Love this new resource that is the discount of the week over at Simply Youth Ministry. 99 Thoughts on Marriage & Ministry - a book that looks to help young couples as they navigate these challenging waters. From the back of the book:

Ministry is such a rewarding experience, but why does it create so much strain on marriages? Jake and Melissa Kircher have learned some valuable lessons (often the hard way!) about building a healthy marriage amid the demands of ministry. They aren’t perfect, but they’ve matured individually and as a couple because of each mess, problem, heartache, and obstacle they’ve encountered. They understand your struggles and frustrations, because they’re their struggles and frustrations, too.

Today only – 58% off – just $2.50 each!


99_thoughts_for_guysThere are actually 3 dudes behind the book 99 Things Every Guy Should Know. JEFFREY WALLACE is the President & CEO of Front Line Urban Resources, MIKE HAMMER is a youth pastor and MATTY MCCAGE works on the youth ministry team at Group Publishing.

What’s the story behind the book, 99 Things Every Guy Should Know? The story behind 99 Thoughts basically came from the fact that Matty, Mike, and I are all fathers of boys and we all desperately shared the desire to do whatever we could to try and make sure they did not make some of the same mistakes we made growing up. We all agreed that if there was some type of manual, road map for young men, or resource out there, besides “true love waits”, when we were growing up, we may not have made some of the same decisions and mistakes. We also wanted to leave a legacy for our boys that they could look back on and be proud of and at the same time, help other young men who do not have a father in their life, a positive male role model, or just simply have typical male Adolescent issues and questions about the journey of life.

Matty, I know you had a lot of struggles you could share about growing up. Can you share one that was cut from the book? Growing up, my dad was in the house but he wasn’t totally engaged in me and my siblings lives. My dad believed in the saying, “do as I say, not as I do”. And because of that, my father never really talked to me much about what it meant to be a real man. Our sex talk consisted of him bringing a condom and a banana in my room, putting the condom on a banana and then telling me, “don’t bring any babies in this house!”. I learned about being a man from my older brother and hanging out with my boys in the streets. And as you can imagine, that wasn’t the best examples to have as a curious teenager. As a result of the way I was raised and the lack of guidance from my father, I got into any and everything. I struggled with what it meant to be godly man even though mom took us to church weekly and I honestly had a desire to be spiritual. I knew there was more to life than what I saw, I just didn’t know how to obtain it. As I got older, I struggled even more with making proper decisions when it came to my future, relationships, lust, sex, and struggles with porn, Finances and handling money, my education, and the type of people I should allow in my life….you name it, i struggled with it. I was totally lost and I had no one to guide me but my big brother, the homies on the block, and what Tupac, Biggie Smalls, and Jay Z taught me through their music. As a teenager, I equated success with things and masculinity with the number of girls I was talking to. Basically I had no clue! I so wish I had this book to give me some type of insight and perspective on the things I needed to know as a young man.

What would be the best way to use the book? Just give it to the guys and be done with it, journey through it together as a small group, graduation gift? This book can be used in small groups as discussion items or trending topics, gifts for rising ninth graders and graduating seniors, or for any young man that you know does not have a consistent role model or influential male voice in their life and they’re unsure about the answers to specific issues that they’re struggling with. They need help when it comes to their journey to becoming a healthy and productive young man.

What were some other topics you were hoping to cover that didn’t make the 99? Some other topics I would have love to cover in the book is how to recover from grief and tragedy, a deeper conversation about how to bounce back from rejection, disappoints, and set backs, and how to deal with being molested, abused, or abandon. I believe a lot of these hard issues are very much a reality for a lot more young men today then we know or believe.

If you could give one piece of advice to a freshman guy coming into high school this Fall, what would you tell him? My middle son Christopher is a freshman this year in high school and if I could give other freshmen a piece of advice, I will tell them like I told my son; enjoy the journey, but take it one day at a time. Take your time and develop a rhythm that works for you. Be true to who you are and don’t try to be something that you’re not. The investment that you make in your self today will dictate your journey and destiny tomorrow.

Thanks for your time, guys! Get the book here!


If you are fortunate enough to even have a youth ministry budget, most of us work to preserve at least a chunk of it until the end of the year. For many, that means some critical purchasing power at the end of the calendar year (or fiscal year, depending on when your church “resets” everything back to the start).

