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Three New Youth Ministry Resources Available for Pre-Order


Our publishing team has been hard at work finalizing some awesome new stuff. Check out these three new releases, all available for pre-order right now.

A couple endorsements

Students love movies. A lot. This is good because movies can teach us a thing or two about our world. In Jesus Goes to the Movies, Joel Mayward helps youth workers understand how film can be a tool for teenagers to better love God. As a film critic, I love this book. As a youth pastor, I love it even more.

Wade Bearden | @wadehance
Student Pastor, Houston, TX
Staff Writer at Christ and Pop Culture
Cohost of Seeing and Believing (film and TV podcast)

Learn More or Buy

In Search of Adolescence takes on the revisionist history so widely accepted in the church and the broader culture—the “history” that portrays adolescence itself as a modern invention, an aberration of the way young people were meant to grow up.  A winsome writer, a fearless academic, and a brilliant researcher, Crystal Kirgiss unmasks the simplistic assumptions we’ve held for so long about the nature and importance of adolescence.  Like a sharpshooter in a carnival shooting gallery, Crystal’s book blows away falsehood after falsehood with perfectly aimed research and totally disarming humor.  This book has the potential to make us totally rethink the way we see young people and our work with them.

Mark DeVries MDiv | @markdevriesYMA
Founder, Ministry Architects
Author of Sustainable Youth Ministry

Learn more or buy

A major goal of youth ministry in today’s world is not to spoon feed students what to think, but to teach them how to think. That is exactly what this series is doing. THINK, Vol. 3 is chalk full of vital topics and issues that students care about and need to think through. Buy this book, heck, buy the whole series—you and your students won’t regret it!

Brock Morgan | @brockmorgan
Author of Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World

Learn more or buy
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A Summer-y Interview with Jonathan McKee


This week I had the chance to catch up with one of the busiest guys out there, Jonathan McKee. Jonathan is the author of a bunch of books, including The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers.
Adam: Jonathan, tell me what summer looks like for your ministry.

Jonathan: Spring and Fall are crazy full with travel, teaching parent workshops and speaking at events  but that always calms down during the Summer. So Summer provides a time to work on some writing projects. I’m working on a new parenting book.

Adam: Whats the title?

Jonathan: Working title is, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid. Summer gives me a chance to work on those projects and catch up on some much needed administrative crud.

Adam: Crud, huh?

Jonathan: I could think of other choice words… but I think crud will suffice.

Adam: I’m sure you mean “stuff” right? So, when you’re not writing or doing administrative crud, what are you up to that isn’t work?

Jonathan: Kayaking and hanging out with my family.

Adam: Sweet, I spend a lot of time kayaking, too. What’s kayaking look like where you live?

Jonathan: Smooth water, long and fast. I have a race in July where I run 6 miles, bike 12 and kayak 6. I’m dropping weight and training hard so I can beat my time.

Adam: I’ve seen some of your Instagram posts. You actually work out at the same lake you wrote about in your The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers, right?

Jonathan: Yeah, there’s this fun little island in the middle of the lake. Every time I passed it I couldn’t help but think, What a perfect spot to escape during a zombie apocalypse. So it made it into my book.

Adam: When I work out I don’t think about zombie apocalypse, my only thoughts are “How much longer do I have to workout?” and “What’s for dinner?” Switching gears– Summer is a time for vacations. What is your dream vacation?

Jonathan: I’m taking it with my wife Lori this coming February for my 25th wedding anniversary. Two weeks in Hawaii, being pampered in a nice resort. I’m counting the days!

Adam: 25 years, that’s awesome. Lori is a saint! OK, what’s your favorite summer youth ministry story?

Jonathan: Oh, wow! So many. This is random, but it’s hot here in Sacramento right now, so that reminds me of the time I had a van load of kids on the way home from church— I used to cart unchurched kids to church each week with my family. So we’re literally driving back from church in a 15-passenger van on a desolate road 3 miles from my house… and I ran out of gas. My wife and kids are with me, the kids are in car seats and the second the van died the AC turned off and we’re all baking in the van.

To make matters worse, my wife had asked me that morning, “Are you sure we don’t need gas?”

I told her, “It’s fine.”

I kicked off my dress shoes and ran home three miles barefoot and brought my other car with a gas can.

Let’s just say Lori wasn’t happy with me that day.

Adam: Ah, the real reason you’re going to Hawaii is to make up for previous sins. Got it!

Jonathan: She never said, “I told you so.” But she did make me change a 101 degree diaper when we got home. Whew!

Adam: What’s your least favorite part of summer youth ministry?

