I have a lifelong calling to youth ministry, and have been following that call for 30 years. For many years, that meant working as a youth pastor in a local church (specifically, I worked with middle schoolers). I started speaking and writing for Youth Specialties, and eventually went on staff there for 11 years, most of those as the president. But I never stopped actually working directly with teenagers, and have been a volunteer middle school leader at my church for more than 12 years now (I lead a guys’ small group in my home every week). I started The Youth Cartel to provide a variety of help to individual youth workers, and to organizations (churches and ministries) that want to connect with youth workers. My wife of 25 years, Jeannie, and my two teenage kids, Liesl and Max, keep me grounded and humble.
It might scar you to read this, but here’s a list of 25 random-but-true things about Marko.
I’ve done youth ministry my entire adult life. Over the years I’ve held all sorts of positions and roles. I’ve been a volunteer, an intern, an interim youth pastor, a part-time youth pastor, a full-time youth pastor, a mentor to youth pastors, a coach to youth pastors, and even an architect of youth ministries planted in churches. Because a bachelors degree wasn’t enough youth ministry, I pursued a masters in youth ministry. You get the idea? I’m a youth ministry geek. Driven by the idea that youth workers lack a core network for idea sharing, I created an online community with some friends in 2005. That lead me to get to know Marko and YS. Three years later I found myself on staff with some of the most gifted and talented people I’d ever known. Three years after that, I joined Marko at The Youth Cartel, driven by the desire to help youth workers and organizations unleash the next wave of youth ministry innovation. But I’m not all about youth ministry all the time. I’ve been married to Kristen for 14 years, and together we have three kids, Megan (11), Paul (9), and Jackson (2).
Want some TMI about Adam? Here’s 25 random-but-true things you might not know.
I used to be scared of teenagers. And church. My dad was a minister and a youth pastor sexually abused me in high school. Ten years ago (as a 21 year old girl armed with my front row seat to The Church Dysfunction Show) I wasn’t about to touch anything related to religion with a 40-foot pole. But because I had a crush on a boy in a band who played at a high school youth concert at a church, I went… and almost had a panic attack. Seeing my nervous breakdown, a youth worker named Kristi offered to pray for me. We became close friends and I eventually started helping out as a junior high girls’ group leader. That eventually led to a full-time student ministry staff position, an ordination, and now, a heart that beats hard and fast for students in junior high, high school and college. My love for communication turned into my career as a writer, editor, and speaker at churches, youth groups, colleges and conferences. I’ve seen the best and worst of church and youth ministry and will settle for nothing less than seeing truth and love win out over all the negative voices students, volunteers, and staff members hear.
I met Marko and Adam on a relief and vision trip in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Through several years of snarky Facebook comments and heartfelt prayer and friendship, it’s an honor to join this adventure known as The Youth Cartel. Currently, in addition to writing, editing and speaking, I am learning and working at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. I am also contemplating getting a cat.