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seminars for the Multi-Site Youth Ministry Campference

hey good people — we’ve finalized the seminars for the inaugural Multi-Site Youth Ministry Campference in January. there are only 8 of them (2 rounds of 4 each), because we also have a program element called “Multi-Site Issues Dialogues” where participants will rotate through four pre-selected topical discussions on common issues facing youth workers in multi-site churches.

the topics for the Multi-Site Issues Dialogues are:

  1. Multiple sites, multiple sizes
  2. Creating & Maintaining Culture
  3. Defining Our Model (including reporting relationship, standardization, etc)
  4. Naming our Common Tensions

AND, the seminars are:

  • Kurt Johnston — An up close look at Saddleback’s model
  • Tom Shefchunas — How you define church defines your model.
  • Kevin Libick — Interviewing 101: What you can and can’t learn from asking the right questions of a potential hire?
  • Megan Bagnall — Helping Struggling and Smaller Sites
  • Marko — Leading Change
  • Kent Bjurstrom and Kurt Brodbeck – Developing and maintaining a strong relationship between central YM boss and site youth worker
  • EJ Swanson — Scaling Youth Ministry for Sites from 30 to 3000.
  • Christopher “Taffy” Tafalla — Multiplying Your Music/Worship Strategy
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Seminars at this year’s Middle School Ministry Campference

Hey folks — we just finalized the list of seminars for this year’s Middle School Ministry Campference. As usual, it’s going to totally rock!

It’s coming up super fast (October 13 – 15), and late rates kick in this coming Sunday. So get your reg on!

Continue reading Seminars at this year’s Middle School Ministry Campference

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Announcing the Multi-Site Church Youth Ministry Campference

Details at a glance:

  • January 9 – 11
  • Orange County CA
  • All-inclusive price: $300 – $365

There has been an explosion of churches moving to a multi-site approach in the last few years. Understandably, a church’s decision to move to a multi-site approach is rarely (if ever) driven by the mission of the youth ministry. And as such, youth workers in these churches are often scrambling to figure out best practices, formats and structures, success metrics, and all sorts of other variables.

Continue reading Announcing the Multi-Site Church Youth Ministry Campference

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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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Breakout Sessions at the Middle School Ministry Campference

IMG_3087I (Marko) was chatting with a middle school pastor this past weekend. He’s bringing a group of 10 to this year’s Middle School Ministry Campference, and considering adding to that number. Some combination of people from his church have attended all four previous Campferences. He said something like, “I’ve been to all sorts of other events; but there’s just nothing like Campference. I can’t imagine being in middle school ministry and NOT attending!”

While everyone who has attended in the past knows that the secret sauce of the Campference is everything that happens in-between and around the official schedule, we’re still very intentional about bringing the best training you’ll find anywhere on our work and calling. And we’ve always been intentional about having almost completely new content every single year (rather than just repeating seminars over and over, year after year). So, not only will attendees this year get to network like crazy, have meals with speakers, and enjoy all that secret sauce, they’ll also get to choose from this mind-blowingly amazing list of breakout sessions.

a little interpretive key:
SEMINAR means 2/3 teaching and 1/3 conversation
DIALOGUE means 1/3 teaching and 2/3 conversation
ACTIVE LEARNING is a seminar where you actually DO stuff
ROOKIE means it’s a seminar or dialogue that’s ideally suited for volunteers and rookie youth workers
LATE NIGHT CONVERSATIONS are informal gatherings around a specific topic

Here’s the plan for October 9 – 11, 2015! (This is subject to change, but basically final)

Friday Evening

  1. Kurt Johnston: Surviving in the Local Church: 5 things that really don’t matter and 5 things that do. (SEMINAR)
  2. Heather Flies: Authenticity in Teaching/Sharing Your Story (ACTIVE LEARNING)
  3. Tom Shefchunas: Partnering with Parents Without Killing Yourself (SEMINAR)
  4. Mark Oestreicher: What Every MSM Volunteer Needs to Know (SEMINAR/ROOKIE)

IMG_3090Saturday Morning

  1. Scott Rubin: Critique of my JHM, by High Schoolers: the Good, the Bad, and the Frustrating (DIALOGUE)
  2. Tom Schefchunas: Youth Ministry and the Cell Phone (DIALOGUE)
  3. Gina Abbas: Growing Your Ministry By Doing Less (SEMINAR)
  4. Eric Woods: Engaging the Difficult Student (ACTIVE LEARNING)
  5. CIY JH Team: Bug Fixes and Stability Improvements for your Youth Ministry (SEMINAR)

Saturday Afternoon

  1. Elle Campbell and Tom Shefchunas: 5 Rules (and 5 Exceptions) to Teaching Middle Schoolers (SEMINAR)
  2. Alan Ramsey, Kurt Johnston, and Katie Edwards: Raising a Family in Youth Ministry (DIALOGUE)
  3. Gina Abbas: The Best Idea Wins: 20 years of collecting, copying and creating middle school programs and events (DIALOGUE/ROOKIE)
  4. Eric Woods: Why you should stop doing mission trips: Turning Teens into Missionaries Instead of Travelers (SEMINAR)

IMG_3118Sunday Morning

  1. Katie Edwards: Engaging Middle Schoolers in Leadership (SEMINAR)
  2. Kurt Johnston: Communicating to Young Teens (SEMINAR/ROOKIE)
  3. Heather Flies: Creating an Environment Where Chaos and Structure Can Coexist (SEMINAR)
  4. Kenny & Elle Campbell: Creating a Better Teaching Strategy for Middle Schoolers (SEMINAR)
  5. Alan Ramsey & Mike Sheley: Pre-Teen Ministry (SEMINAR)

Late Night Conversations

  • Gina Abbas and Heather Flies: Being a Woman on Staff with Dudes (for paid youth workers)
  • Alan Ramsey: Growing Older in MSM
  • Eric Woods: Designing Better Graphics
  • Tom Shefchunas and Tim Mauriello: Multi-Site Church MSM

Pretty amazing, huh? Check out more info here.

