This week’s 5 questions is with Joel Mayward, author of The Youth Cartel’s new book, Leading Up. Here’s our interaction about his life, his new book and a little insight in leading from the middle:

Who is Joel Mayward?
I’m a pastor, husband, father, and writer currently living and doing ministry in Langley, British Columbia. I’ve been leading in youth ministry since I was 16, and have been in full-time ministry for about 6 years. I love movies, writing, coffee, drumming, reading, hiking, discipleship, and Jesus, but not in that order.

Love the idea of leading up – where have you seen this done well in your current ministry?
I recently moved from Arizona to British Columbia, and have only been at my new church for two months. I have to practice what I preach in Leading Up, learning how to navigate the systems and sacred cows of my new church context, and intentionally take the time to build relational equity with my fellow church leaders. I’m relearning everything, having to start over in a new church and rebuild relationships. It’s a deeply humbling and transformative process, which is what leading up is all about.

Leading up can be so difficult because we’re stuck in the middle as youth workers. What is one key thing to avoid to make sure our leadership is not overlooked?
Being “stuck in the middle” sounds more gloomy than the reality of our role–we are key members of the body of Christ, called by the Spirit of God and equipped to lovingly build up the whole church while focusing our time and energy on teenagers. It all comes back to recognizing my identity and calling in Christ; I’m not just a “youth worker,” I’m a beloved child of God, uniquely gifted and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Leading up is far more empowering when I realize that it’s not about me, it’s about the vision and calling Christ has given me. Leadership is a gift, not an entitlement or obligation.

The book is a great and easy read. Why choose the youth ministry story/fable approach?
Originally, the book felt like a bunch of random concepts and tools about leading up, making it both very short and very boring. I love movies and compelling stories, and knew the various “leading up” experiences of many of my friends and partners in ministry needed to be shared well through a fictional narrative. Logan’s story is true in the sense that truth is larger than just facts, and art reflects our life and experience. I have to thank Mark Oestreicher for giving me the suggestion to write the book as a leadership fable, and the encouragement to keep writing. The characters and story took off from there!

What is next for you?
I’m hoping and praying that Leading Up would be an encouragement to leaders in the church, both in the youth ministry tribe and beyond. I’d love to hear the stories of young leaders choosing to stay in churches and embrace their calling, seeing their churches transformed through a leadership of grace. There are all sorts of other book ideas percolating in my mind. It’s literally a dream come true to write this book, and I hope to keep humbly writing and sharing and speaking and leading in the season to come.

JG

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
Liesl
: 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.
Liesl
: 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.
Liesl
: 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.
Liesl
:  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!

JG



Today only you can get Brian Berry’s As For Me and My Crazy House for half price! Might make some good reading over the holiday and into the (hopefully) slow-down in late December. A great read!

Serving in Christian ministry should be a life-building, life-giving, life-inspiring experience for leaders, spouses, and families. So why isn’t that always the case?

In this book, youth pastor Brian Berry pours out his thoughts on why it’s so tough to build a healthy life, a healthy marriage, and a healthy family in the midst of ministry craziness. He focuses on the three best gifts you as a youth worker can bestow.

JG

Had a few of our Life Group leaders this week talk about ministering to students struggling through same sex sexual attraction – saw this new resource called Ministering to Gay Teenagers landed at Simply Youth Ministry today and immediately bought it (digitally) and immediately gave it to them. Not sure if it is any good – but I trust Simoply and it is a very important and needed resource. A little clip from the description:

Ministering to Gay Teenagers is filled with wisdom and practical advice on how to respond when a student comes out and how to help the teenager’s family through that journey, too. This book will equip you with solid answers to the questions parents ask, and it will challenge you, your youth ministry, and your church to consider how you can practically minister and serve a group of people who seek deep authenticity in love, character, truth, and presence.

JG



My friends at ym360 have a great Thanksgiving resource for you. It’s a Thanksgiving page featuring three Thanksgiving lessons and a handful of Thanksgiving games. The best part? They’re all FREE! If you’re interested in downloading one or all of the Thanksgiving resources from ym360, simply head on over to  YM360 and as always if you have any questions or problems with the download, the ym360 team is standing by to help out.

JG

Just  finished up reading Greg Stier’s new book: Firing Jesus. It was a quick read (less than 2 hours) of a youth ministry fable where the youth pastor is on the chopping block after some questionable decisions in his youth ministry. The book is basically the board meeting discussions surrounding what to do with JC. I loved the book – partially because there are 3-4 really solid learnings in there and also because there were familiar echoes of my own story throughout. A good quick read from Dare 2 Share!

JG



Darren Sutton is a youth worker and author of the new book, Everyone is Called to Youth Ministry. It released this week from LeaderTreks and is designed to help youth workers recruit, train and encourage a youth ministry team.

1 – you’re on a book writing roll right now! Tell us about your latest project!
Dude, I am so stoked!!  This book is coming out of LeaderTreks.  And when I talk about it, I feel like those geeky scientists who get way too passionate about their inanimate inventions!  :)  I basically bled my youth ministry volunteer philosophy on the page.  I believe every single person in the church has a place in your youth ministry – they just don’t know it yet.  This book tells you how to find them, what to do with them, and how Jesus can rock your YM world through adults walking alongside you in ministry.

2 – great so we’ve gotten the shameless plug out of the way – now tell other youth pastors a funny story from your time in the trenches:
Oh my gosh….they’re like Lays potato chips….you can never stop with just one!!  I serve in a beach community – most all my students are fit and health conscious…they won the anti-lotto when they got me!  One night on a mission trip, we were playing hacky sack…and i was dying to prove how limber and awesome fat guys could be!!  So I went for the rockin’ roundhouse over-the-head, triple gainer, heel-back-toe smash…and fell flat on my back…so hard it literally shook the concrete slab we were playing on and the basketball backboards in the gym we were playing in.  Those kids remember nothing else from that mission trip – and never miss an opportunity to remind me of it!  There’s also the time I mistyped a link address in a note I sent to our church e-mail list on behalf of my pastor…and it ended up linking to porn…and looked like it came from him.  Good times….good times.

3 – what are you most passionate about?
hacky sack….not really.  This is a trick question – because we all know we’re supposed to say Jesus.  But I will answer honestly….my family.  My wife and kids –  I am so out of my league and blessed beyond measure.  (I also like teenagers pretty well…and ice cream rounds out the trifecta.)

4 – you have the eyes of a ton of youth workers – what would you say to them?
STOP STARING!!  What I would really say is don’t give up. You might walk away from church work.  You might dump teenagers.  You might even throw in the towel on yourself.  But don’t give up on Jesus.  He’s the only thing worth going to the mat for….or the concrete slab….

5 – will you dedicate your next book to me?
I don’t know – will you write it with me?

JG

My friend Dave from Australia has been working with the Australian Bible Society on a new project and it just recently released to rave reviews. It is called Jesus’ Epic Story and it is a visual and video study through the book of Mark – also included is an eBook, discussion projects and more!

You can check it out yourself by clicking the website screenshot or get more details on the project from Dave’s blog, too!

JG