The Youth Cartel

Two New Books from The Youth Cartel

First-Century Youth Ministry: Exploring Our Jewish Roots to Reclaim Discipleship

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I’ve been excited about this book for a few reasons. One is purely selfish as its author, Heather Quiroz, completed the masters program in Youth Ministry Leadership at Huntington. I was once part of the same program, though Heather is better than me in that she completed it.

But the bigger reason is the subject matter itself. I often feel like we, as pastors, look towards the business world for advice on how to pastor… and I feel this is a major mistake. Instead of looking towards capitalism I think we need to continually look back at our roots. And I think Heather does that well here. We’re hearing murmurs from early readers that this might be the most influential youth ministry book in a long, long time. As part of the publishing team, I’m biased, but I can see why folks are saying that.

5 Views on Youth Ministry Short-Term Missions: Are your trips helping or hurting?

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As I wrote a few weeks back, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to best do short-term missions with youth groups.

That’s why I love this little book from our “Views” line at the Cartel. There are some youth workers and other church leaders who had bad experiences with missions decades ago and have since tried to toss the baby out with the bathwater. What I like here is that the authors [rightly] assume that the reader isn’t going to do that. I think everyone agrees that there’s something great, and I’d dare say necessary, about getting teenagers outside of their culture to do something– and for most churches that means a mission trip. So we agree on that but leads us to our next question, “How to best go about that?”

For any church looking to answers that question for their context, this little book helps. It’s aimed at youth ministry missions, but it’s really great for every church.

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My Commitment to an Intellectually Stimulating Youth Ministry

My 17 year old is studying multiple languages and chemistry over summer break just to get a jump start, she thinks calculus is fun, and she reads complex literature in her spare time. The truth is that she’s really not that unusual. This is what today’s high school students do.

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The opportunity Baja presents, Part 1

Let’s start here. 

A complicated relationship exists between the United States and Mexico.

As a resident of Southern California I’m well aware of this.

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Coaching Newer Youth Workers

Historically, youth ministry has always been a young adults game. For many their first foray into working on staff at a church/parachurch, or even a first real professional job of any kind, comes with a call to youth ministry.

As I’ve gone to youth ministry conferences and youth pastor meet-ups over the years they always seem dominated by folks in their 20s and 30s.

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Two new things from The Youth Cartel

In between work on the the Tiny Office and March Madness we’ve been busy releasing cool stuff over at The Youth Cartel.

9781942145202-front-coverFinding Jesus in the Old Testament

Eric Ballard

Official description… 

It can be difficult—at a glance—to reconcile the Jesus we see in the New Testament with much of the Old Testament. But when we dig deeper, he is there, in the lives and stories of some of our most beloved Old Testament heroes. These ten youth group sessions for middle school and senior high youth groups include studies of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samson, Hosea, David, Adam and Eve, and Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz.

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About a decade ago I read a lot of Spurgeon sermons. I mean, a lot of them. And one of the things I learned from old Chucky was that no matter where you are in the text, you start with the text and end at the cross. I’m not saying that Eric did this with Finding Jesus in the Old Testament, I’m just saying that one of the things I like about this new curriculum is that it’ll help youth workers do that. I’ve got a personal thing that we should be teaching students way more Bible than we do about topics of the day… so it makes my heart happy when we can get teenagers in the Bible and help them see Jesus in the midst of it all.

9781942145196-front-500The Real Jesus – A Devotional

Jen Bradbury

After a year-long journey researching what teenagers really believe about Jesus, youth worker Jen Bradbury began to notice familiar gaps between common beliefs about Jesus and what the Bible actually tells us about him, culminating in her ground-breaking book, The Jesus Gap: What Teens Really Believe About Jesus. Now, in The Real Jesus, Bradbury addresses the questions head on in a book specifically written for youth themselves: Who is Jesus? Was he God? Was he human? What did he teach? What did he do? Did he sin? And why did he die?

These 50 devotional readings will bring the reality of Jesus to life for the teens in your life, helping them answer the same question he asked his friend, Peter: “Who do you say that I am?” The readings can be digested daily, studied by section, or powered through in just a few sittings. Each reading also contains quotes from real-life teenagers and questions to guide the reader into deeper personal reflection.

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I loved Jen’s first book, The Jesus Gap. From the moment I heard her research… basically revealing that the Jesus often taught in youth ministry isn’t actually the Jesus found in the Bible… I loved it. She provides a much-needed revelation about my point above that we tend to teach too many felt needs and too many topics instead of teaching teenagers how to read and interpret the Bible for themselves. That said, I’m not just a guy who likes research: I like the “so what” part more. In The Real Jesus Bradbury takes the learnings from The Jesus Gap and reverse engineers it into 50 devotionals that help students connect deeply with the Jesus of the Bible.

