God is creating a great love for this beautiful city in our hearts. Fascinating perspective on dreams and broken dreams in the City of Angels. Thanks to my friend jcatanzaro for passing this along.  [warning: a few expletives]

A New Story to Begin

Matt Lawson —  March 26, 2014 — 1 Comment

Los Angeles

Eight years ago today, we started a journey as the High School Pastor at First Baptist Woodstock. Laura and I were engaged. I was fresh out of seminary when an incredible Pastor and Education Pastor took a chance on hiring me. I didn’t have the experience or the resume and not much to offer. In fact, I was so nervous when I got to Woodstock that I carried a leather brief case with me to every meeting for the first six months trying to prove I meant business. Finally, our executive pastor looked at me one day and said, “Matt, you’re home now. You can leave the brief case at the office!”

I was so green and so inexperienced. Woodstock was (and is) the penultimate. We had no idea this church is even better than we heard it would be. We serve in the best place on the planet, under the authority of the greatest servant leader I know, on a team of some of the sharpest and best ministry practitioners in the world.

Over the last eight years, our furtherest dreams have become reality.

We came to Atlanta with no family but today we have so many we call family. Our students and parents embrace the vision to love Jesus with all their hearts and to change the world. We’ve been blessed under God’s favor to witness over 1000 high school and middle school students baptized in the last 8 years. An incredible student facility now exists. Student pastors are launched to great churches each year out of our 1-2 year Minister in Residence program. A Global Year ministry led by Johnny Condrey sends high school graduates overseas to four different continents. Next week, we’ll launch six student ministry mission teams to four states and two foreign countries. We have great students, great leaders, and great families.

Woodstock is even better than it seems. It’s been an incredible journey that we can’t imagine ever ending.

Eleven months ago, God initiated a thought in our hearts through the unsuspecting words of a good friend. That began an eight month journey sensing God was asking us a question. I flat out rejected that question every day for eight months. There was zero interest in what God was proposing. In fact, I consistently asked Him to find someone else.

But we couldn’t shake the thought of pastoring or planting a church. It was a daily reality. At the suggestion of my wife, we started praying Exodus 33:14-15. We said, “God, please don’t lead us to a place if you don’t go before us and with us.”

I took off the month of December 2013 to exit the daily rhythm of ministry and to try to hear God definitively. God spoke through a friend named Tony Nolan on one of the last days of that mini-sabbatical. He was preaching to 5500 students at a conference we just happened to attend because we were in the area for a funeral. It was a single moment of clarity in the midst of 8 months of grey. That night I begged God to use someone else but said yes if He wanted to use me. In what capacity, I still wasn’t sure.

A little over a month later, I was preaching at a weekend event in Oklahoma. Through a crazy series of events over 72-hours, I found myself reluctantly serving this event not knowing the weekend would be another memorial stone in a new story God was writing. The short of it (and I will tell more at a later date) is that I placed my yes on the table to the city of Los Angeles. God had planted four cities on our families heart: New York City, San Diego, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. I preached a message that weekend that I’ve been preaching to students for four years. God made it evidently clear that Saturday night that this message was meant for me. He was asking us to start over in LA.

Yes on the table

Two weeks later we met with our Pastor to seek his wisdom and inform him of what God was saying. He gave his full support, which helped our love for him to increase even more.

Two weeks after our meeting with our Pastor, he was in a meeting with the president of the largest church planting network in the world. In that meeting, the president of that agency asked our Pastor if he would assume the leadership to rally other churches to support the planting of churches in…Los Angeles!!!! C’mon now. That’s God. Is that an answer to Exodus 33:14-15 that we have been praying? Without a doubt!! This was another memorial stone in the story that God has been writing.

There are other supernatural events that have happened that continue to confirm what God has been doing. We’ll tell those stories at another appropriate time. For now, our Pastor announced this past Sunday, March 23rd that we are being launched from Woodstock to plant a brand new church in the city of Los Angeles.

There are so many parts of this story that have been left untold. We’d love to keep you updated and ask for your prayer support.

We are currently praying two very specific and urgent prayers:

1. The Place

We’re asking God where we will specifically be planting in LA. We’re headed out to LA soon to see the city and to try to discern the location of the church. Please ask God to make that clear to us.

2. The People

It’s likely that we’ll launch with three other staff members and probably several families who will make the journey with us. Would you ask God to give us clarity as to who those staff members will be and for those families who are praying through whether God would have them go? Maybe it’s you! BTW…It seems likely that God has already supernaturally made provision for the salaries of two of those staff members as well as their housing. Not confirmed but possible!

