Starting this Friday you’ll be able to see pretty much every member of the Group Mission Trips team at SYMC in Indy. We’re helping in tons of different ways at the conference. There will be members of the GMT team checking you in when you arrive, helping with getting the general sessions ready, working in the resource area, and well… I can’t remember everywhere else.

Toby Rowe and I will be leading several workshops as well. If these topics interest you, we’d love to have to participate in one of these.

Saturday afternoon – “Using Service to Create a Servant’s Heart”

Sunday afternoon – “Making the Most of Your Mission Trip”

Monday morning – “Fundraising for the Big Event”

In addition to all this, you will not want to miss Toby (and a bunch of us) on Sunday Late Night after the general session! He’ll be leading “Games We Never Should’ve Done”. It’s going to be a fun crazy time of reliving some of our best “mistakes” from all our years of Mission Trips and giving other youth ministry vets a chance to share theirs.  It will be a night you won’t soon forget.


If you’re not registered yet for SYMC, it’s not too late. We are nearly Sold Out but we are not there yet. There is room for you. Go here to register.


Want to make a difference this summer???

Play games with the elderly?

Help a local food bank?

Landscape the yards of non-profits and different ministries?

Check out WEEK OF HOPE!! You can make a difference in someone’s life!

When you request a FREE infopak you’ll be entered to WIN $500 in resources!!

Request your FREE infopak here!



I’m excited to let you know about a new resource that Simply Youth Ministry and I will release next week – The Basics: Foundations for Your Faith is a new 4-week DVD curriculum for small groups. It might be a good series for a new believer’s class as well. Here’s a little blurb from the official description:

The best coaches, the most effective teachers, and the strongest leaders all know this truth: If you want to build something that endures, you have to start with the basics.

That idea applies to our spiritual journey, too. The Basics will help students explore, discuss, and apply some of the core truths of the Christian faith. The truths in this series aren’t called “basic” because they’re childish or simplistic; they’re “basic” because they’re foundational and essential to leading a life that honors God.

Each week, your teenagers will explore key Scriptures that relate to these topics, discuss the significance of each biblical truth, and consider how it relates to their lives today.

The Basics is ideal for students who have recently become Christ-followers or for teenagers who are exploring the claims and truths of the Christian faith—but students who’ve been followers of Jesus for years will benefit, too.

You can order it right here!


Youth Ministry Do’s

 —  February 21, 2013 — 1 Comment

article.2013.02.20This week we’re taking on a few youth ministry do’s and don’ts! With our experience, we’ve learned a few things about both sides of this—we’ve both had some solid successes and some epic failures! Would love for you to read these, and then add your own in the comments, too. Here are some things we think are big time “Do’s”!

DO stay committed to the basics.
Youth ministry isn’t rocket science. In fact, some of the most important parts of a healthy youth ministry are actually quite simple: remembering names, following up with a newcomer, visiting a sick student at the hospital, sending a birthday card, remembering prayer requests, etc. Staying faithful to the basics is often what makes the biggest difference.

DO work to win the trust of parents.
I (Kurt) have a favorite saying: “If parents are for you, who can be against you?” And one of the best ways to get parents “for you” is to earn their trust. Here are three simple things that help build trust with parents.

  • Consistent and accurate communication
  • Treating their children well
  • Having a “transparent” ministry where parents questions, concerns, etc. are welcomed

DO empower your leaders.
Your ministry’s ability to grow, expand and advance the Kingdom is largely determined by your ability to empower your volunteer team and give them mass amounts of ownership and responsibility.

DO get out of the walls of the church and look around!
There is a big, wide world of youth culture out there that you need to understand! Read what your students read, watch what they watch, and listen to what they listen to…not because you like it, but because you care enough to be educated. Hang out at the movie theater on a Friday night and take mental notes. Volunteer to chaperone the winter formal. Good church work often requires getting away from the church!

DO take care of yourself.
We know you hear this one all the time, but you’re going to hear it again! Your ministry really is only as healthy as its leader.

Those are a few things we thing every youth worker needs to DO! What would you add to this list?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

stumboJohn Stumbo is one of the keynote speakers at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference coming up next month. If you haven’t signed up (I think) you can still get in before it sells out. Super excited to be a part of this event – see you there!

Three decades of serving the local church has been a fascinating ride. Three years of youth ministry drove me straight to the senior pastorate. Middle schoolers. Wow! There’s a real calling. I didn’t ve it. Preaching to people who actually stay in their chairs seemed more suitable. In all sincerity, what an honor to serve Christ by serving His bride. Amazing! I’m a big fan of the local church–crazed as she usually is.

What is one key thing youth leaders can do to help you as a senior pastor?
Stay out of trouble. Stay out of court. Stay out of my office unless I call for you. Uh, that’s what some youth pastor/lead pastor roles look like, right?

Love the students with the love of Christ, preach the Word with humility and passion, care for the broken . . . you know, pastor the flock entrusted to you. It would help if you would do so in a manner that I can defend if I need to. In other words, when you do something that might alarm the parents (or police department), maybe it would be a good idea to not let me get caught by surprise.

