You MAY Want to Add These To Your Calendar

The month of May is proving to be a pretty fantastic month of ministry opportunities. Not only will I have a couple trips including a site visit for next years National Youth Workers Convention, but there are a couple local Pacific Northwest Events I am a part of that have me pumped.

I think you (and many others from your church) should join me:

Youth Specialties Team Training, May 1-2

UnknownThis is the ideal setting to get your team talking! Not only does YS bring in great content/speakers, we give your team time to discuss and apply. One of the most prominent things Youth Pastors/Directors identify as a need is more/better lay-leadership training.

My buddy Josh Griffin (from Saddleback Church) is one of the presenters in Seattle this year. I think Josh is one of the best in the business!

The timing is perfect— it’s only a Friday evening and goes through Saturday mid-afternoon. But more importantly, I think the timing (calendar) is perfect— you can use this as an opportunity to recruit your program-year staff for next fall. Give those new recruits some great training that they can test over the summer before you kick-off next fall. Click here to register your team.

Mission51 Retreat, May 8-9Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 10.51.06 AM

This 24 hour retreat is chock-full of ideas that help you and your students engage in real conversation with those who may not yet know Jesus! Rather than calling it an evangelism training retreat, I see it as a cultural engagement training.

The Mission51 Retreat— training for the 51 weeks of life outside of the trip— is a fast-paced 24 hour onsite-event; meaning: you and your team stay at Grace Church in West Seattle (Friday night) and all three meals are provided on Saturday as part of the training! To register follow the instructions on the flyer here and contact Nathan.

Something for your team. And something for teens!

Join me in May!

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What a Difference 5 Years Makes

Five years ago RIGHT NOW we were wrapping up the true beginnings of what would become Youthmark.

A Little History…

While serving as an associate pastor in Phoenix, AZ it became very clear that I was not the fit for the church I was serving. Elisabeth and I had prayed (a lot) and we just knew it was time to move on (and hopefully back to WA). The plan was for me to talk to the senior pastor during our one-on-one time late in the week, but I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit (or the quake of bad pizza the night before?) and on Monday afternoon I walked into the senior pastors office, sat down and said, “it’s not a fit.” He graciously responded, “let’s make this the best transition ever.” To this day, I am thankful for his response.

We didn’t know what was next, it was gigantic leap of faith, but we knew it was time. That evening I contacted a friend to find out if he knew of any northwest (preferably Seattle-area) openings. He did… the church he was serving! Only, they were down to their final three and IF I got my resume and cover letter to him the next day he would submit it. 

The Dilemma…

We knew even then (2003) that Youthmark was in the future. I had already started writing some curriculum, but we just didn’t know the timing. So, I wrote a cover letter that stated that I wanted to help the church for their next phase of Youth Ministry, but also would be starting an organization, Youthmark at some point in the next few years.

In the Spring of 2004 I started work at the church and put the plans for Youthmark on hold for a few years.

The Beginning…

In the fall of 2007 we had our first Youthmark event; a parenting seminar open to all in the Seattle area. It was awesome, but I knew it wasn’t time to go full-speed ahead with Youthmark plans, nor was the event or events like it going to be the sustainable financial model to get an organization like Youthmark off the ground.

But the event certainly got the creative juices flowing and an itch to start Youthmark needed to be scratched. I decided that the spring of 2008 would be my last as a Youth Pastor (the guys I was leading in a discipleship group were graduating that spring too). I was done the last day of June 2008 and on July 8 (after taking one week tour of baseball stadiums with my dad and brother) I began Youthmark as my full-time gig!

The Anniversary…

Today marks the day that we concluded our first ever Youthmark Mission Venture related event. I risked big time (like thousands of dollars big time) on an event, a Youth Pastor & Spouse Retreat to pitch Youthmark Mission Ventures to about 24 people. We rented out rooms and a conference room at a 4-Star hotel in downtown Seattle. Over the course of about 24 hours we ate well, laughed a lot and were able to share the dreams and vision of Youthmark Missions. 

Here are some pics from that event:

View from our hotel

View from our hotel

training

training

Old Spaghetti Factory!

Old Spaghetti Factory!

The name tags made it feel official

The name tags made it feel official

gifts for each of the participants

gifts for each of the participants

packed with goodness

packed with goodness

table discussions about what could be in the summer of 2009!

table discussions about what could be in the summer of 2009!

The Changes…

  • God blessed us with 16 teams that first year.
  • The next year we had 24.
  • By the third year I knew the model was not sustainable, but there wasn’t much I could do to change course, I knew I needed to slowly turn the model without losing momentum. That summer we had 40 teams go out with Youthmark.
  • Finally, the fourth year, I started to change the model and began sharing with other organizations the opportunity to partner with Youthmark, essentially saying “let us concentrate on the weeks outside the mission, you be the experts in the mission trip (Mission51).” That summer we still had 53 churches parker with us.
  • This last year we have moved away from Mission trips (though Youthmark still does send a limited number of customized specific trips) and began partnering exclusively with ministry partners. Our premier partner, Youth Missions International, received the majority of our previous church partnerships and did a fantastic job serving them. All of these teams still get all the materials for before, during and after the mission.

