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The WYMC Wouldn’t Be Possible Without…


We are but two weeks away from the first ever Cartel Women in Youth Ministry Campference. Our team has literally been planning and praying since last summer. We can’t wait for everyone to get there!

The major scaffolding of this Campference (which is the best elements of a camp and a conference combined) is our two partners and one sponsor. I just love how they believe in what we are doing and want to support these women in leadership. Let me tell you a little about them, because you’ll love them, too.

Lake Junaluska

The Campference wouldn’t be happening without our accommodation, Lake Junaluska. They believed in this vision from day one and have worked with us on every level to make this event possible. They’ve given us lots of space as we created the contract. They’ve set us up in their best housing. I mean, look at these amazing new rooms!!They’ve provided us with a worship team to lead us into the presence of God. Lake J is infamous and is truly a gift in location and cost to allow us to be there!

Lake J Rooms

Lake Junaluska also hosts incredible youth retreats every winter and provides a myriad of great resources for pastoral renewal. We hope your time at Lake J at the Campference will give you a reason to come back!

Slingshot Group

The Slingshot Group were another organization that believed in this from the very beginning. They asked, “How can we get involved?” and put some serious investment behind the answer to that question. Slingshot not only offered financial backing but they also gave us Nancy Beach as our main stage speaker. Nancy is a big deal in the church world and Slingshot knew that she would add so much value in her presence, words, and coaching to be at the Campference. So, they made it possible for Nancy to be with us. Wow.


If you’re not familiar with Slingshot Group, they partner with churches all over the U.S. for staffing searches and coaching. I also work with Slingshot in their youth ministry division, which is why I wanted them to partner with us at the Campference. Every week I get to see the positive investment of staffing churches and coaches candidates toward the remarkable. If your church is struggling, Slingshot can help you figure it out. If you are in a transition and need someone to help you walk through that transition, Slingshot is here for you. If your church needs a staffing position filled with a great candidate or you need some ongoing coaching, Slingshot has your back.

Judson University

Judson University is our sole sponsor at WYMC. Judson has believed in and poured into women for pastoral leadership for years. They graciously said “yes” to sponsoring this event – even when it wasn’t in their budget! – because they want to encourage YOU as a frontrunner in ministry. That’s why they are awesome! Plus, look how beautiful this campus is!

Judson University

For a couple decades, Judson has been training youth ministry students for pastoral ministry. I am a product of their youth ministry and adolescent development major. It equipped me for ministry beyond my hopes and expectations. They also have a Master of Leadership in Ministry that may be exactly what you need to do next.

We are grateful to these ministries – and the people who make them awesome! – for coming alongside of this to make it happen. You can find out more about our partners and sponsor here. We think they can greatly impact your life and ministry, too!

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The Final Frontier

8545176138_5b3d2744e4_kNot long ago, popular Christian author Annie Downs tweeted “Sometimes it feels like youth ministry is the final frontier for women in leadership.

A friend asked me what I thought of this. To be honest, I’m not sure I agree with Annie’s premise.

When I hear the phrase “final frontier”, I think of the last unexplored area in a particular region or industry. To me, that’s not what youth ministry is for women in leadership. Continue reading The Final Frontier

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Too Old to be a Woman in Youth Ministry

old woman

old womanLiving in Michigan, I hear a lot of people complain about the snow or look at me with crazy eyes because I chose to move here from sunny California. I am not a grumpy winter complainer. I don’t complain about the cold, the snow, or the temperature that is too crazy cold to take kids to play outside.  I am not sure why, but  I love winter. Maybe it’s because I like actually being able to wear scarves, cute boots, and cardigans 7 months out of the year. Continue reading Too Old to be a Woman in Youth Ministry

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Why I’m Going to the Women in Youth Ministry Campference



I have to be 100% honest: when I first heard about this campference, I dismissed the idea of attending. I had no desire to go to a women’s conference. I’ve been to several “women-only” events in the past and tend to find myself a bit judgmental of them. They sometimes lean heavily on crafts, quiche, and talking about how great it is to be woman rather than a man. I have walked away from several feeling hungry physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Over the years I’ve appreciated youth worker gatherings. Not only because they are fuel to my brain, but also because they’re fuel for my soul because of the relationships I have made with other regular attendees. These gatherings have turned into a meeting place of friends.

