• Tonight was my last normal HSM Wednesday night during a school year.
  • We will have some bonfire Bible studies this summer but those aren’t the same and you never know who will be at what.
  • The whole night was surreal since I am not leaving tomorrow, but in many ways it was the end of programming.
  • I did some math and I think I have done somewhere close to 196 Wednesday nights over 7 years.
  • I’ve never wanted our ministry to be about me and I hoped tonight was no different. I tried to go about things normal and I think it went well.
  • There some welcomed interruptions though and Josh, Sarah, Kristin and I felt honored.
  • Our students made photo books behind our backs and they are awesome and really a perfect gift that I can always look back on.
  • Sam Moore also wrote a celebratory verse for me to kick the night off. I told him that was the moment I knew we had lived out II Timothy 2:2 and my hip hop work here was done.
  • I thought about my final lesson for a long time and settled on II Corinthians 5. We talked about the fact that Christ’s love should compel us and we should reproduce ourselves (people, as leaders, and churches).
  • I ended the night with some stuff that I think every outgoing person needs to say to honor the person coming in.  I had a different situation since Kary Oberbrunner wasn’t going anywhere when I came, but nonetheless he was nothing but gracious and set me up for success. I want the same thing for Seth and hopefully I began setting the table these last few weeks.
  • Like I said I didn’t want to night to be focused on me transitioning because I am not the body of Christ and ministry or the church doesn’t revolve around me. I do want to thank many great people who deserve it, so Delores, Jim, Kelly, Heather, and many student leaders will be getting some incredibly sappy handwritten cards in the next few months.
  • Tomorrow my day to day stuff switches up in many ways. I now go into summer trip/conference/camp mode and begin setting the table for transitions in t-minus 75 days.


Seven years ago two churches came together for a retreat at the Kalahari Resort.  One year later we (HSM and The Zone) jumped in.  In the last six years we have grown to 1475 people and 25 churches.  Every year I love the Kalahari retreat more and more because of the way I see God move in my students and the overall weekend.

Sounds like a reason for a mind dump…


  • This year we finally were able to book Clayton King as our speaker.  I first knew of Clayton through his connections with Steven Furtick, Elevation Church, and Perry Noble and Newspring Church.  He is also a campus pastor at Liberty University.
  • I loved Clayton’s style.  He is a seasoned communicator and connected when he joked and in his teaching. I think he gave the best presentation of the gospel I have ever heard in a corporate setting.  We saw many commitments including around 85 first time decisions and more recommitments and students deciding to not date for a year. We have already booked Clayton for next year.
  • As has been the case for the last 3-4 years, we had Exodus also from Liberty University lead worship. They lost everyone but one guy from there team last year but totally reloaded and were just excellent.
  • If you haven’t noticed a trend Liberty University is pretty awesome and also puts great effort into networking themselves with top notch people and also providing ministry teams at a fraction of what they should cost.
  • Because of Liberty’s arsenal, we also brought in their trampoline dunk team Soar Dunk. It was just as cool as it sounds. It brought out my inner 10 year old and my mouth was hanging open most of their show. I also may or may not have snuck in the room when no one else was in there but me and the trampoline and hoops and recorded myself dunking on my phone.
  • Sessions went great this year. Ben Framstad worked his butt off and did a great job at coordinating everything from concept to execution. There were so many creative elements and great flow.  I loved the testimonies, choir and art involvement, and games he planned.
  • We flipped the room and went horizontal for the first time ever. It had some drawbacks and but it gave us the law of immediacy and put every close to the stage and Clayton as he spoke. I know it lead to greater engagement.
  • The tech this year was one of my favorite upgrades. The lights were just incredible.  Zack Pinkerton brought in some great lightbox concepts that took our stage to great heights.  I am glad to be in the LED light era.
  • I have been blessed to be apart of Kalahari’s planning but Wooster Grace (Nick Cleveland, Ben Framstad, Rachel Snyder, Dave Rhoad) does easily 80% of the work…and it might be closer to 99%.  They birthed this thing, have grown his thing and handle the finances, administration, and legal liability. I just want to publicly say thanks to their staff and church for that unsung investment in my students and the other churches. That is kingdom minded.
  • I know I already mentioned a ton of stuff but the thing that makes Kalahari work is that on top of all this it is a top-notch hotel and the biggest water park in North America. I enjoyed my usual time of water basketball with my brother Danny and some time in the Lazy River.
  • I got to host with my friend Jordan Muck this year. He is a great thinker on his feet and reminds me of Ashton Kutcher so of course he made a great emcee.
  • Kalahari is close to my heart because of what it represents. I love seeing the Church come together and be the body of Christ. I love seeing growth in ministries of my friends and breakthroughs. I love seeing Marysville’s youth group grow and have to get a bus for the first time, I love seeing our students connect with people in our backyard at Heritage over in Westerville, and I love seeing people come to know Christ because of the efforts of many.
  • If you want to check out the hashtag #kalahari12 on twitter you can track all that went on HERE.
  • Next years Kalahari retreat is Jan 4-6, 2013.



