Mission51 number one, done.

IMG_0428This last weekend was spent at Indian Hills Camp in Jamul (near San Diego), California!

The REAL LIFE themed Mission51 Retreat was an absolute win. Though there are several little kinks that need to be worked out for the next event in New England, I consider this retreat the best “first” event of the spring in our five year history.

The big wins from my perspective (not in any particular order):

IMG_0433The Group Interaction/Broken Down Walls- The programming elements of REAL LIFE get the students interacting with folk from other groups far more than any of our previous retreats. Doing just a little investigation on Facebook I can already see many students from different youth groups interacting and following up online.

Clusters- We introduced a new training method to the groups this year. I am absolutely STOKED about these and how well they worked! This put participants in the most realistic opportunity to practice real-life entry points into spiritual conversations.

IMG_0435Double Vision- The guys  (Mason and Micah) were a hoot to be with and did a fantastic job leading in worship but the most telling thing to me was that they were so much more than great musicians and worship leaders- these guys love Jesus and want others to know him! They took leadership in other areas of the retreat and it truly became a SLAMM (Student Led, Adult Mentored Ministry) setting.

I’m looking forward to five other retreats with DV, (click on that and “like” them) the mentoring side of this is such a fun side of the ministry. I literally watched these guys grow in confidence and grasp the different concepts and opportunities we were giving them. The great thing, God has been at work in and through these boys for a long time. Matt, their dad/manager/agent/mentor was along for the trip as well!

IMG_0439In addition to our time at the camp, I was able to preach at one of the participating churches (Pine Valley Community Church) on Sunday after the M51 Retreat. I love this church and have a great history with them. They invited Double Vision to lead worship as well!

I believe God is going to use these retreats to really make a difference in the lives of teens and adults throughout the country. Your prayers are needed and much appreciated!

IMG_0440And of course there was one other huge win (that literally almost made me miss my flight because of how crowded it was, the delay it caused and the traffic we then encountered): IN-N-OUT Burger!

Mission51 number one, done!



Students Aren’t The Only Ones Asking…

Our small group (full of us “older peeps”) had a great conversation last night about the days following the crucifixion.

Questions arose…

  • “If you were one of the disciples, what would you have done after he was killed and buried?”
  • “Would you have believed it when someone said ‘He’s alive?”
  • “What would it be like when you really did see him alive?”

Then the doozy of all questions became the topic of conversation for the rest of our time…

  • “After seeing Jesus alive, who would you tell and how would you tell them about Jesus?”

Our questions has less to do with back then and more about today. Who are we telling about the resurrected Savior of our sins?

I love that the small group with folk in their late 20’s through people in their 50’s is asking the same question teens are asking. As I gear up to train students this spring through Youthmark’s Mission51 Retreats I was pleased to see that my friends at Dare 2 Share just posted a video in which a gal coming off of weekend retreat was essentially asking the question “how can I talk about Jesus after I’ve been to camp?”  You can see the question and read my answer at the D2S blog here. Here is the quick (45 seconds or so) video.

I hope you’re thinking through real-life spiritual conversations just like Joy is. I hope you’re asking the question “whom shall I share with?” and “how shall I share?”


Spring Forward Announcement #2

As I stated in my last post, this week I am posting two successive posts pertaining to partnerships and announcements that have me pretty jazzed!

In my last post I introduced the readers to Double Vision, a band we have partnered with for our Mission51 Retreats.

c_40Youthmark is not the only organization who believes in this concept I have deemed SLAMM (Student Led, Adult Mentored Ministry). My friends and partners at Youth Missions International are among the others who believe in this and are partnering with Youthmark to make this venture a reality. 

YMI Blue LogoYouth Missions International (YMI) uses all of our curriculum and training elements for before, during and after a mission venture. In addition to partnering with us through the curriculum, YMI is helping make this partnership with Double Vision a reality. Do you believe in giving teens the opportunity to develop their gifts, skills and talents? Perhaps you’ll partner with us as well?

I had the opportunity to speak at YMI’s annual banquet this last weekend. Beyond the short-term mission trips (STM), they send individuals on longer STM’s, run internships and also have an extensive Sports Camp ministry. YMI is growing rapidly- they recently entered into a fabulous agreement with AWANA which will open up a world of opportunity for both orgs.

IMG_4634I’m seriously pumped up about these partnerships as I believe through Youthmark and YMI we’ll be able to advance God’s kingdom through the proclamation of the gospel through students faster and farther! With teens like Micah and Mason (Double Vision) leading their peers!

Speaking of proclamation, through YMI we are looking for others to believe in this training and support this cause through the Proclaim Campaign. 

Double Vision will be flown to all of our seven Mission51 locations this spring. In addition to the twin boys, their manager (who happens to be their dad) will be traveling with. Flights, lodging, rentals and food are among a number of costs, but it’s a cause we believe in, but certainly would love to see others support it as well and offset some of the costs.

