Saddleback Church out of Southern California is known for its innovative, ground-breaking ministry led by the acclaimed pastor and author Rick Warren. The out-of-the-box thinking that propelled the church to its unique leadership status and congregation of over 22,000 is echoed in all aspects of its worship, including youth ministry.
Josh Griffin has been with Saddleback for several years, and is now the High School Pastor within the youth ministry program. He leads a staff of six full-time employees, three interns and about 100 volunteers who all dedicate their time to serving Saddleback and its youth community. His enthusiasm for innovative teaching methods brought him to integrate audience response technology into his ministry.
The High School Ministry (HSM) at Saddleback prides itself on creative and relevant means to relay Biblical teachings to its students. With an audience that has seen incredible growth this past year, Josh must capture and keep the attention of his students, most often during their weekend services.
Previously, the youth ministry adopted a response system designed only for classroom needs and used infrared technology – which often warranted students running up to the receiver to ensure responses were submitted. With a group of hundreds, the system was less reliable and created more confusion than it was worth.
During one of their weekend services, HSM held a “choose your own adventure” series, which allowed participants to choose their worship program – from the opening song to the topic of discussion, and everything in-between. Griffin wanted to incorporate a response system where the audience could easily vote with the press of a button – and instantly decide the direction of the service. After doing some quick Internet research, he landed on Interactive Church Resource’s website and learned about the ease of renting an audience response system.
Every aspect of their services during their “choose your own adventure” series was determined by the youth group, providing not only an engaging interactive environment, but truly offered some insight into an uncommunicative audience.
Griffin said, “Often times in youth ministry we talk to students. It’s not often that we get to hear from them. One of the fun things we were able to use the interactive keypads for is to create a very specific message based on what they wanted to hear and what they’re interested in. We used the results from surveys during the message to tailor the content to what they were struggling with and what they were dealing with.”
Also used during several training sessions and conferences, Josh has discovered that the technology he first thought of as a way to insert humor into his messages, can be used to gather hard data as well. When over 1000 people joined him for a worship conference, he inserted a few ice breaker questions, including “What method of transportation did you use to get here?” To his surprise, most participants had driven. By inserting a quick, on-the-fly question slide, he was also able find out how many miles the majority had traveled. The answers to these two questions completely changed the way they marketed the conference and communicated to its participants, making it a worthwhile tool in several situations.
Josh, and his colleagues at Saddleback and beyond, have had great success with the interactive keypad system in a variety of environments. With extreme reliability, Griffin has rented the system again and again from Interactive Church Resources for various functions. His hopes to continue to apply the system in a fun, interactive manner, but also use it for anonymous polling in order to uncover real problems that his students may feel uncomfortable disclosing.
“We adopted the system, wanting to have a vested interest in our youth program,” said Griffin. “Church sometimes can feel like you buy a ticket, you watch the show and you leave. We wanted to change the experience and grow in different ways. The clickers were an extension of that engagement and interaction we hoped to integrate. We’ve realized we can really use these to create a moment and potentially change people’s lives.”
For more information about renting an audience response system from Interactive Church Resources, contact us at (877) 427-5111.