Dear Neglected Blog Readers

Dear neglected blog readers,

I’ve not forgotten you. I love you. I’m thankful for your patience. I’m hitting the final stages for the launch of my new book, Tuning In: Six Ways to Reclaim Your Life from Technology.

It’s a book five years in the making, I love it and I think you will, too. It’s based on research and introspection and– to sound like a Presbyterian preacher for a second– I think the timing of its release couldn’t come at a better time as we, as Christians, wrestle with sorting out what it means to live a life online.

There are two parts: 

  • The book, Tuning In: Six Ways to Reclaim Your Life from Technology
  • The free companion, Technology Tune Up: Six Steps to Reclaiming Your Life from Technology 

More soon.



New stuff from the Cartel Publishing Line

It’s been a wild two-weeks for our Cartel publishing line as we get into 2017.

We’re continuing to gain traction for our two lines of downloadable curriculum, Viva and Next. That’s fun to see.

Earlier this month we announced that after several years of seeing diminishing returns from we’ve now broken up. You can still get our books via Amazon Kindle but we’re no longer distributing our books directly through them because we lost a bunch of money.

One of the awesome things this means is that we’re going to offer better shipping rates, including months like January where we’re offering free shipping on every single order.

And this month we’re launching three new physical books.

Mission Tripping by Danny Kwon

This is a book and companion interactive journal

Here’s what I like about Mission Tripping. Tons of youth ministries do mission trips. Tens of thousands of them each year. Over the years I’ve been on and lead a whole bunch of them.

I’m here to tell you: There are really great mission trips. And there are really crappy ones who do more harm than good.

What’s the difference? The youth worker. Mission Tripping is truly comprehensive in that it helps you ground your mission trip in solid theology, theory, and practice. You need to know how to find the right trip for your group, you need to know how to manage all aspects of that trip, you need to know how to have a great trip, and you need to know how to help cement learning with follow-up.

You can save $3 on Mission Tripping if you order today with the pre-release coupon code of MTBLOGGING

Leading Without Power by Mark Oestreicher

It’s about time, right? Marko created the Cartel publishing line five or so years ago but hadn’t, until now, published a full-blown book on his own line! (We did publish a curriculum, Every Picture Tells a Story: 2013 Edition) He and I both took some time in 2016 to go on a writing retreat and hammer our new titles. (More on my new book another day) And I’m really excited about what he’s come up with. It’s super useful for people who aren’t the #1 leader on a church staff but as definitely still leaders.

Here’s a snippet of the description:

Hierarchical, coercive leadership should have no place in the church.

But if we move away from those unbiblical (and ineffective) forms of power-based leadership, we still need to lead. In Leading Without Power, Mark Oestreicher explores—in very pragmatic ways—what it might look like for us to replace power-based leadership modalities with other approaches.

Leading Without Power unpacks nine metaphorical job titles, with stories and examples of what it looks like to embody these mindsets and practices.

You can read the rest of the description, see the crazy good endorsements, or place your pre-order at this link. You can save $2 per copy if you pre-order Leading Without Power by January 31st with coupon code: getlwp


Disrupting Amazon Book Sales

Yesterday, I read this article about how Amazon has small publishers like us by the neck:

Amazon Advantage, which I’ve written about before, is the alpha method of selling our books. It puts us squarely in the limelight so that when someone types in the title, we are the first and most visible seller. Click on the cover image and the book on offer is the one sold by us. But the cost for this clarity and publicity is high, and can be met only by the big publishers, who print thousands of copies of a title and keep the cost-per-copy to less than a pound. But if you are a small press, the sums don’t add up. Linen Press welcomes writers with no track record and writers from minority groups. We read the 20, mostly unsolicited submissions that arrive each week. Having signed up an emergent writer (emergent is a polite way of saying unknown), we usually do a first run of 400 copies, which works out at a basic production price of £3 per copy.