If you find yourself in these merry last few days of the year with some funds left to spend on your own development and your youth ministry, here are a few recommendations for you to consider:

A resource for your students
Think of a spiritual growth tool to put in your students’ hands to help them grow in their faith. Right now the 1-Minute Bible (the most popular resource in our Grow Booth each year) is only $6.99 and a total steal at that price. Next closest is Amazon at $10.14. Lots of other great options to get good stuff in your students’ hands, too!

A training event for you
There are a ton of great training events and conference on the local, denominational and national level. Pick one that has some offerings that will encourage you were you are at and push you where you need to grow. I highly recommend the upcoming Simply Youth Ministry Conference and I’d love to meet you at one of the events I’ll be attending in the future, too! You can get a great book or tool – those are certainly helpful – but there is something special about being in the same room with hundreds of other men and women who share your calling.

A challenge for your volunteers
Find a great resource to develop your team, too! 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders has been fortunate enough to be one of the best-sellers of the year at Simply Youth Ministry. Doug Fields and I wrote it to help youth workers lead their groups better – think of it as leader training in a simple little book. Combine it with a Starbucks card and it is a total winner. On sale right now for $4.99.

What are you thinking about buying here at the end of the year?


Q&A about 99 Thoughts on Raising Your Parents
with Liesl Oestreicher and Max Oestreicher

Marko (their dad, read his blog here): Liesl and Max really did write these answers, just like they really did write the book with me (they wrote 100% of these answers, and about 70% of the book). BTW: Liesl is 18 – she graduated from HS last spring, and I currently on a gap-year, living in Ireland at the moment, and heading to India in January. Max is 14 (turns 15 in a week), and a freshman in HS.

OK, first off tell us about YOU!

Max: Drums + ukulele + bacon = Max Oestreicher
: I’m a dirty hippy, loving trees one hug at a time.

OK, now … what’s up with your dad’s beard?

Max:  I think he should go pro.
Liesl: Babies and old, senile women enjoy grabbing and stroking it. It’s true, I’ve seen both happen.

The book is awesome – how did it come about?

Max: My dad wanted me and my sister to write a book about how cool he is. At first I refused, and then he told me I’d get paid.
Liesl: I was sitting in a forest, writing my autobiography, when a glowing figure approached me. The figure told me He was God, who had come down in human form to tell me something. He told me that He had peeked at what I was writing and that it was very good, that it even exceeded the work of the great Mark Oestreicher. He then told me that He wanted me to write a book for teenagers, just like me, about how to get along with their parents. And, of course, I gratefully accepted. I don’t know, maybe I imagined that. Now that I think about it, my dad just sent me an email one day that said my brother and I were going to write a book and we were going to get paid for it.

What’s one thing that teenagers can do to change the game for the relationship they have with their parents?

Max: When you are getting in an argument/fight/disagreement with your parents, don’t get defensive. Respectfully communicate your point of view, and then listen to theirs.
Liesl: Respect their opinions. If you don’t, how do you expect them to respect yours? …or you can just move to Ireland, like I did.

Tell us a story about when your parents screwed up (aka, give me some hope). Make me laugh!

Max: My parent lost me at Disney World when I was three. They let go of my hand and I decided I wanted to go see King Louie.
: Once my mom and I were on a snowmobile on a family vacation. My mom accidentally went too close to a little dip and our snowmobile rolled over sideways. We couldn’t get up on our own, so before he helped us, my dad laughed as he took pictures.

Who do you love more – mom or dad? What do you value most about them?

Max: I think my mom is just OK, but compare her to my dad and she’s amazing.
: I would say my mom, but my dad is more likely to see this, so… definitely my dad.

You have the attention of a TON of youth workers – what would you say to them about their jobs/roles/calling?

Max: I think youth workers should give a lot of opportunities to get involved in a leadership roles as this has been very meaning full to me.
:  It is really encouraging to here your life stories, especially the times when you screwed up. It shows us  (teenagers in your youth group) that it is a safe place to admit to our faults when you do the same.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these! Make sure you check out the book here – might make a good resource to put in the hands of your students this Christmas, too!


Hey everyone from NYWC 2012 – Dallas!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop on small group leaders so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from the 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leader workshop that I promised you yesterday:

If you remember something from the session I forgot – let me know in the comments and I’ll track it down for you!



