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Surprising Trajectory

This is a guest post from Dave Rahn. Dave is a senior vice president at Youth for Christ overseeing all kinds of important things. But at the Campference he’ll be serving as Pastor Dave, chief listener and official stirrer of pots.


I have loved the surprising trajectory of my youth ministry career. The Lord burned a compelling Kingdom assignment into my heart while I was still in high school: share Jesus with kids who, like me, were not part of a local church and were pretty clueless about what God has in mind for us humans.

As I stepped into that calling I kept getting updates from the Lord. I was stirred to go to work on specific challenges that hindered direct ministry with un-­‐churched kids. Over the years that led me into leadership, research, writing… and 22 years as a faculty member at Huntington University.

Until July 1, 2007.

On that day I was at a Youth for Christ/Campus Life middle school camp in Seymour, Indiana. It was the first day of my newest—and most ridiculous—career transition. I left the job safety of being a tenured full professor for national leadership with the organization I began my ministry with in 1972. It seemed to be what the Lord wanted me to focus on. Honestly, it didn’t make a lot of sense.

When I’m at the Campference October 11-­‐13 I intend to spend a minute or two standing in front of the SpringHill Camp cabin I was assigned to during that week in 2007 when my pay stubs started to come from another source. That particular cabin had beds that were too short for my 6’5” frame, so I pulled my mattress onto the floor. This, of course, meant that others stepped over me all week. And the shower stall was more like a tube with a nozzle that hit me in my sternum. When I dropped the soap during my July 1st shower I had no idea how to retrieve it. There simply wasn’t room to bend over in this slim-­‐fit stall.

That’s when I started giggling. It hit me that the Lord called me to a task in the twilight of my youth ministry career that was going to be full of such indignities. If I could have named something “Isaac” I would have. Some of my YFC friends call me “Dr. Dave” but it sounds more like they’re cussing at me than paying respect.

I have loved following Jesus into questions that matter for the kids he loves. Being at Campference next month will be a sweet reminder of God’s goodness to me and I am thrilled to be there with so many heroes in ministry.

Learn more about the Campference or register here.

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the official list of breakout sessions for the Campference

Middle School Ministry CampferenceWanna see the breakout options for the 2013 Campference. I bet you do! Dang, these look fantastic, right?

MSMC13 Breakouts

Not in order yet
All are 60 minutes long

Seminars (2/3 content, 1/3 dialogue)

1. Gina Abbas, Practice or Programs: Creating space and environments for middle school students to practice their faith in real and meaningful ways

2. Mandy Drury, Speechless: The importance of testimony in teenage faith development

3. Kurt Johnston, 25 Lessons from 25 Years

4. Eric Woods, Why you should absolutely positively always say YES to your students

5. Dave Rahn, The Power of an Authentic Christ-Sharing Relationship

6. Elle & Kenny Campbell, Creating Environments Middle Schoolers Love

7. Scott Rubin, Developing a Kick Butt Volunteer Team

Conversations (1/3 content, 2/3 dialogue)

8. Gina Abbas, Women in Youth Ministry: More than the designated feminine hygiene item distributor

9. Mandy Drury, Manna: focusing on daily bread in anxious times

10. Kurt and Scott: Growing Old(er) in Middle School Ministry

11. Dave Rahn, What Would Jesus’ Relentless Focus Look Like in My Youth Ministry?

12. Adam McLane, Social Media and the Youth Worker

Rookie/Volunteer Track

13. Katie Edwards, Becoming a Freaking Awesome Volunteer, part 1

14. Katie Edwards, Becoming a Freaking Awesome Volunteer, part 2

15. Eric Woods, Sugar Free Candy Makes Kids Fart, and other lessons from camp that can transform your student community


16. Eric Woods, Flip-flops: The simple, portable low ropes course you can build and facilitate yourself

17. Elle & Kenny Campbell, Our Freshest Games and How We Play Them

18. Marko, The Easiest and Most Awesomest Interactive Lesson Plan Ever

more info here. if you’re a middle school youth worker, you really have two choices:
a. join us
b. experience a lifetime of regret

we hope you’ll choose wisely, because we like you.

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Teenagers need to use words!

amanda-druryAmanda Drury is one of our special guests at the Middle School Ministry Campference this year. She’ll be bringing a main session talk (on doubts!), and a couple seminars. One of her seminars is going to be based on her research into the importance of getting teenagers to talk about what they believe (this is also the topic she addressed in her presentation at The Summit last year). Here’s a little tease of that, straight from Mandy…


There’s an old Franciscan saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” We Christians tend to like this saying because it keeps us actively engaged in the world. We get to physically, tangibly show people our love of God. We are not those hypocrites who simply talk the faith without walking the faith. We also like this saying because it let’s us off the hook. It leaves us with the impression, “If I just act like a person of faith, than I don’t having to actually talk about my faith.”

“Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” Well, friends, I hate to say it, but it’s necessary. Various studies across the United States show that both teenagers, and adults for that matter, are less and less articulate about their faith. They are active participants at their youth groups, but when they are asked to speak of their faith, they are speechless. This is a problem. When someone has a hard time talking about something, that person often has a hard time believing that thing is true. If we can’t talk about our faith, we will have a hard time taking our faith seriously. When we talk about our faith, we become more faithful people.

We’re in the home stretch for the Campference. It’s just a little over a month away! Time to get registered!

