Archives For Matt Lawson

REEL TRUTH FOR CHRISTMAS was a message series we hosted at EPICENTER in December 2011. We’ve never taken movies and developed a message series before. For this series though, we wanted to mix it up for a couple weeks and draw some truths out of 4-5 movie scenes each week.

Week 1, we used the movie ELF. Week 2, we used the movie A Christmas Story. Feel free to take any of the ideas, notes, etc and use them for your group

RTFC Week 1 notes – ELF
Week 1 powerpoint notes
Week 2 powerpoint notes
RTFC Game Week 1 – ELF



Hey friends, please bear with us as the website is undergoing some new and awesome changes! Thanks for your patience!




WE’RE TRYING TO IMPROVE THE EXPERIENCE FOR YOU. DON’T HOLD IT AGAINST US UNTIL WE GET THERE! WHY NOT SUBSCRIBE TO THE RIGHT AND BE INFORMED AS SOON AS WE LAUNCH THE FULL NEW BLOG! surveyed 600 student ministry leaders on various topics, primarily focusing on resources. This survey is published with permission by Jeremy McCarter.

Click here for the >>  STUDENT MINISTRY SURVEY RESULTS (Word doc)

Big thanks to Lifechurch for putting this info together.






1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.

I love my generation. Unfortunately, my generation is more often than not characterized by what we do wrong than what we do right. That’s probably well deserved. It seems like my generation has lost sight of eternity, and focused in on the here and now. Many of us are living like there won’t be a tomorrow, and there definitely won’t be an eternity, so they think they’ve got to “live it up” as much as possible now.

Obviously, that mindset leads to a lot of sin, and a lot of selfishness. One morning, as I was praying for a friend who’s seemingly lost all sight of eternity, God showed me these verses. He showed me that there is hope for a generation that seems lost. I pray each day, as Isaiah did, that my generation’s righteousness and salvation will shine brightly for all the world to see. Just like Isaiah’s heart was heavy for the people of Jerusalem, God has burdened my heart for the people of Woodstock, and the U.S., and across the globe.

I believe there’s hope for my generation- for each and every student to believe whole-heartedly in the Gospel, and allow it to take over their lives. But before that happens, we have to tell them the Gospel.

Daniel Riggs.
Follow Daniel on Twitter


From My boss, Allan Taylor, in our Ed Staff meeting today.




This is #winning…


I need more days like this. I love my family.




On Monday, May 28, 2012 at Summer Surge, we cast a SIGNIFICANT new vision for the future of WoodstockHSM. Here is the message from that night [the specifics begin around 32:00 of the video]. Focused on the glory of God and our unshakeable belief that it should always be advancing and never receding in our lives personally and in our community corporately, we have come to a crossroads concerning our influence for the glory of God.

EPICENTER, our Wednesday night gathering, has seen a surge over the last 6 years, making a leap from 175 participants to well over 400 on most nights. We meet in a facility that, although only 4 years old, is at or above 80% capacity each Wednesday. Church growth experts tell us, and we know this to be true from our own experiences, that once we reach 80% capacity or higher new guests will walk into the auditorium and decide there isn’t room for them. We have seen a SIGNIFICANT number of first time guests at EPICENTER over the last year and a half. In fact, there have been enough to more than double our ministry if they all stuck. But they haven’t…and we’re convinced that one of the reasons is that we are out of space and seats for them.

Because the glory of God matters NOW, we are faced with five choices…

#1 – Do Nothing
We tell these students to go to hell or at least try to find Jesus somewhere else. Our conviction – not even a consideration.
#2 – Start a Second Service on Wednesday nights
We could do a 6pm and a 7:30pm gathering. Our conviction – because of already existing programming times on campus, we prefer to give ourselves more freedom.
#3 – Start a Second Service Another Night
In addition to Wednesday night, we could add a Monday or Thursday gathering. Our conviction – although we are not afraid of hard work, we believe this will stretch our staff very thin.
#4 – Move to the Chapel
Currently, this is not even an option as it is occupied with Sunday morning worship practice. However, if it were an option we would have plenty of seats in the 2500 seat chapel. Our conviction – moving 400-500 students into a 2500 seat auditorium would dwarf our momentum and environment.
#5 – Start a Second Epicenter in Another Location at the Same Time on Wednesdays
A second epicenter would look and feel just like the one in our current facility, although it probably wouldn’t have all the bells and whistles of media technology. It would run at the exact same time and day as EPICENTER currently. Our conviction – Multi-site EPICENTER gives us the greatest opportunity for giving our students ownership while at the same time reaching more students in Metro Atlanta.