Then there will be other expenses in the process, such as £200 for a cover image, £200 for artwork, £500 for typesetting and the creation of digital files, £200 for flyers and publicity materials, perhaps 10 copies of the book to enter an award such as the Baileys women’s prize for fiction. The final cost per copy for us is nearer £4. Amazon Advantage takes 55% of the recommended retail price, so on a £7.99 novel, it takes £4.40 and we get £3.60. We have to post books individually, as they are ordered, at £3 postage plus the cost of an envelope. We’re down to a profit of 60p. Out of that comes the author’s royalty of 80p, so we’re in minus figures.


While I understand what she’s talking about, we don’t experience quite the same costs that she does… our business model is different… so I see what she is saying but disagree with her conclusion.

Where she is 100% correct is that there aren’t a lot of options out there for publishers. Every publisher, big and small, are willing to hear new ideas for selling their books outside of Amazon.

Here was my thought when I read this: Book sales are ripe for disruption.

  • More people are buying more books than ever in the history of the world.
  • The cost of entry into publishing is lower than at any time in history.
  • Digital sales are on the decline.
  • Amazon has billions in marketshare, but they have also have billions in costs/overhead.
  • The cost of entry to starting your own physical or online bookstore is shockingly low.
  • Outside of Amazon, no one is really innovating in this space, everyone seems focused on competing with Amazon instead of delighting book buyers.
  • Publishers (like us) are eager to take on new retailers.
  • While it’s nearly impossible to compete with Amazon on price or speed of shipping, there’s TONS of room for other ways to beat them.
  • Just because big box bookstores failed doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do well at book retail. There are segments of booksellers doing very, very well.

Did this peak your interest? Leave me a comment or drop me a note via my contact form. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking. 

Books Friday is For Friends

Hopecasting by Mark Oestreicher

My partner in crime at the Cartel has a new book coming out. He has something like 70 titles in the youth ministry genre, been the general editor of a couple Bible projects, and is the general editor of our Cartel publishing line.

But this is Marko’s very first general audience Christian book.

So it stands out that the audience isn’t limited to people who are working in local churches with teenagers, it’s for everybody.

Here’s the truth: I haven’t read it yet. So I can’t recommend it from that perspective.

However, I can recommend it wholeheartedly as a friend who has born witness to the process of creating the book… and the life altering stuff that happened which lead to the creation of the book.

This book kicked Marko’s butt.

It made him uncomfortable. It made him work harder than he wanted to. It interrupted him. I think it drove him crazy and pushed him to places he didn’t really want to go. And, in the end, he’s really proud of it.

Here’s the description:

Why are some people full of hope, while many of us struggle to get past the snooze alarm? Hope often seems elusive—both to explain and to experience. So we find ourselves instead clinging to lesser substitutes. From self-medication to lazy clichés, we apply these balms to our pain and experience little to no comfort. But we know, in our guts, that these replacements aren’t the hope-filled lives we long for, the lives we were made for. Mark Oestreicher gets it. Through hard-wrought experience and robust-bordering-on-desperate theological reflection, he offers here a fresh perspective on Hope, that virtue that God carries to us even as God carries us. Read Hopecasting and discover a good God casting hope your way.

And here’s what Scot McKnight has to say, he’s way smarter than me:

Hopecasting takes us through the joy of holy week, into the exile of darkness and hopelessness, and to the empty tomb of hope. In this book Marko teaches each of us how he has learned to practice a life of hope through the resurrection. What a gift of God this book is. May you discover the reality of a biblical hope that reshapes life today.

So that’s the scoop. Give it a shot.

You can buy it from Amazon or at The Youth Cartel store.


Review: Our Last Option

Option 1: I’m right and you’re wrong and that’s that.

Option 2: We’re all right in our own opinion and that’s that, let’s just get along anyway.

These are the two options most of us see when engaging in our society. You’re either pro-choice or pro-life. You’re either anti-gun or pro-gun ownership. You’re for gay marriage or you’re against it. You’re either FoxNews or HufffPo.