Yet, even though I love the camaraderie, the rest of the conference I catch myself trying to prove my credentials. I’d causally drop my professional position or years I have been in youth ministry as a sort of status when introducing myself. I secretly had a feeling that I need to prove to people why I belong there. No one ever asked for my resume. It sometimes was the pressure of hearing someone else’s experience level. Sometimes it was feeling out-numbered being one of the few females in the room.  Other times it was just rooted in pressure I put on myself both professionally and personally.

Recently though, I was doing some soul inventory. I had a longing for something but could not quite figure out what it was.  It wasn’t until I found myself praying aloud, “God, I need a place where I can just BE.” I desired a place I was not trying to prove myself.

At that moment, this campference re-entered my mind. I went back to the website and read the description of this event: “We may not know your name – yet – but we know you. We get you.  That’s because you’re one of us. You’re a woman in youth ministry and so are we.

That’s it!  That is what I need!


This April I am looking forward to entering a community to just BE. I am looking forward to a place where I will not have to justify who I am. I will not bring up if or how long I went to school. I will not preface a conversation with how many years of experience I have. I will just be.

Why? Because I am already gotten. I am already understood. I am already one of them.


Christina Robertson is currently the associate middle school pastor at a church in Southern California and has had a heart to serve middle school students for a number of years.  She is married and has three girls.

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The Passover


I’m a young leader…ok…youngish. I’ve had the great opportunity to get to know hundreds of different young leaders over the years, and there is a common trait that most of us seem to share.

 A desire to be noticed.

 Whether it’s working inside a church, with a missions organization or in the corporate world, young emerging leaders want to be seen, recognized and given the opportunity to lead.

So being the kind of guy that I am, I asked the question why? And here’s what I’ve discover:

We young leaders are afraid.


 We are afraid that we won’t be seen, we may not be noticed and we may not get the chance to lead. We’re afraid that at the end of our lives, we may have just been passed over. If we were really honest with ourselves, we might find the courage to not only recognize our fear, but figure out a way to combat it.


What If?

So what if we decided to be something other than afraid? What could that look like and what would it take? Here are three things I’ve begun to identify as growth areas for me as a young (ish) leader:


  1. Humility– it’s not all about me. The true measure of a faithful follower of Jesus, regardless of the setting or context, is not about personal development…it’s about kingdom development. When my motivation is to make sure that “my gifts are being used” or “my voice is being heard” I might actually be in the business of self-promotion. And if I am, I’m counteracting the work of Jesus. A wise leader is a humble leader. If we would humble ourselves and pray, what would God do in us and through us?


  1. Patience – timing is everything. It’s supposed to take 40 weeks of gestation for a human being to be grown (sometimes shorter, and other times longer). It takes time for crops to grow in a field. It takes time for young leaders to be recognized for their character, competence and commitment. There are no short cuts to influence. Being on stage with thousands of people tuning in to what you have to say doesn’t instantaneously make you relevant. If you want to be seen, stay in the game longer than you think is possible. Embrace the internal and external tension, it might just be a gift God is giving to you for a reason. The solution may not be running out to start a brand new hip church…it actually might be to weather the storm so that perseverance can develop the character God desperately wants you to obtain.


  1. Grace – no one is perfect. Sometimes all we are meant to learn from leaders who have gone before us is how not to lead. And sometimes we need to learn how to forgive and to forget. What if we took the time to think the best about others instead of the worst? How might our conversations about the people who “don’t see us” change if we see them with the eyes of grace instead of the eyes of frustration?


So what about you? Where are you at as a leader? Are you young and wanting to be noticed, or are you in a position to identify and develop the emerging leaders around you? What will your leadership legacy be? Let’s choose not to be afraid of The Passover…we’re not even certain it’s actually going to happen, are we?

