Youth Ministry Tips from Johnny & Chachi

Killer Youth Ministry Tips from Igniter Media on Vimeo.

Little Boy @ Funeral

This evening I attended two funerals for folks from our church. At one of them, my friend Maryann told me the following which had just occurred with her young nephew – perhaps 5 or 6 years old.

He was being a little loud, so his aunt told him, “Listen, people are coming in now and you need to be respectful.” The little boy turned to his 9-year old cousin and asked, “What’s respectful mean?”
He then walked into the viewing room and upon seeing his grandfather in an open casket asked, “What’s he doing here? I thought he was in heaven!?”
What a beautiful, innocent, light moment in the midst of loss and sadness.

Let’s Ride Road Trip Days 6 & 7 – Thursday & Friday


This morning we showered at the YMCA in downtown Wilmington. As a way of saying “Thank you” the team donated $100 to the club for their food drive. We then packed up, ate breakfast, and drove about 30 minutes to Philadelphia where we visited Liberty Center. We also ate Philly Cheesesteaks for dinner. Our theme today was Freedom, and we spent a lot of time talking about the freedom we have in Christ. After that we drove to Delran, New Jersey where we stayed at Calvary Temple where Giovanni did his internship for college. In the evening we had a personal concert by the band Dinner & A Suit and then ate a wonderful Italian dinner.
We got up at 7:30 a.m. today, loaded the trailer, cleaned up, and then had an hour of sharing as a team. In an attempt to keep the blog somewhat short, I have been simply recounting our travel times. What I have not said a lot of is what has been happening in the vans during all of the driving hours. There has been some intense discipleship happening, and that’s really the meat of this whole thing. Each day we had a theme. The students read and memorized Scripture verses each day and engaged in conversations pertaining to each day’s topic. The places we have visited have been carefully selected to give the students [and leaders] a visual experience designed that will reinforce their spiritual learnings. It has been an incredible time! Our theme today is Rest, so rather than doing something else, we simply drove home, reading and learning about the biblical idea of rest along the way.

Let’s Ride Road Trip Days 4 & 5 – Tuesday & Wednesday


This morning the boys woke up 6:00 a.m. and we headed to the YMCA for showers. When we returned we loaded the trailer and were off the CBN to watch a live taping of the 700 Club. After the show Pat Robertson and Terry came over and took a picture with our group. After that I picked up information packets from Regent University for everyone. Regent is where I obtained my Master’s degree and is a fine Christian University. We then drove to downtown Norfolk, VA where we visited the Life Enrichment Center which is a tremendous ministry started by Pastor Kevin Turpin who is one of the pastors at New Life Providence Church. Yep, we had two PK’s on staff! lol! After a tour and a Q&A time we walked down and visited the USS Wisconsin which is retired at Nauticus. Next we drove to two of the schools that Pastor Kevin does community programs in. We were able to donate all of our canned goods to help the families of the children, 70% of whom fall below the poverty line. We also gave the LEC a large bag of children’s books. Following our visit to Norfolk we drove the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel and stopped along the side and enjoyed lunch and a gorgeous view. We then drove to Hampton, VA where we got settled in at New Covenant Church. My uncle Mark Johansson is the pastor of the church and we had a wonderful evening of singing, playing in the gym, and eating John Long food. We also had a wonderful conversation for about two hours with my awesome grandparents Bob and Maxine Mahaffy. Our theme for tomorrow is Legacy, and I wanted the students to be able to glean from one of the most significant couples in my life. It was a real treat for us to interact with the previous generation and to recognize that we too can leave a great legacy for those who come after us.


This morning we went to an aquatic club and enjoyed an hour of swimming before getting our showers. After loading up the trailer and cleaning up the church, we presented a gift of $400 collected from the team to the church to assist them in their community outreach initiatives. They were very grateful, and we were proud of our team for pulling together and leaving a great seed for evangelism that will happen long after we are gone. Next we drove to Williamsburg, VA and spent about 4 hours touring one of the greatest historical restoration projects in the nation. It was really fascinating, and having John Long along as our tour guide was awesome! We then drove to Wilmington, DE, arriving at 10:30 pm. The team is getting settled in and John is making us dinner. Midnight supper! Sounds good! We have also donated 80 blankets and 100 Bibles to the church for their street ministry.