It’s exhausting and most people seem to teeter-totter between engaging in the topic du jour and ignoring it. They are exhausted by it because it lacks productivity. Few people can argue another person into change. But we seem to live in an age where winning is more important than virtue.


The Books I Read and the Power of Fear

I’m not a big book reader. Sure I read a ton every day. But I really struggle to sit down long enough to read a book. I’d rather do something. Kristen pokes fun at me because I had Master and Commander on my nightstand for almost three years before I finally mercifully finished it. Each night I’d read a paragraph or two before falling asleep. Meanwhile, she devours 4-5 books per week.

But this year I’ve found myself on a lot of planes and reading is a good way to pass the time. Consequently, I’ve read several books from cover-to-cover.

Here’s what I’ve read: (from most recent to furthest away)

Books Reviews social media

Book reviews for A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media

I’ve enjoyed reading reviews of the new book posted to Amazon.

Here’s a sample of 5:

A Great Resource for Parents

This short book is crammed full of information on social media that every person should know! The chapter on Internet privacy was especially informative. It’s well worth the read!

I like it. A short book gets a short review.

Excellent Resource for all parents and teachers/youth workers

I am a parent of an 8yr old who very much wants to own an iPod touch so she can text me and play Words with Friends with her parents. And take pictures and videos that she can send to grandma, grandpa, and friends. My 5 yr old will be there soon enough, as well. This book gives me hope rather than fear and practical guidance for the conversations to come with my children about online responsibility. I appreciate that Adam and Marko refer to online gaming and cell phones as social media outlets, and they address national laws concerning age limits and such.

As a youth minister who daily connects with teens, parents, grandparents, and colleagues via Facebook, Twiiter, Instagram, and LinkedIn… This is a gold mine of information to have in my back pocket (or rather on my Kindle app!). I have already begun referring parents having teens & tech struggles.

This book is and was SO needed. Thank you for combining your wisdom and experiences in this easy to read book! Congrats on a job well done.

Thanks Leena. We were definitely hoping to alleviate fear by giving information and principles. Glad they work with all ages!

Great Guide for Lost Parents!

I would recommend this book to any parent. The younger your child is the better as we look at preparing for the world of Social Media. If your child is a preteen (4th-6th Grade) then you NEED to read it now. If your child is in Jr. High then you need to read it yesterday. Remember with all of this that prayer and God are your number one resource in raising children. Great book! Definitely 5 stars.

Bingo. The content of the book was guided by a parenting seminar I do. It’s not aimed at high-level professional social media types… we worked really hard to keep it approachable while pointing to the data, plus offering our best advice.

A Great Resource

I have to admit that I was not expecting to get too much from reading this book as I am already fairly in the know when it comes to technology. I was however pleasantly surprised and found myself recommending the book to a friend with a child in the pre-teen years shortly after finishing it. It is a quick read, but is actually a handy resource on what is happening on the internet and how to handle it with our kids. As a parent of kids just entering those years, I am sure I will refer back to this book as a resource from time to time.

Really humbled by this. I’m glad our experience is helping you and your friend.

A great guide for the experienced and the newbie

As a parent and a youth leader, I am very impressed with this book. It is short enough to not feel overwhelming; informative enough feel like I’m actually learning something; and practical enough for me to know I’m going to refer back to this book time and time again.

I feel like the intention of this book is to help parents who don’t know anything at all about social media. But I can say as an avid user of social media myself (very important in helping me connect with a lot of the teenagers I work with!), this was still a very helpful book! I can’t impose boundaries on kids that aren’t my own, but I can make suggestions, and help parents who need ideas. I can apply some of these very good guidelines to my own children when they become teenagers (which will be much sooner than I am ready for, I’m sure), knowing that by being involved in what they do, I am showing that I do care about them as a parent.

One of my favorite parts of the book seems to sum up the whole: “As parents of teenagers, we are trying to raise adults. We’re more interested in wisdom than compliance, more interested in responsibility than high walls of protection, and more interested in healthy parent/teen communication than maintaining a veneer of good appearances.” Amen and amen. Well done, Adam and Marko. I highly recommend to all parents of teenagers (and preteens).