What does it mean to be a student leader?
Leadership isn’t about popularity, or a title, or a position. It’s about making a lasting impact by following the call of God, taking appropriate risks, and challenging other teenagers to follow Christ.
Doug Franklin wrote this book because he’s committed to seeing people develop a leadership heart. He knows what it takes to help you reach a place where you move beyond your comfort zone, where you solve problems that seem impossible to conquer, where you wholeheartedly serve other people. Doug’s passionate about this stuff!
As you read through 99 Thoughts for Student Leaders, you’ll encounter thoughts and ideas that will inspire you, challenge you, cause you to think, and help you develop your creativity. Ultimately, you’ll discover the courage to become someone who leads others in making a difference.

Risk, Serve, Love!



Hey everyone from NYWC 2012!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop on small group leaders so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from the 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leader workshop that I promised you this weekend:

If you remember something from the session I forgot – let me know in the comments and I’ll track it down for you!


Jason Ostrander is the new lead guy over at Simply Youth Ministry. He’s formerly been the National Youth Director of The Christian and Missionary Alliance and a youth worker. He may have one of the coolest jobs on the planet. Here’s my 5 question interview with him this past week!

Dude you’re the new guy at SYM! Tell us about your past, present and future there!

Well Josh, I can still remember my very first day as a new youth pastor.  I sat down at my desk and noticed that someone had left the latest edition of GROUP magazine there.  I picked it up and read through it…and it was love at first sight!  Seriously though Group’s resources have always been a part of my ministry –and as a National Youth Director I found myself constantly recommending SYM products to my youth workers.  Currently I am the leader for SYM at Group and I am super stoked about the opportunity to lead such an amazing team!  The future is on hold for now…at least until I can figure out how to use the copy machine down the hall.

The Simply Youth Ministry Conference is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Give us an inside scoop on what will change and what won’t!

Josh, I have been at every SYMC since the very first one in Indy (who can forget Hotel, Hotel.) and I can truly say that my time at each of those gatherings has heavily influenced the way I do ministry.  As far as what will change at this year’s SYMC: there will be some fresh new voices in both our workshops and panels (we’re looking to have 80+ of the nation’s most experienced presenters!) and we definitely have some surprises up our sleeves for the evening sessions!   As for what will not change, I can assure you that the core of what SYMC has become: a quality youth ministry conference designed “for youth workers, by youth workers” will always be there.  Can’t wait to hang with you, Josh, in Indy next March!

You recently wrote the new book 99 Questions Jesus Asked – where did that come from and do you have other projects in the works!

99 Questions Jesus Asked basically came from a dream I have always had to expose what was behind all of those questions Jesus asked in the gospels.  There are well over 300 questions recorded in Matthew, Mark Luke and John –so it would stand to reason that Jesus was up to something by asking all of those questions.  I wanted to write the book in way that both high school and middle school students could relate.  It also makes for a great discussion starter for small group time –just throw a student the book, have them open it to any question and start dialoging about why Jesus might have asked that specific question!  As for more projects –I always have something saved on the hard drive, but I think for now I gotta keep my head down on how to best lead in my new position…

Skinny jeans scare me. Do you think you can stand before God someday having worn them and calling yourself a Christian?

Great question Josh, I feel like the skinny jean issue at the office is a bit understated, I mean honestly my jeans are made up of less denim then the other people’s jeans that I work with.  Less denim = less dye = less water.  See, what I’m doing by wearing skinny jeans is not only good for the environment…its good for fashion.  Case closed.

You have 25,000 youth workers hanging in your every word right now. Free for all question, make them count!

How about –what gets you most excited about youth ministry?  Answer: thinking about all of the thousands of youth workers out there doing everything they can to minister to the next generation of the church.  My life was changed 25 years ago because of three college students who welcomed me into youth ministry when I was in sixth grade.  They showed me Christ-like love and compassion week after week (and they asked me to be on their dodgeball team!)  Therefore my prayer for youth workers has always been out of 1Thessalonians 1:3, “We continually remember before our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I pray this daily for them –and for you man.  Thanks for the interview, Josh!

You can learn more about Jason over here at SYM’s Community page. Cool dude … even if his eyes pierce into my soul in that picture. Whoa.