MIND DUMP 2-9-11

  • Last year I felt like every year I was gushing every Wednesday and coming home to write a mind dump. That hasn’t been the case this year but tonight was easily our best Wednesday of the year.
  • We went through a hard identity crisis this fall. It was from turnover of people, a senior class for the most part that is M.I.A. and it all lead to no group identity and no leadership.
  • We have risen from the ashes of that and for the first time this year I could see obvious momentum and see who we are and where we are going toward next year.
  • Tonight was week 2 in our James series.
  • Sarah Knepper taught tonight and freaking tore the roof off the place. It was so good I am going to start getting resume togetherJ
  • Tonight for a game we just showed this video and had everyone dance along to the prompts. I can’t wait to do it at Momentum with Dave and 1500 friends. It connected really well.
  • Everything is better post-Kalahari
  • Had some great conversations with people tonight. Finally seeing the prayer patio be what we wanted 2 years ago when we started it.
  • The Beckley’s are coming over tomorrow. I love them. If my sons don’t marry their daughters my world be shattered….seriously.
  • Some great conversations at staff meeting this week. The last year has been weird and I think Grace Church is emerging on the other side of that.
  • I met with Andrew Siders today for discpleship. We had to throw our plan out the window and go help someone in need. That is discpleship too.
  • One of the best parts of my job is the moments when you remember the younger version of someone and are able to see how far they have come. Will Hejduk played drums for the first time tonight. He played his heart out and is still only a freshmen but its neat to know he has been working toward that for years. Kenzie Muckway is becoming quite a worship leader. I can’t help but wonder what we could become in college at some great church in Texas.
  • So much going on right now. I wish I could work an extra 10 day this week and do it all. Right now I am deciding what can go undone, but I really need to do it all.
  • Today was Malachi’s 3rd birthday. I think he only half understood the concept but it was so fun to celebrate with him.
  • I am going to get some fake black rimmed glasses and rock them better than Dwayne Wade and Justin Bieber combined….get ready!



I don’t want to promise an entry and not do it but you can enjoy these videos either way…..


Kalahari Parody Video #1 “Flip Flops” (Tik Tok parody)  

Kalahari Parody Video #2 Kal-a-hari (Black and Yellow Parody) 


Kalahari Parody Video #3 “Love the Way you Slide” (Love the way you lie parody)  

Kalahari Parody Video #4 “Kalahari Gurls” (California Gurls parody) 


Lots going on, lots on the mind. I’ve been avoiding writing a mind dump because I have been watching lots of things unfold and processing.  More than ever I don’t have answers, but here are my thoughts and things rolling around in my head.

