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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 (marko@theyouthcartel.com) 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: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jomtv4lpjy05pda/AABqTxUtxqmoURTCZpscBU0ga?dl=0

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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.