The Inspired Volunteer

A blog to inspire the Youth Volunteers of Shepherd Church

Middle School Camp!! — June 30, 2015

Middle School Camp!!

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church

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I’m glad middle school camp is only Sunday to Wednesday. Not because I don’t love being here and watching middle school students live in full vulnerability, but because it’s just enough time to leave the students with a desire for more. Now, I’m sure they won’t want more poison oak, mosquito bites, the dreaded stairs to the meeting room, or 5am wake up calls from the student who defies sleep. However, I hope they desire more high energy worship songs, engaging Christ-centered messages, discussion-based small groups, and more intentional time devoted to experiencing Jesus.

To be honest, nothing we do here is any different than what we offer back at Porter Ranch, but I would conclude summer camp is different because these young students come with an expectation to pursue an experience with Christ. Wow….I wish I could approach each day with the same attitude as these students have displayed this week. How would our days be different if we had the attitude of expecting to experience Jesus in every situation we encountered?

See, a worship experience isn’t a combination of strategically arranged songs, it is a mind that is inclined by the heart to intentionally see Jesus working and hear Jesus speaking. Thus worship isn’t an experience, it is a lifestyle.

My prayer is that these students continue their worship long after the music stops here in Ojai.

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Dangerous Details — June 23, 2015

Dangerous Details

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove

Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church


“The devil is in the details.” Ever heard that saying? Forgive me for my rather harsh opening, but it is a saying that captures the essence of whether something is average or spectacular. The small details of events or ministries aren’t seen by the majority of people who are there to benefit from them, but they cause the organizers of the ministry to lose sleep.

  • “Are the bus drivers present to unlock the luggage compartments?”
  • “Will we have enough snacks so the volunteers are not hungry mid-day?”
  • “Are the volunteer snacks healthy and nutritious enough?”
  • “Are the students aware of where they need to go and what they need to do?”
  • “Do the volunteers know what they need to bring?”
  • “Do all the volunteers have their small group questions?”

These are just a few of the detailed oriented questions that run through my mind around summer camp time. At times Laura, my wife, can see my mental wheels turning as I try to think through all the last minute details when we are together.

I wouldn’t say details are my strength. To be honest, I naturally tend to be more of a “Let’s just see what happens” kind of guy. However, when you are organizing an event for 26 small group volunteers and 198 students, that type of laissez faire mentality does not fly. Thankfully, the Shepherd Youth Staff is filled with detailed oriented people who thrive on finding small detail errors. Thus the reason why our summer camps are planned down to the minute and are filled with things like a chandelier hanging from the ceiling, cookies displayed on fancy platters, lighting scenes that draw in anyone’s full attention, and worship elements that slam home the point of the night’s message.

Details sure do make the world of difference in a ministry event, but they also make a huge difference in someone’s life.

  • “Am I looking my spouse in the eyes as she talks to me?”
  • “Am I tracking what I am spending money on?”
  • “Did I encourage someone today?”
  • “How was my tone of voice when I responded to my child?”
  • “Did I talk to God today?”
  • “Did I listen to God today?”

See, the thing about details is if you ignore them today they do not effect you until later, then you exert more energy trying to fix the situation than you would if you had prepared for the situation. It is always easier to prepare than it is to repair.

What details in your own life are you ignoring? Prepare today so you will not have to repair tomorrow.

High School Summer Camp!! — June 17, 2015

High School Summer Camp!!

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church
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198 students! I know right?!! It’s awesome! That is the number high school students who have given their week to experience Jesus in Crestline, CA. I am speaking of our annual summer camp of course. We also have 26 adult small group volunteers who have given of their week to mentor these students.

There is something mysterious that happens when a student retreats from their normal routine and surroundings to pursue an experience with Christ. Yes, they also experience thin air, sunscreen, constant encouragement to drink water, late nights, tired eyes, strained voices, and painful rope burns (ask a camper about that one), but most importantly they experience adults who desperately desire for them to encounter the life changing power of Jesus Christ.

The rewards of volunteering at camp don’t come in the form of a paycheck, plaque, or prestige; but instead they come in the form of getting to answer the questions: “How can I know for sure I will go to heaven?” “What does it mean to trust Jesus?” “I want to follow Jesus but will I still have fun?”

When camp ends we will make a recap video to summarize all that went on. However, the true rewards of summer camp are not projected in a video but rather produced in the everyday life of a changed student who encountered Christ. Although all the adults will return home tired, sore, and slightly sunburned, I guarantee they will all say….”It was worth it.”

Making an Impact — June 9, 2015

Making an Impact

Post By: David Willard Jr
Shepherd Youth D-Group Leader
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A few weeks before D-groups ended I had a conversation with one of my boys who was upset because he felt he was in a lose-lose situation over missing D-Groups for a week. He had a track banquet that started at 6pm and he knew it was important to be there, but he felt “church”‎ (D-Groups) was more important. We discussed the importance of both and reminded him it was okay to miss a D-group night for something only happening once a year (and for only a few years while he is in school). After we spoke he told me he understood and thanked me for helping him.

I am overwhelmed we get to have such an impact that a student thinks missing a night of church is a big deal. I love my boys and can’t imagine spending a Wednesday night without them. Thank you Garrison for helping us do what we are privileged to do.

God Bless

Keep Planting — June 2, 2015

Keep Planting

Post by: Carla Pryor
Shepherd Youth D-Group Leader
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This time of the year, as we reach the end of our service to our youth groups, I always ask God what he wants me to do next. During the year I know we all have times we feel burned out and exhausted. Some of us may ask, “Have I made any impact in these kids lives?”

At this point, I know some of us feel we haven’t, I know some of us will not be here next year as we feel we haven’t accomplished anything. Well for me, every year for the past 8 years I have had these feelings. But today, God spoke to me through one of my girls who graduated from high school over 4 years ago. I passed her in the hallway last Sunday, she called out my name and I called out hers. She was surprised I remembered her name and I told her that I will never forget her name – and she laughed and she said, “I know, because you have a dog with the same name.”

We hugged and she told me about her life and what she was doing and I beamed with joy. Then she stopped and said she wanted to tell me something. She goes, “3 days ago my mom and I were talking. I told her that I have had so many things in my past that have happened and I chose to forget but I will never forget Fratz and my leader (me) and how that has impacted my life forever. I am so thankful for you and all those involved in the youth group. I would like to serve like you one day!”

My eyes swelled with tears of joy.

So when you think you are not doing anything in these lives today, be encouraged in knowing that you are leaving a seed planted in their hearts. Yes, that seed may take some time to grow, but be patient in knowing that it is in there and everyone blossoms at their own time.

God just told me that I am staying another year, my 9th year.