Thursday, May 03, 2012

Let’s reach the rest

Frank spent years hanging with an outlaw motorcycle club.  Now he and wife Cookie (at left) work to reach the rest of the people in those clubs. So he goes to biker rallies to share how he is Second.  

Hannah is the only person from her youth group in her high school.  She wants to reach the rest of the students in her school.  She started a Second group at school, and 41 showed up for the first meeting.  

Chris is a pastor in a part of Austin, TX called Wells Branch.  He is starting Happy Hours to find people interested in starting Second groups to reach the rest of their community.  

What is “the rest” for you?  Your family?  Your school?  Your community?  Your campus?  Your club?  Your workplace?  Your city?  All the schools in your district?  The rest of the people who love the same sport, hobby or team you love?

Let’s work together to reach the rest . . . and you define what “the rest” is.  Check out our online training here.  It only takes four sessions to learn how you can use Second tools to “reach the rest.”  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to reach young skeptics?

Bad news.  A couple years ago the Barna group reported that younger generations were more skeptical about the Bible.  They viewed scripture as less sacred, less accurate and teaching the same thing as other religions.

Good news.  But they also found that those younger generations expressed an above average appetite to gaining additional Bible knowledge. David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, stated:

“[The] central theme of young people’s approach to the Bible is skepticism. They question the Bible’s history as well as its relevance to their lives, leading many young people to reject the Bible as containing everything one needs to live a meaningful life. This mindset certainly has its challenges but it also raises the possibility of using their skepticism as an entry point to teaching and exploring the content of the Bible in new ways.”

How?  Here are Kinnaman’s six suggestions on how to engage young skeptics, along with how I am Second’s small group curriculum utilizes these suggestions.

1. Allow them to participate more in the process of learning:  I am Second uses discovery and discussion Bible studies, not “teaching” sessions.

2.  They expect experiences that appear unscripted and interactive.  I am Second group materials are discussion based, so they are interactive.  They also are unscripted.  The group watches an I am Second film, then reads a Bible story about someone with similar issues.  As six questions are discussed, we trust the Holy Spirit to guide the discussion and address needs in the group.  

3.  Allow them to be open and honest with their questions.  These types of questions surface because there is no predetermined “point” being made.  It is fascinating to see God fulfill His promise that His word never returns empty, but always accomplishes the purposes for which He sends it forth.  

4.  Are technologically stimulating.  I am Second uses culturally relevant technology.  Raw and authentic films on our website.  Everything available on smartphones. iPhone and Android apps.  Communication through Facebook and Twitter.  

5.  Done alongside peers and within trusted relationships.  Our materials advocate using the Person of Peace principle from Luke 10.  Which teaches to focus on spiritually open people, then reach their network of friends and family through them.  So the best place to do an I am Second group is alongside a person’s peers and within trusted relationships.  

6.  Give them the chance to be creative and visual.  Go to Facebook or YouTube and search for “I am Second.”  What you will find are lots of Facebook pages about I am Second in cities, campuses and schools.  And even more homemade YouTube videos of people doing their own rendition of an I am Second film. All confirming in their own hearts, and to the world, that they are indeed Second.

More about I am Second groups at
I am Second small group discussion guides are available as free downloads here.

They also may be purchased as printed booklets in our online store at

Monday, April 09, 2012

Church Grows through Student Second Groups

Report from Daniel, a youth pastor in Little Elm, Texas.

When I was first asked to take over the student ministry in my church, our Senior Pastor told me “When the youth get activated, the whole church will get activated.” I didn’t completely understand how true that statement was until a couple of weeks ago.

In December 2011 we launched our first I am Second group in our youth group.  It didn’t take long for our students to get behind the groups.  A few weeks after our first group launched, six students told me they wanted to take I am Second into their public schools. So in early 2012 we launched I am Second in our local Junior High and High School.  Soon 35 new students had joined those school groups.

