Tag Archives: scott rubin

campference rants

at the middle school ministry campference last weekend, our saturday morning tribal gathering didn’t have a full-length speaker. instead, we had four 7-minute “soapbox rants,” each in response to the question, “what’s one thing you wish all middle school youth workers would start or stop.” it was quite amazing how the four of them flowed together, even though we didn’t know what each was going to say (and they hadn’t communicated with each other).

brooklyn lindsey shared a wonderfully transparent challenge to be honest about who you really are. money quote:

“Stop being someone else. It’s time to be you!”

our second rant was crowdsourced. we invited all the attendees to submit a summary of what they would rant about, then posted the submissions without names on an online survey for voting. joel daniel harris, founder of the newly launched organization TomTod (an organization attempting to come around middle schoolers with a justice/social cause dream and help them turn it into a reality) spoke to us on our need to dream. he talked about “double scope integration,” the fancy term for imagination, connecting it to our calling to exercise imagination in the overlapping spaces of our culture and the kingdom of god, which he referred to as “sacred imagination.” brilliant stuff.

adam mclane was up next. and, since adam has blogged about his rant, you can read it here. adam pushed us to think about decentralizing youth ministry in order to be more responsive to the 42.7 million teenagers in america. money quote:

We must decentralize our role, invite more adults who minister to teenagers already to the table, and multiply our effectiveness.

bringing us home was scott rubin, who — like brooklyn — pushed us with his honesty while challenging us to think about where we “put our worst foot forward.” scott (who blogged the notes from his rant here), unpacked the reality that in an age of facebook and twitter, we’re constantly thinking about how to put our best foot forward in little snippets, constantly presenting the image of ourselves that we want people to have, constantly sharing an edited 2-dimensional version of ourselves. money quote:

Not getting 100 more twitter followers by Christmas isn’t going to disqualify you from ministry.
Not having someone who knows your secret world could bring your ministry – and life – to a grinding halt one day.

great stuff. i’d encourage you to click though on adam and scott’s stuff and read more.

junior high believe

i’m a big fan of “believe“, the touring junior high event hosted by ciy each year. quite a few years ago, i consulted with them about how to make it more intentional for early adolescents, and the then-new leader of the event, johnny scott (who has since become a good friend), ran hard after making changes. those changes have resulted, i think, in a pretty amazing event that is pretty amazing for young teens.

then, a few years ago, i spoke at most of the believe events for a season, and got to know it more intimately. johnny and his team continue to improve the event every year; i’m always impressed by his insatiable desire to improve (and i don’t mean “to make it flashier”; but, rather, to make it more and more effective in what an event like this can provide for young teens and middle school ministries).

so i’m stoked to join the team of speakers this year (an amazing team that includes some of my best friends in middle school ministry: scott rubin, kurt johnston, and heather flies), even if for only one city (atlanta). believe is coming to 11 cities in 2011, and i’d highly encourage you to check it out. they just released their promo materials in a pdf version, which you can check out here. the website for next year’s event will go live later this month, so watch for that.

and, yes, that is a bobble-head of me. they had them made of all the speakers. too funny!

questions about middle school ministry

so, i’ve written about the book scott rubin and i are co-authoring: middle school ministry: a comprehensive guide to ministry with early adolescents. our manuscript deadline is less than a month away, and we are both cranking hard. scott’s going away to a cabin for a couple days. i’m sitting at my local coffee shop for 3 – 4 hours every work day.

here’s the rough ‘table of contents’ for the book, btw. chapter titles might change, or shift in order, but this is the general idea:


Section One: Middle School Ministry? Why?

Chapter 1: Isn’t It Just Babysitting?

Chapter 2: Why I Do This
(a collection of 1-2 page essays, one each by kurt and marko; but a handful more from a wide-variety of middle school workers – church and parachurch, protestant and catholic, young and old, paid and volunteer)

Section Two: On a Need-To-Know Basis

Chapter 3: It’s All About Change

Chapter 4: Walking Hormones? (physical and sexual development)

Chapter 5: Mind-Warp (cognitive development)

Chapter 6: Rollercoaster Freak-Show (emotional development)

Chapter 7: Best Friends Forever! (relational change)

Chapter 8: I Can Do It! (Just Don’t Leave Me) (independence)

Chapter 9: Operating System Upgrade (spiritual development)

Chapter 10: White-Hot Temporary (early adolescent culture)

Chapter 11: The Overlapping Transition (some implications)