Now Youthmark concentrates on Mission51 (hosting the Spring Retreats) and creating new materials for all things Youth Ministry (like Pray21 and many other new products due out in 2014), while I continue to do more speaking, consulting and training! What a journey!

I am amazed at what God has done in these first five years, I look forward to seeing what my 10 year post will look like!

Grace,
Brian

Presentation or Conversation?

Auditory? Visual? Kinesthetic? How would you describe your learning style?

IMG_2195In a few weeks I’ll get to once again participate in a youth leader event that is different than any others. Open Seattle takes place on Saturday, October 26 at Seattle Pacific University.

One of the things I really like about the premise of Open is that it is geared to reach any and all of the three learning styles. Rather than being “spoken at” for 45 minutes to an hour, the speaker/facilitator of each session will engage his or her own material, but create an atmosphere that engages thought and conversation. Each 40 minute session closes with 10 minutes of interaction between any/all who are in that room. They’ll engage the visual, auditory learners will hear great stuff and perhaps some practical “lab activities” will take place for those hands-on (kinesthetic) learners!

At Open the leadership assumes that the speakers are not the only people with something to say! I love this.

There are about a dozen different options spread out over two different learning tracks (you can switch between the two as well), a long lunch break to engage deeper in conversation and the afternoon ends with something new called “Lightning Rounds” where any/all who attend  are given the opportunity to do their own “mini” session in 5 minutes or less!

I have the privilege of partnering with Adam McLane of the Youth Cartel and serve as “Local Host” for this event.

Snap from 2012 Open Seattle

Snap from 2012 Open Seattle

This is such a great opportunity to have your entire team trained. Seriously, one Saturday could supply your entire year of monthly trainings for your youth staff. Have a different leader assigned to take notes at a session of choosing and then divide them up over the course of the year and have them facilitate a staff discussion about these important teen-ministry issues!

Here is the website and registration page! Totally worth the $25 investment! In short, open is more of a conversation than a series of presentations! I hope you’ll join the conversation!

Grace,
Brian

Summer & Fall 2013, Speaking Needs?

I got a late start on my spring cleaning, but who can blame me, the spring was jam-packed with all things BUSY! Mission51 Retreats, consulting and speaking at a couple conventions/conferences.  But the cleaning did begin!

The fish was THIS big! My stories are NEVER exaggerated!

The fish was THIS big! My stories are NEVER exaggerated!

I would love to head into the summer with most of the little clean-up projects taken care of so that I can get rolling with some larger Youthmark projects (a few big writing projects). I’m pumped about this summer, time with family, time for writing, but yet my schedule is fairly open, perhaps a little too open? If you have summer or fall speaking opportunities, I’d love to fill in some gaps for you…

I just updated my speaking page, you can link to it above or right here. Maybe your church or org should be added to that list? Don’t hesitate to contact me (just give a few details of what you’re looking for and when)!

My car is clean, the garage is next! Blessings on your late spring!

Grace,
Brian

 

 

Five Things For The Fall (it’s not too early)

I was recently near Des Moines, Iowa, consulting for Ministry Architects. When my evenings were complete I would retreat to my hotel and while channel surfing I found a football game on (in the spring?). The Big Ten Network was televising the spring scrimmages for the Big Ten universities. I caught a few minutes of the Black and Gold game for Purdue.

706735__transfer_It got me thinking, football is not until the fall, but these teams are already preparing for their autumn season. Much game-planning and preparations are already going on in order to prep for the fall. I think the same can and should be done in youth ministry.

Though five months out, I’d like to propose five things youth ministries can be working on right now to prepare for the fall.

  1. Prioritize A Prayer Movement: Why not have every student in your group be prayed for and prayed with? Not only will this propel your students, it will invigorate your congregation. Take the month (like September or October) and do something like Pray21 (a 21 Day prayer partnership between student(s) and an adult). *Begin dialogue with your Senior Pastor and do something special on Sunday, September 22, “Pray With Youth” Sunday.
  2. Recruit Your Staff: Use summer missions, camps and retreats to expose potential new volunteer team members to the ministry. One of the biggest mistakes youth pastors make in recruiting is miscommunication in what you’re asking for. Create volunteer position descriptions so that a volunteer knows what is expected of him or her.
  3. peers-leading-peers

    peers-leading-peers

    Consider a SLAMM Approach: Student Led, Adult Mentored Ministry creates ownership not chaos! Begin dreaming, scheming, plotting, planning, praying and partnering with students now for what they want in the fall. When given the opportunity to operate in their gift and skill set you’ll see students excel. Mentoring is the key! I know several Youth Pastors who are thriving with a SLAMM approach, let me know if you want more info!