So we have decided

We are going to be “planting” a second EPICENTER in the northern end of Cherokee County, focused on Creekview, Cherokee, and some Sequoyah High School students. There are a TON of obstacles, including the fact that we are unaware of ZERO non-multi site churches that have multi-site youth ministries. This is unchartered territory for our church. But here is what we do know we are facing:

1. A need for a facility to house EPICENTER North
2. Brand new team of volunteers and at least 24 volunteers to start the 1st night
3. Additional ministry dollars for possible facility rental, band, stage, media, marketing, etc.
4. A fast-track learning curve for our interns to improve their speaking ability
5. A core team that has our WoodstockHSM DNA to launch this second EPICENTER


FAQ: We know there are plenty of questions [and probably more than we can think of]. Here are some that you’re probably asking.

1. Who will be preaching? Matt will primarily preach on our Woodstock campus and our staff and volunteers will primarily preach on our North campus. Likely, Matt will rotate to the North campus and our staff will come to our Woodstock campus once a month.

2. Who will be leading worship? Our current EPICENTER band is sold on the vision and is committed to helping raise up a new band. Because there are currently 6 guys in the band along with 2-3 that rotate in and out, the current band will likely send some guys to the North campus to play at least at the beginning.

3. Will it be like the Woodstock campus? We are going to make every effort to make sure that the North campus receives the same quality of experience that our Woodstock campus has. We know that it will likely not have all the media bells and whistles but it will at least be the same series with the same graphics, same worship songs, same videos, same content in message.

4. How do I get involved? Call or email our office to let us know you are interested or fill out the form below (best option). or 678-494-2653. We will be having CORE NORTH meetings regularly on Wednesdays throughout the summer starting June 6th at 5:30pm in the Warehouse, room 1. We need you there.

5. What volunteer positions do you need and how many? Greeters, set up, guest services, altar counselors, media, safety, VIP Afterparty, and Small Group sign-up table. We project that we will need at least 24 to start the first night. We need both parent and student leaders.

6. How many people will be coming to EPICENTER North? We are praying and believing that we will start the first night with 100 students.

7. How can we get the word out? We hope you will make an effort like never before. Here are a few ways we plan to let people know…Mailers, yard signs, flyers in businesses, pass out cards, t-shirts, social media, ads in football programs at Creekview, Cherokee, & Sequoyah. If you have a suggestion, please let us know.

Will you prayerfully and seriously consider joining our team? You can make known you’re interest by filling out the short form below. We know some of our current volunteers will be launching to EPICENTER North, which will create a void on our Woodstock campus. Either way, we will need more leaders on both campuses that will help us accomplish our vision to see 39,000 middle and high school students in a 10 mile radius of Woodstock know and love Jesus. Thanks for praying for us! We will look forward to hearing from you.

Have more questions? Feel free to call or email us at or 678-494-2653.



It has been amazing how God has heard all the prayer concerning the weather for this camp.  The storm came through during the middle of the night and we woke to a light rain that was gone by the end of our morning worship service.  We are all praising God! 

Since it was raining our students were not able to have their quiet times on the beach but they all found a spot of their own to get along with God this morning.  The devotion focused on assurance of salvation and they read through I John 2.  They were asked to take a deep look at their behavior and attitude toward the things of God and to pray for that the Holy Spirit would give them confirmation in this area or it encouraged them to ask godly counsel.  We pray that this one week will allow some of the students to begin the habit of seeking God through His word daily.

During the morning worship service Bryan Bailey continued to examine the church of Ephesus and all that Jesus had to say about them.  We read in Revelation 2 about all the things the church had done right and all they had done wrong.  In spite of all that the church was doing right Jesus called them out for abandoning their first love, Jesus.  He also read I Corinthians 13:1-3 and encouraged the students that even if we have all the accolades and money this world has to offer but we don’t have love we have nothing!!  He closed by challenging the students to keep pursuing Christ!

It was relay time today during recreation.  The students were divided up within their teams and they all participated in the relay that went from the pool, to the field and ended on the beach with all the teams in the ocean!  The kids play their hearts out and truly love the competition. 

Our students have really enjoyed Clayton King, our camp speaker for the week.  His sense of humor and honest in the messages allow the students to connect with him.

Tonight’s message was on Life or Death from John 10:1-8.  He clearly explained that Satan desire to destroy us because we look like God, we were made in His image and we are hopeless and defenseless on our own.  But thankfully someone died to save and protect us and that someone is Jesus!  During the invitation he asked the students what they need rescuing from.  We are praising the Lord for 10 salvation decisions tonight. 

The late night session was a concert by Jake Holman and then some worship time with Jake and the Epicenter band.  The students are passionate about singing and worshiping the Lord, it is an awesome thing to watch!  Our leadership surprised our students with 75 dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts tonight!  It was a lot of students but don’t worry, they were all devoured!!