We now have 8 groups. Each group caters to different types of people.  About 30 kids have joined our youth group because of groups our students are doing outside the church.

One group amazes me because they consistently have over 25 kids attending each week. This group has inspired the parents to get involved.  Each week 4-6 of the parents team up to host the group and provide dinner.

The whole church is getting behind these youth groups.  For example, the parents are wearing I am Second bracelets and t-shirts. Their impact is spreading, too, for now we are finalizing a strategy to launch I am Second groups for the men’s and women’s ministries.  Several new families have come to our church because their kids started coming to one of the Second groups.

After we train more leaders, we plan to expand the groups in the schools.  The schools have given us permission to put up banners during lunch to get more exposure for the Second groups.  So we’ll have an official launch soon when these new leaders are ready.

There is nothing more powerful than young people passionately telling others about what Jesus has done in their lives.  Our Pastor was right. “When the youth get activated, the whole church will get activated.”

Monday, April 02, 2012

What is a Second group?

Five students at a high school learned how to do Second groups with their friends.  Within one semester more than 100 students were meeting in the school field house every Friday morning at 7:15.
A campus ministry started using Second group methods, and within 2 months 25% of their existing groups had multiplied.
I am Second’s immediate appeal is aesthetic with its slick design, cool website, and inspiring films. But the real difference is more than skin deep. Here is the heart behind I am Second’s materials, using the SECOND acronym.

Stories and small.  Encourage people to tell their story. Listen to the stories of others. Then discuss stories from the Bible. Keep your group small (between 2 and 8 people) to maximize impact and allow everyone to discuss these stories.

Everyone learns.  Help people learn how to do these things themselves: a) tell others about Jesus, b) study the Bible, c) pray, d) live in community, and e) endure hard times. They learn these things as they go through the I am Second curriculum.

Consider everyone a potential leader.  View everyone as a potential leader, both before and after they trust Christ. Give people opportunities to lead if they continue to obey and progress. Hand over leadership roles to different people each meeting.

Obedience based, not just knowledge focused.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide people in the life changes they need to make as you do the Live and Tell questions. Then as you start the next session, ask each Second to share how they did with their Live and Tell commitments. Consider not moving on if people did not complete them. This creates an environment in which loving Jesus means obeying Jesus.

New groups rather than big groups.  As people share with others, encourage them not to invite the new people to your group, but instead start a new group. Encourage new leaders to stay in your existing group, which is a “learning” group for them. Their new group becomes their “leading” group. So they get on the job training, but stay connected for ongoing training and accountability.

Discuss and discover.  Focus on the Bible. Trust the Holy Spirit to help each person discover the meaning of Scripture as your group discusses it. Lead through asking questions rather than lecture. Help everyone participate.

You can watch films here that describe Second groups and how to lead them.  You can download free materials to use to lead a Second group.  Or you can buy printed booklets of these materials through our online store.

These materials also are available as an iPhone app and an Android app so groups can discuss the materials using just their phones.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions.  Or let us know your experience using the Second group materials.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What does a Second do?

What does a Second do? In other words, what does a follower of Jesus do?  What are the basics of being a disciple?  Here’s the list we use to develop I am Second tools, training and technology. These are the traits people will develop as they progress through the I am Second discipleship process:

  1. Has put faith in Jesus as Savior.
  2. Is baptized.
  3. Studies and obeys the Bible (everything else flows from this!).  Can do this by himself.  Is “self feeding.”
  4. Prays like Jesus taught.
  5. Leads others to believe in Jesus.
  6. Makes disciples.
  7. Can endure hard times.
  8. Lives in genuine community with other believers.
  9. Puts God and others first.
  10. Understands and practices the Lord’s supper.
  11. Is a generous giver.
  12. Participates in local and global missions.

What do you think about this list?  What would you add?  Subtract?  Change?  

Do you have a process for developing these characteristics yourself?  A process for helping others develop into this kind of follower of Jesus?  Not just knowledge, but actually doing, living, thinking, acting like this?

