thoughts on the ‘group time’ and breaking it down a little more to give you some ideas how to use that 50 minutes a week with the students in your group.

– Josh

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Filed under Middle School, Ministry, Small Groups

Beyond – Monday

I love camp.

I love(d) coming early and working with the lighting/tech guys building the stage/set for the week. The guys I’m working with, particularly Nathan and Josh are both incredible at what they do and add so much not only because of their abilities, but because of their hearts as well.

I love working with Exodus (they were with us @ Kalahari). They are all tremendously talented, but they also have great attitudes and are willing to do whatever they’re asked. I’m thankful to them, Betsy, and everyone at the Liberty Ministry Team crew for working with us to have them come and hang with our (your) students for the week.

I love hanging out with your students. Whether I’m seeing them for the first time and they greet me with a slow-clap or I’m tooling around while they’re eating acting like I’m going to take their food, your students are a BLAST (and it’s only Monday!) We have prayed and are praying for each one of your students to allow God to work in their lives during their time here, and everything that they experience here this week (along with a willing and open heart) will hopefully help accomplish that.

I love working with our leaders. Ian, Allison, and Hope have all said that they want to give a week of their summer to spending time with and investing in your students. And while Ian as the Middle School Intern pretty much has to be here, all three of them have already jumped right in and have been  building into the students. They will have many chances to get to know your student throughout the week and hopefully influence them in some way for the cause of Christ.

Lastly, I love camp because of what it has meant in my life. Even before I was old enough to be a camper, I was here, at Pleasant Valley Ranch, with my dad who was running what was then called “Operation Everything.” I’ve been a junior camper, I’ve been a junior high camper, I’ve been a high school leader, a head counselor, and now a director on the core leadership team…all here at this camp. I’ve pretty much seen it all, but it still gets me excited to see a student connect with God in a real way at camp. That’s what makes the late nights, the long hours, all of the peripherals, worth it. The students. Your students.

I love camp.

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The (2) Thing(s) That Will NEVER Change

We welcomed in a new class of 7th graders in Middle School Ministry (MSM) this past Sunday morning (5/30). They weren’t that hard to spot; they were the ones taking baby steps and looking all around them like it was their first time at Disney  (not that I’m comparing our service to Disney……….ours is WAY cooler.)

In trying to give them something to leave with that is both tangible and understandable on their first day in MSM, I decided to talk to them about change. And as I was preparing during the week, I was thinking about all the things that change before we get to high school. Here’s what I wrote down on my white board:

– Food (As a baby, you eat baby food. But hopefully as a middle-schooler, you’ve since graduated to solid foods.)

– Diaper (Hopefully, this also is in the “past tense” category of your life)

– Relationship with Parents (You go from saying, “Sit with me, daddy!” to , “I said 200 feet, no closer!”)

Punishments, and athletic skills, and clothes, and friendships, and vocabulary, and favorites (movies, sports teams, music), school (teachers, classrooms, assignments), and privileges/responsibilities, and looks, and homes you’ve lived in, and……..


That’s a lot of things that are changing! Pretty much everything in a student’s life has changed or will change in the near future. And somewhere in all that is a desire and a need to develop some sort of identity. Can you see why students’ struggle with who they are? All of the things that they identify themselves AS are really just things that they DO.

Isn’t there ANYTHING that they can depend on?

Yes, there is ONE thing. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” What a GREAT message that we have when we can tell a student that everything around them will change EXCEPT for God and His unconditional love for us.

The 2nd thing that I would list as unchanging is God’s Word. And I tend to keep these two (God and His Word) very close together. That’s why I reference 2 things (but really, 1 BIG thing) that never change. The same passage in Joshua 1:9 that says, “…the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” that they read as a 7th grader will be the same passage as a sophomore in college.

We begin a new era in MSM with a new class. And although they will change and so will we, it’s encouraging to know that there are 2 things that won’t.

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Rap in Church (sort of)

Recently, I was given the opportunity to write a spoken word/poetry/rap/thing (still not sure what to call it) for our Easter service here at the church. I wanted it to in a real way, to be a re-telling of the Easter story, but also take it beyond that into the “so what” of the story and how it affects how we live our lives today. Below is the video of me actually doing it and beneath that are the words. Hope you like it!

[Vimeo 10778592]

Forever, Death is Conquered

It’s a pretty familiar story, told in all of its glory
The Risen King, coming to bring a reason to sing!
Or at least show up on Sunday
It’s got all the ingredients, all the pieces in place
One man accused; mocked, beaten, abused
Everyone against him, no one to stand with him
Seems like an open and shut case

Put on display as something less than a man
The mock trial began as he stands before the people
The same people who praised and with palm-branches raised
Shouted “Hosanna” with a worshipful gaze
My how things can change in just a couple-a-days
But now all he hears are chants of “Crucify him!”
And as he looks around, still no one stands beside him

Put him up on a cross; the last bit of his dignity lost
You see for you and me, salvation is free
But this; this is the cost
And after fighting and gasping for every breath
He gave up his spirit because he had nothing left
No more stories to tell, no more people to heal
Even the Roman guard knew that this guy was for real!

But it was far from over

And as the disciples lock doors, close windows, and hide
The women mourned and cried because their savior had just died
Inside they’re broken, looking for some relief
Anything to remove the stain, to ease the pain of their grief

But he didn’t stay down; He didn’t lay down and quit
He rose from the grave in 3 days because his power’s legit
Recorded in Scripture so we’d never forget
That with a cross and three nails, Christ tipped the scales
And paid off our debt

So now we show up on Sunday with a new shirt and tie
But during the week we’re still living a lie
We’ve forgotten the reason that Christ had to die

Let’s remember together that forever, death is conquered
No longer looming, dooming us for eternity
Christ’s blood covers it all, every wrong thing we’ve ever done
And the resurrection of God’s Son
Is the reason we get together and remember
That thru the glorious sacrifice of Christ,
Death is conquered forever.

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Filed under Ministry, Music, Video, Writing