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Test Drive “The Real Jesus” by Jen Bradbury

The Real Jesus - Test Drive

The Real Jesus - Front CoverOn March 15th, we’re releasing a brand new student devotional, The Real Jesus.

We think it’s really, really good. And we think it’s really, really important that your students get to know The Real Jesus.

And since it’s a book we think you’ll want to put in your students hands we want to do something a bit unorthodox: We’re giving it away before it even comes out. Not a sample— the whole deal. 

Continue reading Test Drive “The Real Jesus” by Jen Bradbury

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Hold On to Summer! Save 25% off select products from The Youth Cartel

Eligible Products


Downloadable Curriculum

Not Eligible but Available for Pre-Release*

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Grab our Fall Catalog

Fall 2015 Catalog

Fall 2015 CatalogAs I’ve shared a few times here on the blog and on social media, we’ve got three brand new resources coming out over the next few weeks. First up, we’ve got Jesus Goes to the Movies and THINK Volume 3: Identity which come out next week, August 11th, and then we have In Search of Adolescence coming out a little later on September 8th.

But just because we have new stuff doesn’t mean that we don’t think our existing line of stuff isn’t important. With that in mind, we’ve just updated our product catalog with a brand new look as well as a full listing of everything we make.

Download the Catalog
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Three New Youth Ministry Resources Available for Pre-Order

Our publishing team has been hard at work finalizing some awesome new stuff. Check out these three new releases, all available for pre-order right now.

A couple endorsements

Students love movies. A lot. This is good because movies can teach us a thing or two about our world. In Jesus Goes to the Movies, Joel Mayward helps youth workers understand how film can be a tool for teenagers to better love God. As a film critic, I love this book. As a youth pastor, I love it even more.

Wade Bearden | @wadehance
Student Pastor, Houston, TX
Staff Writer at Christ and Pop Culture
Cohost of Seeing and Believing (film and TV podcast)

Learn More or Buy

In Search of Adolescence takes on the revisionist history so widely accepted in the church and the broader culture—the “history” that portrays adolescence itself as a modern invention, an aberration of the way young people were meant to grow up.  A winsome writer, a fearless academic, and a brilliant researcher, Crystal Kirgiss unmasks the simplistic assumptions we’ve held for so long about the nature and importance of adolescence.  Like a sharpshooter in a carnival shooting gallery, Crystal’s book blows away falsehood after falsehood with perfectly aimed research and totally disarming humor.  This book has the potential to make us totally rethink the way we see young people and our work with them.

Mark DeVries MDiv | @markdevriesYMA
Founder, Ministry Architects
Author of Sustainable Youth Ministry

Learn more or buy

A major goal of youth ministry in today’s world is not to spoon feed students what to think, but to teach them how to think. That is exactly what this series is doing. THINK, Vol. 3 is chalk full of vital topics and issues that students care about and need to think through. Buy this book, heck, buy the whole series—you and your students won’t regret it!

Brock Morgan | @brockmorgan
Author of Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World

Learn more or buy
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Catching Up With Jen Bradbury

This summer we’re interviewing our authors to learn more about their summer.

Catching up with Jen Bradbury had a special wrinkle to it. Besides being the author of The Jesus Gap, Jen is a full-time Director of Youth Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glenn Ellyn, Illinois and she just became a new mom in Late May.

Adam: So, what’s summer look like in your ministry?

Jen: Summer looks very different than the rest of the year. Our programming year is intentionally September through May so that we can give our leaders and families a break from regular, weekly programming during the summer. This means that during the summer, we change things up. Our focus is on our summer mission trip but we also typically hold a short, two or three week experiential Bible study for whoever is still around. Additionally, I spend a lot of time training and equipping next year’s student leaders through a series of meetings, readings, and an end-of-the-summer retreat.

Adam: What are you up to that isn’t work? Are you going to be able to sneak in a vacation?

Jen: Well – I just had a baby (Hope) so this summer, a lot of what I’m up to isn’t church work. In fact, I’m on maternity leave for the first eight weeks of summer. Towards the end of that, we’ll take a short trip to Michigan just to prove to ourselves that it’s possible to travel with a baby. I’m also working on another book for the Youth Cartel – a devotional about Jesus based on the research from The Jesus Gap.

Adam: Obviously, we’re super excited about that devotional and can’t wait to get it out there. Let’s dream a little, let’s pretend that you had all the time in the world and money weren’t an issue. What’s your dream summer vacation?