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Sitting in the Ashes




Last night I had the privilege of listening to a ministry friend of mine share his story of working through the reality of living with mental health related issues. Brett Ullman shared openly, honestly and passionately about this somewhat taboo subject, causing me to reflect on what my role is as a friend, father, husband and leader when it comes to mental health.

One of my favourite stories is the story of Job. It’s an epic tale of a man who had everything, lost it, experienced great pain, and saw it all restored over a series of different circumstances (read about it here).

As the story of Job unfolds, his friends gather around him to support him in this season of pain and confusion. They do something that I find extremely profound and the outset of this initial connection…they choose to sit beside him in literal ashes for 3 days.

Unfortunately after this point they attempt to counsel Job and offer their “wisdom” as to why he may be experiencing this pain.

Nonetheless, there is something very raw and powerful to be learned here. I’ve asked myself this question over the last 12+ hours, “What does sitting in the ashes alongside someone look like today?”

Here are some ideas that came to mind:

  • visiting someone in the hospital
  • sharing a meal with someone
  • laughing
  • giving your lunch to someone so they can eat a meal today
  • financially supporting a child through Compassion or World Vision
  • giving out free hugs (careful with this one…could get weird!!)
  • shovelling snow
  • praying for someone
Are there Jobs in your life? People who just need to know that someone is willing to sit with them in the middle of their pain? What would it look like for you to sit in the ashes alongside someone in need today?
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Cartel Affiliates


TYC-affiliatesRight at the gummy center of The Youth Cartel are two core things, collaboration and partnership. It’s who we are and what we do in everything we do.

With the rapid expansion of our publishing line and events we wanted to provide a way for our friends to help… but also get paid a little for helping.

Introducing Cartel Affiliates

We’re pretty simple when it comes to marketing our stuff. We think if we focus on making great stuff that people will want to talk about it. So instead of coming up with great marketing schemes, placing ads in magazines, renting billboards, or standing at a trade show booth– we just want to free up people who like our stuff to go ahead and talk about it, then reward them for when they do. When you put an ad on your blog or post a 140 character review on Twitter, if someone comes to our store and buys that book, we’ll give you 10% of their purchase.

We provide all the links, the ads for your blog, and our system keeps track of everything for you… it even handles paying you!

So, if you run a ministry-oriented website, blog, or social media channel and are looking for a way to practically partner with the mission of The Youth Cartel… jump on in and become a Cartel affiliate.

All you need is a free Cartel account and to complete the application here. (Mostly agreeing to the terms of use.)

We’re not just interested in doing revolutionary stuff. We want to partner with you in revolutionary ways, too.

Viva la Cartel! 

[button link=”” color=”red”]LEARN ABOUT AFFILIATES[/button]
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Technical Update

Technical Update

Technical UpdateThe interwebs are funny. Ideally, you don’t notice anything happening in the background… stuff just works. 

One thing I’ve had to deal with in my role here at the Cartel is that we had some stuff that didn’t just work. Or it worked but was just really slow.

Here are three things that we’ve done behind the scenes to best meet the growing needs of the Cartel’s online presence.

  1. An investment in security. We’ve all heard about massive data breaches at Target and Home Depot. I’m committed to that not being us. While we have never had a problem I’ve gone back and tightened up our security to protect your personal information even better. As life-long youth workers we’re used to piecing together solutions that are functional but not the best. Well, we’ve used the “senior pastor budget” to make sure that everything we’re doing with your data, credit card info, and personal information is done above the industry standards, even though it wasn’t the cheapest thing to do. 
  2. An investment in speed and reliability. For the second time in 2 years we’ve outgrown our webhost. Last night, we migrated the site from a very good webhost to the very best, in my judgment, for the specific type of website we operate. (WordPress) The site is now significantly faster (and I’m going to use this as the starting point for making it even faster) plus our new host has a team of people dedicated to helping us manage the site 24 hours per day. My goal is for the site to be fast and it needs to be reliable. That way, no matter what time you need the site or where you are in the world, it’ll get great.
  3. An investment in our Help Center. We work hard to “keep things Cartel-y.” We want to be accessible and we always want to tell you “just email us” or “let’s set up a time to chat.” That said, now that our online store is serving more and more people and now that our programs & products are reaching well beyond what we’d ever anticipated… there is a need for a self-service option so people can find answers to the most common questions. Our new Help Center is awesome and tons of people have already been using it. You can search for answers to Frequently Asked Questions, in our community area you can ask a question about a specific product/event… even engage directly with the author… or you can send us an email. (You can use the Help Center without logging in, but it uses your Cartel store account if you want to login.)

