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When God Makes a Youth Pastor’s Dream Come True

Julia Bauman is nursing her four-week old son when I call her, so in between I hear adorable little sighs of a precious baby. It’s the perfect picture of her life as a youth pastor and a new mom—a life that turned out so much better than she could have ever dreamed, thanks to an unexpected call three years ago. “It was really a dream come true,” Julia says. Continue reading When God Makes a Youth Pastor’s Dream Come True

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WYMC Brag Sheet: aka Why I’m so Stoked for These Speakers and Coaches

[By April Diaz] In just two months, women from coast to coast will convene in southern Indiana for three days to be encouraged, trained, and connected with other female youth workers. There isn’t another national event like this. And I’m over-the-top stoked about the speakers and coaches who’ve agreed to join us this year for the third Women in Youth Ministry Campference (WYMC).

These women are friends. Most of whom I’ve respected, followed, and admired for years. This is not a good paying gig. Some of them are paying their own way to come. But they are coming because they are committed to this thing. To you. Humbling, right? Continue reading WYMC Brag Sheet: aka Why I’m so Stoked for These Speakers and Coaches

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Are You Celebrated or Merely Tolerated?

A number of years ago, I was volunteering in a youth ministry and it didn’t feel right. There were small issues all the time, nothing big, but enough to cause frustration. It made me doubt myself, my skills, my calling.

I never could quite figure out what the issue was, until years later when I happened to see this ‘advice’ on my Facebook timeline:

celebrated or tolerated quote

All of a sudden it hit me. There’s a big, a huge difference between being tolerated and being celebrated. And that’s exactly what was happening in that church, in that volunteer position. I was tolerated, for whatever reason, but I was never celebrated. Ever since, I’ve looked at my position in churches and ministries differently.

Now, I’m not big on following your feelings. I know we live in a culture where following your heart has became the mantra and where ‘do what feels right’ is about the highest priority. The Bible shows us a different way, however, a higher way. Doing the right thing doesn’t always feel good. On the contrary, fleeing from sin for instance may not feel good at all and neither will persevering in the midst of pressure and oppression. Christianity is not and will never be a feel-good-faith. So the first part of that quote is debatable, as far as I’m concerned.

Where Is God Calling You?

That being said, I do believe in serving where you are meant to be, where God is calling you. That can be a place where you are celebrated. I’m a volunteer with Youth for Christ right now and I love it. I work with both middle schoolers and high schoolers and the pastor who is in charge of the after school clubs we run had happily delegated all of the teaching to me. He celebrates my passion and gift for teaching and there’s such freedom and empowerment in that.

But sometimes our calling is to be merely tolerated, because that’s exactly where God wants us to be. I’ve been that trailblazer before, especially as a woman. I was the first woman on staff in my church in The Netherlands, the first woman to speak regularly in Sunday morning services, the first woman who was allowed to do weddings. I was only tolerated at first, and sometimes not even that. There have been times where I wanted to quit because I was so tired of the struggle to be treated equally.

Yet I was exactly where God wanted me to be. He used me to open doors and make a way for others. I started being tolerated, but I left being celebrated. Every time I’m back in The Netherlands, that church invites me to speak and I’ve done a number of weddings and special services sinceI left!

I hope that you’re in a place right now where you’re being celebrated, where people love you and value you for all you are. If you’re not, make sure you are where God wants you to be. He may call you to serve in the desert for a while, but you’d better make sure that is indeed your calling. How I pray that you will end up being celebrated as well…

p.s. No matter where you are in life or in your ministry, if you are a woman in youth ministry, the Women in Youth Ministry Campference is the place to be for you. Check out more info here and register soon, ’cause it’s only a few weeks away!

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What my All-Girls Education Taught me About Women in Leadership

woman in youth ministry

I am the product of an all-girls Catholic high school.

Without a doubt, I got a good education at the all-girls Catholic high school I attended. Beyond that, though, my all-girls education gave me all sorts of leadership opportunities – opportunities that, quite honestly, I’m not sure I would have had or taken in a co-ed environment.

Surrounded by all-girls, I was taught – over and over again – that I could do anything. Because guys simply weren’t around, I was free to speak my mind, without having to worry about trying to impress them. I was encouraged to solve problems creatively and never once had to worry about mansplaining, that awkward moment when a guy tells you all about one of your own ideas or explains something to you that you already know. I was mentored and guided by other powerful women.

