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Summer Camp

Monday, June 30, 2008 by Mike Lovato

Our high school ministry is at summer camp this week. I went down with them to San Diego yesterday and hung for the afternoon/evening. Then I headed back home late last night. Nicole has a doctor's appointment on Tuesday afternoon. If everything checks out good, I'll be heading back down Wednesday morning.

We go to Hume:SD and they do a fantastic job. The opener last night consisted of dancing robots, smoke, lasers, bubbles, etc. Good times. The whole theme this week is on essential doctrines of the Christian faith. Last night was the Doctrine of God. Check out our high school ministry blog if you want to stay up to date on camp.


The Loft

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 by Mike Lovato

I haven't posted a ton on here about our new high school room. But we've been it for a couple months now. Here are some pics:



by Mike Lovato

I have Google maps with local traffic on my homepage. I opened it up a bit ago to see this image:

Now, I understand the red, yellow, and green colors that indicate different levels of traffic. But what the heck is with the black and red on the edge of Riverside and Moreno Valley?!?! Does your car explode if you go on that stretch of freeway?

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Worship Night

Monday, June 23, 2008 by Mike Lovato

We had a worship night with our high school students last night and I think it went pretty well. Here is some of what went down:
  • Our contemporary worship leader ended up leading the music end of it (and did a GREAT job!)
  • We gave students time and space to meet with God. Whenever we do this, they love it and God meets with them. Crazy how that happens.
  • We used this little guy as an intro to the night. It was very cool.
  • Invited our college students to join us. A few of them came which was very cool. Then they ended up hanging out for like an hour and a half later at the church.....then at one of the guy's apartments....and then at some point (I'm assuming it was like 1am at this point) held a bit of a planning meeting for some upcoming events. Yep, sounds like college students. Nicole and I were out until 11-something the other night and it felt crazy late. We're old.
  • As I rode home with a dad and a couple students (because I ended up without my keys) one of them commented we should do more of these....but not all the time. I like that idea. She understands that it's cool to change things up like that, but if we did all the time it would quickly become "the new normal."
  • Long story short: give students physical space, actual time, and an invitation to meet with God.....and they will.


I Think I Still Blog?

by Mike Lovato

I've struggled with having a good rhythm in blogging in recent months. Using Twitter has only slowed me down too I think. I need to get better at having a rhythm. I think life is overall better when I'm writing in some form or fashion. Let's see how I do.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008 by Mike Lovato

A sign that we may have too much going on....I think we killed a whole forest

Selfish Church Members

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 by Mike Lovato

Never really noticed the start to this passage:

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask." (Mark 10:35 NIV)

Seems that there were selfish church members from the beginning. It seems that a basic part of discipleship is shifting from asking "what can you do for me?" to asking "what do you want me to do?"

We either tend to cater to people and leave them at the first question OR we expect people to all be at the second question. The key is to patiently walk them step by step in a journey toward maturity.

UPDATE: Should have given some credit here. Saw the verse referenced in this way in Ed Stetzer's Comeback Churches. Really enjoying the read.

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New Willow Creek Site

Monday, June 16, 2008 by Mike Lovato

Just noticed that Willow Creek FINALLY gave their website a makeover. I think they had the same look since the mid to late 90's. New site looks pretty sweet at first glance. Check it out.


Wedding food

Saturday, June 14, 2008 by Mike Lovato

Nicole ordered the beef.

Family Friendly Sunday School

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 by Mike Lovato

My friend Daryl Watts has a good series of posts on family-friendly ministry, particularly for those of us who serve in "Sunday School" model churches. Here's a clip from the first post:

Someone once said, “The temperature of our churches is set by the thermostats of our homes.” Yet few churches have a strategy for strengthening families. Surprisingly, many churches do not even think through how existing programs might hurt families instead of help them. One of the most common activities, Sunday School, usually separates families. Visit almost any church and ask a leader which way people go for Sunday School and the adults, children, students, and preschoolers we all go in different directions. Churches using home groups or other offsite groups are often in a worse situation. Parents go to their small group on one night while students go to theirs on another. The result is that families are separated for a long time on twice as many occasions. Yet, with a few simple changes Sunday School and small groups can become an asset to healthy families and therefore, to healthy churches.