  4. Unite with Parents: Use this summer as an opportunity to build and/or strengthen relationship with parents so that come the fall you sense the momentum and power of being united in purpose to see teens being discipled and making disciples!
  5. Know Where You’re Going: We rarely get in a car with no destination in mind. Yet, we often begin a program year in youth ministry with an undetermined destination. There is no reason you and your team can’t have a full September-to-August calendar planned with all the major events and approximate costs so that all can see the year at a glance! You’ll be doing everyone a favor!

September is coming! With just a few hours of spring prep and summer action, you can be more prepared than ever going into your fall. Calendar your events, communicate with parents, develop teens in their areas of giftedness, prep adults for mentoring and connect your congregation with teens through prayer partnerships!

Grace,
Brian

A Trip To Consider (meet real needs)

The moment you realize God just used you to meet the need of somebody else…

Seriously... views like this!

Seriously… views like this!

It’s mid-April and you’d think that most (if not all) youth groups have their summer plans laid out, but you never know? In the last week I have had two Montana towns (pastors) in need contact me to ask if I may know of a youth group that could come serve them this summer.  Great needs and they’re asking the Lord of the harvest to provide the workers…

If you’re in the northwest and/or interested in a trip to this region, I couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to do a VERY inexpensive mission trip! Seriously, you could likely do a trip like this for less than $200 per person! Because our mission product-line is less “sending” and more “all-inclusive mission prep/follow-through” I’m happy to show you how to do this in a super-affordable way!

Both of these communities in Montana will provide you and your group the opportunities to:

  • work with children (sports camp or Vacation Bible School)
  • serve with hands (service projects to bless Christians and the unchurched)
  • peer-to-peer evangelism (give your students practical opportunities for real-life outreach)
  • discipleship (Christian teens in community need to see the spark in your students)
  • food/housing (most, if not all, of your meals taken care of)
  • team time (not a scripted trip, you have great freedom to speak into formation and plenty of time to disciple your own group through evening debrief)
  • scenery unparalleled . Seriously, these places are beautiful
Guaranteed real-life impact with hands, heart and words!

Guaranteed real-life impact with hands, heart and words!

If you’re interested in some last-minute planning (that we’ll help you with), but a FULL IMPACT trip, please contact me here, I’ll get you in touch with the right people.

You may just be the answer to prayer for one of these two pastors who contacted me this week!

Grace,
Brian

New In New England

This blog post was written at approximately 37,000 feet above the earth as I travel from Boston to Seattle. I’m certainly flying high after our first Mission51 Retreat in New England this past weekend!

mission_51Just like San Diego we had three different churches represented, which to me was a major victory for a first-time market! However, the most major victory belongs to the work of the Spirit in the lives of these teens. God did a new work in so many ways, here are a few:

Friday Night: This year we launch our Friday night program in the most unique way thus far… Without giving anything away (still have four more M51 Retreats this year), it was very evident from the start that this group was different than any we have had the last few years. Because there were no groups that had ever done anything Youthmark, this felt very new (much like 2009). We were about two-thirds through the night and it became abundantly clear to me that I needed to jump off track for a few minutes. I sensed the Spirit telling me to pause and simply present the Gospel. It was as if the Lord was telling me, “some are ready to trust in me.” I was obedient, He was faithful. Nine students placed their trust in Jesus for salvation for the first time!

Student, Jonah, leading his peers at M51

Student, Jonah, leading his peers at M51

Saturday: There were several “new” things that took place on Saturday. Our Band, Double Vision (15 year old twins Micah and Mason) continues to do a wonderful job leading not just in worship but in several other areas, well this time we recruited a couple other local teens to facilitate and speak. We are pushing Student Led, Adult Mentored Ministry (SLAMM) and it was phenomenal to see these Rutland teens step up into their areas of giftedness.

Double Vision

Double Vision

On Saturday evening, after an impromptu after-event concert (Double Vision performed), Rob Townshend had a conversation with one of his teens and she placed her trust in Christ as well!

Sunday: Though the M51 Retreat was complete, I was asked to stick around and preach at Calvary Bible Church. What an honor and the second time this calendar year! This time though I got to do a new thing; Rob Townshend and I tag-team preached, it was a blast!

I tallied one more new state as we traveled to Boston via lunch in Maine! While on that drive I received one more bit of new-news! Incredibly, one of the young ladies, who almost didn’t come to the Retreat (she says, “my dad made me go”) send me a Facebook message to pray for her as she was sharing her faith with an atheist. About 20 minutes later a second message… “He just trusted in Christ!”

I like all this new stuff! Thank you New England!

Grace,
Brian