We are excited about our newest release 5 Views on the Future of Youth Ministry: Perspectives on What Could or Should Be. It releases Aug 1st, so take advantage of the pre-release special price.
About the book:
Mark Oestreicher, General Editor. Contributors: Chris Curtis, Kenda Creasy Dean, Mark DeVries, Tommy Nixon, Virginia Ward
Is youth ministry thriving? Stagnant? Evolving? Dying? What does any of that mean for us as youth workers, or, more critically, for the young people we care about?
In this edition of our “multi-views” series, the chapters are authored by a group of youth ministry thought leaders. We asked them two key questions: What are the problems youth ministry currently faces? And what is the pathway forward? Each chapter represents a thoughtful, practical, and challenging viewpoint. At the end of each chapter, there is a sidebar from an in-the-trenches youth worker whose ministry is currently living out the future the chapter’s writer foresees.
We expect that the words of this book will cause you to rethink, to dream, and to question. There are no easy answers and one-size-fits-all solutions here. But we also believe that along with the challenges they bring to the forefront, these chapters will leave you with a sense of hope-filled possibility the future of youth ministry and the teenagers God calls us to love and care for.
Summer can be a great time for some personal development. Maybe you want to learn more about the students you work with or some new skills you can put into practice this fall. These affordable courses or great for you or use them with your entire team.
All Cartel Courses include videos and a discussion/application guide.
LGBTQ Teens Need a Pastoral Response Over a Theological Response
“I’m not convinced there’s an actual increase in gay teenagers, or those wrestling with same-sex attraction or gender questions, in the average church. But there’s no question that youth workers all over the globe—whatever their church’s theology, or their own—are facing an exponential increase in questions from all fronts.”
To go deeper on ministry to LGBTQ teens, check out:
“This collection of thoughts about youth ministry in the COVID era is insightful, encouraging, and thought-provoking. I am encouraged by the shared struggle and observations on how we are doing.
This book has helped me sort through much of what I have been struggling through in this unique chapter of life and ministry. While there are no easy answers here, there are plenty of ways of framing the challenges we are facing in youth ministry in the church.
The speed with which it was constructed and the way it gives hope for the future makes it DEFINITELY worth the read.” – Eric
“Incredibly encouraging and helpful as we attempt to move from iteration to innovation in these strange times. Grateful for other youth ministers who are doing good work.” – Holly
For a few years in a row, the Cartel has partnered with Dan Navarra of Chemistry Staffing to conduct the largest salary survey of youth workers, and make it available to you for free. Dan is great at digging into the data and identifying helpful info. This year’s report has some great news and some annoying news, as you’ll see. We’re excited to provide this service for our tribe. Click here to download the 2021 Youth Pastor Compensation Report.
Near the end of Jen Bradbury’s newest book, Called: A Novel About Youth Ministry Transitions, the main character experiences quite a bit of growth in her understanding of calling, self-knowledge, and what it means to find the right ‘fit’ with a church. She journals these 10 Commandments for Youth Pastors. Each time I read them (marko here), I found myself somewhat breathlessly looking for something to pound with my fist while shouting out my agreement. When I read them again during the proofreading stage of the book’s development, I just thought they needed to be shared.
You shall have no other gods before God. No pastor, no position, and no parent—regardless of how powerful they are—is your god.
You shall not make for yourself an idol. Your job cannot and should not be your idol.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, no matter how frustrated you get with the kids, their parents, or your new colleagues.
Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Your Sabbath is not and cannot be Sunday. That is a workday for you. But you will rest—at least one full day each week. This will help you remember that there is one Savior and it’s not you.
Honor the fathers and mothers as well as the other grownups who are significant in the lives of your kids. They’re not perfect. They will frustrate you. But they’re doing the best they can. What’s more, they’re far more important than you’ll ever be. They, not you, are the primary spiritual influencer in the life of their child.
You shall not murder, nor shall you even think about murdering, that annoying kid, their equally annoying parent, or your boss.
You shall not commit adultery. Your spouse loves you. He always has. She always will.
You shall not steal. That means that you shouldn’t even grab a ream of printer paper to bring home. This church is being exceedingly generous with you. Steward their resources well.
You shall not bear false witness against anyone in your ministry, even when it might seem inconsequential or might\(temporarily) make your life better. When you make a mistake, own it. Apologize when necessary.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, etc. etc. etc. Nor shall you covet another youth pastor’s job. Nor shall you wish you’re back in Egypt, even when it feels like you’re entering the wilderness again. You shall not compare your worst to someone’s else’s best.