  • This is the weirdest year I have had in student ministry, not a bad year but a weird year.
  • Our senior class has been the class our ministry has been built on.
  • Everyone’s first year at a church is just getting situated and so this class is the first class we have brought through in our current configuration.
  • When our numbers went up it was them, they are a big class and they have always brought friends.
  • This year they are M.I.A.
  • Our numbers have taken a hit and its noticeable but that isn’t the issue.
  • What I am ready to cry about is when I start taking mental lists of people we used to minister to and I used to see loving the church who are gone.
  • I guess that is a part of being in ministry and it happens every year and I have seen this before but this year it is epidemic.
  • There is no rule that says if someone doesn’t come to a Wednesday night or a small group for a semester they can’t get into heaven, but it breaks my heart.
  • If you love God you will love his church and it is hard to see them not worshipping or fellowshipping with believers and not be concerned.
  • Naturally this has made me get introspective at our discipleship process.
  • Don’t worry I am not down on my self, I still have problems with liking myself too much, but here is what I am processing and wanting to evaluate fairly.
  • Last year at a conference I heard a pastor say that if Hershey’s had empty wrappers coming out at the end of their factory they would be looking at the process.
  • Our leadership development must get better.
  • Our grace (small) groups must get better. Having said all this we have an amazing core of students on Wednesdays, 7 different small groups, and a great staff.
  • Our worship planning needs to get better and involve more personalities and giftings.
  • I don’t want my schedule, administration, management, creativity, or anything else to bottleneck our ministry.
  • We have all played critic when we see this for someone else and I want to be honest of the ways I am setup to let it take place.
  • Next year we are transitioning to a team that will have elders, deacons, staff, and leaders that will lead our student ministry team and I have been asked to lead that team.
  • I/We need to ask these questions now before the inadequacies in our ministry effect middle school and high school students and staff.
  • The good news of this stuff is that when we are aware of our own shortcomings we see things they way they are and know how much we need God.
  • I am praying for God’s wisdom.


Not every idea I have is a good one, but every once in a while I stumble on something I think is worth sharing.  This concept isn’t rocket science, but it has worked well for us in the stage our high school ministry is in.

I think my setting is unique being in a church of 1,000 people. I have shared it before but we are big enough that there is an expectation for excellence and “big church” things, but we are small enough that people still expect the intimacy and relationships of “small church” culture.  Every church, size, and ministry has its unique challenges and we the youth pastors still have to figure out how to respond.

As our student ministry has grown it has become harder and harder to know everyone personally and still know where they are at in their walk. I can’t talk to everyone on a Wednesday night and I don’t have everyone in my small group anymore. (in fact I don’t even lead a small group, but that is another post for another time)

I decided that I wanted to as best I could, once a year, to have some one-on-one time with as many students as I could. I want to ask how their relationship with their parents is, what God has been teaching them, how their small group is going, where God is taking them as a leader etc. This sounds cool, but lets just say it; your average student won’t make this happen. I can get my student leaders and some others whose parents want me in their life to talk to me, but to have a snapshot of our groups I need to reach the majority.  The majority of our Wednesday night audience doesn’t have time, won’t make time, and/or doesn’t think I am cool enough to meet with on top of already attending Wednesday nights, being in a grace group, and serving weekly.

The solution is dangling a carrot in front of them to make the meeting worth it.  For the last two years I have offered an exclusive t-shirt available only to those who meet with me in these meetings.

I am a t-shirt snob so I got out of my way to make these cool. I get a great design from my friend and even budget to print it on a shirt that people will want.  Here is this years design. American apparel with the cherry on top of foil printing on the shadow.

I put meetings before Wednesdays, after Wednesdays, on Sundays and every day of the week after school. It fills my schedule but it is invaluable to have intimate conversations with that many people and know where they are at, let them know that I value them, and know where they are as it comes to teaching and shepherding the masses.

What do you do to make sure you know your entire ministry as well as possible?


Ministry is often an ego contest. I would be lying if I said I don’t compare myself to others.  That is not a good idea; all you can do is make sure you are being faithful with what God has given you.  I THINK THAT MIGHT BE A STORY IN THE BIBLE.

For that reason WE track the percentage of growth in something since the previous year.  Sometimes stats can look good or bad depending on the context and story. Here are those numbers and some things that HSM is doing well or may need work on based on what we are looking for.

FIRST TIME VISITORS                   UP 5%

(This is up, but not at the level of our overall growth, makes me wonder if we are developing a core, or if we are becoming an aged group whose outreach is slowing down?)

REGISTERED STUDENTS                       UP 26%

(This is the core I talked about. This is great, but must be looked at with outreach. We don’t want a stagnant core.)


(this is just the way of measuring our target audience, no real commentary since it is a combination of the other two above)

ADULT INVOLVEMENT                 UP 61%

(You could look at this and think it is great, and it is, but the reason it is up so much is because we were way understaffed the year before and this was just catch up. We have a long way to go before we are on pace.)