Check out the rest of the posts here, here, and here.


Graduation number 2 of this year

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 by Mike Lovato

Growth Barriers in Youth Ministry (pt. 3)

Monday, June 09, 2008 by Mike Lovato

In this continuing, very slow-developing series we're looking at the attendance barriers that youth ministries face. You can check out part one here and part two here.

I would imagine the 25-30 barrier is a tough one.

Here are some characteristics of it:
  • Multiple adult leaders
  • Size-wise it feels "just right" to students
  • Everyone knows everyone
  • I think this is the size group where lots of inside jokes and group memories are made. Maybe this happens across the board, but I have a gut feeling that in the 25-30 member group, people just say "pineapple" and 85% of the students bust up laughing because of a shared experience or memory.
  • Growing beyond a holy huddle. Because the group feels like the right size to students, they probably will not want to see it grow much larger.
  • "Youth Group" mentality. I very rarely use the term "youth group" because I think people tend to view everyone in broad, generalized terms rather than as individuals. Some see the "youth group" mentality as unity. I disagree. I think unity has to do with sharing common purpose and values.
Ways to Move Beyond the Barrier:
  • Multiply, multiply, multiply. Multiplying groups is huge at this stage. I think a shift has to happen from seeing the ministry as one unit to seeing it as one body made up of many units.
  • Develop leaders - both adults and students. X Leader can only care for x number of students. When you develop more leaders you add capacity to care for students. This is also a great point to begin identifying student leaders. A formal "program" may not be needed for the student leaders, but identifying them and investing in them is a great starting point.
  • Leverage the energy that this size brings. 25-30 students is a great size to do some events and gatherings that will have some energy to them. These can be great events to bring friends to.
Last Thought:
As we look at expanding beyond barriers I think it's important to understand a couple principles. We need to embrace and enjoy the level we're at. If we are constantly only looking ahead, students will feel used and de-valued. We also need to structure for the next level. If you have 10 students in your ministry, ask yourself what the structure looks like for 20. How many leaders would you need? What would your programs look like? How many groups would you have? What would they do? Then you build the skeleton for the next size and you fill it.


7 Weeks

by Mike Lovato

Addison Rose is due 7 weeks from today. Going to be awesome!


Random Catch-Up

Saturday, June 07, 2008 by Mike Lovato

Stuff that's going on:
  • We're just about 7 weeks from our baby's due date. I will be a dad soon.
  • High School camp is in 3 weeks. We have just about filled our spots (with the deadline being tomorrow morning for people to sign up). We go to Hume: San Diego in case you're wondering. It's awesome
  • Freshman Frenzy is in like 3 weeks too. We've changed this event this year from being Freshman-only to now including older students too. We just charge the older ones a lot more.
  • There's also a ton to be done in the next few weeks before we promote new freshmen....assigning them to groups, choosing some filler curriculum, promo materials, etc.
  • I have a few long-term items I want to sit down and think through sometime soon. They include: internships, how well are we accomplishing our purposes, volunteer training, volunteer recruitment, volunteer care, mentoring/discipling students, options for students to go "deeper" (I'm not completely sure what this means) in their faith.
  • Nicole is watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
  • We're going to visit baby Savannah Pogue tomorrow after church. Should be fun.

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Missing Lighthouse

Thursday, June 05, 2008 by Mike Lovato

How in the world do you lose a lighthouse? Saw this article just now. Here's a clip:
WELLFLEET, Mass. - Local historians for decades thought the 30-foot tall lighthouse that once overlooked Wellfleet Harbor had been taken down and destroyed in 1925.

Turns out, it had just been moved to the California coast.
Click here for the full article


Celebrating Seniors

Monday, June 02, 2008 by Mike Lovato

One really cool thing our church does is to host a reception for all the graduating high school seniors. They each set up a table with photos, memories, accomplishments, etc. We had the reception last night with like 18 seniors participating. It was pretty crazy because we had 350-400 people packed in our high school room. It was a cool night and the end to a long 13 hour day for me.

What do you do to celebrate grads (jr high or high school)?


Mike Lovato is a follower of Jesus, husband to Nicole, daddy to Addison, and pastor to teenagers in Riverside, CA.


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