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Lucas Leys: What You Can Learn From Latin American Youth Workers

Lucas Leys leads Especialidades Juveniles, the Spanish sister of Youth Specialties. He’s also the publisher for Spanish resources for HarperCollins Christian Publishing (which includes both Zondervan/Editorial Vida and Thomas Nelson/Grupo Nelson). In other words, the dude knows his stuff.

Last year at The Summit, we asked Lucas to speak to us about what we gringos can learn from Latin American youth workers. Here’s his fantastic presentation in its entirety:

Dreaming Big and Bigger
The theme for The Summit this year is ALL. Riffing off both the Shema and Jesus’ quote of it in the gospels: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27)

Each of the main sessions will have 5 to 6 presenters carefully selected for what they will bring. We’re not just inviting “good speakers” or big names; we’re choosing (and working with) presenters who will help us pull a thread through the entire event.

Session 1, on Friday evening, will focus on SOUL, the inner life of youth workers.

Session 2, on Saturday morning, is called MIND, where we’ll explore new thinking and hear ideas.

Session 3, on Saturday afternoon, will bring our attention to STRENGTH, where we’ll hear more about praxis and action.

Session 4, early Saturday evening, will offer a keynote speaker focusing on HEART to wrap things up, as well as some extended worship.

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Middle School Small Group Community Manager


Hope Community Church is a non-denominational church of 7,500 located in beautiful Raleigh, North Carolina with a vision to reach the triangle and change the world through living out it’s mission to love people where they are and encourage them to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Hope has grown into a multi-site church, with a second campus located in Holly Springs about 25 minutes away from our central campus and a third campus located in Morrisville.

We are seeking a natural leader with a heart for connecting students into community, a contagious passion for recruiting and equipping volunteers, and a desire to partner with parents to influence the next generation. This role will provide direction, administration, development, communication, and leadership of middle school small groups, across all three campuses, in line with the overall mission, vision, values, and strategies of Hope Community Church. The primary goal for the Middle School Small Group Community Manager is foster growth and development in middle school students within five key areas of ministry: live what you learn, serve where you are gifted, give of your resources, share your story, and connect with others. We believe this is done through small group development, outreach, community impact, missional living, and working with parents to help them become better spiritual leaders in the home. The ideal candidate for this position should demonstrate a passion for these areas.

To apply for this position please visit

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Organization name: Hope Community Church


Location: Raleigh, NC

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Welcome to The Youth Cartel!

Watch this first!

Today is a big day for us here at The Youth Cartel. Even though we’ve been around for a few months now, we’d merely been a one-man show. Not much of a cartel, actually. But today we can announce that starting very soon, Adam McLane will be joining Marko as a partner in The Youth Cartel. Two is almost a cartel, right?

Really, as we’ve talked and dreamed about what we could do together, we kept coming back to one thing: we were both passionate about raising up new voices in youth ministry. We had a bunch of meetings, drew all over a bunch of flip chart pages, sent each other a hundred emails and a thousand text messages, chatted on gmail chat, and passed draft documents back and forth with google docs. What came out of this dreaming and praying is a vision to serve and resource the world of youth ministry in new ways.

We’re going to do this in four areas:

  • coaching and consulting
  • gatherings
  • innovative resource development
  • and marketing services

We’re also planning on providing versions of these for both individual youth workers, as well as organizations. So, for individual youth workers, coaching means the Youth Ministry Coaching Program. For organizations, we’re helping churches and ministries understand and connect with the world of youth ministry. For gatherings, we’ll continue to offer ourselves as event speakers, as well as launching a series of unique youth ministry events. For innovative resource development, we’ll soon be providing youth workers with revolutionary and unique digital resources, written by voices you need to hear from; and we’ll serve ministries and other organizations by developing resources on their behalf. Marketing services, for the individual youth worker includes coaching and technical help on blogs and other social media platforms; and for organizations, this includes a wide variety of services from website development to social media campaigns.

We want to be clear about something: this isn’t about us. This is about finding a way to elevate the voices and ideas of a new generation of youth workers from the fringes. This is about promoting new youth ministry voices to the world we know and love, and about helping organizations connect with the amazing tribe of youth workers.

You’ll see lots of great new stuff rolling out in the months to come, adding to the work we’re already doing. You’ll see resources and new events, new email lists (with helpful, free stuff!), and a short-and-sweet podcast. You’ll see creative partnerships, and cool opportunities for engagement.

For now, we’d love you to become a part of The Cartel. You can connect with us in a few ways:

  • “Like” our new Facebook page here. That’s a place where you can stay up to date on new stuff, youth ministry discussions, and a community of people who understand you.
  • Follow our Twitter feed here. We won’t annoy you with tweets about what we’re eating or the location of our oil change, promise.
  • Sign up for our e-newsletters here. Our first, YouTube You Can Use, will launch in September, and provide you with a weekly link to a YouTube video, as well as creative ways to use it. Other e-newsletters will follow.
  • Add The Youth Cartel blog to your reader. In addition to Marko’s and Adam’s blogs, The Youth Cartel blog will be a place for conversation and revolutionary ideas.

Oh, and we’d sure appreciate it if you would tweet, Facebook, blog, or Google+ about all of this!

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know if you have ideas for us, or other ways you’d like to connect. Leave a comment below! With your help, we’re hoping we can Instigate a Revolution in Youth Ministry.