By the time I graduated high school, I was a confident leader convinced I could lead anyone.

Four years later, I entered professional youth ministry where as a woman, I suddenly found myself in the minority. Although I remained confident in my leadership skills and abilities, I quickly encountered others who doubted them, simply because of my gender.

At conferences, people assumed I was a volunteer, not a paid youth worker.  

On mission trips, people assumed my husband was the paid youth worker and I, the dutiful pastor’s wife.

At staff meetings, I’d regularly get mansplained.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I’m thankful for my male colleagues. I’m thankful for the men who serve as leaders in my youth ministry. And I’m thankful for guys who work as paid youth pastors.

The Kingdom of God needs us all.

But unlike my experience of all-female leadership in high school, I’m also aware of just how lonely it can be when you’re a female in a male-dominated world.

I know how frustrating it can be to have people question your calling simply because of your gender.

I recognize how tempting it can be to try to lead like the male youth pastor down the street in order to gain the approval and acceptance of others.

Having experienced the unique challenges that come with being a woman in youth ministry, I’m super excited to be part of The Youth Cartel’s Women in Youth Ministry Campference, April 13 – 15.

At the Women in Youth Ministry Campference, we’ll gather together with other people LIKE US. We’ll link arms with women who understand us because they’ve been where we are. They know the unique joys and challenges that come with being a woman in youth ministry.

During the Campference, we’ll learn and collaborate with other women in youth ministry; laugh together and cry together; and share our deepest joys and sorrows without having to worry about being misunderstood.

Campference will provide us with what my all-girls education provided me with all those years ago: support, affirmation, guidance, and confidence. After three days together, I have no doubt we’ll leave feeling better equipped and energized to return to our ministries knowing that what we uniquely bring to them as women in youth ministry is indeed a gift.

Jen-Headshot-250x250Jen Bradbury serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. She’s the author of The Jesus Gap. Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal and The Christian Century, and she blogs regularly at When not doing ministry, she and her husband, Doug, can be found hiking, backpacking, and traveling with their daughter, Hope.

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Under Pressure

When I first started watching the TV series One Tree Hill – and this was years ago mind you – the title song struck a chord in me. Despite a few weird lines, these are some powerful lyrics about being yourself:

I’m tired of looking ’round rooms
Wondering what I’ve got to do
Or who I’m supposed to be
I don’t want to be anything other than me

One thing I’ve become more and more aware of over the years is just how hard it is to be you. Somehow I imagined that growing older meant that is was easier to find myself and be myself. And it has become easier, especially in comparison to my teenage years. But it’s still not easy.

There’s so much pressure to be someone else, something else. And as women, we are constantly under pressure.

Under pressure to be an organized, always-available soccer mom who bakes perfect cupcakes and volunteers at every school activity.

Under pressure to be the domestic goddess whose house is always in pristine condition, with a perfectly maintained garden, and who cooks a fresh healthy meal every single day.

Under pressure to be the perfect youth leader who has an active presence on every social network known to man, who always has time for students and who is beloved by everyone in the church.

Under pressure to be in a constant close relationship with my Father, reading my Bible daily, in continuous communication with Him, filling my soul and mind with ‘higher things’.


As women, we juggle many different roles, each with their own expectations and pressure. We’re moms, spouses, homemakers, youth leaders, volunteers, neighbors, friends, sisters…I’ve gotten better at this, but I still struggle.

But one thing I do know and it’s something I could not say twenty years ago: I don’t want to be anyone other than me. I may not always succeed, but I try.

How about you?

p.s. It’s a little over one week till the Women in Youth Ministry Campference and it’s not too late to signup! Let’s hang out there and swap stories!

(I don’t wanna be – Gavin DeGraw, 2003 from the album ‘Chariot’)

Rachel Blom is from The Netherlands originally and has over 15 years of experience in youth ministry in several countries. She’s an author, blogger, avid reader and a walking encyclopedia of completely useless facts. She lives in upstate New York with her family and is on the core organizing team of the Women in Youth Ministry Campference. Find her youth ministry blog on

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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!