I am always looking for some cool ways to keep the youth room neat and tidy…so when I stumbled onto this I wanted to share.

HideIt Mounts has the hook up.  I hope it works as good as it looks, it seems to.  The only problem I had is the unsightly power pack to run the xbox will still be visible, but we can’t have it all sometimes.  In our Student Center we have some great diamond plate wall mounted cabinets that were custom-made however comma, the airflow in ours is an issue and we have had more than a couple overheat.  I am now modifying them to get more airflow.  Let me know if some of these work out for you.



However, this is the one that is going in my house.  Slick with the changeable LED backlighting. Saweet! Case Holder:Raise your Case


The following information was taken directly from the website and the linkto the site is below.  Of course they have wall mounts for both sizes of Xbox 360’s, Wii’s, PS 3’s, Apple TV, Cable box, and more.  Check it out.

“Designed for use with the New Slim version of the Xbox 360® game console, the HIDEit XS Mount is designed to store your Slim Xbox® vertically behind your wall mounted plasma or LCD television. Also, it looks great right next to your TV if you want to show it off! Made of clear acrylic, the HIDEit XS Mount is nearly invisible and is a perfect way to set up your newer slimmer Xbox 360®.”

Features: Made from acrylic, your HIDEit XS Mount is lightweight yet rigid enough to support the weight of your Xbox 360. Now, you are able to wall mount your Xbox on either side of your wall mounted flat panel TV. Additionally, the HIDEit XS Mount does not block the power button, disc opening, memory card slots, nor cable ports on your Xbox 360. Since the HIDEit XS Mount is designed so that your Xbox 360 Slim can easily slide out at anytime, you are free to take your Xbox traveling with you on vacation or to a friend’s house with very little effort.

Inside Dimensions*: 10.75 x 10.375 x 3″

Exterior Dimensions*: 11.1875 x 10.375 x 3.5″

What’s in the box? Along with your HIDEit XS Mount, you will also find screws, drywall anchors, and detailed wall mounting instructions for securing your HIDEit XS Mount and wall mounting your Slim Xbox 360!


Recently stopped in and got some pictures of the updated FBC Forrest City Student Ministry facility.  They used some great ideas with LED Lighting on plain walls so they can actually change the color of the walls whenever they feel like it.  Some other highlights of “The Stand” was staining of the concrete floors, leaving some of the frame-work for the ceiling tiles over the “cafe” area, and the sign-in desk.  Take a look at the pictures and let me know if you have any questions about it, or you can contact the Youth Pastor at FBC Forrest City.  His name is Chris Roller and you can find him on Facebook.  If you are within a day’s driving distance and would like me to share some of your creative ideas with Youth Workers around the world, please let me know.  Even better, if you have high quality pictures of your space, please send them to me at dustin.sams@fbcstuttgart.com so we can share with others. Blessings.

Other things to look at:

  • Screens Directly on a flat wall for the projectors.
  • Steel/Roofing Tin on Stage Front
  • Elevated Flat Screen TVs/Gaming Systems
  • Lighting
  • Updated Kitchen/Cafe Area
  • Ceiling Grid Left open over Food Area
  • Multiple Color LED Wall Wash
  • All Lighting is controlled from Sound Booth
  • It is very clean and roomy.  Good use of existing space in a building that the church owns.

Decide how many teams would best serve your ministry. From two to eight teams, I have tried them all. The best results have clearly been when there are four teams…but it depends on how many adults you have involved in the beginning. Don’t throw some adult leaders under the bus and place them in charge if they are clearly not wanting to be or not ready to be. I recommend a minimum of four adults per team. We are currently in our third year of LIFE in my current location and I have 10-15 adults per team. Pre-select “colors” that your teams will use. Try to pick colors that are impartial to local school colors. Primary colors like Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green work well.

Since ’94, I have tried various ways to divide the students for the initial team selection. Here are some examples:

• Take your “core” group of students and divide them evenly between the teams yourself. This works great for smaller youth groups and gives you the ability to divide your “stronger” students for the greatest impact in your community.