If you’d like to be kept up to date on how you can pray for us and this story, please shoot us an email to Matt.lawson@fbcw.net.

For the Story of God for the City of LA!!



Blood, Sweat, & Tears

Matt Lawson —  September 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

If you’ve missed the series, you can watch at vimeo.com/woodstockstudents.

Here is the article titled, On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ, published by the Journal of American Medical Association dated March 21, 1986.



Recently I was asked the following five questions about the next generation and the church. The questions are very relevant and so I thought I would share my brief answers from my perspective.

1) Do you believe the average church in America is successful at engaging younger generations? (Why or why not)

I do not.

I believe it is a leadership issue in most churches. Churches must fight to get younger and lead from a younger perspective. I don’t think this happens effectively in very many places. As leadership ages, so does the approach and ministry model. (fwiw…I do not think this is the case at First Baptist Woodstock)

2) What are the greatest barriers of the church in reaching and discipling postmodern younger generations?

Difficult question. Not entirely sure if there is a clear answer to this. Certainly the view of the church by younger generations is an obstacle. The loss of truth is another. The relevancy of the church is an issue. The disintegration of the home and the passing of faith from previous generations has been disastrous.

3) What do you find personally is the greatest challenge in making disciples of younger generations?

In student ministry, it’s a lack of parental discipleship and partnership.

4) What do you feel is their greatest potential to offer the church?

Everything. The world is flat and this is a change/cause generation that could fulfill Matthew 24 if they could be equipped, motivated, and released.

5) What do you wish younger generations understood about Christianity / the Church? 

Jesus is better than…(Hebrews)


ML Initials

Stats below are from Johnny Derouen’s session at Metro Conference last week.
SESSION TITLE: Influencing Our Families


70% of Pastors constantly fight depression

Almost 40% polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since the beginning of their ministry

80% of adult children of pastors surveyed have had to seek professional help for depression


70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor

95% of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses

80% of pastors surveyed spend less than fifteen minutes a day in prayer

70% said the only time they spend time studying the word is when they are preparing their sermons


1500 pastors leave the ministry due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches

For every new church that opens, two close their doors

50% of pastors marriages will end in divorce directly in line with the national average

80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as a leader

50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living

80% of seminary and bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.

85% of pastors said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with the problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors

70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid

90% said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be before they entered the ministry

70% felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only 50% still felt called


80% of pastors spouses feel their spouse is overworked

80% of pastors wives feel left out and under appreciated by the church members

80% of pastors spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession

80% of pastors wives feel pressured to do things and something in the church that they are really not

The majority, over 50%, of pastors wives surveyed said the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered ministry


ML Initials

No this isn’t a promotion or giveaway for the latest conference. You probably wouldn’t win anyway. Who ever does?!?

Are you in a budget crunch and don’t have money for conferences? Or maybe you just don’t have time to get away from the office or the family for a week?

Well, you’re not alone and the facts of the matter are that you don’t have to be jealous over the youth pastor down the street who does get to go. In fact, you may be able to attend a better conference than him even without budget and conference time.

You can host your own conference, glean from some great wisdom givers, and not spend a dime or travel to do it.

How? Follow the 5 steps below to host and attend the best conference offered all year.

5 Steps to Your Best Conference Now

1. Set aside three days in the near future to work “at home.”

It’s important to get out of the office and away from what’s familiar. That’s one of the reasons conferences are so valuable. You can think outside of the normal pressures of day to day ministry.

2. Write down 10-15 of the sharpest guys you know

Seriously, write down your top 10-15 regardless of whether you think they will give you the time of day or not. You’ll be surprised as to how many will say yes that you thought will say no. Even if they can’t say yes to your preferred dates, if they are worth their leadership notoriety, they will at least have an avenue of leadership offering whether that’s book, webinar, blog, training cd/dvd, etc.

3. Write down 5-7 topics that are most pressing to you currently along with questions

Make a list of topics you would want at a conference. Write down 3-5 questions with each topic you’d want to ask if you had Q&A time with a conference presenter on that topic.

4. Call your list and ask for 30-45 minutes of their time on your specified days

Be flexible with times but ask if they are available on the days you have set aside. I would work at least 1 month out. As times begin to get filled in, offer time slots you have available during those 2-3 days you have set aside. The more specific you can get with busy leaders, the better chance you will have to get them on your “at-home conference” schedule. If you know a specific leader is more qualified in a specific area, tell their assistant you want to talk with them about ______ (ie. “I’d like to discuss campus ministry strategies and how to get on campus”).

