and, i think i’ll start my 2011 blogging by talking about the stuff i’m stoked about this year.
i started last year with a newly forming idea of stewarding my time in four areas: speaking, writing, consulting and coaching. all four got traction, though some more than others. in the year since, i’ve refined that a bit, and have added two additional buckets. here’s a summary of what i’m doing and planning in each…
speaking: man, i’ve had a blast this past year getting out and speaking again, after doing very little of that outside of ys stuff for the year or two before leaving ys. i’d say my speaking stuff breaks down to about 65% youth ministry stuff, 25% youth events, and 10% parenting or other. i love all of these. i feel like i both improved my craft in 2011 and grew more dependent on the holy spirit, which was a great combo. in 2011, i’m going to continue taking those speaking gigs that make sense for my schedule and the ministry i can provide. i’d love to get to the point where i’m doing a tiny bit less than i did in 2010; but for now, i don’t quite have that luxury. i’ve got a ton of space in my speaking calendar for 2011 (as you can see here). let me know if i can help you.
writing: i finished a book for ys/zondervan this past year — a book for parents called ‘understanding your young teen‘. the editing phase is mostly done now, but the book isn’t scheduled to release until january of 2012. i wrote regular articles or columns for a handful of youth ministry magazines, including a monthly column for youthwork (a great youth ministry magazine in the UK), an every-other-issue column on middle school ministry for youthworker journal, a few feature pieces or columns for the new and fantastic immerse journal, and a sidebar or two for group magazine. i hope to continue that magazine writing this year (in fact, i’m finishing a feature length piece on adolescent brain development for immerse journal this week). i have one book proposal being considered by a publisher right now (a book on moving from dissatisfaction to hope), and another proposal that’s been asked for (about extended adolescence). and i’m developing a major bible project for young adults, with 11 deadlines and more than 120 writers, which will keep me very busy now through august. i’m hoping to finish that second book proposal in the next couple months, and then see if my literary agent can get deals on those two puppies. if they get picked up, i’ll have tons of somewhat intimidating writing to do!
consulting: i’d really hoped to develop a major portion of my time helping ministry non-profits (particularly globally-focused organizations) with all things youth, young adult and youth ministry. i did some work in this area in 2010, but not as much as i’d hoped. mostly i found the input i received from a very smart friend at the beginning of the year to be true: organizations know they need help in this area, get excited about how i can help them, and excited about the ideas i suggest, but don’t have the will-power to activate any of those ideas. so, after expending quite a bit of energy in this area in 2010, i’ll pursue less of this in 2011. i’d still love to do this stuff, if it comes my way; but i don’t think i’ll spend large quantities of time pursuing it. the other area of consulting i’ve done some of in 2010 is working with churches in the areas of youth and young adults. i’ve really enjoyed this also. but most of my work in this area has been one-off stuff (i have had one wonderful church i’ve worked with all year long). i have a church who’s considering having my involved in a more major way in 2011 (overseeing and coaching all their younger staff, including their youth staff, in a contract role), and that would be a blast if it comes together. but my consulting work is the area that has seen the least traction; and since my plate is very full, i’ll be focusing more energy on the other areas in 2011.
coaching: in january of 2010, the idea of the youth ministry coaching program was only that — an idea. but a year later, it’s one of my greatest joys. i have two cohorts up and running — one in san diego that’s only one meeting away from finishing their year, and one in nashville that will be halfway done later this month. i have grown in this work, and have seen such amazing growth and transformation in the participants, all of whom are thrilled that they chose to be a part of it. in 2011, i’m planning on expanding this program. i’ll be launching a new san diego cohort (understand: the participants aren’t necessarily from the city we meet in — my san diego cohort has people from chicago and texas and colorado and other states, and my nashville cohort has people from 7 or 8 states) in april; and i’ll launch a new nashville cohort in september. but i’m tentatively planning on adding 3 – 5 additional cohorts, lead by other hand-picked coaches. only a couple of them are nailed down, and even those don’t have a starting date yet. but the possible cites are: atlanta, orange county, chicago, kansas city, dallas, and nyc/greenwich, ct. i hope to have this plan completely nailed down in the next 6 weeks or so, and will announce it all here.
literary agenting: i stumbled onto this, really. i’ve been in the christian publishing world, in one way or another, for about 25 years. that has given me lots of experience and lots of great contacts. when a youth worker showed me his self-published book in august, i realized it was going to be very difficult for him to get a christian publisher to seriously consider it (that’s the norm in publishing — most publishers don’t consider unsolicited manuscripts). so i asked if he’d like me to represent him. that has turned into 6 signed authors, and another 6 or 8 who i’m in conversations with. the role of the agent is two-fold: help shape the book idea into something fantastic; then find the right publisher and publishing deal. i have found that i can really help on both of those sides, and am having fun refining ideas and helping people build good proposals. and i’ve found that publishers want to see proposals i bring to them. so we’ll see where that area goes in 2011. there are people who know agenting better than me, to be sure; but in the specific areas of youth and youth ministry publishing, i think i have something to bring to the table.
events: i have always had ideas for youth ministry events rolling around in my head. some of them were just too small or too risky for us to try when i was at ys. but for little ol’ me, they’re certainly not too small! so, i’m definitely doing one event in 2011. i have 3 organizational partners lined up on it, and hope to go live with it by march 1. i’m really stoked about that one. i have a 2nd one i think i’ll likely beta-test in 2011 as a smaller ‘summit’; then, if it goes as well as i expect it will, i’ll roll it out larger in 2012. i have about 3 other event ideas i’m noodling on, but probably won’t have the bandwidth to actually launch them in 2011. have to save some stuff for 2012 and beyond!
a new name, logo and website: i realized at some point this past fall that some of the stuff i’m doing these days (like agenting and running events) seemed a little weird merely tied to my name. so, while any organization i lead right now will be me and a collection of partners and contract relationships, i decided i needed a real organization name, a bit of legal formation, and a new website. so i went down the road of coming up with a name, created a logo, and am meeting today to start the work of building a new website. i’ll roll out the new name in the weeks to come. as you would expect from me, it’s a bit feisty and playful.
the other day, a wonderful church asked me for the 3rd time if i would consider coming on staff. i deeply respect the leadership of this church; and there are plenty of reasons to be tempted. but my response was: it feels like doing that, and stopping all this other stuff, would be thumbing my nose at god for all the wonderful opportunities he’s given me in every area over this past year. i really sense that god is in this stuff, and that i’m doing exactly what i should be doing right now.
man, 2011 is going to be a great year!