More later on the discipleship process that is embedded in the I am Second small group curriculum.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Help Developing Healthy Spiritual Habits

New Year’s Resolutions.  Fail.

“I’ll pray for you.” Fail.

“Yes, Lord, I’m gonna . . . .”  Fail.

Want to get past making commitments you can’t seem to keep? Want to develop healthy habits of helping people?  Take I am Second’s [22]  Day Challenge

Sign up here.  You’ll get an email every day for 22 days.  It will have one of the I am Second films to watch.  As you watch it, think about who you know that needs the encouragement in that film.  Then forward it to them.  

There’s also a daily challenge to take a Jesus step that is prompted by the film.  

The [22]DC is patient with you, too. If you don’t have time to open the email . . . it waits.  We all have those days when we’re pressed for time, so it gives you a break.  If you haven’t gotten to it in 3 days, it sends you a reminder.  It waits until you restart it by viewing a film.

People say that it takes 3 weeks to develop a new habit.  Take the Challenge.  Develop a new habit of thinking about how to bless someone else each day.

Looking for something to get your church all on the same page? Lead a youth group?  Host a small group?  Have a Second group?  Challenge everyone to take the Challenge with you.  It’s more fun to do it with friends.

Here's what others are saying:

  • "I loved the challenges. I reconciled with a dear old friend that we were not on speaking terms for the past 7 years. It lightened my heart and had a very positive outcome." 
  • "It brought our middle school and high school youth groups together to FOCUS on Him by focusing ON OTHERS.... and making self be Second! My husband and I have done youth ministry for 20 years and found this top notch and top quality as well as inspiring!"
  • "Challenges led me to be active in my faith." 
  • "The films get you out of your comfort zone and remind me that beyond the smile there might be a hurting person."
Click here to sign up for the [22] Day Challenge.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

How to Get Your Prayers Past the Ceiling

Do your prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bounce back in your face? Like a bad basketball shot--nothing but air?

Are you tired of muttering ineffective “Lord, thank you for this day, please gimme“ prayers?

Jesus taught us how to pray. It’s simple, but for some reason many of us don’t do it His way. We get into prayer habits based on what others say, not what Jesus taught. We get terribly out of balance. Usually focusing a lot more on the ask part than the worship, surrender and repent parts. Out of balance like this poor creature.

So we came up with a simple reminder how to pray like Jesus told us. You use your hand as a prompt. The palm and each finger each remind you of the parts of the “Our Father” model prayer Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9-14.

It's really easy. Palm reminds us of our relationship ("Our Father").  Thumbs up is worship ("who is in heaven, holy is Your name").  Etc.

Here’s a diagram to help visualize this.

Click here to watch short film about how easy this is, and how to teach it to others.

Want to learn more?  Click here to download free "Second Start" discussion guide.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church* Part 3

*This is the intriguing title of a recent blog High School Pastor Jon Neilson wrote about youth that have stayed engaged in ministry past high school.  

As I mentioned in the first two parts of this series, Jon’s article has challenged us on how I am Second can help youth keep living like Jesus after they leave home.  Here is Jon’s third point, with some thoughts about how to use I am Second to meet this need.

3.  Their parents lived the Gospel at home.  Here is Jon’s challenge for parents:

“This is not a formula! Kids from wonderful gospel-centered homes leave the church; people from messed-up family backgrounds find eternal life in Jesus and have beautiful marriages and families. But it’s also not a crap-shoot. In general, children who are led in their faith during their growing-up years by parents who love Jesus vibrantly, serve their church actively, and saturate their home with the gospel completely, grow up to love Jesus and the church.”

Jesus said “if you love me, you will obey my commands.” Unfortunately, too many times we focus on feeding people more knowledge, rather than obeying what they have learned.  Barna research discovered that only about 5% of US church goers said their church holds them accountable for integrating biblical beliefs and values into their life.  

As someone once said, “we have been educated beyond our obedience.”