Jonathan: Besides that diaper? That’s a tough one. I like so many aspects of summer youth ministry. But one year my boss assigned me a campus two weeks before school started and said, “You’re in charge of this campus.” I had two weeks to recruit volunteers, raise a budget… and find some kids!” It was a wild ride. Fun experience to look back on.

Adam: Good times. Thanks for taking time to talk with us today.

Jonathan: Thank you. It’s been fun partnering with you on The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers. Truly one of the most adventurous projects I’ve worked on.

Learn more about our Zombie Devotional
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Catching Up With Jen Bradbury


This summer we’re interviewing our authors to learn more about their summer.

Catching up with Jen Bradbury had a special wrinkle to it. Besides being the author of The Jesus Gap, Jen is a full-time Director of Youth Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glenn Ellyn, Illinois and she just became a new mom in Late May.

Adam: So, what’s summer look like in your ministry?

Jen: Summer looks very different than the rest of the year. Our programming year is intentionally September through May so that we can give our leaders and families a break from regular, weekly programming during the summer. This means that during the summer, we change things up. Our focus is on our summer mission trip but we also typically hold a short, two or three week experiential Bible study for whoever is still around. Additionally, I spend a lot of time training and equipping next year’s student leaders through a series of meetings, readings, and an end-of-the-summer retreat.

Adam: What are you up to that isn’t work? Are you going to be able to sneak in a vacation?

Jen: Well – I just had a baby (Hope) so this summer, a lot of what I’m up to isn’t church work. In fact, I’m on maternity leave for the first eight weeks of summer. Towards the end of that, we’ll take a short trip to Michigan just to prove to ourselves that it’s possible to travel with a baby. I’m also working on another book for the Youth Cartel – a devotional about Jesus based on the research from The Jesus Gap.

Adam: Obviously, we’re super excited about that devotional and can’t wait to get it out there. Let’s dream a little, let’s pretend that you had all the time in the world and money weren’t an issue. What’s your dream summer vacation?

Jen: Camping and backpacking in the mountains. My husband and I went to Alaska several years ago. I’d love to return there and spend some extended time in Denali National Park.

Adam: Shifting gears back to youth ministry, share a favorite summer youth ministry story.

Jen: One of my favorites is actually from when I was in high school. My church took an annual canoe trip to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.

On one trip, everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Weeks before, our pastor – who was supposed to go on the trip – got transferred to another congregation. The girlfriend of our other adult leader filled in for her. About half-way through the trip, our trip leader found a huge, hairy spider and proceeded to chase his girlfriend around the campsite with it. Unfortunately, she tripped over a log and fell, severely fracturing both her tibia and fibia. Since this was in the days before cell phones, we had no way of getting help. (The Boundary Waters is a legitimate wilderness area!) Left with no other choice, our trip leader left us alone the next day and paddled back to our starting point for help. While he was gone, a bear invaded our campsite. Eventually, a seaplane arrived to airlift our injured leader out and our trip leader returned. At that point, though, we were a full day behind, so we were forced to canoe through the night in order to reach our final destination on time. Now, some 20 years later, my friends and I still affectionately refer to that trip as The Canoe Trip From Hell.

Adam: Hmmm… maybe that’d be a good student devotional someday? That’d be a great title, “The Canoe Trip From Hell.”

So, what’s your least favorite part about summer in youth ministry?

Jen: While I love the fact that we don’t have regular weekly summer programming because of the break it gives our leaders, the reality of this is that there are some teens we don’t see ALL summer. They’re missed!


The Jesus GapIf you’re looking for a book to take on your summer vacation, allow me to recommend The Jesus Gap. In her book, Jen shares what she learned in a national study within the her denomination. The Jesus Gap discovers the gap between what we’re teaching our students about Jesus and what they are actually learning.

Use coupon code SUMMERGAP to save 33% on The Jesus Gap now through July 1st.

Learn More
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Leaping vs. Building Bridges


View Jeff’s Profile

8 Questions to Launch Discussion

  1. Have you ever felt like you’ve wasted your bravery?
  2. When was a time your big idea flopped?
  3. Are you creating space in your ministry for the dreams of others?
  4. When was a time you felt supported in fulfilling your dreams?
  5. Do you agree with Jeff that practice gets you to where you want to go? What are some examples that support that? Do you know of cases where that wasn’t true?
  6. Where do you think the myth of “all or nothing” come from?
  7. What are some “next steps” for you personally?
  8. What are some next steps for our shared ministry dreams?
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An Interview with Jake Kircher


In youth ministry, the school year is pretty much the same for everyone. We have Sunday responsibilities, office hours, midweek programs, contact ministry, and stuff like that. But I’ve found that summer is highly unique.

