Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


Last weekend was my annual trek with our high school guys for a weekend of discussion and bonding about what it means to be a man. After all my years in ministry, I think if I was asked to start cutting things we do, this trip might be the very last to go. I have seen more visible and life-long fruit come from these “man trips” and the flip side of “women’s retreats” that we do than almost anything else. Students decide to follow Jesus for the first time, sins get wrestled to the ground, and the overall temperature of accountability and devotion to live like Jesus rises incrementally everytime we go. For the men, I have done this trip a few times in the snow and even on houseboats, but for the last 4 years it’s been in the desert.

I never thought I’d say this, cuz I really love streams and trees and places where there are real seasons, but I have come to love the desert for its beautify and inherent value as a place to bond with students and connect with God.

Here’s some pics to prove my point:

And I have come to discover that the desert is awesome cuz sand and rock does not catch on fire. Hence, no matter what we do to the fire… which is a lot of stuff we don’t talk about on blogs :)…. it cannot cause much damage. But it’s awesome nonetheless.

In all the years I’ve been doing this trip, this year had some firsts too.

  • This year was the first time that I’ve invited a “speaker”. In all the previous years, it was always just the men of our ministry talking with the young men of our group. This year I invited a friend of mine, Mark Campbell, to come and share with our group. It was a great time. So stoked my students got to hear Mark’s heart and rub shoulders with a great friend and brother to me.

  • We also, for the first time, invited some of our students to lead us in music. It was great to be able to worship God in song this year…. something that for whatever reason, has been absent from our man trips. I expect it will be a permanent fixture now. So blessed by the way our students sought God this weekend.
  • We have always tried to see this trip as a “rite of passage” of sorts into manhood. This year Mark led us into the ancient tradition of a “jewish huppah”. It’s used in a lot of wedding ceremonies, but we used it like a Bar Mitzvah of sorts to allow these young men to intentionally signify a decision to embrace the responsibilities and implications of becoming a Man of God. It was sweet to be able to pray over guys who then took communion and picked up some reminders of their decision. I’m praying the boyhood ways decrease and the manhood ones increase in the lives of these young men. If the church needs anything, it’s men who live like Jesus- servant leaders willing to pay the price of cross-culture thinking and living. Oh God I pray we raise up some of those kinds of men.
  • Lastly, we gave every guy a memory/ammo box. They carried them everywhere we went on this trip and we gave them several things to put in this box as a way for them to remember this trip and other memories of where they met with God and things they learned… like maybe even how to shoot a shotgun for the first time. I really think these boxes become a place where these young men store memories of significant life events for them for years to come.

I can’t wait till I can take my own boys into the desert for this transition season into manhood. I treasure the childhood experiences we are having, but I yearn to see them grow up into men who truly “get it” and are men with a solid work ethic, a humble servants heart, and a passion to live out the convictions of the Holy Spirit in their lives.


  1. is that the mark campbell from the bay area? If so, i think luke knows him….

  2. yep, he’s the one. great guy.

  3. It was a great weekend Brian, monumental in fact, with regard to my personal growth in relationship with Jesus. Mark’s teaching was truly inspired / life changing! This week while reflecting on the retreat, many images have come to my mind, some of which you’ve beautifully documented in your pics, but two, one imagined and one very real, have genuinely struck a chord with me. The one that sparks my imagination was discussed around the prayer circle on Sunday and that is the image of some of these young men (God willing, my own son included!) 25 – 30 years from now, sitting in that location or somewhere similar, as strong / godly men sharing memories of what they learned / experienced at the retreat with their own sons. Awesome! The second was the very real image of a couple of youth pastors and my fellow adult leaders, working their tail ends off in an effort to make that a possibility. In my quiet time Wednesday, I read Proverbs 12:24 (NLT) which reads “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.” Well, I had the privilege of witnessing some genuinely hard working leaders this past weekend…awesome examples of strong, godly men / servant leaders for all to emulate. So…many thanks Brian! I’m certain that without your incredibly hard work, leadership and passion for the students you pastor…this weekend would not have come together. Thanks also to your wonderful family for all the sacrifices they make to benefit us.

  4. thanks Kevin for your help and your generous and encouraging words. So thankful for this season of life.

    serving Jesus and students with you.

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