Rocky Mountain High… oh, um, yeah, Hello Colorado!

Like us in Washington the legalization of marijuana in Colorado has brought on a slew of new jokes (like my lame title to this post). With that being said, I’m looking forward to a quick-trip to Colorado and if you’re a youth leader in that region, we want to see you and give you some youth ministry freebies (including lunch)!

DSCF0150If you are or know of a Youth Leader along the greater I-25 or I-70 corridor we (Youthmark and Youth Missions International) are hosting a few Youth Leader Freebie Gatherings. Surrounding a meal we will eat and discuss our passion to see students equipped to reach their own campus, club, community and church with God’s love through the gospel!

mission_51I’ll be sharing about our Mission51 Retreat (one of our 7 retreats is coming to Colorado) and our curriculum that groups are using to prep before, during and after a mission venture. Brian Hughes will share about all the great ways God is using mission trips domestically and internationally and invite youth leaders to consider using YMI for full-scale serviced trips (for the best rates!).

Besides the meal, we’re giving away some valuable resources as well!

You can let us know you’re interested by commenting or contacting us here (just let us know which one you want to attend).

  • Tuesday, January 15 LUNCH: Beau Jo’s Pizza, Arvada (7525 W. 53rd Ave.) 11:30 am
  • Wednesday, January 16 LUNCH: Santiagos Mexican, Longmont (231 Main St.); Noon
  • Thursday, January 17 BREAKFAST: Cracker Barrel, Colorado Springs (8355 Razorback Road); 9 am
  • Thursday, January 17 LUNCH: Hosted at Calvary Church, Pueblo (5 Tulane St.), 11:30 am

Spread the word!


The Stuff of 2013


  1. A new look for the blog (have done this the last couple years).
  2. Weigh less at the end of the year than I did at the beginning (accomplished that in 2012).
  3. Blog more in 2013 than in 2012.
  4. Publish a few books (a few of my own and few from others).
  5. Share meals, not just yard conversations, with neighbors.
  6. Log more miles on my bike than I did in 2012.
  7. 13 pre-planned dates with Elisabeth (a gift I gave her at Christmas).
  8. Park my car in the garage all year (clear the clutter).
  9. Do one major house or yard project (likely our deck).
  10. Get to at least one new state or country.
  11. Read all of the Bible (it’s been a couple years since I did this in a year).
  12. Solo-date each month with each of my kids.
  13. Talk to and about Jesus. A lot.



(CONTEST) Aaby Christmas Letter Aab-Lib!

For all who have done Mad-Libs, be prepared for the Aab-Libs!

Be warned, this may take 5-10 minutes, but hey, it’s Christmas break, you have the time! These usually produce some hilarity, so let’s see what happens as you help us form our Christmas letter made specifically for you!

Four Quick Instructions.

  • You’ll need to have a piece of paper or an open word document.
  • Go through the numbered list below and give your creative words for each specific word-type (just like Mad-Libs).
  • Copy the story below and add your words that correspond with the numbers in the story (obviously, erase the numbers).
  • Insert this as a “comment” and it’ll post.  Be patient if it doesn’t post as a comment right away, in some cases I’ll need to approve you as a commenter.

After some time I’ll list those that cracked me up the most and then pick a winner based off those.  The winner gets a great White-Elephant gift to give away next year.

DO NOT READ THE STORY FIRST!!! Fill in these words first (note: it is usually obvious to read the ones that people read ahead first).

  1. Exclamation
  2. A holiday
  3. Something eatable
  4. Liquid
  5. Verb
  6. Name
  7. Number
  8. Name
  9. Something That Makes Noise
  10. A Sport
  11. Noun
  12. Body Part
  13. Name
  14. Activity
  15. Food
  16. Mode of Transportation
  17. Something women talk about
  18. Geographical Location
  19. City, State or Country
  20. Emotion ending with “ness”

************* Now Here is the Christmas Letter **************


(1)! What a year! Our hope is that this letter will only serve as an invitation to stay in touch all the more in 2013! Perhaps you’d like to come to our (2) party? Feel free to bring some (3) and (4) to drink!

So that we don’t actually have to (5) at the party, let me bring you up to speed on our 2012. Our oldest daughter (6), is now (7) years old, she is two years older than our second daughter (8), who really loves to play the (9). We enrolled the girls in (10) classes this year. We are constantly reminding them to not practice in the (11) as it scuffs up the walls. Man, that is not a sport for me, if I were to try it I’d probably strain my (12).

Our son, (13), loves his family, (14) and (15)! He is a quick-learner and pretty coordinated. At some point in 2013 I am sure he’ll be riding his (16) without training-wheels!