Let’s Ride Road Trip Day 3 – Monday

This morning we were on the road at 9 a.m. and drove to Kill Devil Hills, NC where we visited the Wright Brothers Memorial. Our theme today was: Vision. We had a fantastic time learning about these great dreamers who were the first people to fly. It was a beautiful day with weather probably in the 50’s. After our visit we drove to my favorite Carolina BBQ restaurant Southland on the North Carolina/Virginia border. We then drove to New Life @ Providence Church in Virginia Beach which is the church that Adriana and I used to serve as youth pastors. It was great to see several of my former students all grown up and have the opportunity to introduce them to my new students. This evening the girls all went to the YMCA and got showers. The boys get to go in the morning at 6:30! lol! We then prepared lunches for tomorrow and had a good time of sharing as a team. It’s 1 a.m. right now. I’m doing some laundry for the team. Their smells were getting to me! Just kidding! lol!

Let’s Ride Road Trip Day 2 – Sunday

On Sunday we were all up and at ’em by 7 a.m. The boys loaded the trailer while the girls made 80 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packed brown bag lunches for the team. After some cereal for breakfast and distributing some Valentine’s Day Blow Pops, we got on road at 9 a.m. on the button which was right on schedule. We drove to Washington D.C. where our first and main stop was the Holocaust Museum. Our theme for the day was Worth. The museum quite an emotional experience, and it really got everyone thinking about the value of human life. After several hours in the museum we walked the area taking in sites such as the Washington Monument, the White House, the Capital Building, the Vietnam Wall, and the Lincoln Memorial. While the team waited at the Lincoln Memorial, Danny, Giovanni and I took a taxi back to the busses and drove to pick everyone up. We got on the road around 6:30 p.m. We stopped in northern Virginia for dinner at Wendy’s, then did some grocery shopping for lunch supplies. After that we drove to Prince George, Virginia where we stayed at the IPHC Conference Center. The IPHC is a denomination similar to the Assemblies of God. I worked for the IPHC for a couple of years, and we are grateful for good relational connections! The facilities are really nice … the nicest we will be staying at for sure. From here on out … Air Matresses! lol! After unloading and sorting out our stuff, the team donated dozens of bags of clothing to Pastor Mario, a Spanish pastor who also works here at the retreat center. The ladies made lunch for tomorrow and we a great team meeting, debriefing our learnings. We got to bed around 1:30 a.m.

(Right now it’s 8:55 a.m. We’re gearing up to head down to Kill Devil Hills, NC where we will visit the Wright Brother’s Memorial. We will then drive to Virginia Beach to spend the night.)

Let’s Ride Road Trip Day 1 – Saturday

We had a fine ride from Long Island to Valley Forge and made good time. In addition to the below, they also had fun playing games and getting to know one another during the ride.

Our theme for the day was Sacrifice.

The teams read Isaiah 58 together in the busses and discussed fasting that pleases God.

Their memory verse was John 15:12-14 which they had to quote for their leaders before dinner.

Their first challenge was the everyone had to fast lunch. This was a stretch for our students, but they all made it!

Our first stop was the Valley Forge National Park. We spent about two hours learning the history and visiting some of the sites.

We then drove to Valley Forge Christian College where we unloaded and got into our rooms, then headed for a much anticipated dinner.

After dinner we had a presentation by Pastor Phil Baker (former SGT Youth Pastor) and a couple of students about the school.

At 7 pm we went to a small hispanic church and ran the entire service. We had a full worship team and I preached while Adriana interpreted. We then presented the church with a gift. We gave them all of the money we would have spent on lunch, plus each person pitched in $10 for a grand total of $700! (See Isaiah58 and how this relates to fasting.)

We got back to the school at 10 pm, had a team meeting, and are now in our rooms getting ready for bed. It’s been a good, full day.