If you’d like to donate to this (or other YMI causes) please click here (and scroll to bottom). There you’ll see you can give directly to the Proclaim campaign simply by giving in the fifth box down.

I’ll be sure to post many-an-update and keep you posted on how Micah and Mason are doing and how Youthmark and YMI are encouraged by the hundreds of teens and adults we get to train to share the gospel in Real Life (the theme for the Mission51 retreat).

Thanks for your prayers and for considering a gift!


P.S. I have one more really BIG announcement in regard to this next week!


Spring Forward Announcement #1

I’m very excited about two successive blog posts I have going out this week (both “announcements”). These posts speak to a couple partnerships we (Youthmark) have developed over the last year.

Let me start with a few of my soap-box issues…

  • I understand that some teens can come across as punks (just like some adults can be unkind, not classy or mean as well), but I firmly believe that far more young adults are phenomenal and simply need the opportunity to discover and hone their crafts, skills and talents!
  • IMG_5177I know some churches believe that the youth pastor should be the primary person influencing the spiritual formation of the teens. While I believe a youth pastor can have a great role, I believe parents should be the main disciplers of their sons and daughters. BUT I also know that teens influence their friends decisions more than anyone else. The church and parents need to gain a better understanding of this fantastic fact! We in the youth ministry world need to allow students to use their God-given gifting far more frequently!

The Back Story

IMG_4634While in Kansas City scouting mission locations for a Youthmark trip I began a friendship with my contact, Matt Marrs. I found out that his then fourteen year-old twin boys were part of a band appropriately named Double Vision. Matt shared their music with me. Long-story-short, Double Vision will be leading our worship and participating in the training at Youthmark’s Mission51 Retreats this spring!

During our training times I am consistently saying to teens that they should be the best missionaries that US has ever had. I firmly believe that. 80% of those who place their trust in Christ will do so by the age of 18. Teens have a captive audience of their peers on their campus, at their clubs, in their community and while at church.

In addition to “mission” (read: evangelism), students have other gifts, talents and skills that bring glory to God and influence one another. I simply believe we needed to model that this year by giving the students the platform from time to time. This is not to say adults aren’t to lead. I believe if you have the gift of mercy you should show it. If you’re gifted in admin, you should administrate and if you’re gifted in leadership you should lead (regardless of age).

Mason Marrs

Mason Marrs

I believe Micah and Mason Marrs should lead. They’re gifted musicians, but they’re so much more than that! I cannot wait to see them facilitate worship, but dive in to the training aspect as they challenge their peers in Real Life, conversational, relational influence! These guys love Jesus and want to make him known!

Micah Marrs

Micah Marrs

Please join me in praying for these young men! Check them out and like them on  Facebook  and check out their website. I cannot wait to see how this Student Led, Adult Mentored Ministry (#SLAMM) opportunity works out!

In addition to a post likely to go live on Thursday (another announcement) I’ll have an additional blog post specifically relating to Double Vision next week!


Not too Late!

Though we’re nearing the middle of March this weekend very much has a “mission” feel to it.

P1030532If you’re at a church still wondering what you want to do this summer, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’d love to get you going down the right path so that you and your teens can still get involved with something HIGHLY significant this spring and summer! The cool thing, there are mission opportunities for under $200 to as much as you want with ALL of the training, fundraising and even a retreat involved!

Here’s why I feel this weekend has a mission feel…

1. I am speaking at a fundraising banquet for Youthmark’s premier partner Youth Missions International!

2. My friends at Dare 2 Share just posted a video interview I did with another Youthmark partner, Verge ministries. Check out that couple minute video below (and the post here).

photo3. My own church, Faith, is running a student conference for the ConvergeNW network. Many of these students are currently training for their upcoming Mexico trip through Move: Mission Prep Workbook!

Hope you’re thinking about a mission, but not just a mission trip, prepare for Mission51, the 51 weeks beyond a mission trip! We’re called to be missionaries here, there and anywhere!




Finishing the Race

Over the last couple years I’ve had the opportunity to partner with Scottsdale Christian Academy in the Phoenix area. The SCA High School shuts down “regular” classes for the week to engage in missions all over the place.

This just happens to be the week that the 14 teams are out!

I’d invite you to take a look at the various places they are serving and perhaps click on one or two that interest you and read a bit about what they’ve done and experienced. It is VERY evident that God is at work and more prayer is needed!

Hope you’re encouraged to read what God is doing and we solicit your prayers as these teams finish the race!



Don’t Miss This!

I had the opportunity in Iowa this week to talk with a number of teens who were pretty excited about Jesus, pumped about some potential changes coming to their youth group and TERRIFIED about anyone ever asking them about their faith.

This should not be.

Unfortunately this is pretty common, not just among teens, but all Christians.

