The Youth Cartel youth ministry

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.

The Youth Cartel

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? 


The Youth Cartel

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