Youth Worker Journal review of Good News in the Neighborhood

Jon and I have gotten some very nice feedback on our curriculum, Good News in the Neighborhood. But none quite as big as the one in this months edition of Youth Worker Journal

Often, conversations about introducing our communities to Christ are centered on program development or planning the perfect event. Yet what Adam McLane and Jon Huckins point out in this new curriculum from The Youth Cartel is the best way to reach our communities is to mobilize and equip our students to forget the church event and get in the middle of their neighborhoods.

Out of all the curricula I have used in the past 11 years of ministry,Good News in the Neighborhood quickly rises to the top. This 6-week program is designed to engage students with Scripture, evaluate how Jesus did ministry in His community and provides very practical steps to help students do the same thing.

Each week is packed with materials and options that can be used throughout the lesson. McLane and Huckins start off by providing some great ways to get the discussion started: two options of video clips, an activity option or some icebreaker questions. From there, they dive into Scripture, providing multiple texts to use, a script for a brief talk, as well as a video story that can be played. Each session then has some discussion questions to take the teaching deeper.

The best part of each session is a proposed experiment, which helps put the lesson into practice and gets students out of the church or their homes and into their neighborhoods. Each week increases in challenge and comfort, eventually culminating in putting together a plan to do something to bring Christ to your neighbors. These also provide great content and discussion for the following week.

If you buy one curriculum this year, make it Good News in the Neighborhood. It will go a long way in your ministry to help your students reach the people around them.


buy here

Contest Reviews youth ministry

GIVEAWAY: Real Conversations by Jonathan McKee

What it is…

Jonathan McKee (The Source for Youth Ministry) just released a 4-week video based curriculum that’s all about how to have real conversations about sharing your faith. (Which is cool considering it’s called, Real Conversations.) As a youth leader, this is one of those plug-n-play options that would be cool to have on your bookshelf. Each week there’s a 12-14 minute video and a participants guide to help drive it home. For instance, let’s say most of your team is going to take August off and you’re solo teaching? Bam, press play and let Jonathan do the work. It isn’t quite that simple but the videos and the guides make it pretty simple.

Who is Jonathan…

If you know Jonathan and you know me you might not see the connection. He’s more conservative on some things than I am, approaches life a little differently than I do, and he’s from NorCal while I rock the fish tacos down in SoCal. But,while we often have a different approach Jonathan and I have one important thing in common: We long to see the church get better at reaching people right where they are… and we are putting our necks on the line to try to make a dent of a difference. I think that’s one reason we get along so well… we care first about people.

Another reason, and this shares something I don’t talk about a lot, is that I connect well to people who hustle. Jonathan works hard. Yes, he’s talented. But his stuff does so well not  just because he’s talented, but also because he flat out works harder than a lot of other people in our world. He and I worked on a project earlier this year and he was RELENTLESS! He wanted to not just get it done and on time… he wanted it to be great and put in the work to make it great.

Why I like it…

I dig Real Conversations for a number of reasons. I think that there are a lot of youth groups looking for this type of training. It’s consistently choses to stay practical when a lot of similar curriculums get lost in theory and apologetics. I like that its Gospel-oriented without limiting the Gospel to a message. I like that it’s funny, really… I LOL’d a couple times. And I like that it was shot and edited real pretty. (The crew at Zondervan did a real nice job.)

In the end, I see a lot of similarities between Real Conversations and Good News in the Neighborhood. They are two-sides to the same coin. As I’ve tried to figure out and live into the realities of becoming Good News on my block I’ve had several instances where someone, completely out of the blue, has asked me… “So, I know you believe in Jesus and there’s something about how you’re living that makes me want to know more. What is that Jesus thing all about and how do I get me some of that?

So you can think of it like this. The Good News curriculum might teach you how to live for Jesus on your block. But Real Conversations will actually help you answer the natural questions that will come up as a result of partnering with Christ to become good news to your neighbors.

How you can get it…

Two ways you can get this.

  1. BUY IT. The more direct way is to head over to Jonathan’s website and pick it up. (It’s $10 off, awesome.)
  2. WIN IT. Zondervan was nice enough to send me a copy of the DVD & Participants guide to review. The simple reality is that I watched the DVD and flipped through the book, but I’d rather give it away to someone who might actually teach it than stick it on my bookshelf to collect dust. It’s brand new! So, leave a comment on this post on 5/1/2012. And I’ll pick a random winner to get my copy. To enter… just leave a comment of any kind. I’ll announce the winner on 5/2/2012.

WINNER: Jeffrey Dyson – send your mailing address to

Let’s do this again next week! I’ll be giving away a DVD/participants guide for Love is an Orientation next Tuesday.


5 Storytelling Podcasts You’ll Love

Photo by Alyson Hurt via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I’m a connoisseur of storytelling. I can’t get enough of the genre. Whether its a personal narrative, or non-fictional piece, investigative storytelling, or fiction– I love it all.

As a communicator I study the method and mode of storytelling. I know that in order to be a better communicator I’ll need to become a better storyteller.

