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you’re not alone

Head’s up: This video has some foul language.

My heart sank and soared as I followed Kenna’s story. My heart sank in the emptiness and desperation she felt– especially as I wondered about others like her who I may have missed over the years; my heart soared as she overcame and found happiness.

And here’s the youth ministry angle. Check out Kenna’s follow-up video. Fellow youth workers… the 4-5 minute mark is especially for you.

These videos shook me and reminded me of the powerful need for a hope-filled youth ministry.


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considering a fun event

so, here at The Youth Cartel, we have a handful of very cool events in development.  one of ’em is WAY cool and likely to happen, and we’ll get the info out on that, hopefully, by the end of the month.  but we’re busy exploring more.

one of the plans we’re fairly sure we’re going to try is:


this would be a one-time 4-day version of the youth ministry coaching program.  it would embody the same values, many of the same elements, and the same cohort approach.  but all in a compact version (meaning: less depth, but also less travel and cost).  maybe charge something like $900 (instead of the $3000 of the full YMCP).

however, there’s one version of that we’re considering at the moment, and i thought i’d toss it out here to our insiders to get a feel of whether or not there’s interest…


we have access to a gorgeous 75 foot motor yacht, with staterooms for 10 or so, if you don’t mind sharing a bed (not that it would be free, but we think we could get a good deal).  we talked about offering this as a couples’ retreat, since it makes such good sense with the bedroom situation. but we’re not clear that people (or churches) would be up for paying for 2 spaces).  hey, if that were possible, we’d be all over it.  but my thought is that there might be 10 youth workers who would pay that fee knowing that it includes all food and accommodations (but the accommodations are shared, as in, 2 people in a shared bed in a stateroom). the location would be in the san juan islands out from seattle.  a YMCP-mini elsewhere would be about the same cost, but would not include accommodations or food.  we would tailor the program on this particular YMCP-mini (or couples’ retreat) to give you free time for enjoying our surroundings also (and it might be 5 days – but that wouldn’t impact the cost).

let me know what you think, would you?  is this something you could imagine consider?  is there any chance you’d be up for the ‘youth ministry couples’ retreat’? or would you only be interested in the YMCP-mini… ON A BOAT?  what about a YMCP-mini elsewhere?

oh, and we also have access to a gorgeous and safe resort in mexico where we’ve thought about doing this couples’ retreat.  same thing — we’d probably make that one about 7 days long (and would include some serving together), and a very light schedule.  in that location, every couple would get a suite, with living room and bedroom and kitchen.  we’d bring some food down, and the resort would prepare the rest.  total cost for that one, including accommodations and some food, for 7 days, would probably be about $1500/couple, but we could take more people than we could on the boat (which would, by the nature of the boat, be very exclusive).

speak to us!

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Real Youth Workers are Better Than Perfect Youth Workers

Youth workers who pretend that they have the Christian life all figured out are boring! Let’s face it, none of us want to follow someone who thinks they have anything all figured out – we want to learn from people who are on the same journey we’re on, a journey of messiness and incompleteness, of bumps and turns and twists and surprises. In short, we want to learn from people who live with veracity – people who live out the truth of their own journey in front of us.

For you to be a youth worker who lives with veracity, and for me to be a youth worker who lives with veracity, we have to live, speak and act boldly – whether that means a boldness of knowing or a boldness of unknowing. See, veracity and passion are closely linked. And when I live in truth (the truth of my real story with God), I live a passionate life, and veracity naturally leaks out in my interactions with students. When I do this, I become more “attractive” to real students (unfortunately, not more physically attractive!) The truth of Jesus alive in my life is attractive.

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Embrace Your Oddity!

I can’t stand it when I see youth workers trying to be hip, trying to be cool, so students will like them. And part of why this bugs me so much is that I used to be like that! I tried so hard to be the kind of cool adult I thought students wanted.

But somewhere along the road of youth ministry, I discovered that my uniquenesses – the things about me that make me different than you – are a massive strength in my ability to connect with teenagers. And I saw this in other effective youth workers as well.

One of the best youth workers I ever worked with was a total geek. He was studying for a doctorate in theoretical chemistry, wore horribly geeky clothes and awful glasses, and was a world-class nerd. But students loved him! And it wasn’t only the future geeky chemists who loved him; the students loved that he was real and authentic, and not ashamed of who he was.

These days, i’m just not cool. I’m the same age as the parents of the guys and girls in my youth group. Even if I’m cool in the slightest, it’s a qualified cool — “cool for a middle-aged dad.” Instead of masking that, or trying to be someone I’m not, I find my strength in connecting with real teenagers is to be the real me.

Embrace your oddity!

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Welcome to The Youth Cartel!

Watch this first!

Today is a big day for us here at The Youth Cartel. Even though we’ve been around for a few months now, we’d merely been a one-man show. Not much of a cartel, actually. But today we can announce that starting very soon, Adam McLane will be joining Marko as a partner in The Youth Cartel. Two is almost a cartel, right?

Really, as we’ve talked and dreamed about what we could do together, we kept coming back to one thing: we were both passionate about raising up new voices in youth ministry. We had a bunch of meetings, drew all over a bunch of flip chart pages, sent each other a hundred emails and a thousand text messages, chatted on gmail chat, and passed draft documents back and forth with google docs. What came out of this dreaming and praying is a vision to serve and resource the world of youth ministry in new ways.

We’re going to do this in four areas:

  • coaching and consulting
  • gatherings
  • innovative resource development
  • and marketing services

We’re also planning on providing versions of these for both individual youth workers, as well as organizations. So, for individual youth workers, coaching means the Youth Ministry Coaching Program. For organizations, we’re helping churches and ministries understand and connect with the world of youth ministry. For gatherings, we’ll continue to offer ourselves as event speakers, as well as launching a series of unique youth ministry events. For innovative resource development, we’ll soon be providing youth workers with revolutionary and unique digital resources, written by voices you need to hear from; and we’ll serve ministries and other organizations by developing resources on their behalf. Marketing services, for the individual youth worker includes coaching and technical help on blogs and other social media platforms; and for organizations, this includes a wide variety of services from website development to social media campaigns.

We want to be clear about something: this isn’t about us. This is about finding a way to elevate the voices and ideas of a new generation of youth workers from the fringes. This is about promoting new youth ministry voices to the world we know and love, and about helping organizations connect with the amazing tribe of youth workers.

You’ll see lots of great new stuff rolling out in the months to come, adding to the work we’re already doing. You’ll see resources and new events, new email lists (with helpful, free stuff!), and a short-and-sweet podcast. You’ll see creative partnerships, and cool opportunities for engagement.

For now, we’d love you to become a part of The Cartel. You can connect with us in a few ways:

  • “Like” our new Facebook page here. That’s a place where you can stay up to date on new stuff, youth ministry discussions, and a community of people who understand you.
  • Follow our Twitter feed here. We won’t annoy you with tweets about what we’re eating or the location of our oil change, promise.
  • Sign up for our e-newsletters here. Our first, YouTube You Can Use, will launch in September, and provide you with a weekly link to a YouTube video, as well as creative ways to use it. Other e-newsletters will follow.
  • Add The Youth Cartel blog to your reader. In addition to Marko’s and Adam’s blogs, The Youth Cartel blog will be a place for conversation and revolutionary ideas.

Oh, and we’d sure appreciate it if you would tweet, Facebook, blog, or Google+ about all of this!

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know if you have ideas for us, or other ways you’d like to connect. Leave a comment below! With your help, we’re hoping we can Instigate a Revolution in Youth Ministry.