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Student Justice Conference – December Update

Student Justice Conference


Over the past few weeks we’ve heard from a bunch of youth workers looking for an update on the Student Justice Conference.

Here’s where we’re at:

  • The cost of registration includes program, housing, and meals at Point Loma. If you’re not familiar with Point Loma Nazarene University, know that we picked it for three specific reasons. a. It’s an amazing, beautiful campus that your students are going to love being at. Literally, it sits on the Pacific Ocean. b. Point Loma gets justice. Every major at PLNU has elements of justice integrated into the course work. Additionally, they have two on-campus institutes for justice that are active in both activating students but also engaging in justice work in San Diego. c. To that end, the Student Justice Conference is not a rental group… they are a full partner on SJC. They are fully committed to the success of SJC15, been part of the planning, and are highly invested.
  • Let’s break down the program elements, since we don’t have a ton of information on the website yet. (see schedule for what it’ll look like –
    • Main sessions – these are going to be the times at SJC15 that everyone is together in one room. The basic elements will include worship, testimonials/stories, some fun, and a teaching time.
      • Morning Main Sessions – Brooklyn Lindsey & Mark Oestreicher will be the primary teachers/speakers at each morning session. Working together, Brooklyn and Marko are going to bring excellent content for students with the aim of expanding their foundation on God’s calling for His people to seek justice.
      • Evening Main Sessions – The three evening sessions we’re booking speakers that’ll inspire us, charge us, and hopefully stoke some fires with students for what’s possible when God’s people act. We have confirmed Eugene Cho (Lead Pastor at Quest Church in Seattle, also leads One Days Wages) and the other two spots will be “presenters of that caliber.” We’ll also have some other elements in those sessions you’d expect at a conference. (Musical acts, talent, stuff like that)
    • Learning Cohorts – We recognize that each of the students you are bringing might have a passion for something unique. With that in mind, we’re working with our partners to provide this unique learning track on each afternoon of the event. These will be 3-day extended seminars (2 hours each day) with a focus on activating your teenagers. In other words, they’ll select a Learning Cohort to attend all three days (the topics of these Learning Cohorts will be released at a date closer to the event), and participate in something more like a workshop (rather than a content-focused seminar).
    • Seminars – On the schedule you’ll see 3 seminar blocks, one each day. In each seminar block we’ll offer several options for your students to pick from. Our amazing group of partners are bringing in seminar presenters that’ll show students what they do in a wide variety of categories from environmental justice to bringing clean water to new places for the first time to freeing slaves to practical steps you can take in your school. One important thing to pass along is that we’re not asking these organizations to bring content that’s “youth-y” or somehow watered down. Instead, we know that you’ll be bringing students who can handle the same information they’d share with adults.
    • Free time and optional field trips – As easy as it’d be for us to pack the schedule at SJC15, we want to leave some space to get your group off campus. (San Diego is awesome!) In the afternoon, we’ll offer some field trip options so you can see some of the amazing justice stuff happening all across San Diego. That might mean taking students to the U.S. side of the border and learning about that or visiting a community garden where resettled refugees grow foods from back home or going to a farmers market where local farmers accept WIC to help families in need get nutritious, locally grown foods or learning about aftercare safe houses for those rescued from human trafficking. Likewise, we want you to be sensitive to the needs of your group. If your group needs an afternoon at the beach, a visit to Balboa Park, or even just using the sports facilities at Point Loma… we’ve created space for you to do that without missing core content.

Big News – Super Early Registration is Open!

We aren’t officially beginning our early registration push until January. But we have opened up a limited Super Early Registration period. You can register your students now for $199 or you can reserve spots (and lock in that $199 rate) with a $50 deposit.

[button link=””]SUPER EARLY REGISTRATION[/button]
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Earlybird Registration for The Summit ends July 31!

The Summit, as you probably know, is unlike any other youth ministry event. It’s an imagination sparker, a creativity awakener, a prophetic nudge. 18 presenters delivering laser-focused TED-style talks, along with space for further dialogue with the presenters who leave you thirsty for more. It’s two days that can wake you up, re-ignite your calling, give you a refreshed and recalibrated vision, and bug ya (’cause we mean to bug ya).

The Summit will be in Nashville this year, on November 7 and 8.

Earlybird registration rates (individuals = $149, groups of 3 or more = $129 each) run out at the end of this month. Starting August 1, all reg prices go up!

And, we have earlybird registration perks! Yup, register by July 31, and you automatically get all this amazing stuff for FREE:

  • Pre-Summit Session of your choice – $40 value
  • Good News in the Neighborhood –$25 value
  • Viva – Genesis –$5.99 value

We’ve just released another video from last year’s event. We had pastor and author Bryan Lorrits open the event last year, reminding us of The Anchor of our Soul, as a way of framing our time. Here’s 9 1/2 minutes that could be the best bit of your day:

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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!