And what is the best way for a youth worker to build a relationship with a senior pastor you think?
Tough question. Us lead pastor types are often difficult to get to know. I’d say, “Don’t be discouraged if you’re not brought into the lead’s inner circle. He/she may not even have an inner circle. You can still have a great ministry partnership without being close friends.” I know this isn’t a satisfying answer for some, but strong ministry partnership and strong friendship are not necessarily the same.

One more thought: Get to know the pastor’s spouse. People see me and relate to me differently after they get to know my wife. Besides, she’s very likable. You can’t lose getting to know her!

What are you most nervous about as you plan to speak in the general session at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2013?
Nervous? Just because I haven’t even attended a youth conference in almost 30 years, follow Lecrae in the Saturday session and have what 3,000+ communicators staring at my graying head … why would you ask?

What are you most excited about as you plan to speak?
The way that this night came about … leaders trying to do more than just fill a slot with some big name, but wanting to have a sense that God was directing them . . . gives me a significant sense of anticipation. I’m trusting that God will breathe hope and encouragement into some souls that are fighting real battles of discouragement or wrestling with their own faith. I’m asking God for a night of hope, healing and joy in the midst of honesty and brokenness.

What¹s the craziest thing you can ever remember your youth leaders doing?
I’m pretty sure I never heard the craziest things they did. But I do remember finding out about the middle school pastor who used the 15 passenger church van to go “four-wheeling”. The van was never the same, but rumor has it that it was a fun ride. I was never convinced that using a toilet filled with Mountain Dew was the best place to do a fall festival bobbing for apples event. Duct tape seemed to be overused for one era of youth ministry.  And, whoever thought that combining a youth all-night lock-in with a baking fund raiser (sell cinnamon roll orders to the congregation, make them from scratch at the youth event and deliver them fresh at 7:00 in the morning) was a good idea, was nuts … oh, wait, I was that youth pastor.

The craziest of all: being willing to work for a senior pastor like me!

Making a Difference in the Bronx! A Webinar about the Big Day of Serving.

Join Jake Rasmussen Wednesday, February 20 for a LIVE CHAT about the Big Day of Serving in the Bronx.

Tune in to this Webinar and discover answers to all these questions and more:

  • What IS this event?
  • Why will your students LOVE it?
  • How do you SAVE big bucks when registering?

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn all about our work in the Bronx this spring!

Check in out Here.



Helping your child make wise choices about sex and dating requires more than just one chat. It’s about building bridges of ongoing dialogue throughout the teenage years.

But youth workers Mark Oestreicher and Joel Mayward realize many parents don’t feel comfortable or prepared to have these kinds of conversations. That’s why they wrote A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Sex and Dating to equip you to initiate healthy, honest discussions with your teenager. This book will also help you understand some of the relevant trends and issues in today’s youth culture.

Your role as a parent is to do more than provide your teenager with information about sex and dating. You have the opportunity and the calling to help your child live wisely and honor God in this sometimes tricky, occasionally awkward, and always vital area of life.

Order your copy of A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Sex and Dating NOW!



About the Authors:::

 MARK OESTREICHER (Marko) is a veteran youth worker and founding partner in The Youth Cartel, providing resources, training, and coaching for church youth workers. The author of dozens of books, including Youth Ministry 3.0, Marko is a sought-after speaker, writer, and consultant. Marko lives in San Diego with his wife, Jeannie, and teenage children, Liesl and Max. Marko’s blog:

JOEL MAYWARD is a pastor, writer, husband, and father living in Langley, British Columbia. Joel loves youth ministry, movies, and theology and writes about it all at his blog,


Making a Difference in the Bronx! A Chat About The Big Day of Serving

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM MST

Webinar Registration

Join Jake Rasmussen for a live chat about The Big Day of Serving! He will share about what to expect during this amazing experience and answer all your questions!
BIG DAY OF SERVING Want your kids to be part of something amazing – something bigger than themselves? They can… Introducing the Big Day of Serving…a series of one-day events across the nation where neighborhoods are transformed by a swarm of Christian kids eager to help people in need. At the Big Day of Serving, your group will transform a neighborhood in need.

They’ll clean city blocks, alleyways and parks

Help with landscaping & plant community gardens

Remove graffiti

Paint and tackle minor home repairs

The best part? The Big Day events are local (within minutes or hours from where you live), easy (you simply show up and serve) and affordable (for the cost of $29 per person with super early bird registration, your group has access to an all-inclusive service experience!)
On a practical level, The Big Day can be seen as an introduction to missions. If you’re new to youth ministry, the event can be the stepping stone you’re looking for. Or, if you’re a youth mission trip veteran, consider getting involved with The Big Day. It’ll re-energize  your kids and continue to help them develop a servant’s heart. And, it’s a great way to start preparing for your upcoming summer mission trip.

The Big Day is not just a day of service; it’s a national movement. The goal: one million kids all over the country working together for the same cause. Imagine city after city and block after block, these changes will multiply and change not only local neighborhoods…but entire cities all across America!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM MST