Elisabeth and I are doing well! From time to time Elisabeth gets to speak to women at churches about what the Bible says about (17). My organization, Youthmark is doing well and I’ve gotten to travel all the way from (18) to (19) this last year!

I hope 2013 brings you much (20)!

The Aabys


Have fun!


******In the Running ******

*I chose to pick my favorite lines from the Aab-Libs to be in the Running…

“Our son, Tinker Bell, loves his family, driving and panang curry!” AlonAlon

“Elisabeth gets to speak to women at churches about what the Bible says about Brian Aaby.” AlonAlon

“Feel free to bring some strawberries and hand sanitizer to drink!” Will

“I am sure he’ll be riding his time-machine without training-wheels!” Will

“Elisabeth gets to speak to women at churches about what the Bible says about nail polish.” Audrey

“Feel free to bring some moldy cheese and toilet water to drink!” Halle

“Holy buckets!” mrsmommyaaby

“Our son, Lars, loves his family, antiquing and hummus!… I am sure he’ll be riding his zip line without training-wheels!” mrsmommyaaby

“I hope 2013 brings you much compulsiveness!” mrsmommyaaby

“Feel free to bring some fudge and paint to drink!” lessonsfromlizzie

“From time to time Elisabeth gets to speak to women at churches about what the Bible says about feminism.” lessonsfromlizzie

*****The Winner*****

I loved them all, but I have to say the line that caught me off-guard the most and made me laugh the most was Alon’s line about Elisabeth teaching about what the Bible says about me! Way to go Alon, you get a white-elephant gift for Christmas 2013, I’ll bring it down to you on my next SoCal trip!




5 Christmas Party Ideas

As some of you may know, I have been writing for the Dare 2 Share blog as well, it’s been a lot of fun coming up with posts that specifically have to do with evangelism!

The latest post, Christmas Party Ideas, went live yesterday. I recruited the help of my good friend Mark Knight and captured him on video sharing a couple ideas.

Here’s this list of five, but you need to go to the D2S blog to read the descriptions (how’s that for a teaser?).

  1. Ugly Sweater
  2. White Elephant
  3. The Christmas Formal
  4. Two-Minute Movie
  5. Night Light Blessing



MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: Pray21 The Re-Release!

This is very, very exciting!

Youthmark has moved into the Publishing Realm!

Over the last few years I’ve been honored to be published by Spire-Resources, well, as of tonight, Youthmark officially moved into the publishing market with the official release of Pray21.

Chair drop (freebie) at the NYWC

Youthmark has given away close to 2000 copies of this book TONIGHT at the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention (NYWC).

As I stated earlier, this is very exciting because this title fits EXACTLY in line with my blogpost about Trusting Teens. I believe this book will do much much in our endeavor to see students lead the cause of Christ. But here’s the equation I want to introduce:


That is, WITH is greater than for.

Praying WITH Youth will change your church. Your community. Our culture.

Students are ready to lead the cause of Christ. But they need the prayers, they need the encouragement. They need the mentoring of adults. They need to be trusted to lead and the humility to be led by a trusted mentor! Prayer will fuel this movement! Student Led, Adult Mentored Ministry!

It starts by getting congregations to believe in teens enough to pray not just for, but WITH students!

Check it out at and get your youth group, school or club involved. Pray WITH Youth!


Has Anyone Modeled Evangelism To You?

I get really excited about the Spring! Though we are five months away from our retreat season, we are busy putting together the framework for our 2012 tour.  The Mission51 Retreats give us the opportunity to train all who attend our Spring Retreat in the area of life-evangelism. We truly believe that mission is not a trip. Though trips are great, I believe that the other 51 weeks of life beyond the mission is where the real work of mission takes place (for both the sending team and the receiving communities).

In the spring of 2010 our theme was “Live and Love Loudly” for our Mission51 retreat. We focused on the first letter from Paul to the church at Thessalonica. It’s a great letter and it gave me some fun ideas. One of those ideas I will give you as a “freebie” to use in your youth group, small group or just for personal thought!

The video below was used to help set that stage for evangelism training. When we hear the word “evangelism” or “share your faith” we see many begin to squirm. Quite simply, people are afraid to share because they fear failure and rejection. But the reality is, their fear and failure stems more from a lack of model than anything else.

Who has modeled witness to you? Who have you learned from when it comes to evangelism?

For those who haven’t had it modeled to them, I invite you to find a mentor. For those who are active, I invite you to teach others.