I know this isn’t the most exciting update in the world. But I wanted to share what we’re doing behind the scenes. Questions? Feedback? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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The Pharisaical Syndrome – Leaders & Opponents



Jesus and the Pharisees…sounds like an indie-rock band, doesn’t it?

I was having lunch with a ministry friend of mine and listening to him share about what God was saying to him regarding the future direction of his role and his church; he began to describe the hope that he had for this new and bright future, but also the nervousness that he felt for potential opposition to this future that he believes he is needing to create. This is a description of a leadership tension that is familiar to anyone who has had to lead people in a direction that wasn’t a natural expression of where they wanted to go.

Jesus too faced this sort of tension…from the guys who could have backed up him, but instead were intent on killing him. These guys, referred to as Pharisees & other names, suffered from a human condition known as the Pharisaical Syndrome. This syndrome describes people who can be hypocritical, self-righteous & judgemental. While we all are capable of this type of behaviour, opponents to any form of leadership often exemplify these unbecoming characteristics. And the truth about leadership is that we will always have opponents to what we do or to who we are. Leaders learn to navigate through these tensions, trusting that the God they serve is larger than the perceived opposition they may face.

So how do you know when you are facing an opponent in the form of a Pharisee, or if the opposition you face is actually an invitation to refine your vision for the present or the future?

Here are four signs that you may be dealing with an opponent who suffers from the Pharisaical Syndrome.

1. Murder

Instead of supporting Jesus, the Pharisees engineered his death. Sometimes the opponents we face want to kill something inside of us as leaders. Maybe it’s hope, maybe it’s confidence, maybe it’s something else. The goal of a Pharisee is to get rid of a potential problem or threat. The frustrating part of this reality is that sometimes Pharisees believe their intentions are God-honouring and helpful to the broader community. But the goal of this activity is ultimately to harm, and not to help…that’s how you know the difference between someone who has succumb to the Pharisaical syndrome and someone who is speaking truth in love.

2. Pride

Pharisees didn’t like Jesus because he threatened their spiritual control of the community. Opponents sometimes lash out because they too feel threatened in some way. Maybe covered up lies will be exposed or a long celebrate program initiative will be dismantled. If your opponent is attempting to protect themselves or something they’ve created in some way, you may be facing someone who’s pride has been hurt.

3. Selfishness

The Pharisees had a different agenda than Jesus. All of us are motivated by something, and there are times when our motivation is distorted towards self rather than towards others. We may take “pride” in being the voice for the voiceless, but have we ever asked ourselves if someone ever invited us to play that role on their behalf? There are times when we need to speak up for justice, and there are times when our perceived pursuit of justice is simply a veiled form of selfishness. What’s your opponent truly motivated by: self or others? In Jesus’ case, his actions were motivated by his love for people, while the Pharisees were motivated by love of self.

4. Complexity

Taking something simple and making it more complex – the reality of the erosion of the Covenant first made by God and humankind by those who struggled with the Pharisaical Syndrome. Moses was given 10 commandments to give to the people of Israel…commandments that pointed to God’s desire to be loved and to see his created beings love each other. When Jesus walked the earth, these 10 simple commands had evolved into a complex oppressive reality for the people of Israel. Opponents to your leadership may seek to create complexity or demand you conform to pre-existing complexity in some way. It’s important to remember Jesus words “unless you change to become like little children” (Matt. 18:3) when we face the opposition of complexity. Simplicity is the currency of hope that the Kingdom of Heaven trades in. If something is more complex than it needs to be it’s time to be reminded that living is simple.

Every leader faces opposition. See it. Process it. Respond appropriately. Sometimes our opponents are just like Pharisees.