• * My favorite: Select adult team leaders and give them a list of students in your ministry. I use Youth Assistant Software, so I just print detailed reports complete with pictures to make it easier for adults to identify students they know to be extroverts/introverts, hard workers, class clowns, boyfriend/girlfriends, and so on. The great thing about this is the ability to tailor the event to connect with all types of students. It is not just a popularity contest by any means. Once you have a list and given the adults a few weeks to prep, you get them together for a “Draft.” I love this model because I like fantasy football. I set it up the same way. Draw straws for first draft and complete the first round. (for clarity, we will use the example of four teams) Team 1 gets first pick and eighth pick. Team 2 gets second and seventh. Team 3 gets third and sixth pick. Team 4 gets fourth and fifth pick. Continue the draft until all of your core students are drafted. You may or may not want to place your Student Leaders on each of the teams to get them started and to make sure that each team has some very reliable students to get started with.

• Randomly distribute students between the teams: Draw from a hat, number off 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. It is ok to play Jr. Holy spirit in this case, after all you are the leader and you should be able to make whatever decisions you need to in order to have a successful event. Go crazy with it.

Once the teams are selected you let those students know in advance so they can prepare for it. This will include collecting clothing that represents their team color, coming up with a theme with their adults, decorating their “wall”, or beginning to invite students that were not pre-selected to be on a team. This is where the fun begins.

In some upcoming posts, I will be going into detail some of the facets of the event: Points, Games, Strategy, and Follow-up.

You don’t have to call it LIFE; you can call it macaroni salad. Grab a title that you and your students can identify with. The first year we called it LIFE, the second year was “Come back to LIFE.” “Dive into LIFE” and “Surge into LIFE” followed, so just be creative. We will refer to it as LIFE so as not to confuse you…unless you already are, then just pick up the phone and call me.

LIFE is a team based outreach that basically rewards students and their respective teams with points for doing things they should already be doing. The main thing they are rewarded for is inviting their friends to our weekly Student Ministry event. I have only implemented it on Wednesday nights…but feel free to try it anytime.

To begin, select adult team leaders for each of the teams. It seems to work better with a team “leader.” This can be a married couple that you have working with your students or single adult. I have seen great success with both styles of team leaders. Once you have team leaders committed, you begin to surround them with other adults that will compliment those leaders. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so play to their strengths. You most likely need to have team leaders that are organized and efficient. You can then have the designated “fun” adults that will help these adults motivate the students. When I began working with this event, I was single and in my 20’s…so I was the energy guy. I got the students motivated for the games, helped them learn chants for team spirit, and was just a strange college-age adult that connected with students. I was teamed with an adult couple that was approaching their sixties and we rocked! This is a great time to give some adults an opportunity to “try out” their involvement. It is great because it has a beginning and an end. It is not an open-ended commitment with no way out. We all like to know what we are getting into, so you can’t spend enough time explaining what tasks they will have. This is very important especially for the first year of LIFE. Once you have done it before, people will know what to expect and word of mouth is the best publicity.

I have seen this event double the size of my youth group. We have had retention of visitors as high as 60% and many students saved. The smaller the youth group, the larger the return initially. Even when my youth groups have been large to begin with, I have still seen some great results. Dream big and see what God can do.

Continued in Pt 3. 🙂


Eight crazy weeks and Jesus…

 One of the most effective events we incorporate into our yearly planning is based on an early 80’s Outreach program called “L.I.F.E.” by Bill Wilson and ………… Hold on…don’t tune me out yet, hang with me. I love change…in fact, I like change too much. Every few months I go through a fit of restlessness, I have to fight the urge to put my home up for sale and move. We moved a lot when I was a kid, either we had to pay the rent or move. I was just very thankful that mom would take me with her when we moved. I usually end up re-arranging my office to placate the urge to change venues. It works well for me and keeps my wife and kids happy. So think of this as “L.I.F.E.” Re-Mixed.

So when I reference the model of “L.I.F.E.”, I reference it loosely. If you are lucky enough to have a vintage copy of the handbook for it, complete with 120+ overhead transparencies, then great! Otherwise, you will have to take my word for it. One of the codes of creativity is forgetting who you stole the idea from. I am paying homage to Bill and the very detailed 300 page handbook for reaching out and connecting the Gospel with students in the early 80’s…and I do it with the utmost respect for him and his ministries. I have found that it is just as effective, if not more so now in current ministry situations. So with that said, here we go.

“L.I.F.E.” stands for “Life Is For Everyone.” True enough statement. I was introduced to it in the early ‘90s while hanging out with my mentor Jack McCarty. He is still in student ministry and has had untold influence in a crazy number of students and college interns. That influence is continuing each time I see a student give their life to Christ. Hopefully, you will see many lives changed and your student ministry grow in numbers and spiritual depth.