So… this is some of my favorite stuff coming out right now. What’s something new that you’ve found that you like? 


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4 Things I’m excited about for Open Denver

On Thursday night I head to Denver for our second annual Open Denver event. Open is a movement of one-day training events built from the ground up to support & advance youth ministry locally. It’s unlike anything else out there.

  • Most of the presenters work right in the region, so they live the local context every day.
  • While we provide national level support, the local leadership team is in control.
  • We keep Open cheapreally cheap— at $25/$35 depending on when you register to make it accessible to anyone.
  • It’s cheap because none of our speakers get paid. They are doing it because they want to give back to their local community and they want to see youth ministry advanced in their area.
  • Speaking of money, we give most of it away. This year Purple Door Coffee will receive 34% of the profits at Open Denver. The local organizing team will also get 33%… so we’re not just tapping the local youth ministry network for favors. To keep things transparent we actually publish our budget on the website.

Four Reasons I’m Excited about Open Denver

  1. Hospitality – If you’ve never been on campus at Flatirons Church, you are in for a treat. I’m a small church guy and I pull into the parking lot of a megachurch with certain expectations. Well, when you come to Flatirons prepare to have those turned on their head. Their staff is amazing and we’re super privileged to have them host Open Denver.
  2. Continuity – Last year we had the pleasure to hear Jenny Popp’s story. In the past year she’s taken some big steps and we’ve invited her back to celebrate all that God is doing.
  3. Practical Training – I tend to gravitate towards new ideas in youth ministry. But that doesn’t mean that Open Denver isn’t full of practical stuff. Lots of the breakouts are going to be really, really practical. Perfect for a wide variety of youth workers.
  4. Ideas birth ideas – One of the truly fascinating things about Open is that youth workers hearing a new idea for the first time at an Open event… seeing that it works locally… has a net effect of birthing brand new ideas. This is the net Kingdom effect of what happens when you “Open Source” ministry ideas as opposed to getting caught up on “who owns what.” Give credit where credit is due and advance the Kingdom of God.

See you there?

On Friday, I’ll be leading a 90 minute version of my talk, Teenagers + The Small Screen. I’d love to see you there on Friday and/or Saturday for the second Open Denver!

Register here

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A Revolution Against What?

“Instigating a revolution in youth ministry.”

This is the tagline for The Youth Cartel.

Last December, during our annual retreat, we spent a couple of hours kicking around exactly what that meant, what it didn’t mean, and even spent extended time to list out dozens of areas we’re seeking a revolution in the form of an internal manifesto, of sorts.

But over the past year I’ve kept coming back to the grounding question about this revolution we talk about… What are we revolting against?” 

A Revelation About the Revolution

A couple of weeks ago, during the benediction at a worship service, our worship pastor answered this question for me. He hung words on something I’d been looking for words on… and it was flat out a revelation for me.

He said something like,

This revolution, [he was talking about our church] is about death. We’re partnering with God so death won’t win.

Dang. So good. And so true.

See, our revolution isn’t about tearing anyone down or ascribing to a so-called-right-way to do youth ministry or destroying/fighting with/pushing aside other organizations… we’re actually all about celebrating the crazy diversity that is the current state of youth ministry.

But The Youth Cartel’s revolution? We’re fighting the death of youth ministry.

Whether by entropy or lack of popularity or being maligned as unimportant— we’re against that. We’re pushing back against that, resourcing, gathering, and encouraging youth workers to fight against those things— this is important!

We believe specialized ministry by adults to adolescents is vital to the health of the church. It’s to be celebrated widely, innovated within, encouraged from the platform the boardroom and behind the scenes, resourced extravagantly, coached up, taught formally and informally, and then re-taught. Yes, it’s a quirky segment of the church. Yes, some of us are weird. Yes, sometimes it’s a one-eared-mickey-mouse organizationally. Yes, it’s hard to measure. A yes, it’s absolutely a mess.

But youth ministry is important.

It’s worth fighting for.

And it’s revolution worthy.

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Early Bird Deadline for The Summit

If you’re planning on joining us at The Summit in Nashville this fall, this week is an important deadline.

On August 1st all registration prices go up by $40.

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If you want to get a sample of what to expect, check out the enclosed video of Charlie Peacock’s talk from 2014.

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Early Bird Deadline for MSMC

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Friday is For Friends The Youth Cartel

Our January Line-Up

We’re off to the races in 2015 with 4 new publishing products launching in January. With each new release cycle our stuff just keeps getting better and better.

Here’s what is new:

A Youth Worker’s Field Guide to Parents by Danny Kwon (Book)


The Audacious Seven by Steve Case (Curriculum)



THINK Volume 2: Theology by Jake Kircher (Curriculum)



Viva: Choices (Curriculum)