Thanks to my friend/cousin Brandon I now have a new header. Just like it kills me to visit a youth ministry that is struggling, Brandon tried to sit on his hands and let my old attempts at graphic design not kill him. Finally he said “let me make you a header” which we all know meant “your header sucks”. Anyway, has been rebranded, hope you all like it.



I recently had a conversation with a friend who said that openers and games are a real hard thing for his student ministry to pull off. I don’t think that I have the corner on the market but I did share some things with him that have worked for me in the past and I thought I would share that list on here too.

 My best stuff has been stolen from late night TV.  If something works for Conan, Craig, Dave, or Jay as a stand alone piece that can entertain for 5 minutes between the monologue and guests it will work for you too.  There is some adapting that takes place and obviously not everything on late night TV is clean but I have found that I don’t need to re-invent the wheel when I can steal it. 

UP FRONT OPENERS/GAMES-students in seats, maybe a few volunteers on stage.


1)     What would you do for a buck/Monster drink?-This game is self explanatory.  Sometimes we have a list ready beforehand and other times we do it spontaneously.  We have made people do things like….lick the bottom of 5 shoes, do interpretive dance to a Celine Dion song, put their own sock in their mouth.

2)     Picture Zoom (stolen from Conan O’brien, but I am not sure what he calls it)-In this game we just get like 8 different pictures in powerpoint.  You make 3-4 different slides of each picture for a total of 20-something slides. You start zoomed in real far (picture blown up) and ask if the audience knows what it is.  You than zoom out to the next slide asking again if they can tell.  You may prompt them if you see a nose or a car beginning to appear in the picture.  Eventually after guiding them through it you get to the last slide revealing what the picture is.   My personal favorite was doing one of Britney’s bald head the week she shaved it.

3)     Name that Song-In this game we use popular media to manipulate interest and interaction from the crowd. This game is hosted by people like a game show. Students are called up on stage.  Our sound man plays a song for 15-30 seconds. I usually do top 40 or famous ones that your average student would know.  The student is than asked to name that song.  Pretty simple but out groups loves it when they hear a song they know and can dance or sing along for a while.

4)     Game Shows can be stolen too.  Some that have worked for us are the DVD version of family feud, singing bee, and even deal or no deal.


EVERYONE PARTICIPATES GAMES-obviously play music during these games to create atmosphere.

1)     Ring Around the Chair-This game is a little rough but works great for us. We put a bunch of chairs in a pile/formation in the middle of the room.  Next we have all the students join hands and move clockwise holding hands.  They are “out” when they are either tugged into the chair pile, let go of someone’s hand, or stop moving clockwise.  This game is so simple but works. You will need some referees or an emcee on the mic to keep it going.

2)     Open Chair-This game starts with everyone in a circle of chairs.  You have one empty chair and a person who is “it” standing in the middle.  The game starts when the person in the middle tries to sit in the empty chair.  The person next to the empty chair moves over seat leaving the chair next to them empty. The game is working when everyone is moving constantly and filling the empty chair 9everyone is sliding over one chair).  The person who is it must follow the empty chair as it changes going around the room and try to time it just right and sit in it before someone rotates.  If you have a big group or want to add excitement just make two empty chairs and have two people be “it”.

3)     The Newspaper Game-This game also involved everyone sitting in a circle of chairs.  In the middle you have a podium or wood box with a taped up newspaper roll.  The game starts when the person in the middle hits someone sitting in their chair.  The person who is hit than jumps up.  The person who is it must than put the roll of newspaper on the podium and make it back to that chair before the person they hit can grab the roll and smack them.  If the roll falls off the podium the person who did the hitting is still it. You are not supposed to be able to touch while getting to the seats but some of our best times result in all out wrestling matches as the game unfolds.

New Blog

I came across a new blog today.  Clayton King is a traveling speaker and teaching pastor at Newspring Church who I originally heard of because he is friends with the big guys down south (Steven Furtick and Perry Noble) Anyway, he has two awesome corresponding posts that were great for me and I wanted to pass them on. THIS ONE talks to the dangers of seasoned veterans in ministry and THIS ONE warns young guys in ministry.