Continued in pt 2. 🙂

I will turn 37 in a few days…some would see that as a bummer.  Not me.  I have had a wonderful life.  No regrets…well, i guess there is one thing that still haunts me.  The state quarterfinal game versus ACH back in 1990 still bums me out a little bit, but that is another story.  Other than that, God has seen me through a lot of stuff.  Stuff that has allowed me to become a better person and an even better husband, father, and Youth Pastor.  Here in Stuttgart, we have seen some great things happen in 2009.  Many lives come to know Christ, new friendships made with Youth Pastors and Youth workers all over the place, my son drop his first cuss word, and many other show stopping moments that I am fondly looking back on.  I hope you and your ministry have seen some highs as well.  The start of this blog/site has been a high point for me for sure.  I have revitalized a friendship with a former student and learned much about social networking and the infinite possibilities that the web holds for doing great things for the kingdom.

We have had visitors to this site from 22 different countries: USA, Canada, Germany, UK, Austrailia, Russia, Philippines, Israel, Mexico, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Spain, Austria, Denmark, India, Egypt, Finland, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Slovakia, New Zealand, and Belgium.  The only states that have not chimed in here have been from N.Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine…I guess I don’t have any friends up there yet.  What a humbling thing to be a part of.  The folks down in New Zealand have averaged over 14 minutes on the site…crazy…and that is only with limited content so far.

We have much planned for the site in the coming months for sure. 

  • I am currently working with my network of friends to get them to give me one or two of their “best” messages so that we can develope a database for Youth Pastors and Youth Workers to download.  Not so much to “re-teach”…but to help those out there that are just starting out to see how veterans do it.  There is no real “standard” for developing a message or putting together powerpoint, but to see how others do it is real handy.  Each of us has strengths in our ministries and to be able to share the wealth is important.  Remember that. 
  • Linking to other blogs, videos, and websites is a great way to connect all of us that are in it for the long haul.
  • Expanding the Speakers and Bands area.  This is a part of my blog that has started much discussion and there is obviously a need to find reliable, God honoring, personalities to headline events from the largest to the smallest venue.  This is looking like it will expand to its own website with many people contributing to the lineup.  Good stuff.
  • Outreach events that work well for us is a top priority for me in the new year.  I am trying to get some of our events, both weekly and annually, down on paper to share with you.  I get many questions in this area because we have seen some dramatic success, it is only to bring glory to God, because I sure don’t know what I am doing yet.
  • Encouragement for the bi-vocational or volunteer Youth Pastor/Worker.  What ever we can do to help the small church or individual just trying to get something going.  That is where my heart is.  Just in our denomination there are 1400+ churches in Arkansas.  11o0 of those have 100 or less on Sunday Morning…so you do the math.  Not a ton of churches that can support full-time Youth Pastors.  When you throw in all the other Christian denominations in our state alone…we have a ton of students to be reached for Christ.
  • Whatever we can do to encourage other Youth Pastors to start blogging, contributing, or just connecting with other Youth Pastors in their area is a win-win situation.  So join the fun.  Connect with me on facebook or send me an email and share your ideas or some of the good things you have seen out there…so we can get the word out!
  • Most of all, I would love to pray for you and your ministry.  I have mentors praying for me and it helps me to know that.  Especially when I want to hang my head and wonder why I am even in this thing to begin with.  Have a Happy New Year.

I had the chance to stop in and take a look at a few more youth rooms here in the state of Arkansas.  Eagle Heights Baptist Church in Harrison, AR and First Baptist Church of Benton, AR.  I snappeStuttgart Cafe 1d a few pics and you can get some ideas from the way they have chosen to decorate.  You can click on any of the thumbnails and then scroll through the pics.  If you have any ideas on anything you see here or would like to more detail about it…then please ask.  Taking a good idea and making it better is always a great thing to do for your ministry.


  • Notice the use of carpet on the walls in EHBC and then using velcro to attach posters and pics.
  • FBCB used wood to make their “upper room” sign but painted it to look rusty.
  • Blank canvas with simple painted words from scripture on them.  They looked great.
  • Artistic use of canvas and plain white sheets in both places to do artwork and pictures of Jesus.
  • Paint is cheap and adds a lot to a space.
  • Linoleum black and white squares on counter tops in EHBC.
  • Great use of cheap galvenized steel to add texture, cover up windows and decorate. Love this and we use it in our building too.
  • No PDA sign was great.  It was a no parking sign with No PDA added as a sticker.
  • Have fun be creative.