Section Three: The Land of Freaks, Geeks and Squirrels

Chapter 12: First Things First (putting yourself in their shoes)

Chapter 13: Dude! Sweetie! (building relationships with middle schoolers)

Chapter 14: You Can’t Always Wing It (a few thoughts about ministry structure)

Chapter 15: Get Small (small groups as the DNA of good MS Ministry)

Chapter 16: Ropes and Slack (effective and creative teaching)

Chapter 17: Do or Die (building a team)

Chapter 18: From Enemy to Advocate (working with parents)

Chapter 19: A Few Hard Truths, or, Why So Few Stay in Middle School Ministry

Chapter 20: See Jane Face New Issues (new issues facing middle school girls) (guest chapter by Kara Powell and Brad Griffin)

Chapter 21: 8 Traits of Great Middle School Ministry Volunteers (guest chapter by Jim Candy)


Q&A with Scott & Marko

101 Random Ministry Ideas from Scott & Marko

the first of these appendices is why i’m posting today. scott and i are going to come up with some FAQs, and he’s going to ask his vast gaggle of volunteers for questions. but i’d love to hear from you:

what question(s) about middle schoolers or middle school ministry would you like us to address in this little ‘bonus section’? we’d love to consider including your question (and, of course, a short response!). priority would be given, i would think, to questions that might not be already addressed in the body of the book (which is why i included the TOC).

middle school ministry book

years ago, i started developing the concept of a training product for middle school ministry (something along the lines of doug field’s pdym training kit, but for middle school youth workers). after noodling on the idea for a couple years, i decided to move forward, but thought it would be better to include an in-the-trenches middle school pastor (since i’m a middle school volunteer these days) as a co-author. so i asked my friend kurt johnston if he would co-author. we met a couple times and started to flesh out the idea a bit more.

in the midst of developing the idea, kurt mentioned to our ys publisher that he thought we could also write a book for middle schoolers covering some of the same ground. that idea became the six books of the middle school survival series. kurt co-authored the first four with me. then, because he had other commitments, my friend scott rubin stepped in as the co-author for the last two.

jay, the ys publisher, felt the training product would be better as a supplemental resource after we’d written a book about middle school ministry. so we dusted off the old proposal, tweaked it a bit, and scott and i have been working on it for the last 6 months (though we didn’t really get serious about writing until the last few months). we now have a january 5 deadline looming over us, and are cranking to get it done. it’s a much longer book than anything i’ve written before, and i’m really glad to have a co-author!

anyhow, here’s a sneak peek at the cover. the book is set to release next august.

here’s the product description page on the zondervan site.

Middle School Ministry
A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Early Adolescents
Coming August 2009

By: Mark Oestreicher, Scott Rubin

Format: Softcover

List Price: $15.99 (USD)

If you’re working with middle schoolers, you know that ministry to early teens can be a little nuts sometimes! This calling requires a unique set of skills and knowledge. In this comprehensive guide from two middle school minister veterans, you’ll find everything you need to understand and effectively minister to middle school students. You’ll feel prepared and equipped to meet young teens where they are and lead them towards a life with Jesus.

“You are one of the few, the proud, the brave middle school youth workers, which means that you are a person that some might consider a little nuts while others look at you in awe. But no matter what anyone else thinks, you know that being in the trenches with middle school students requires a unique set of skills and knowledge. Middle School Ministry is the only comprehensive guide to ministry with young teens (11-14). In these pages you’ll find everything you need to understand and effectively minister to middle school students, including: • The role and importance of middle school ministry • Early adolescent development • Research on early adolescent social structures and cultural studies • Practical ministry ideas for everything from teaching to programming to working with parents You’ll also be able to access the wisdom of veteran middle school pastors, Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin in a Q&A section and “101 Random Ideas” where Marko and Scott offer random, funny, and creative ideas for everything from games to room decorating to travel. If you find yourself in a room full of energetic, unpredictable middle school students, Middle School Ministry will help you feel prepared and equipped to meet them where they are and lead them towards a life with Jesus.”

Book & Bible Cover Size: Large
Page Count: 256

Weight: 1 lb | 453 gms

Available: August 2009
Publisher: Zondervan/Youth Specialties

my two newest books

the last two books in the middle school survival series just came out this week. i’m pretty stoked about them. i wrote the first four books (my faith, my family, my school, and my friends) with kurt johnston; but these last two i co-authored with scott rubin. we had a great time doing them together.

so, here they are:

my changes
my future