Adam McLane


Blog | Twitter | Contact

I’ve done youth ministry my entire adult life.

Over the years I’ve held all sorts of positions and roles. I’ve been a volunteer, an intern, an interim youth pastor, a part-time youth pastor, a full-time youth pastor, a mentor to youth pastors, a coach to youth pastors, and even an architect of youth ministries planted in churches.

Because a bachelors degree wasn’t enough youth ministry, I pursued a masters in youth ministry. You get the idea? I’m a youth ministry geek.

Driven by the idea that youth workers lack a core network for idea sharing, I created an online community with some friends in 2005. That lead me to get to know Marko and Youth Specialties. Three years later I found myself on staff with some of the most gifted and talented people I’d ever known. Three years after that, I joined Marko at The Youth Cartel, driven by the desire to help youth workers and organizations unleash the next wave of youth ministry innovation. But I’m not all about youth ministry all the time. I’ve been married to Kristen for 21 years, and together we have three kids, Megan, Paul, and Jackson.

Adam McLane lives in San Diego, CA

Random But True Things about Adam McLane

  1. I grew up in South Bend, Indiana. A stones throw from the University of Notre Dame, some of my earliest memories are of tailgating at football games with my dad, him using his youngest child as bait to buy tickets from elderly alumni.
  2. My family had a lake cottage that we went to nearly every weekend growing up. My elementary years were full of lazy summer days of fishing for pan fish until lunch and swimming until dinner.
  3. I can’t remember when my parents were married. I know that being the child of divorce is supposed to scar me for life. To the contrary, my parents desperately loved me, I grew up in nurturing environments, and my friends grew up jealous that I got multiple birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners, and Christmas mornings.
  4. Climbing trees was an important part of my early life. Through middle school, you’d find me up in a tree in my yard reading a book. And when I wasn’t in a tree alone, I was building expansive tree forts with my friends.
  5. Most of my middle & high school years were spent learning to perform plays and musicals. If you’re a fan of the TV show Glee, I was in show choir when it wasn’t cool. Even if it wasn’t the cool thing to do, I had a ton of fun with it.
  6. My junior year of high school, I moved from South Bend to Hanau, Germany. My mom had married a guy in the military and we followed him to a military base there. There I experienced double culture shock: military kid culture and German culture.
  7. While in Germany, I got so bored that I started attending a chapel youth group operated by Malachi Ministries. A young missionary couple, Dan & Barb Evans, introduced me to Jesus when I was 16 years old.
  8. I arrived on the campus of Moody Bible Institute as a 17 year old, having been a Christian about 18 months. I registered as a youth ministry student because I wanted to learn how to impact students lives in the same way that Dan & Barb had impacted mine.
  9. I had a love/hate relationship with Moody. Heck, I still do! I wrestled with the heavy evangelical culture while devouring my studies. That lead me to quit my undergrad after two years and pursue ministry through business. After a three year hiatus, I went back to Moody, and completed my degree seven years after I started.
  10. My first full-time youth pastor position was a disaster from day one. Driven by idealism, Kristen and I accepted an impossibly difficult calling. We wanted to start an outreach ministry in a Northern California community with the highest teenage meth use and teenage pregnancy rates in the state. Way over our heads we only lasted a year.
  11. I adore travel. Spending a year in Germany during high school only fueled my desire to explore this planet. I love off-the-beaten-path places. And I rarely book a room in advance. I’ve crashed on stranger’s couches, stayed at hostels, slept in my rental car, even in a park or two, and if I’m feeling spendy… a bed & breakfast.
  12. Kristen and I met on a blind date when we were both 18 years old. We both hated the cliche` of meeting a spouse at a Christian college, but we fell hopelessly in love shortly after meeting. We got married a couple weeks after we turned 21.
  13. Speaking of Kristen, we’re from polar opposite families. I used to refer to her family as the Swiss Family Robinson. It took me years to appreciate that they enjoyed spending time together, going places together, and yes… even praying for one another.
  14. I’m a sports nut. And while I’m a life-long Notre Dame fan from birth, my current passion is the San Diego State Aztecs. Follow me on Twitter and you’ll get overwhelmed with my Aztec tweets during football and basketball season. Sorry, not sorry.
  15. My adventurous side dreams of taking my family and living abroad for an extended period of time. One of our goals is to spend a year living in Costa Rica, Northern Ireland, Austria, and New Zealand.
  16. I was an early adapter to building friendships online. I can remember how terrifying it was the first couple times I met an online friend for coffee. Now, hardly a day goes by when I don’t meet someone in person that I’ve known on Twitter, Facebook, or through my blog.
  17. I come from an evangelical background. Trained at a pretty conservative Bible college, having worked in non-denominational, Evangelical Free, and Baptist churches, most people might be surprised at how much I adore a big tent view of the church. The more I’ve learned about and experienced other Christian faith traditions, the more I’ve realized how big the Kingdom of God truly is.
  18. I’m a road trip youth pastor. I love spending extended amounts of time with students on the road. Probably my favorite youth group activity is something I call “The pointless road trip.” We once drove across the state of Michigan to catch a movie.
  19. There’s no shame in my nerdiness. I love gadgets and dreaming of innovative ways to use them. I build websites habitually. And if I see someone doing something cool I have to take it apart and learn how they did it.
  20. Learning is a non-negotiable for me. I’m hard-wired to be curious. My brain looks for ways to take complex things and make them simple and easy-to-understand. I read, write, and digest new information constantly.
  21. I can’t think of the last time I finished a non-fiction book. If I could figure out a way to convince Amazon to only sell me the first 3-4 chapters of a book I’d save a lot of money. But a novel, particularly a classic? That’s another story.
  22. Southwest Airlines has won my heart. When I’m thinking about going somewhere the first thing I have to know is whether or not they are a Southwest destination. My children will need to attend college in cities where Southwest flies.
  23. Some people are annoyed by my optimism. I’m more than merely a “glass half full” guy. People who are pessimists bug me to no end. In the darkest of circumstances, against the greatest odds, I chose hope.
  24. Justice and action are heartbeats of who I am. I don’t want to just be aware of what is going on in the world. I want to go there. I want to help. And I want to be a catalyst for change.
  25. Core to what drives me is a belief that the best days of youth ministry are yet ahead. The methodologies that got us here will not lead us into the future. My hope is to help be a part of bringing new methods, new voices, and new ideas to the forefront.