Jen: Camping and backpacking in the mountains. My husband and I went to Alaska several years ago. I’d love to return there and spend some extended time in Denali National Park.

Adam: Shifting gears back to youth ministry, share a favorite summer youth ministry story.

Jen: One of my favorites is actually from when I was in high school. My church took an annual canoe trip to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.

On one trip, everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Weeks before, our pastor – who was supposed to go on the trip – got transferred to another congregation. The girlfriend of our other adult leader filled in for her. About half-way through the trip, our trip leader found a huge, hairy spider and proceeded to chase his girlfriend around the campsite with it. Unfortunately, she tripped over a log and fell, severely fracturing both her tibia and fibia. Since this was in the days before cell phones, we had no way of getting help. (The Boundary Waters is a legitimate wilderness area!) Left with no other choice, our trip leader left us alone the next day and paddled back to our starting point for help. While he was gone, a bear invaded our campsite. Eventually, a seaplane arrived to airlift our injured leader out and our trip leader returned. At that point, though, we were a full day behind, so we were forced to canoe through the night in order to reach our final destination on time. Now, some 20 years later, my friends and I still affectionately refer to that trip as The Canoe Trip From Hell.

Adam: Hmmm… maybe that’d be a good student devotional someday? That’d be a great title, “The Canoe Trip From Hell.”

So, what’s your least favorite part about summer in youth ministry?

Jen: While I love the fact that we don’t have regular weekly summer programming because of the break it gives our leaders, the reality of this is that there are some teens we don’t see ALL summer. They’re missed!


The Jesus GapIf you’re looking for a book to take on your summer vacation, allow me to recommend The Jesus Gap. In her book, Jen shares what she learned in a national study within the her denomination. The Jesus Gap discovers the gap between what we’re teaching our students about Jesus and what they are actually learning.

Use coupon code SUMMERGAP to save 33% on The Jesus Gap now through July 1st.

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Introducing Jesus Goes to the Movies

Jesus Goes to the Movies by Joel Mayward

We’ve got several brand new things headed your way for Fall 2015, lots of cool stuff we’re excited about. The first we want to tell you about is our second book with Joel Mayward (Leading Up), Jesus Goes to the Movies: The Youth Ministry Film Guide. 

Check this out… it’s a full-length book including Joel’s impressive theology of film plus 50– FIFTY— film guides that you can use as a teaching resource in your ministry.

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What’s new in The Youth Cartel store?

Our little online store, which literally lives in my garage and is shipped by my family, is full of great youth ministry resources. We carry more than just things from The Youth Cartel publishing line, we also carry a handful of products from around the world of youth ministry which we think are excellent and are “Cartel-y.”

Here’s what’s new in my garage…

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Viva XI


Yesterday we launched Viva! Rest, our 11th edition.

Viva is a series of short, downloadable, curriculum resources. Whether you are looking for a last minute lesson plan or  ideas to add into your teaching, Viva is designed for youth workers leading the revolution.

Here’s a couple of things we’ve learned since we started creating Viva last year:

  • Sometimes all you need is an outline and couple of ideas to create a jumping off point. If you’re like me, you’ve been teaching students for a long time. I often feel like I’ve got really good teaching skills but sometimes I just run dry on ideas and inspiration. Viva has helped a lot of people in that scenario. Looking at the lessons will spur ideas or things that you need to change to contextualize it.
  • You don’t have to make things generic for people to like it. One of the mistakes that I think publishers make is taking the salt out of curriculum writers because you aim at too broad of an audience. We don’t do that with Viva. We cut our writing team loose to be fully themselves because we trust that people who will buy Viva are going to contextualize it anyways.
  • Cheap doesn’t have to mean crap. We love hearing from people who suspiciously bought Viva for the first time assuming it’d be crap because it was only $6. We’re happy to have something that isn’t crap in the sub-$10 category.
  • We love Download Youth Ministry, too. We wanted to sell digital resourced at DYM the moment we heard about it. It’s a blast for us to see how well they are doing and we love that Viva does well on their site.

We have a new edition of Viva coming out every month in 2015. We’d love to hear how you’ve used Viva in your ministry as well as what you’d like to see in a future Viva edition.

[button link=”” color=”silver”]See all 11 editions here[/button]