I am pretty passionate about this area and I simply want to see those who know Jesus equipped to have REAL LIFE conversations about him with those who do not yet know Jesus. I understand those fears, but I’ve also seen many people get past that and actually, like me, get to the point where we’re craving those asks!

Please consider joining us though a Youthmark Mission51 Retreat. Check out the 90 second video explaining this year’s REAL LIFE theme.

This is the link to all the retreats! Can’t wait to get real!


Social Media Reality Check- Are You Consumed?

1280072_keyboardThe month started with 34 items on the “to do” list. Each task varied in size & time needed to complete. Slightly overwhelmed, I took a deep breath and dove in… a few minutes later temptation crept in…

… “hey man, quick question” a ministry friend of mine, Brian Ford, was Instant Messaging me through Facebook. “What would you say about your Facebook use? You don’t really use it, you use it a lot, you tend to think everyone is going away from it… something else?”

Facebooking with Brian Ford was not one of the 34 listed items on the to do list. But somehow it became priority #1. If it weren’t Brian on Facebook it could easily be an alert on TweetDeck or an iChat notification. I do NOT consider myself nor have I been diagnosed ADD, however I am discovering how easily the notifications distract and consume.

I was honest with Mr. Ford and told him that I likely am on it too much. We ended up talking about this off and on the next few days and today we both have gone live with blog posts (his is here). Brian spends some time talking about some of the struggles it has caused in his heart, mind and relationships. My post tackles the moderation issue.

How Can I Stay Social & Networked But Not Consumed?

1030887_tweet_tweet___I enjoy Twitter, Skype, iChat, and Facebook and I easily justify the need to stay connected on them. Much of my livelihood has to do with staying connected, available and aware of what’s going on in the ministry world and with the ministers in that world. But the reality is, those I need to stay the most connected with have access to me via text, email or a call. I need to remind myself if I am needed, they can find me.

I do not want Social Media to become a hindrance to my family, faith and/or ability to get work done. So, I am experimenting with something I’m calling First 5, Last 5.

What is First/Last 5?

I am going to challenge myself for a season (a few weeks) to take the first 5 and/or last 5 minutes before or after major breaking times during my day to engage in social media. These natural breaks include breakfast, lunch, end of regular work day and before bed. Other than those times the apps will be off and the sites off my desktop.

I’m not going to be legalistic, but my general guide will be:

  • First five minutes as I begin my workday
  • Last five before lunch
  • First five after lunch
  • Last five at end of workday

My goal at home is to be to keep them off until the kids are in bed and Elisabeth and I are both at the point where we feel the freedom to relax (TV, web, Netflix, etc.)

I have found that I can too easily get sucked into my newsfeed and too quickly link to a blog, news site or become consumed thinking about a witty response to a persons tweet. Therefore, in order to protect my family, my ministry and my workload I’m going to give this First/Last 5 a whirl! Any other takers?


Yes, I found them, have you ever found them?

I’m pretty pumped about my latest at the Dare 2 Share blog.

Hosting Everfound for a backyard BBQ

Hosting Everfound for a backyard BBQ

For those of you in the great NW we will have the opportunity to spend a weekend with several friends of mine. Not only are Greg and his D2S crew going to be here for the Follow Tour, but they are bringing four of my good friends as the worship team!

Everfound played for our "LIFT" events in Seattle and Portland

Everfound played for our “LIFT” events in Seattle and Portland

I’ve had the privilege of partnering with Everfound for 6 different venues (four of them week-long camps) in the past and I think that D2S struck gold by inviting them to be the band for the tour.

Check out my unique introduction to this band and what stood out about 4 Russian brothers!


That’s Tweetable!

TYM_ICONToday is a big day, I finally launched my first MailChimp campaign. It was a few weeks (well months) in the making as I put together a strategy that met a few essential criteria.

  1. Give something and possibly get something (give insights, wisdom, experience and inspiration and in return we may see readers take advantage of resources that Youthmark or our partners offer, but do so at a rate they can’t get anywhere else)!
  2. Contribute to a greater cause (I believe student ministry is three pronged- student, staff and leaders, my hope is that all the posts contribute to that three pronged focus and then see the fruit of unity in Christ can bring).
  3. Less is more (though I won’t limit myself to 140 words or less on brianaaby.com, all posts in the TweetableYM brand will be concise, 140 words or less, proving that most of the time, less is more)!

We launched the TweetableYM (tweetable youth ministry) brand today. The TweetableYM branding consists of:

Playing with the 140 character theme from Twitter, we are producing a resource (blog/newsletter) where all of the posts will be 140 words or less! Then connected to the featured (hash-tagged) post we’ll give links to additional writings and resources on that subject.  In addition we will (most always) have a featured resource with an exclusive discount available ONLY to those subscribed to the newsletter).

Check us out on any/all of the above… be among the first 140 to subscribe, like and/or follow and you’ll be entered to win one of three Youthmark hoodies!

We appreciate you getting the word out, feel free to r/t this post, share on Facebook, etc.!