No one could have predicted that this year would have gone the way it’s gone. Here in the US we will celebrate Thanksgiving this week, and in 2020 fashion it may not be the celebration you are used to. No matter how you feel going into the holiday, Marko has some encouragement for you from Zephaniah 3:17.
During this season of Thanksgiving, we want you to know how thankful we are for you and how much you give of yourself to teenagers.
When I beta tested the Youth Ministry Coaching Program’s first cohort back in 2010, I had no idea how it was going to transform lives. I thought it going to be cool training. I thought it was going to help youth workers grow in the depth of their thinking. I thought people would be able to share honestly with each other and see real growth in their lives. But it’s far surpassed my expectations and over these last 10 years.
YMCP has become the premier coaching program in the Youth Ministry world with 600 people going through this year-long process. I have seen crazy awesome, only God stuff – marriages saved, youth ministries reinvented, countless youth workers staying in ministry, and quite a few deciding it was time to get out. It’s much more than a training program, it’s a growth and transformation program.
I asked a couple of people to share their recent experience with the YMCP, and you can watch what they had to say:
A number of years ago i wrote a post listing reasons why i love middle school ministry. and recently, i re-wrote that post as a column for youthwork magazine (in the UK). here’s my list (realize that “middle school ministry” doesn’t mean anything in the UK, so i use their term “11 – 14s” or young teens instead):
Young teen ministry is about shaping. What an opportunity! Everything I learn about young teens continues to affirm and re-affirm that this is not merely a holding period until the good stuff of older teen work.
11 – 14s are easy to connect with. Years ago, a youth ministry mentor shared this simple observation: 11 – 14s, in their decision as to whether they’ll allow you into their lives, are only asking the question, “Do you like me?” Older teens complicate it more by adding, “Do I like you?” And university students ramp up the complexity by layering on the additional question, “Do I like what you stand for?”
They’re willing to try anything. The young teen years (in a post-puberty parallel to the first few years of life) are all about discovery or sampling. Young teens, in the earliest stages of self-conscious identity formation, want to try everything. They don’t start testing conclusions until the middle teen years. This is a wild ride of unpredictability, of course, and can feel very scattered and capricious. But there’s willingness—even desire—to try things that makes young teens prime for creative and participatory youth work.
The wonder of abstract thinking. 11 – 14s are far from experienced with abstract thought. But the capacity is there (I like to think of it as God’s puberty gift). And they’re dipping their toes in the water, checking it out.
The process of doubts and faith development. Tied to the development of abstract thinking, young teens are on the leading edge of stumbling onto doubts about their faith. This is a critical aspect of faith development and should never be shamed or shut down. Wrestling with complexities is the necessary detour from childlike, inherited faith to a more robust, owned faith.
They’re unpredictable. Maybe you find this frustrating, but I love it. Young teens regularly and consistently surprise me. They surprise me with their random questions. They surprise me with their hidden talents. They surprise me with their insight. They surprise me with their interpretations (often different than I expect). The unpredictability of 11 – 14s keeps young teen ministry fresh and untamed.
Parents are still involved. Sure, there are plenty of older teens with involved parents. But there’s a drop-off in parent involvement throughout the teen years, as many parents retreat out of fear, exasperation, or a misguided understanding of what it means to give their teenagers independence. We know that parents have a significantly larger shaping role in the lives and faith of their teenagers than we do, so this higher level of parent involvement creates an easier path to coming alongside parents, partnering for greater impact.
They have more time than older teenagers. Yes, young teens are busier than ever; but they still have more time and availability than their older peers. Mix this in with their #3 above (their willingness to try anything), and you’ve got a potent pot of “let’s do stuff!”
Most are not yet jaded. 14 year-olds can start to get a little jaded (some of ‘em). Older teenagers—holy cow—can wear cynicism and “been there, done that” as comfortably as Lady Gaga wears a meat suit. But most young teens possess wonderfully low levels of cynicism and naiveté that looks a lot like hope.
They’re passionate. I love the “all in” attitude of most 11 – 14s. It’s not only their willingness to try things (mentioned in #3 above); they’re also passionate about the things they try, the opinions they voice, the beliefs they hold. The funny thing is: they’re passionate about things that, often, they won’t be passionate about in two months or two years.
They’re forgiving. When you mess up, or have an off night in your teaching, or plan a lame event, or say something dumb, young teens are quick to forgive (particularly if you ask for it). The travel time back to normal (whatever that is!) is extremely short.
They’re fun! Young teens keep me feeling young (not so easy at 50 years-old). They’re playful and hilarious, goofy, and unselfconscious. Young teens remind me, regularly, of what a joy-filled life should look like.