With a very small budget, a decent camera and some very low-paid (read: “no-paid”) actors and some okay editing equipment we put together this little piece we call “read, daddy.”



SMS: $5 and 50-Minute Ideas For Summer

Sun is out (well, at least I assume the sun is shining somewhere outside the Pacific Northwest) and summer has unofficially begun. Youth Leaders and students everywhere are wondering what to do. Today’s Student Ministry Stuff (SMS) is a simple list of affordable  and time-sensitive ideas for those of you involved in Student Ministry.

Camps, missions, retreats, festivals and many other events are VERY expensive and time consuming. Sure, many times these spendy get-aways produce some great growth and fruit, but I am also a firm believer in affordable fruit as well! The reality is relationships are the key factor.  Students, staff, leaders and parents will get what you’re giving in the context of relationship, regardless of the setting and length of time.

Here are some five $5 and mostly 50-minute ideas you can use to build into these relationships…

  • $5 Feet… Subway (and other sub shops) customizes and allows for each side of the sandwich to have it’s own toppings. Grab that footlong and walk along a footpath… Walk, talk and chow.
  • Balloon Blessings… Raid the Sunday School supply room for some construction paper, get a student or two, head to a Party City type store and get three $1 helium balloons and three candy bars to tie to the end and bless three leaders (or other students) with notes of encouragement and the delivered balloon and candy treat. Surprise them with an anonymous blessing by doing so when you know the recipient is not home.
  • Late Night Appetizers and Answers… Many “trendy” restaurants offer half-price appetizers during their happy hours (often late afternoon and then after 9 p.m.). Instead of doing the “fast food” thing, shoot an email to a couple students asking them to join you at an Applebees (or something similar) for “Appetizers and Answers.”  Tell them they need to come with three questions each about you, God or the Christian life.  For less than $5 total you can share some Nachos and engage in a wonderful faith-discussion!
  • Major in the Minors (this is one exception to the 50 minute suggestion)… This one may cost $5 each instead of $5 total, but chances are you live within an hour or two of a minor league baseball stadium. For a fraction of the cost of the big-leagues you can have a wonderful evening with students and have 9-innnings of big-time discussion. These ball players are young and excited about their hopes and dreams of making it to the next level. An easy discussion question for a minor-league game would be about hopes and dreams and how God is preparing the student, staff member or parent for “what’s next.”
  • iBlessing and Student Ownership… Get five students together for an hour and give them the assignment to pick any $.99 song on iTunes.  Give them 10 minutes to pick their song and then the next 40 minutes to write a Bible-study built around the theme of that song.  Take the next 5 weeks for a summer Bible-study or Sunday school class for these students to lead the discussion about the song, the devotional and the practical applications flowing out of the Bible study on these themes.
Hope these ideas plant some seeds for some ideas you can use this summer within your sphere of influence.  These ideas and many others are part of book project for Youthmark. Sometimes we need to be reminded that keeping it simple is sometimes the best option!  I hope your simple and complex plans all lead to deeper relationships in your circles and the end result is God glorified and the Kingdom multiplied!  Mission51!

Debut: Feeling Friendly

Feeling Friendly!

I’ve started a new category!  Woo-hoo! Because weekends are often the time where I am not necessarily feeling the urge to do blogging and regular readership seems to ebb and flow (one weekend I’ll double my readership and the next it seems it is cut by two-thirds), I figured most of my “Feeling Friendly” posts would take place on the weekend.

Here’s the rules.  Essentially I am going to highlight some of my friends and how they may be able to influence you and your ministries.  Two things that I would ask in return:

1. If you’re a person/ministry that I highlight, I’d ask that you look for opportunities to push people toward this blog and/or Youthmark.

2. If you’re a reader, that you would seriously look at those I’m highlighting because I am going to be picky on who I highlight.  I really am going to believe in those that I list!

Today’s “Feeling Friendly” is a great one to start with.  David May is a friend of mine from a former church.  David sort of became my personal sound guy.  Weeks that I was preaching, had one of our youth teams leading worship and whenever we had our once-a-month merge service I wanted Dave to handle the ambiance (sound, lighting, staging, etc.).

He is an excellent sound-guy who works efficiently and effectively.  His business, Impulse Audio is the business I turn to for Youthmark needs.  If you’re a church, ministry or even a family looking for audio or visual changes, upgrades, assessments, etc. I can’t think of a better first call.  Here’s Dave’s February offer:

So its February and traditionally the slowest month of the year… so I want to give back to the community. Impulse Audio would like to donate 2 hours of labor to troubleshoot, repair, access or align any audio or video system in a scholastic or worship facility.

