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Santa Has a Gift For You

At The Youth Cartel we are so thankful for each and every one of you who serve students. It might be your full-time job or you may serve as a volunteer, but we know teenagers are being shown the love of Jesus because of you.

We have a special Christmas gift just for you. You can download one of our favorite resources for FREE – Every Picture Tells a Story (a $25 value). 

Every Picture Tells a Story: 2013 Edition

Click HERE to sign up to get your Cartel Christmas gift. 

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Youth Leader Well-Being Survey

We have had this sense that a way larger than normal quantity of paid youth workers are:

  • Losing their jobs
  • Deciding it’s time to step out of vocational ministry
  • Thinking about stepping out of vocational ministry

And with the new data that came out from Barna reporting a huge spike in all pastors considering a move out of vocational ministry, we thought it might be helpful to take the pulse of our tribe. Our friend Todd Freneaux of The Jeremiah Project actually suggested this survey, and we immediately felt it could be helpful.

If you’re a paid youth worker (or have been at any time in the last two years), we’re asking you to take three minutes (really, it will not take long) and click-through two links:

  1. First, click here to take the completely anonymous survey.
  2. Then, if you’d like, click here to separately give us your name and email address (separately, so no one can connect your survey responses with your name or email), and we’ll send you a free copy of the results in January.

The survey will close on December 15 (but don’t put it off!).

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10 Commandments for Youth Pastors

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.

  1. You shall have no other gods before God. No pastor, no position, and no parent—regardless of how powerful they are—is your god.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol. Your job cannot and should not be your idol.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. You shall not murder, nor shall you even think about murdering, that annoying kid, their equally annoying parent, or your boss.
  7. You shall not commit adultery. Your spouse loves you. He always has. She always will.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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Thanksgiving Encouragement

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. 

Your Friends at The Youth Cartel

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Why We Love Praying Pelican Missions

Marko here. My memory is a little blurry (‘cause I’m old), but I think I’ve been on roughly 27 youth ministry short term mission trips. I served on the board of one org for five years. I’m friends with people who work at a half dozen other mission orgs; and I’ve interacted with hundreds, maybe thousands, of youth workers about their mission trip experiences.

And that’s the context with which I write:

Short term missions in youth ministry are the best and the worst things we do in North American Youth Ministry (my “North American” qualifier there is due to the fact that youth min STMs have become something of a cottage industry in the US, and are often approached very differently, if at all, in other countries).

In fact, I’d go as far as saying that the majority of youth ministry short term missions are problematic, at least partially. They may have some value for the participants; but they often inadvertently teach bad theology and worldviews that are more about imperialism than the Kingdom of God.

But, when done well, with thoughtfulness, humility, and an informed missiology, all recipients can benefit in profound ways that build up the Kingdom. I chose “all recipients” very intentionally in that previous sentence, as the best in STMs are not about us who go as “givers” and those we visit as “receivers.” Instead, we are all receiving, and hopefully experiencing something that smells a little like heaven.

And that’s why I (and The Youth Cartel) only put our eggs–when it comes to short term missions–in one basket: Praying Pelican Missions. Lots of my peeps (ooh, eggs and peeps in subsequent sentences) ask me what I like about PPM. There are plenty of reasons, but one above all: their missiology. When PPM says that their approach is to develop long-term relationships with local church leaders and serve under their leadership, they mean it. I’ve seen it, over and over again. Sometimes that can make things a bit messier than a pre-packaged trip led by college students with work concocted with only the best of colonialist intentions. But I’ll take it any day.

SO: come with me on one of three trips (or just go with PPM without me–i won’t be hurt):

1. A leader trip to Jamaica in March. I mean, come on: this is literally a trip to Jamaica and it’s limited to me and a small handful of youth workers. That’s it. The point, really, is for you to see PPM’s work. But it’s still a four-day trip to Jamaica with me as your travel buddy! There’s a small cost (really small), but 100% of that gets credited to a future yet-to-be-decided-on trip you might take with PPM. (btw: we’re watching ye ol’ Covid sitch closely; and if we have to pivot and go somewhere else, we will.) (oh, also noteworthy: Jim Noreen, PPM’s CEO, and a darn nice fella, is coming with us.)

2. A youth trip to Alaska in July. Yup — bring your group. I’ll be your evening speaker, and i’ll be there to encourage you (and hang with your students). Sure, there’s adventure in this destination. But the ministry will be freaking awesome. AND, Alaska has insanely low Covid numbers.

3. A youth trip to Memphis in July. Same dealio: I’ll speak to your students in the eve, we’ll hang, your group will do meaningful work. And have you had those dry-rub ribs they have in Memphis?

Click here for deets.

Let’s do this. I would love to have you join me. Feel free to contact me with any general questions; but if you want further details about these three trips, or any of the hundreds of options PPM has all over the US and the world, do contact them. And tell ’em Marko sent ya.

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Viva, Next, and First Testament now available at Download Youth Ministry

As we at The Youth Cartel are streamlining and refocusing, we’ve partnered with our friends at Download Youth Ministry to be the exclusive place to purchase lines of curriculum we developed: Viva, Next, and First Testament. We’re happy these excellent resources will get the broader exposure they deserve!

And, your favorite Cartel still has, and will continue to develop, unique and helpful downloadable curriculum and creative interactive resources.

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Disrupting Teens with Joy

In this interview, Dave Rahn and Ebonie Davis talk about their new book and curriculum, Disrupting Teens with Joy: Helping Youth Discover Jesus-Focused, Gritty Faith.

Download a sample of the book HERE.

Learn more about the book.

  • Inviting Teens Into Disruptive Joy with Jesus: A Four-Week Curriculum Download to Launch Gritty Habits
    Inviting Teens Into Disruptive Joy with Jesus: A Four-Week Curriculum Download to Launch Gritty Habits
    $9.99
  • Disrupting Teens with Joy: Helping Youth Discover Jesus-Focused, Gritty Faith
    Disrupting Teens with Joy: Helping Youth Discover Jesus-Focused, Gritty Faith
    $14.99
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How to be the Best Volunteer Youth Worker in the History of the World

We are super excited about this new book coming out from Kurt Johnston. Marko sat down with him to get the scoop.

Order your copies by Aug 4 to take advantage of our pre-release savings.

How to be the Best Volunteer Youth Worker in the History of the World

From the back cover:

When it comes to the teenagers in our ministries, giving our best matters. The reason why is simple: “Getting better at youth ministry is worth the effort because teenagers are worth the effort,” writes veteran youth worker Kurt Johnston. With that in mind, he put together this compact, practical, and approachable book for youth ministry volunteers, brimming with insights and wisdom from his decades in youth ministry—including some memorable and hilarious stories of the mistakes that taught him along the way.

Broken down into ten essential topics, the contents here apply to all youth ministry volunteers, whether you’ve been involved for decades or days, and regardless of your age, gender, or the square footage and general awesomeness of your youth space. A roster of seasoned volunteer youth workers provide commentary to round out each chapter, offering perspectives and important lessons learned from their individual contexts.

Whether you read these words on your own or collectively with others on your youth ministry team, who knows: what you find here just might help you become the best volunteer youth worker in the history of the world!

Buy Now

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Free Resource: Refugee Discussion Guide

During the past couple of weeks the news cycle has been dominated by heated discussion about immigration and refugees. When things like this come up we at The Youth Cartel begin to ask youth workers if the teenagers in their ministries are talking about these things to them and if they feel equipped to have a meaningful, Jesus-focused discussion.

Continue reading Free Resource: Refugee Discussion Guide