FBC Benton 12FBC Benton 15FBC Benton 13FBC Benton 11FBC Benton 10FBC Benton 9FBC Benton 8FBC Benton 7FBC Benton 6FBC Benton 5FBC Benton 4FBC Benton 3FBC Benton 2FBC Benton 1Eagle Height Baptist Church 9Eagle Height Baptist Church 8Eagle Height Baptist Church 7Eagle Height Baptist Church 5Eagle Height Baptist Church 4Eagle Height Baptist Church 3Eagle Height Baptist Church 1Stuttgart Cafe 2Eagle Height Baptist Church 2

DSC_0051I wanted to share an Idea I have had for some considerable time.  We have a 15 Passenger Van that we have used here at the church for years.  It is a Ford Van that has a “raised” roof and seating that you would normally see in a van that is used to move people around as a shuttle van.  It is modified from the original van and with modifications the air conditioner doesn’t work that well.  It only took one trip from Arkansas to Florida to understand that it was not the ideal van for traveling long distances.  This has been the main complaint from our Seniors (50 Plus) too and they no longer use the vans unless it is absolutely necessary.  The Transportation Team discussed even the possibility of getting rid of it when we purchased a new van for church-wide use.  I shared with them some ideas and the fact that it is a great van for getting students to and from our Wednesday Night event (Flipside 517).  There is an obvious need for this van in our ministry and now we have the opportunity to have the van for primary student ministry use. Church Van w/o Graphics 1 I had always liked the look of vehicle wraps and the usefullnes they have in advertising ministry locally as a rolling billboard.  We began to look into that brand of advertising and found that a local Sign Company was capable of taking care of us at a very reasonable rate.  So now I am collecting all the necessary details needed to present it as option we have to benefit our local church.

The cost could have been worked into my annual budget but our team decided to raise the money through student activities and donations.  Exactly what that is going to look like is still taking shape.  Hopefully we can take it before the church after the first of the year and begin with the process of wrapping the van with high quality images and designs.  This being a learning process, I am happy to pass on a couple of things that I have learned so far.

1. Know what type of advertising you want.  Is it going to be something that you notice as you pass by the vehicle at 60 mph and you need the image or ads to be recognizable in a very short time or do you want something that will generally be viewed for longer periods of time?  We opted for the latter.  Our hope is that an individual could stand and look at the graphic artwork for 5 minutes and still find something new on it.  So bright colors and logos, contact information, different “programs” offered for our students, a little town pride with the local school(s), etc.  The sky is the limit.

2.  Have all of your ducks in a row before you present it to the church.  It is never a good situation to be caught off guard by a valid question, especially when you are the one in charge, “I will have to get back to you on that,” is never an option in my book, so be prepared.  I have done legal research with the help of Arkansas Baptist State Convention and found out some very helpful information regarChurch Van 2ding possible tax issues for non-profits.  You can sell “ad” space on it, but that would take filing specific paperwork with the IRS to cover that “revenue.”  It most likely isn’t that difficult but we opted to not pursue this. Having some great business from within our church “buy” space on the van to help cover the cost of the wrap would be fun for me…but the trouble with “income revenue” is not a rabbit I want to chase.  Obviously that is up to you to decide.  This is just an example of the things that you need to be able to answer if you are presenting this as an option.  Know the cost involved, how much time will it take, how long will it last, will it be ugly or not, and so on.  Homework with larger scale ideas like this is never time wasted.

3.  Have a plan.  Who, what, when, WHY, and how.  Why are you going to do it?  Is it in the mission of the church and fit the overall goal of what you are trying to do in the community and with your people?  I envision it to be a great promotional tool for us.  I would like to have it as an instant eye catcher for block parties, parked outside our weekly events, picking up and dropping offimage8 students, plus add a little creativity to our ministry.  Nothing screams fun like a specially painted “school bus” for youth groups or a wrapped van that everyone knows where it is from and what it represents.  Do you know how you are going to design it?  Busy or subtle graphics, mesh over the windows that is part of the overall scheme or leave the windows clear?  I can talk about this for probably too long.  Communicating your vision in this area is just the same as communicating your vision for your ministry.