No strings attached at all. All that I ask is that you be flexible with my available hours and pass the word to others.
Dave May


How’s that for an offer?  It’s free!


SMS Spark Idea: “Dinner Scramble”

Every now and again I’d like to tweak the Student Ministry Stuff (SMS) series and give what I’ll call a “Spark Idea.”  I’ve seen other Youth Ministry bloggers and organizations label posts like these as “freebies.”  I guess each of my SMS posts (or anything on the blog for that matter) could be considered a freebie, but specifically these Spark Ideas may fit that category well.

Philosophical Background For This “Spark

I believe that student ministry is (and should be) three pronged (Student, Staff and Parent).  In fact, my first two SMS posts speak to this issue, here is the second of the two posts (which links directly to the first as well); however, most Youth Pastors I am in relationship with (especially those under 30) are strong in and prioritize just one or two of these prongs. After all, they think, they’ve been hired to work with the youth.  Therefore most prioritize his or her relationship with students.  Quickly realizing that they need help, they then recruit chaperones who may or may not become shepherds.  That’s usually how it goes.  Unfortunately, very few prioritize the relationship with parents (or the congregation at large).  I believe ALL THREE key relationships need to be a point of emphasis. The “Dinner Scramble” is an event which prioritizes all three and gives an essential change of pace for your normal weekly programming at the same time!  As a bonus, this event can be one of the best events for students to invite their unchurched friends!

The Dinner Scramble Explained

Venue: Homes of church members (quite possibly “parents” of youth group students)

Host/Facilitator: A Volunteer Youth Leader (“staff”)

Scheduling: Pick a regular “Youth Group Night” as your targeted night for your Dinner Scramble (approximately 6-8 weeks in advance).  Recruit the right “venue” homes.  You’ll need one house for every 5-6 students you believe will sign up for this event.  You’ll need at least one volunteer leader for each of the homes you recruit. They will serve as “host” to assist the family who are providing the venue/meal.  Ideally, your volunteer leaders will not provide the venue, as you are trying to broaden the exposure of your students ministry and improve your relationship with parents and/or congregants.  Work hard to get a separate host family (venue) and leader who can concentrate on the relational hosting.

Announcement: After you’ve lined up host homes and a leader (or two) for each house you can announce the “Dinner Scramble”  to your youth group.  I suggest you charge $5 per student so that you have seed money in which the host home (venue) can submit receipts for reimbursement (let them know they have an approximate $30 budget for the dinner, which is very doable, suggest: pasta, bread & salad).  Most venue hosts never did turn in receipts and the $5 charge ended up being a youth group fundraiser.  It was a nice fund to have though for the few folk who did take advantage of turning in receipts.

Invite: As students sign up (register) for the event they should turn in a card with name, phone, address, email (facebook), etc. The key to this event is that students will not know where they are going until they are invited by the assigned host (approximately 5-7 days prior).  I’ve had leaders get pretty creative in doing the invite as well.  Some simply call, some send snail-mail invites where others have literally TP’d bedrooms and posted signs in the student’s room.  Students really began to look forward to the event and became evangelistic in it as well.

Relational Evangelism: We encouraged the hosts and venue hosts to be ready for double the amount of actual invitees.  Our students were encouraged to bring a friend.  Because students did not know who else would be at the specific house they were assigned to, they were very open to bringing a friend so that they didn’t feel alone.  Amazing what a student will do to not feel alone, imagine, they’ll even invite a friend to an event!

Community: The host leader at the event would be in charge of the theme and entertainment outside of the meal.  Some choose Italian, others did a Mexican theme and built the entire night around the theme.  Besides great food the teens, leaders and venue family laughed and played together well.  Games like Mafia, Pictionary and Scategories became barrier breakers and students, parents and leaders enjoyed the (2 hour) evening together.  I can only imagine with Wii and more wide-spread internet options, how much fun groups could have now.

Mix It Up: I used the event to mix up our students a lot. Instead of placing best-friends together, I made sure we had a great mix of guys and gals who did not know each other well.  This really leveled the playing field, enticed better outreach (again, students want to know at least one person, so they invite friends to the event) and students ended up getting to know others in the youth group (and beyond) really well.  Again, the element of surprise (not placing people together or even revealing where you were going until a few days before) became a selling point.

After the first year and experiencing success it was NEVER hard to find new host families (venues) and/or leaders who wanted to participate.  It was a win on every level… Parent (or congregation), Leader and Students all felt blessed.  Outreach took place and the sense of community among peers grew!

Hope the idea sparks creativity for you and gives you a curve ball to throw at your group!