Recently, I had the chance to catch up with Jake Kircher to ask him a few questions about his summer, both from a ministry perspective as well as what he’s doing with his family.

If you don’t know Jake, he’s virtually a Cartel staffer. He leads Open Boston, authored Teaching Teenagers in a Post-Christian World, is the writer for our popular THINK curriculum, and starting this Fall will lead our first YMCP cohort focused on youth ministry in post-Christian contexts. Besides the stuff he does with us he’s also a pastor at Grace Community Church in Connecticut, a husband and dad. Pretty much the only thing I don’t like about Jake is his love of the Red Sox. That just doesn’t make sense to me. At all.

Continue reading An Interview with Jake Kircher

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An Interview with Mark Oestreicher


We’re kicking off our summer series, Every Summer Has a Story, with an interview of my co-conspirator in The Youth Cartel, Mark Oestreicher. Even though we live about 2 miles apart we each travel enough that we actually don’t see one another regularly. Marko travels about twice as much as I do… he travels so much that Rick Steves asks Marko for travel tips. I caught up with Marko to hear a bit about his summer as well as his thoughts on summer in youth ministry.

Continue reading An Interview with Mark Oestreicher

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A few spots left for YMCP Cohorts launching soon


Our flagship experience, YMCP is a whole-life coaching program rooted in personal and professional growth, wholeness, and leadership.

Below are two opportunities to join cohorts that will launch this Fall:

Women in Youth Ministry Cohort

  • Lead by April Diaz
  • 2-4 spots available
  • Launching September/October 2015
  • Cost is $2000 (+ Participant travel costs)

This whole-life coaching program is all about developing and empowering women in leadership. Being a woman in youth ministry is different. It demands unique skills and awareness as we approach the challenges and opportunities due to our gender.

We will learn across a scope of subjects focused on leadership development and youth ministry realities in this changing culture. This specialized cohort will have 8-10 women in leadership, and meets twice for 2 days plus 4 times online (2-3 hours each). Each component is very intentional and structured to provide encouragement, training, challenge, and transformation.

This cohort provides customized attention to your specific context and needs as a woman in youth ministry.



Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian Context Cohort

  • Lead by Jake Kircher (April Diaz or Marko will be part of one 2-day gathering)
  • 3-5 spots available
  • Launching September/October 2015
  • Cost is $1750 (+ Participant travel costs)

This whole-life coaching program is all about developing and equipping you as a youth worker within a Post-Christian context of ministry. How do you know if you’re in a Post-Christian context? Well, have you found traditional ministry strategies becoming less and less effective? Are you finding that it’s getting more difficult to get students to come to your church? Or that when you do, students have little to no church or Biblical context? Well, those are signs that your church or area may be Post-Christian. (You could also check out this post from Barna.)

Ministry within a Post-Christian world isn’t always easy. It’s a whole new world of ministry, which requires blazing a different trail in order to effectively reach students with the gospel. We will learn across a scope of subjects including theology, practical life realities, sociology, and issues defined by this group. Each time we meet is very intentional and structured to provide encouragement, challenge, and transformation. This cohort provides customized attention to your specific context and needs as a youth worker in a Post-Christian context.

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Introducing Jesus Goes to the Movies

Jesus Goes to the Movies by Joel Mayward

We’ve got several brand new things headed your way for Fall 2015, lots of cool stuff we’re excited about. The first we want to tell you about is our second book with Joel Mayward (Leading Up), Jesus Goes to the Movies: The Youth Ministry Film Guide. 

Check this out… it’s a full-length book including Joel’s impressive theology of film plus 50– FIFTY— film guides that you can use as a teaching resource in your ministry.

Continue reading Introducing Jesus Goes to the Movies

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Student Justice Conference Bumped to July 28 – 31, 2016


As our May 1st deadline to register groups for the Student Justice Conference approached two things were becoming clear.

  1. Youth workers and students really want to come to the Student Justice Conference, there’s a lot of excitement about it.
  2. Groups were having a very hard time confirming students to bring.

With that information, the organizing partners made the decision to bump SJC to July 2016. 

Continue reading Student Justice Conference Bumped to July 28 – 31, 2016

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Elephants at The Summit

The Summit 2015 - Theme

In 2012, Marko and I started The Summit to help spark creativity, stir ideas, and push our friends in youth ministry to think in new ways.

Heading into our fourth year we wanted to make sure that we continued to press into that idea… that the event itself wasn’t itself becoming formulaic and that we’re continuing to spark creativity, new ideas, and push our friends in youth ministry to think in new ways.

Continue reading Elephants at The Summit