4.  Be flexible.  My ministry here does not hang on whether or not we get to chase this dream.  I love my church and have wants and desires like everyone, but am I going to lose focus or quit over something like this? Absolutely not.  Is this a hill I want to die on or be remembered for showing my rear-end on? Nope.  I budget promotion every year.  We support the booster club and get in all the programs and on the sport calendars with our ministry, some local ads in the newspaper and then there would be this.  A rolling billboard that communicates what we do in the community.  So I hope to keep you posted with the process of wrapping our church van.  Should be a fun ride.

I am posting before pics of our van and a wrapped van from a church I served at in Florida so you can see the potential I am speaking of.  My good friend and current Youth Pastor Brad at Park Avenue Baptist Church in Titusville, FL was able to wrap a Dodge van to promote the Student Ministries there.  I saw it when I was down this summer on a Student Leader (STUlea) Trip and it galvanized the dream I had for our van.  It helped to have pics of this van to cast the vision here.  I haven’t seen too many church vans that have been wrapped well and would love to see other pics or comments if you have them.  Keep dreaming and chasing after the Father!


This seems to be a popular topic right now. I am not sure if it is because we in the “Budget” creating times of the year or if we are all re-evaluating our rooms/spaces that we meet in. I am a big fan of “cheap cool” as well as the big budget items that some churches have the blessing to use. Here are a few ideas that I have used in the past as well as some spaces that some friends of mine have been able to pull off. Get creative and use materials that appeal to the students. I highly recommend having the students involved in the planning and installation of any changes you may make. So here is a visual montage of some great Ideas that I have seen or been a part of. Please comment if you have visited this part of the blog…thanks, Dustin

In this pic you see what our “stage” looks like. The large letters with the lights are just 4×8 sheets of plywood with 188 “clip in” light sockets and 40w clear bulbs. Looked great attached to a dimmer pack. No limits to what you can do with plywood, just drill a hole and the sockets just clip in. I would recommend a spot of liquid nails to secure them (as per engineer Ward S.) have fun! fiveoneseven band stage

Some guys have some room for “prayer walls” and/or walls that students can constantly change and write on. Upstairs SouthEast Wall Sharpies and crayons…remember to check the wall regularly to make sure some knucklhead hasn’t “tagged” with something inappropriate. I occasionally put extra photos that we have or use the wall as a time to put your favorite verses on and prayer requests.

One of the exciting thing about networking with other youth pastors is the times when you can rejoice with them as they get blessed with great facilities. My friend Scotty J. was able to design and have tremendous input into his new metal building for their student ministry. Take a look at some of the ideas that he incorporated. Very nice, I spoke at a D-Now (Disciple Now Event) in February and was amazed at how well it turned out. Farmington Baptist Church 1 Farmington Baptist Church 2Farmington Baptist ChurchFarmington Baptist Church 4Farmington Baptist Church 5

Their Stage is very simple but has the ability to “morph” into anything needed. Tri-angle trusses and four screens (two rear-projection and two large flat-screens).Farmington Baptist Church 6

An Idea we used for the north-end of our upstairs game room was to put galvenized roofing steel up on the walls. There was pool table there when I arrived at the church and I got tired of repairing the sheet rock that was damaged with pool balls and cues, so with a minimum investment of $200+/-, we gave it a face-lift and now have no more dings in the walls to patch. I am not sure I would advise putting sheet rock up anywhere near my students in the future. I trimmed out the edge with 1×2 furring strips and then horizontally every three feet or so for support. Once the steel was attached with self-tapping screws, I had some 2″ flat steel cut to use as a black boarder. 1″ angle to “cap” the ends. 2″ pipe in the corners for looks and to cover the edges.Steel on Wall.

I am going to add several pictures below so you can see some different ideas of youth rooms and stages. Let me know if you need further explanation about them. I have had to share space with other ministries over the years and still like to “create” atmosphere when I am in those locations. It it a lot of hard work but it has paid off for sure. My philosophy is, “paint is cheap” and you can create so much with just paint and some creativity. Recently I saw just regular old ceiling tile taken and used as canvas for artwork and then it was put in the rooms…good stuff.

Stage with Signs

Another view of Steel and Logo Painted on WallSenior High Sunday School Room PHBCCopy of DSams_0677First Baptist Church Stuttgart, Activity CenterLights Up: When we set up "living room look"Youth Room Geyer Springs BCNorthpoint Stage 2Northpoint Stage 1