That’s great feedback. I think I’ve learned that most adults, even avid users, are using social media… are even pretty savvy. But they haven’t taken the step back to think about their use… the UI of everything is so intuitive, it comes naturally. I’m glad the book helped frame some of that for you.

Wanna read it?

Available at Amazon in soft cover or Kindle. Also available at The Youth Cartel & Simply Youth MinistryOr learn how to get it for free.


Two deals on A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media

The book I co-authored with Marko, A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media, is starting to ship. I’d love to get this resource into the hands of as many youth workers and Christian parents as possible. Why? I believe it’s needed stuff!

Here’s two deals to help with that. 

  1. I’m reimbursing the first 25 people who post an honest review of the book on Amazon’s Kindle store. Here’s the details on that.
  2. If you order 10 or more copies from the Cartel store by December 15th, you’ll get free shipping on your entire order. Here’s details on that.
Books social media youth ministry

Jim Burns endorsement of A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media

I’m thankful for Jim Burns endorsement of the book I co-authored with Marko. Jim is a youth ministry legend. His decades long ministry has impacted the lives of countless students, youth workers, and parents. I was humbled that he not only read the book and offered this endorsement, he also had me on his radio program. We recorded 2 segments last week that’ll air in January.

Is there a parent anywhere who hasn’t asked, “How do we create a media safe home for our kids?”  Adam McLane and Mark Oestreicher are two of America’s leading experts on teen culture and this book is a must read for parents who want to grasp just how the ever changing world of  social media is influencing their kids. This is my new “go to” book on the subject. 

Jim Burns, PhD

President, HomeWord

I’ll be on the HomeWord radio broadcast January 9th and 10th. Make sure to tune in.

Don’t forget, order 10 or more copies of the book before December 15th and get free shipping at the Cartel store.

This book started as a parent seminar. If you’re interested in having me teach at your church, please let me know.

Books parenting social media The Youth Cartel

A secret deal on my book

My new book, co-authored with Marko, comes out next week.

I’m very excited about it for two specific reasons.

  1. Parents of teenagers really need this book. The days of fighting or banning or trying to wall off kids from social media is over. Parents need to know how to help their child live a life that will increasingly be lived online. This book does that really well. It’s short, easy to understand, and very practical.
  2. I’m proud of how this turned out. Marko and I worked really hard on making a book that’ll last a few years. We focused on helping parents understand social media while avoiding all of the pitfalls of your typical Christian book about media– there’s nothing here that is alarmist. We aren’t trying to scare parents, we are providing tested principles that have worked for years, work today, and will work for years to come. Trust me, that wasn’t easy.

Here’s the Official Description

With each passing day, teenagers’ lives become increasingly intertwined with social media. How can you as a parent stay informed and involved in healthy ways? How can you help your son or daughter make wise decisions and remain safe online?

A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media will equip you to have meaningful conversations with your teenager about the best, wisest ways to get connected while staying safe.

Your guides for this journey are Mark Oestreicher and Adam McLane, who draw from their own wells of experience as parents and youth workers. They’ll help you chart a course toward discovering and practicing wise family online activity.

My Secret Deal

I would love for you to get this book in the hands of all the parents in your ministry. Like the other books in this series, this would be great to use as the content of a parent meeting. In fact, the book is based on a short seminar I’ve done for parents of teenagers in a bunch of churches.

You can pre-order it on our site right now for $6.99.

If you buy 10 or more copies, you’ll automatically get free shipping on your entire order. (media mail, US addresses only) Check this out. Add whatever else you want to that same order, as long as you order 10 or more copies of the book, you’re getting free shipping.

If you buy 20 or more copies, I’ll still pick up the tab for shipping on your order, and I’ll start tossing goodies in the box.

This secret deal expires on December 15th.

p.s. If you don’t automatically get free shipping, apply coupon code SECRET62