Here are 5 storytelling podcasts I love and recommend

  • This American Life – The granddaddy of them all. Each one-hour show is a series of segments (called acts) built around a central theme. This is a great entry point to the genre as it acts as an aggregator of others.
  • The Moth – The Moth is a storytelling non-profit which holds regular events in major cities around the country called, Story Slams. Participants tell a story live, without notes, before an audience. They take the best of the 15 minute stories and put them on their podcast.
  • Third Coast International Audio Festival – I’m a new fan of this one. Each segment is about an hour. It’s got an investigative reporting/documentary vibe to it. But they thread stories together in a way which fascinates me.
  • Storycorps – I can’t tell you how many times this project has brought me to tears. It’s all amatuer, typically a monologue or a family member interviewing another family member. Each segment is about 5 minutes.
  • 60 Minutes audio edition – I don’t particularly enjoy the TV version of this show. But the audio version (literally, the same show with just audio) is fantastic! The reporting here is second-to-none, and what I learn from this style of storytelling is an economy of words.
What are your favorite podcasts for learning storytelling? (Preaching doesn’t count!)
Reviews Web/Tech

I Am Second

Talk about a site you need to check out. I am second may be the prettiest, most powerful site on the internet.

What is it? It’s an online ministry designed around a powerful thought: If Jesus is number one in my life that means I am second.

How does it work? There’s not a lot to the site. Very simple navigation takes you to amazing stories from some famous people and some not-so-famous people. I’m telling you, the stories are amazing.

Who is behind it? It’s so incredibly done I have a hard time thinking it’s independently financed. So I haven’t figured out if there is a bigger organization behind it. But, thanks to twitter, I was able to find a couple of people who worked on the project.

Trey Hill Photography

Ditore Mayo Entertainment

Apparently there are some TV spots and billboards that are drawing attention to this project. Very cool stuff. I love seeing sites that represent the Gospel message so well. Fantastic combination of message, beauty, and wonderful site navigation.

Update: I got an email from someone involved with the project who provided me a link to the new I Am Second blog. Also, he shared an interesting LA Times story about American Idol Jason Castro’s faith. Jason’s story is also featured at I Am Second.

Music Reviews

Relient K Christmas Album: Quick Review

Relient KThis will be the simplest and fastest review I have ever given.

I’ve only even listened to this album once but I don’t want to waste any more of your Christmas-time. You need this album for your families listening pleasure this Christmas season.

Let’s put it this way. I don’t even like Relient K’s music and I don’t like Christmas music and yet I am recommending that go out and buy this album right now.

As I told Amy last night, “This is the first Relient K album I would really listen to.”

Two links to buy it now in time for Christmas

Let It Snow Baby… Let It Reindeer (Amazon)

Relient k - Let It Snow Baby... Let It Reindeer

Reviews Web/Tech

3 free webtools that have made significant improvements

I’m a self-proclaimed webdork. But as a webdork and the developer of some websites/blogs, there are a number of free web tools out there that are not only awesome, but have recently gone from "awesome" to "awesome-er."

(Formerly known as "google homepage" or "personalized homepage.") Not only is this the best and easiest feed reader on the planet, now it is the best looking and most flexible. A couple months back they added the ability to select a theme. Having been a longtime user of I was pretty leary of this because Yahoo’s themes were lame. But iGoogle’s theme’s take it one step cooler! The themes actually morph to your current weather, season, and time. For instance, the beach theme shows the sun rising and going across the sky to match your current solar position. When the sun goes down, the moon comes out. Other ones show your homepage raining or the characters putting on shorts depending on my local weather conditions. Also brand new to iGoogle is "Make your own gadget." This allows you to easily make a widget or gadget that you can share with friends. Totally sweet tool that I’m positive loads of people will learn to love. Seriously, if you don’t use iGoogle (duh, it’s free!) than you aren’t experiencing the web properly.

Analytics As a webdork, this is a major site I use regularly to see where all my traffic is coming from, doing on my sites, and going when they leave my sites. Of course, it’s free which adds to the joy… but they also just did a major remodel job on this thing. The dashboard layout is much more detailed and the statistics are now much more integrated and much "deeper." For example, the map feature now gives me the ability to "drill down" to find out exactly where users are coming from. Before it just showed this globe with little dots on it. Now I can see traffic from specific towns… unfortunately not from specific homes! For the church site, this is massive. Now we can see if our traffic is coming from our target demographic. Love that.

More than just a counter for me. Sitemeter gives me easy access to simple site statistics… perfect for a blog. They just released a site redesign which I totally dig. Besides the nice new look to their pages the biggest enhancement I’ve enjoyed is that it requires me to login to see my traffic details. So, for non-Adam’s it will show a summary of Adam’s blog traffic. But for Adam it will show the normal details. Not a major change, but something that makes this free tool now "awesome-er."

Though not really new, an honorable mention must go to the best free application on the net: Google Docs. They’ve taken the most used features of Word, Excel, and soon  to be PowerPoint and made them usable on the net for free. For example, 100% of the publication process for YMX is now done on Google docs. Once the article comes to us, we can create a document on our page, share it with all the people involved in t he process so they can collaboratively work on the article at their own pace, and we can export it to the main site easily. Trust me, when this thing catches on, handing in papers at school is going to cease altogether. You’ll just email the teacher/prof a link… they’ll grade it and publish their thoughts on your document and send it back. Even for business, I see this as a powerful underutilized tool that can revolutionize the way documents are created and distributed.