I am Second group materials are obedience based, not just knowledge-focused.  At the end of each session, people are challenged to commit to what they are going to do to obey what they just learned.  And who they are going to tell.  Then report back to the group at the next meeting.

Families can go use I am Second materials together.  As they do, they all will be challenged to obey what Jesus taught. Parents will model to their kids the challenges, and the joys, of loving Jesus by obeying what He taught.

Want to talk more with our student ministry coaches?  Email us at  

Click here to read Part 1 of this series.  Here to read Part 2.

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church* Part 2

*This is the intriguing title of a recent blog High School Pastor Jon Neilson wrote about youth that have stayed engaged in ministry past high school.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, Jon’s article has challenged us on how I am Second can help youth keep living like Jesus after they leave home. Here is Jon’s second point, with some thoughts about how to use I am Second to meet this need.

2. They have been equipped, not entertained. Jon’s words are convicting:

"Are we sending out from our ministries the kind of students who will show up to college in a different state, join a church, and begin doing the work of gospel ministry there without ever being asked? Are we equipping them to that end, or are we merely giving them a good time while they’re with us?"

Challenge:  how to equip students and give them opportunities to really lead?

How can I am Second help?

Here's a couple examples of what can happen in your youth group.  One of our coaches trained five students.  By the end of the semester their one Second group multiplied to 10 groups with over 100 attending each Friday morning at 7:15 am in the high school field house. A Christian club on another high school campus learned how to lead Second groups. In less than a month the 10 trained leaders had more than 120 fellow students in their groups at school. Because the groups grew so big so fast, they quickly learned the importance of constantly developing new leaders by allowing them to help lead the groups.

Here is a diagram of the discipleship process embedded into the I am Second core curriculum.

This discipleship process turns spectators into soldiers. The Second group materials give students an opportunity to step out and lead. Second group participants are encouraged to tell others what they are learning, then start their own groups to cover material they already have learned . . . and obeyed.

This process is embedded in the discussion guides available here. First pick one of the evangelistic Bible studies (the box that says “How to Become Second”). Then take the booklets in order from 1 to 11. Your group will go through all the parts of this discipleship process. Or you can skip around--each booklet is self-contained--if you have particular topics you want to hit first.

Click here to read Part 1 of this series.

Want to talk more with our student ministry coaches? Email us at

Give us your feedback. Leave a comment below.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church* Part 1

*This is the intriguing title of a recent blog High School Pastor Jon Neilson wrote about youth that have stayed engaged in ministry past high school. 

It has challenged us on how I am Second can be used to help youth keep living like Jesus after they leave home. Here is Jon’s first point, with some thoughts about how to use I am Second to meet this need.  I'll comment on his other two points in later posts.

1. They really have trusted Jesus. Here is Jon’s challenge:

“We need to stop talking about 'good kids.' We need to stop being pleased with attendance at youth group and fun retreats. We need to start getting on our knees and praying that the Holy Spirit will do miraculous saving work in the hearts of our students as the Word of God speaks to them. In short, we need to get back to a focus on conversion. How many of us are preaching to ‘unconverted evangelicals’?"

Challenge: students in church actually have put their faith in Christ.

How can I am Second help? 

I am Second group materials focus first on helping people put their faith in Jesus. The Identity & Truth” discussion guide is one example. It is a semester long study of topics like self image, money, rejection and approval that leads students to the truth that a relationship with Christ is the answer to these struggles. Students are attracted by the authenticity of the I am Second films, then discuss how Jesus interacted with Bible characters with similar issues.

Also, there are discussion guides to help students reach their friends with the story of Jesus. "How to Start a Second Group" helps them pray and plan how to start a group with their friends. "What’s First?" is another guide that helps them develop their own story of how Jesus has , then share it with others.

Check out these and other small group resources at

If you'd like to talk with one of our student ministry coaches, click here to contact us.

Next post we'll look at Jon's second point.