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Caring for Missions Partner Churches Year ‘Round

Marko here. I’d been hearing things from our short-term missions partner, Praying Pelican Missions, about their new PPM365 initiative; but I had questions. Then, I had the amazing opportunity recently to travel with some PPM staff to visit some tiny churches in Alaskan villages only accessible by plane or boat. Some of those pastors and church leaders I now consider friends (and my brothers and sisters). Seeing some of their very unique challenges brought this new initiative into focus for me.

The way PPM describes it is a good starting point. They say “your group, or church, partners with a local church on your missions trip for one week of the year; but what about the other 51 weeks of the year? That’s what PPM365 addresses.”

PPM365 offers support and encouragement to PPM’s partner churches all year long, mostly by making a handful of “promises” to those church leaders: Consistent Care, Aid in Emergencies and Medical, Relational Network & Training, and Empowerment to go. The first three of those are mostly focused on the physical, relational and spiritual needs of partner pastors. The last of those (Empowerment to go) provides the opportunity for those PPM Partner Churches to go on mission themselves, often to locations, and with approaches, that US missions teams could not do.

In some contexts this will mean helping with low-cost medical insurance. In some contexts, theological and leadership training will be provided. In some contexts, otherwise-impossible ‘breaks’ from ministry (PPM is using the word ‘respite’ for this) will be funded. Each country where PPM365 is active will have a unique approach, primarily informed by the stated needs of these wonderful partner pastors.

It’s all about supporting the local church in meaningful, responsible, non-colonial ways. PPM has beta-tested this program with partner pastors from Kenya, Haiti, and a few other countries, with plans to expand to additional countries in the months and years to come.

An example from my time in Alaska: we met with Pastor Don in the tiny native village of Koyuk. Koyuk is only accessible by plane or boat, and about 340 people live there. There’s one church, one store, and a school. Pastor Don is amazing, and clearly knows and loves this community and its people. He lives a subsistence life, mostly relying on hunting and fishing for food. He’s the single father of three teenage children (his wife passed away from Cancer a few years ago). Don’s denomination certainly provides some level of care and connection; but he has other needs–relational, physical, family–that are rarely met. PPM365 would come alongside Pastor Don and help with some of those needs.

AND, the idea is that you, or your church, could partner with a church (and its leader) year ’round. After my wife and I chatted about it, we decided to become “Sustain Level Partners” ($200/mo; there’s also a “Multiply Level Partner at $35/mo, which needs 5 sponsors for each local church leader). I identified a few PPM partner pastors who’d had a big impact in me, really hoping we could be the sponsor for Pastor Rosaura in Belize (see my old post here to see more about her). Belize is coming online as a PPM365 in January; so we’re supporting an amazing Haitian pastor between now and then, knowing that PPM will find another sponsor for him when we’re able to support Pastor Rosaura in a few months.

How cool would it be for your church, in preparation for a future mission trip, or following a trip where you connected with a local host church, to sponsor that pastor and be in active partnership with them all year? Consider this for yourself, your youth ministry, or your church. Super stoked about this. Again, get more info here.

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Free E-book: Stabilizing the ship

Our values determine our destination. Despite our best efforts as youth workers, cultural values, like strong undercurrents, can unwittingly set our student ministries, and the youth we’re called to disciple, on a course for destruction. This introductory resource will help you become aware of some of the most significant cultural values influencing your ministry and challenge you to make necessary shifts in how we minister to this emerging generation. In doing so, you’ll help stabilize the ship of youth ministry, and chart a course to better help adolescents navigate tumultuous cultural seas as they journey toward the fullness of Christ.

Get your FREE e-book.

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Why I’m Excited About our PPM Youth Leader Trip to Alaska

Marko here. We posted the other day about the second youth leader vision trip we’re taking in September to Alaska, to help people get a sense of both the amazing work of Praying Pelican Missions and this fantastic location. But I thought I might share a bit more backstory and details.

The Youth Cartel has been partnering with Praying Pelican Missions for a number of years, and I’ve been on ten or more trips with them. We’ve tried multiple approaches over the years to figure out how the Cartel can get the word out about this org we believe is “best in class” (and I write that as someone who has been on many, many youth mission trips with multiple organizations). In the early years, Adam and I went on what could be called “blogging trips”: we’d go see the work of PPM in a country, and blog about our experiences. Knowing that PPM’s approach is to develop longterm partnerships with local churches (led by local pastors), and to serve under their authority and on their behalf, I would always pull these pastors aside for private conversations about how they were treated by PPM. Honestly, these conversations are what really sold me.

We’ve tried to do some Cartel/PPM trips with youth groups from the Cartel fam; and while those were great, it wasn’t our strong suit. I’m not sure why it took us so long to remember that a couple vision trips we did for youth workers years ago were the best thing we could offer, and that’s being proved out with these Alaska trips. I mentioned the first trip (September 17 – 20) on my Facebook and Twitter, and we filled it in six hours. So I asked PPM if we could add a second trip a week earlier (September 10 – 13), and they scrambled to accommodate us (props particularly go to the Alaska team for this).

I got to go on a partnership trip with them to Alaska last summer, and honestly, it’s one of my favorite locations I’ve been to. As a group leader, I was stoked to see it has a great combo of factors: less cost than an international trip, but some of the ‘feel’; wonderful ministries excited to receive help, but none of the challenges of passports and immunizations and currency exchange. and it is guh-guh-gorgeous, of course.

I’ve said this before: I think that youth ministry short-term missions can one of the worst things we do in youth ministry (drive-by missions, white savior complex, ministry tourism); but it can also be one of the best things we do in youth ministry, when the context is carefully curated to increase the likelihood that our churches bless local churches and they bless us. When done correctly (as I firmly believe PPM strives to do), we get to participate in partnership with the work of the Kingdom with Jesus who is already present and actively at work in the location where we serve.

SO: I encourage you, youth worker, to consider a trip with Praying Pelican. And I have been so deeply encouraged in the last couple weeks hearing so many stories of Cartel-y youth workers who are going on PPM trips this summer, and heard about them through us.

We’ve limited the size of these Alaska vision trips in order to maximize the experience. And we have about four or five spots remaining on the Sept 10 – 13 trip. You’ll spend a few days with me and a small group of peers. OH, and it’s free (you just have to get to Anchorage). Please feel free to reach out to me ( with any question you might have. Or, get info and register here.

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Mumblr — free screen game

Marko here. I found a simple little screen game I created a few years ago and played it with my small group last night. Nothing fancy. I called it Mumblr; the goal is simply for students to phonetically say the phrases on the screen and try to shout out the correct answer. Feel free to make it your own, design-wise and/or content-wise.

The Powerpoint and a PDF version are here in this dropbox folder:

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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