TV Strike

I am watching the Tonight Show with Jay Leno…and althought it seems the same, this is not any normal episode. They are talking about an entertainer’s strike (The Actors strike of 1980), How bad President Bush has made things (George Bush Sr.) and How Clinton is going to win the White House (Bill Clinton)They are showing an episode from June 29, 1992…This has made me realize that I don’t mind the writers strike anymore.  I am digging this old episode stuff. Here are my observations.1) I am 10 years old in 19922) A young Tom Hanks reminds me even more of Dave Nicodemus than present day3) Jay seems weird, almost like the caricatures that people portray of him now 4) It is easy to see that NBC and Jay had not hit their stride yet. From Branford Marsalis being boring and energy being non-existent to the set looking like Johnny Carson’s leftovers it is not the show I have come to love.

HSM Video

I have been meaning to put this up for a while now.  Here is our video that we start HSM with every Wednesday night! Don’t worry if you think it isn’t working the first 15 seconds we use that to black the room out and get everyone to rush to their seat.  DETAILS: I did the audio editing.  This year Kanye is at the end, last year it was a Lloyd Banks beat.  We will probably switch it often. The dancing is all outr students and was done on a green screen by our mastermind videoman at Grace Church-Josh Northeimer! Hopefully it can encourage others. I know I got my idea when I saw the Video for Lifelien that Corey Mann put on his blog.

Nothing at All!

Monday Night-We went shopping at Our exit the Sawmill exit focusing on Babies R Us.Tuesday Night-We went to Easton and hit up Pottery Barn Kids, the Apple store, and the rest.Wednesday Night-We got off work early and did some shopping at Polaris Mall before our doctors appt.  That night we didn’t have HSM because of thanksgiving so some of last years peeps (current college freshmen) stopped by to check in.Thursday-We drove to Fredericksburg, Ohio to see the Sands family extended, than drove back stopping at Brandon and Linksey’s shindig on the way home.Friday-woke up late because I don’t care or need the early bird specials. I just need to squeak in and get the deals that end at noon and one.  Than we just relaxed and Kate and Adam Walter came over tonight.Saturday-Jeff and Shannon Beckely are coming over.Although you can see hints on boredom or baby influence in my week, we have tried to do nothing this week and just take it easy and enjoy each other.  I am told by everyone and am sure it will be true that once we hit the new year and close on the house and the baby comes life will never be the same…so for now the Artrip’s are just sitting around, taking it easy, and loving it! 

Shameless Thanksgiving post!

Well since I am supposed to focus on what I am thankful for this week I thought I would gush it to the world on here. Things I am thankful for…………. 

  • My relationship with Christ.  Had I written that last week it wouldn’t have meant what it does now. I have been realizing more and more the gift of unconditional love and grace.  Romans 8:38-39 means more to me every year I am alive.
  • A sacrificial ministry minded wife.  My wife goes so far above and beyond the call of a pastor’s wife.  She is out late, up early, and never complains. I won’t embarrass her or go into more detail but let’s just say my wife could be yours up. I can’t imagine life or ministry without her.
  • My son.  Sure he isn’t born yet but he can still be number 2 on this list.  As far as I know I have a good looking, healthy, baby boy due in February and I feel blessed each day as it gets closer.
  • A new house.  We won’t close until the New Year but knowing that we are headed the direction and are in contract on our first home sure is nice.
  • A healthy church with vision that is constantly trying to get better at what it does.
  • A staff of men (and women) who want to invest in me and see me become the best leader, pastor, theologian, I can be.  I can’t tell you how many pastors I talk to and I feel guilty telling them how good I have it and how much I love our staff.
  • A new student ministry room. This is a reflection of a God’s blessing and a church that values students and sees them as today’s church that needs invested in.
  • A new sister.  My brother Danny got married in July so this year I have a new redheaded sister this year.
  • Financial freedom.  I have all the stresses and worries of any normal sinful American but when I am thinking clearly I have nothing to worry about.
  • A great HSM staff that loves students.
  • My family (both sides) top to bottom.  It sure will be nice to eat some of Grandma Sands’ famous noodles tomorrow.