A Theological Journey Through Youth Ministry

This month I will be reading and reviewing the four-books series entitled A Theological Journey Through Youth Ministry written by Andrew Root http://andrewroot.org

I am excited that these books were dreamed of and published, as they continue to speak theologically into the context of youth ministry.  Root offers excellent insights in the question often asked of youth pastors “What exactly do you do …..and the pressing question asked by youth pastors themselves “What is the point of all of this?”

As an amateur theologian who serves and ministers to the youth of my congregation, I am eager to hear what Andrew has to say and hope to find this series both challenging and inspiring.

If you are interested in learning more about these books, you can obtain more information here:



The “Elephant in the Room” series


This month in our youth ministry, our leaders decided to let the students choose topics to discuss.  Throughout the year we have been teaching on theology, Scripture, and spiritual formation.  While engaging and often entertaining, my feeling was that there existed more pertinent and important issues facing our students.

Faith is not simply about what we believe, but how our beliefs intersect the reality we see daily.  If youth ministries are unwilling to have open and honest conversations about real topics, then I wonder what is the point of our teachings.

Here is what we did:

I made a Facebook question survey with 8 issues; theological and social.  We asked students simply to choose their top three and then the overall top 4 results we would cover in one month.

The students voted for the following:

Gay Rights (marriage and adoption)

the existence of Hell

Pluralism (many faiths, same God)

and Does the Supernatural happen today

(this one tied with Drinking and Premarital Sex)

Not surprisingly most of the questions have come up in popular events or social media.  Paris had massive demonstrations for and against homosexual marriage.  Our city and schools are very diverse and so students have dear friends from many religions backgrounds.  Islam and Judaism are the two largest and so naturally our students are faced daily with how Christianity and those religions compare and contrast.  They are asking, “Will my friends really go to hell because they worship God in a different way?  Which of course then brings up the question of Hell.   The Supernatural issues (demons and miracles) I suppose is a result of the many exorcism and ghost movies produced in the past year.    Drinking is interesting because the legal age in Europe is of course 18 and most families allow children to drink much younger.  However, when our students visit the U.S or go there for college, they are faced with the crisis of not being able to drink legally.

The point of all that is to say I am glad we have listened to the voice of the students.  They need to be validated and space created for them to share.

Our leaders discussed and decided that we would not make this a “teaching series”, meaning we would not create additional lessons and pick Bible verses to support a particular view. Instead we would maintain neutrality and allow for students to openly and honestly share their views on these issues and, very importantly, why they hold those views.  I have discovered that students thoughtfully think through these issues are indeed longing for the Church to be a safe place for them to wrestled with complex issues.


Top 5 youth ministry sites & resources

Here is a very simple list of my personal Top 5 websites for youth ministry ideas, resourcing, training, and networking.

The Youth Cartel  http://theyouthcartel.com

Barefoot Ministries   http://barefootministries.com

Youthfront  http://youthfront.com

YouthSpecialties    http://www.youthspecialties.com

Sparkhouse  http://wearesparkhouse.org/

Poll question: Advent?


Over the past few years I have noticed a resurgence of liturgy and Church calendar celebrations, especially in nontraditional type churches.

Our church follows the Church Calendar seasonally and a liturgical calendar weekly.

Lent (before Easter) and Advent (before Christmas) have been two major inroads for churches and youth ministries to participate in “traditional” forms of worship and celebration.

So, my question is simply…in your church or ministry, do you intentionally celebrate Advent?

What is the Youth Cartel?

Youth is the time of life between childhood and adulthood (maturity).[1] Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary. An individual’s actual maturity may not correspond to their chronological age, as immature individuals could exist at all ages.

Often youth is associated with vigor, freshness or immaturity

cartel is a formal agreement among competing firms. It is a formal organization where there is a small number of sellers and usually involve homogeneous products. Cartel members may agree on such matters as total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories,  establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these.

These two definitions really have little to do with the Youth Cartel…

However, this new organization does specialize is providing innovative resources to youth workers of all kinds with their moto “Instigating a Revolution in Youth Ministry”

The founding partners are two of the leading youth ministry voices and have years of experience speaking, creating, writing, and working with teenagers.  They are wacky, funny, in love with Jesus and teens, and progressive enough to speak into the future of youth ministry. Here are brief bio’s on Mark Oestreicher and Adam McLane.


I deeply appreciate their passion for youth and youth workers and ability to speak into the lives of many in diverse contexts.  I have the privilege of partnering with the Youth Cartel in hosting Open Paris this spring.

For more information about The Youth Cartel including resources and events please visit their website:


Youth Pastor Panel: Why networking is important


Here is a link to a recent article published by the fine people at Called to Youth Ministry. In their questioner they asked a number of youth workers about our involvement, need, and vision for networking both personally and professionally.

In addition to this post, you can discover some great insights from other youth workers and colleagues such as Jeremy Zach, Nate Dame, and Paul Turner.




Announcing “Open Paris” with the Youth Cartel




I am excited to announce a partnership with the Youth Cartel in hosting “Open Paris” this May 10-11, 2013 at The American Church in Paris.





I have known the guys behind the Cartel for a number of years and have always appreciated their passion for student ministry and visionary leadership.


Adam McLean and Mark Oestreicher’s dream is to provide great resources for all youth workers and especially opportunities for everyone to have a voice in youth ministry.



I love the idea behind the Youth Cartel and these “Open” events….  “Celebrating fresh ideas in youth ministry.”


These are open sourced gatherings of youth workers and practitioners sharing and discussing ideas…sort of like a large think tank.  There are no “experts” since, to be fair, what exactly is an expert in youth ministry? It is certainly not someone who has written books or been in the field for twenty years. (although I have much respect for them)  Sometimes the youngest and least experienced have the greatest insight into youth culture and God’s active engagement.  These gatherings in Seattle, Boston, and then Paris will be a wonderful opportunity to explore a new city and culture while truly learning together in community.



Of course I highly recommend taking a trip to the City of Lights and join us in Paris.  We will have a great group of youth workers and theologians from across North America, the U.K. and Europe.  This will certainly give Open Paris an international flavor.  I will admit I have learned valuable lessons from my European colleages since arriving in Paris last year.  As American culture is trending towards Europe/Scandinavia is many ways, what better source for collaboration and friendships than youth workers from there!

For more information on all of the Open events, please click the link below




The closer we get we will be posted more information and have an updated site for Open Paris.  Stay tuned!  à bientôt