Tag Archives: saddleback church

Multi-Site Church Youth Ministry cohort of YMCP

At The Youth Cartel, our flagship program–the Youth Ministry Coaching Program–is experiencing some amazing growth. With more than 250 graduates now, we continue to refine and tweak and see massive transformation in the lives of participants and their ministries. Just the other day, a fairly recent grad who has simultaneously jumped into our Level 2 cohort and our Coaching Certification training emailed me, writing:

As I stand waiting to board my flight from Chicago home, I’m struck with an overwhelming appreciation for the Cartel. A little over a year ago I didn’t know The Youth Cartel existed and as I reflect over the past year, I can’t believe how far I’ve come-how I’ve grown in ministry, what I’ve learned, but more importantly how my life has so drastically changed from being bitter and focused on the past to future-focused and hope-filled. Thank you for the role that you and the Cartel have played in that transformation. I am forever grateful!

If you’re not familiar with YMCP, you should read this overview.

If you’re wondering about the 8 cohorts we’re currently filling, click here.

But I’m particularly pumped about the four topic-specific cohorts we’re currently looking to fill. So i’m posting about each of them, four days in  row.

Yesterday, I wrote about the new Ministry Architects cohort co-lead by April Diaz (from the Cartel) and Jeff Dunn-Rankin (VP of Coaching at Ministry Architects).

Tomorrow, I’ll post about the 2nd Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian Context cohort.

And, Friday: the THIRD (woot!) Women in Youth Ministry cohort.

But today, I’m pumped to tell you about the new Multi-Site Church Youth Ministry cohort I’ll be co-leading with Kurt Johnston of Saddleback Church:

There has been an explosion of churches moving to a multi-site approach in the last few years. Understandably, a church’s decision to move to a multi-site approach is rarely (if ever) driven by the mission of the youth ministry. And as such, youth workers in these churches are often scrambling to figure out best practices, formats and structures, success metrics, and all sorts of other variables. We felt it would be great to host a YMCP cohort exclusive to youth workers wrestling with these questions.

This cohort will still embody the values and promises of YMCP: leadership development and growth in self-knowledge, problem solving and personal transformation. But Kurt Johnston, the leader of all youth ministries for Saddleback Church’s 17 campuses, will also guide some specific conversations on the uniqueness of multi-site church youth ministry.

As a bonus: The Youth Cartel and Saddleback Church will be hosting a 2-day mini-Campference on the topic of Multi-Site Church Youth Ministry. One meeting of this cohort (probably the first meeting) will coincide with this event, with the fee for this event being included in the cost of the cohort.

Details in summary:

FormatHybrid cohort– 3 face-to-face meetings of 2 days each + 3 online meetings of 3 hours each. 6 individual coaching sessions (2 face-to-face and 4 phone). One of the face-to-face meetings will coincide with a Multi-Site Youth Ministry mini-Campference co-hosted by The Youth Cartel and Saddleback Church.


CoachesMarko and Kurt Johnston

Launch Date3 – 6 months after reaching 10 participants

LocationSaddleback Church, Lake Forest CA

For more information (including pricing and a full overview of the Youth Ministry Coaching Program), click here.
To lock in your spot for one of the 10 spots, click here to apply and put down a $100 deposit.

kurt johnston offers 5 reasons he’s excited for the middle school ministry campference

kurt johnston, who oversees all of student ministries, and is hands on in junior high ministry at saddleback church, is a key player in the formation of the middle school ministry campference. recently on his blog, he posted these 5 reasons he’s excited about the MSMC.


If you work with middle school students, and haven’t heard about the upcoming Middle School Ministry Campference, hosted by Mark Oestreicher’s new ministry, The Youth Cartel, let me be the first to tell you about it!

In short, it is a three-day conference in a camp setting…thus the title, “Campference”. I am really excited to be joining the fun, and am looking forward to it for several reasons:

1) It’s middle school specific. There just isn’t much (if anything) out there that targets the young teen youth workers. Every general sesssion, every workshop…everything about the event…is designed to encourage and equip men and women who work with middle schoolers!

2) Marko is the leading thinker and “banner waver” in the junior high ministry realm. Frankly, I just want to be part of something he is putting together because I know the conversations will be rich.

3) I want to hang out and rub shoulders with others who actually enjoy middle school ministry!

4) I’ve always wondered what camp would feel like if we could go to camp without students! And that is exactly what the campference will be. it will feature all the cool things of camp, but we won’t have to worry about our junior highers! Too good to be true.

5) October is the perfect time of year for a retreat. Fall is in full swing, and the holidays are still a few weeks away…a perfect time to set aside for some personal growth.

Please consider joining us for what promises to be an amazing event.


don’t wait! register today and join us for the party.

the future of youth ministry, episode 7

i led a late night discussion at the national youth workers convention this past fall on “the future of youth ministry”. in preparation for that discussion, i emailed a few dozen friends with better youth ministry minds than my own, and asked them to complete the sentence, “the future of youth ministry….” about 15 of them responded (often with more than a sentence!). i’m posting them here as a series, sometimes with a bit of commentary from myself, and sometimes merely as a reflection-prod. would love to hear your responses.
episode 1 (searching for the right way)
episode 2 (discipleship, barriers)
episode 3 (intergenerational ministry)
episode 4 (parents)
episode 5 (re-weird-ifying christianity)
episode 6 (the system is broken)


after a handful of episodes in this series full of strong statements and veiled threats, it’s time for a little sunshine. i’ll comment after the quote, so let’s get right to it.

kurt johnston oversees all student ministries (junior high, high school and college) at saddleback church, in orange county, california. a life-long junior high guy, kurt is a great friend and iron-sharpening-iron conversation partner for me. i’ve regularly told people that what’s truly stunning about kurt is that it would be so easy for him to have a big head or an air of condescension. after all, he oversees a youth ministry that sees 2500 teenagers and young adults come through their doors each weekend. but, while kurt is totally up for that role, in terms of skill and leadership ability, he’s one of the most humble and grounded youth workers i know. he is a constant reminder to me that “ministry success” really isn’t measured by numbers, but by the size of the youth worker’s heart.

Kurt Johnston
Youth ministry is too nuanced…too fluid…to predict its future with any level of certainty. I do not believe the youth ministry sky is falling and look forward to a bright future, in whatever shape it takes.

ok, let’s respond to little miss sunshine.

kurt has been a fair and respectful adversary with me for a few years on the broad subject of needed change in youth ministry. he struggled with youth ministry 3.0 because he saw it as overly pessimistic, even damaging (to be fair, i’m putting words in his mouth).

but here’s what i love about kurt’s quote and outlook: in the midst of my constant moaning and prophesizing and doomsdaying, i need people like kurt to remind me of what i see every wednesday night in my 8th grade guys small group. god doesn’t need us to change our thinking about youth ministry in order for it to be “more effective”. and the newest thinking and most culturally-responsive mindsets in the world don’t create life transformation in teenagers. in fact, it would be fairly easy to fault my writing and speaking as being overly convinced (even though i would never say this) that there are things we can DO to make teenagers be transformed.

god seems to dig a relational context for transformation; at least that seems to be the pattern. as a result, any jesus-y youth ministry (or adult – it doesn’t have to actually be a youth ministry) who engages teenagers can be used by god to bring about transformation.

that’s why i like kurt’s quote. i mean, i think he’s smokin’ perkiness through a crack pipe, and sounds a little too much like dorothy from wizard of oz with that “bright future” crap. but i still like his quote, and need it.