5. Budget “process time” in your schedule

At most conferences, you will get 4-8 sessions of training. This is a reasonable amount of training time to shoot for. If possible, try to budget 30 or so minutes after each call to process and re-write the main takeaways from your conversation. Try to take away at least one actionable thought from each conversation. Finally, budget time after all phone conversations have been completed to debrief with yourself, your team, or your staff.

Now that you haven’t spent a dime or travel day on conferences and your boss or Pastor is happy, head on over to Starbucks and pick me up a gift card for this advice :)!!


Matt Lawson

First Baptist Woodstock student ministry has four openings for a 1-2 year student ministry internship starting in late May – early summer 2013. This internship offers the opportunity to LEARN in a dynamic, healthy student ministry environment of 1000 students and then be LAUNCHED to a healthy student ministry position when you are done.

This internship has a track record of placing interns in significant student ministry positions after their time is complete. If you desire to learn and lead in a healthy setting before being launched into a full-time position, we want to talk to you.

The student ministry at First Baptist Woodstock desires to help raise the next generation of student ministry leaders and place them in significant ministry positions. We’re looking for those called to youth ministry who desire to spend 1-2 years in a dynamic, fast-pace, & growing student ministry environment of over 1000 students learning the fundamentals of student ministry and having significant opportunities to impact a generation of students hungry for Jesus!

We have launched the last three interns to healthy churches running 1000+. We have a track record of placing interns in very healthy environments when they are finished with our internship.

1.Demonstrated call to full-time student ministry
2.Commitment to future local church ministry
3.Agree to a 1-2 year commitment
4.College degree preferred

We currently have two female openings and two male openings for a late May – early summer start date. Applications due April 17.

“The Minister in Residence program helped shape, challenge and prepare me for a role in full-time student ministry. It opened my eyes to things I had never thought of before, and I’m extremely grateful for the time I spent in the program.” – Aaron Crawford, Student Pastor, Cross Church, Fayetteville, AR

“My internship at Woodstock allowed me the privilege to gain priceless hands-on ministry experience. I was given opportunities to dream, pray big prayers, and to plan ministry according to whatever God laid on my heart. My internship experience continues to greatly influence the way I do ministry everyday.” – Ashley Williamson, High School Minister, Pinelake Church, Brandon, MS

1.Monthly reading and discussion of books on personal growth, leadership, student ministry
2.Attend FBCW training conferences (Timothy-Barnabus, Go Forward Conference)
3.Attend Atlanta area ministry training conferences (Youth Specialties, Catalyst, etc)
4.Enroll in optional seminary classes
1.Monthly/bi-monthly one on one mentoring with student ministry staff
2.Monthly meetings with a different department each month
1.Responsibility for specific areas of ministry including but not limited to:
a. Campus ministry
b. Team chaplain
c. Campus ministry teams
d. Event planning and leadership
2. Lead Bible studies and Sunday School classes
Future Ministry Planning
1.Create a plan to train volunteer workers
2.Develop a philosophy of ministry
3.Understand missional vs attractional evangelism

If you have questions, please email Matt at matt.lawson@fbcw.net. Internship pays $500 per month plus a host home.

Download the Intern Information and Application Packet

Stumin Sidekick Launch-Week

The blog here at Revolution Speaks has been silent for the last month or so as we’ve been preparing to launch StuminSidekick.com.

We’re beyond excited to announce that this week, Feb 25-28, 2013, is LAUNCH WEEK!! Resources are already flying out the door but we anticipate this week will be even crazier because of WE’RE GIVING AWAY OVER $1200 in FREE RESOURCES!!!



For this ONE-WEEK only, a one-year subscription can be purchased for up to 40% off the regular price. Your subscription will give you full access for one year to all resources on the site, except the premium section. Oh yea…there’s only 20 available at the initial level. After that, price goes up for the next 200 subscribers this week.

To see how you can get a chance to win any of these resources or purchase a one-year subscription,  check out our Launch Week page now.

Would you do us a favor and give StuminSidekick.com a shout on social media or through email to your youth pastor friends?






Wondering how far in advance you have your message series planned out. If you’re wondering, ours are planned out through May 22, 2013.


Like the math class I was failing as a 9th grader, a new semester reminds me there’s always a fresh start! There are several relationships I want to renew in the coming year.

  1. Having students in my home
  2. Spending time with adult leaders for lunch
  3. Dating my wife
  4. A day every week just for my family
  5. “Think Day” once a month for myself

What’s important to you relationally this coming year?


ML Initials