Here are some specific to pray for:

  1. Students will form a habit for studying God’s word daily
  2. Service projects that students will do on Thursday
  3. Strength to finish the week strong


The rain stayed away all day!  We had about five minutes of rain this morning and then it was dry for the rest of the day.  Thank you for your prayers!  Unfortunately, we have an 80% chance of rain on Wednesday.

The students start their day with quiet times on the beach.  Today the students focused on love during their devotions.  They were challenged to answer questions about their love for Jesus and for others.  It is an amazing sight to see the student digging into the word of God individually and praying on the beach.  Not only is this a great time for themselves but also a great testimony to the rest of the resort!

So far we’ve had three worship services and each time with the band has played a song by Chris Tomlin entitled “Lay Me Down.”  It seems like this song is quickly becoming the anthem for the week.  The words to this song match with the desire that we have for each of these students here at Summer Surge.  Part of the song says, “It will be my joy to say Your will, Your way always.”  Our students have been singing their hearts out to this song!

Bryan Bailey, the college pastor, spoke this morning in our worship service on Acts 19.  He challenged the students to take a look at their influence and explained through Scripture what biblical influence looks like.  He told the students that your influence as a believer is anchored in your identity.  Bryan will continue to dig dip into the word of God during our morning sessions. 

The battle continued today on the fields with a competitive game of dodgeball between the teams.  Each team put forth their best 30 girls and then best 30 guys to compete in several rounds of dodgeball.  After a day and a half of Summer Surge the Red team has now moved to first place with Blue, Orange and Green to follow respectively.  Our late night session was a grade competition tonight.  We found out that several of our students have some hidden talents including a certain 10th grader that has some very impressive dance moves.  Our counselors though shocked us the most.  We had one chew a piece of gum that had already been chewed and another that put someone else’s retainer in their mouth!  We are blessed with the best counselors and ones that would do anything to support their team.

We are thankful to have Clayton King as our guest speaker for the remaining of our night worship services.  Clayton is from North Carolina and travels all around the world speaking for different student events.  He started off with making some funny statements about girls but promises to make some equally as funny statements about guys tomorrow night.  His text for the evening was John 12:1-11.  Through the story of Mary washing Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume Clayton showed us four signs of true conversion; it is personal, passionate, public and permanent.  We are genuinely looking forward to all that God has in store for our students and leaders through Clayton’s preaching.

Here are some specifics to pray for:

  1. Our counselors as they connect with our students during small group time
  2. Strength and energy for all at Summer Surge
  3. The weather on Wednesday is expected to be nasty


Summer Surge 2012 has begun!!  From the moment the students stepped off the buses here in Myrtle Beach they have been filled with enthusiasm.  They quickly got their room assignments, headed to the meeting room for orientation and then it was a pizza for supper.  As the students began to fill the auditorium for worship it was obvious that this week is going to be amazing.  Matt lead a prayer time with our students on their knees.  Each individually praying for this week and all that is involved.  Our worship pastor this week is Jake Holman.  Jake has an ability to lead people to worship without calling attention to himself.  He, the Epicenter band and David Riddle played their hearts out tonight! 

Matt preached from the book of Joshua tonight.  He walked us through the whole book and talked about the glory of God.  He asked the students, “What if the glory of God mattered to you now, what could God do?”  He shared a personal story of time he spent in Denver and felt like he was in the wilderness and that God revealed to him through His word that this was about God and bring glory to Him and not about Matt feeling comfortable with where he was.   Matt’s prayer is that the glory of God will be in the heart of every student here!  To challenge the students even further with this Matt shared a new vision for Epicenter.  At the Warehouse we have started to reach 80-85% capacity on Wednesday nights but still desire to reach more students!  To make God’s glory known we will soon launch a secondary site for Epicenter in northern Cherokee County.  At this point we do not have location to hold this secondary site.  We will need another band, media team, adult and student volunteers.  We don’t have a lot of the details laid out yet but we do know we need lots of prayer!  Please begin to pray with us as we desire to reach our community! 

After the service the students go back to their rooms to prepare for Late Night.  It’s Monday night at camp so that means Team Competitions!!  The students dress in their team colors from head to toe and battle the opposing teams.  It was extremely loud in the auditorium tonight!  The students were full of energy (it’s obvious tonight is night one of four)!  Tonight was full of karaoke sing offs, Spam eating competitions and a group game of Heads or Tails.  At the end of the night we ended with Blue in first, Orange in second, Green in third and Red in fourth.  Some teams think it’s best to start strong and other teams strategize to come from behind, we will have to see what this week has in store. 

Here are some specifics to pray for:

  1. Open hearts for our students
  2. Our speakers for Tuesday, Bryan Bailey & Clayton King
  3. Weather (rain forecasted for Tuesday & Wednesday)