Tag Archives: youth work

Cartel Culture (The Youth Cartel free awesomeness, part 2)

this week, The Youth Cartel (my kick-butt little company!) launched two amazing, free youth ministry resource emails. yesterday, i wrote about YouTube You Can Use, the weekly mini-discussion built around a youtube clip. free. really. that sucka will come out pretty much each and every monday (but only to the wise and savvy youth workers who sign up for it, here).

but that’s not all! if you order now, we’ll throw in the ginsu knives

wait. no.

oh, yeah, it’s CARTEL CULTURE.

let’s be honest: no one wants weekly emails full of long letters and articles — that’s what blogs are for (c’mon, sing that last line to the tune of michael w. smith’s ‘that’s what friends are for’; i’ll wait for you). links. when it comes to FREE weekly emails about stuff youth workers should see, it’s gotta be links, baby.

that’s what the weekly CARTEL CULTURE is. it’s a free link-fest (all in a beautifully designed shell, i must say, created by the unstoppable adam mclane). looks like this:

you’ll notice there that we have 6 links, each in a different “bucket”. but those are only 6 of the 15 “buckets” we’ll rotate through each week. the whole list includes:


who knows, maybe we’ll throw in some more categories over time (we’re sneaky that way — we’re a cartel, after all).

some of the links go to The Youth Cartel site, so that we can host some conversation around the bit. others go to external sites.

you can sign up here for the weekly CARTEL CULTURE email, which is free (did i mention that?). you’ll see the other emails you can sign up for also (YouTube You Can Use, and our event and book and curriculum news, the latter two of which will only be sporadic, at best). we promise, we won’t spam you or sell your email address or anything like that. hey, once you’re in the cartel baby, you’re like family.

what’s the feel of your youth ministry?

here’s an across the grain thought: the ‘feel’ of your youth ministry should be that it’s a place of rest.

So often, our youth ministries are more accurately considered “places of expectations” or “places of busy-ness”. But what a great gift you give your students when you make your youth ministry (at least sometimes) a “place of rest”!

This isn’t about offering nap time! It’s about creating a safe place for students to let down their guard and relax. It’s about fostering an environment that isn’t always about being busy. It’s about holding up slowness and rest and quiet as powerful spiritual values with huge results in our lives.

This is counter-cultural stuff in most of our churches, where we’ve bought into the cultural value (this isn’t from scripture!) of busy-ness being spiritual. How many times have you heard someone in the church talk about how busy they are, because of their ministry involvements, with the implication that this is a good thing. I don’t think Jesus thinks over-commitment and busy-ness are good things. In fact, Jesus seems to think just the opposite! Slow down. Teach your students how to slow down. Learn to live in the (initially awkward) space of quiet, and make that a regular part of your youth ministry. Sure, it’s great to play hard, have feisty discussions, and be involved in a passionate pursuit of serving others. But teaching about and providing a space for rest is equally important!

the future of youth ministry, episode 9

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)
episode 7 (a little bit o’ sunshine)
episode 8 (less siloing)

we’ve had some great perspective-pushing quotes in this series, and i’m going to wrap it up with five great one-liners. consider them five more shots across the bow:

Greg Stier (blogger, founder and pres of dare to share)

“In the future, the church will be forced to marginalize or centralize youth ministry… no in-between.”

Tash McGill (blogger, kiwi youth ministry entrepreneur)

“The ‘issue’ with youth ministry is found in the adjective ‘youth’ and the verb ‘ministry’ being too often confused for nouns.”

Brian Berry (blogger, up-and-coming youth ministry voice, the youth pastor at my church)

“The future of youth ministry will be irrelevant if we don’t learn how to influence teens to embrace young adulthood instead of perpetual adolescence.”

Mike King (blogger, ceo of youth front, author of presence-centered youth ministry)

“I hope youth ministry in the future will embrace missionally all the things that the church is afraid of today… realistically, however, I don’t think youth ministry as we know it today will exist 25 years from now!”

Tic Long (exec director of youth specialties)

“Youth ministry is at a crossroads of seeing culture as an enemy or as a friend. The road they choose will determine it’s future.”

the future of youth ministry, episode 8

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)
episode 7 (a little bit o’ sunshine)


i’ve only known terrace crawford for a year or two, and we’ve never actually met face-to-face. but i’ve enjoyed terrace’s positivity and good thinking. and i keep hearing his name from other sharp youth workers who have met him, and how much they enjoy him. about a year ago, i helped terrace land a part-time role as the youth ministry editor for churchleaders.com, a role he’s done really well with. here’s what terrace had to say:

Terrace Crawford

I think we are beginning to see less paid staff in youth ministry than ever before… and this is just the beginning. I believe churches will recruit more volunteers in the days ahead. Additionally, I think we’ll see less silos in youth ministry and more integration of students into “big church.” As a result, students will begin assuming more leadership roles. Finally, I think churches & ministries are having to “strip down” to the basics because of the economy & budget cuts — and it just might be what the Lord has ordered. I believe what we often see in the physical realm is mirrored in the spiritual. God may be salvaging the remnants and stripping away what doesn’t need to remain in our ministries & we are better for it. Because of this, I am very hopeful about the future of youth ministry.

there is much i resonate with in terrace’s comments. and i agree that some of it is cause for being hopeful; but some of it will also be extremely difficult, even threatening. let’s parse it a bit:

less paid staff. yes, i’ve been saying for a while (as have others — mark riddle most notably) that the next 20 years will see a decline in the number of paid youth workers. the impact of the recession on church expedited this, and we might even see a little reprieve in the next few years (assuming things rebound a bit, as they likely will). but that will be a false indication that “the money is back”. giving to churches continues to decline — it was declining before the recession, and will continue to decline after the recession. churches will be forced to rethink farming out youth ministry to a hired gun. in many ways, i think this is a good thing. the hired gun mentality has hurt us in many ways that we didn’t see when we started down that road, because there are all sorts of systemic implications that flow out of that, not the least of which are both the abdication of the care of youth ministry to someone “more qualified”, and the wholesale isolation of teenagers to the fringes of our churches. in many ways, this is bad news for paid youth workers. there hasn’t been this much lack of job security in youth ministry in 40 years. heck, it’s even going to be a challenge for people like me who resource churches and youth workers.

the potential upside is this: congregations will be forced to re-engage teenagers, hopefully as an integral part of the body. all the research (sticky faith, national study of youth and religion) is telling us that this kind of congregrational engagement and integration is one of the necessary aspects for sustainable faith in teenagers moving to adulthood. but it just might be this financial reality that forces the issue.

less silos and more integration. connected to the last bit, this move away from isolation (the primary approach to youth ministry in america over the last 40 years) and toward re-integration is a move some churches are already wrestling with. this will require some boldness, some patience, and some experimentation. my hope is: enough churches will lead the way in this for missional/theological reasons that when thousands of other churches are forced to consider other options for youth ministry because of budget cut-backs, there will be loads of wonderful examples of how to do this well. in one sense it’s not rocket science; but most of our churches are so deeply steeped in a mindset of isolating teenagers, the pathways out of that thinking and practice won’t be obvious (and certainly won’t be easy).

students assuming leadership roles. this is another wonderful shift that needs to happen, and directly connects with what we’re learning from research about adolescent and young adult faith. meaningful responsibility and expectation are necessary for the transition to adulthood (the lack of these is one of the primary reasons for extended adolescence). an opportunity for teenagers and young adults to play a meaningful role in their churches (not just their youth ministries) is just what the doctor ordered.

terrace might be assuming that people will choose these shifts because they are more-than-necessary course corrections. i think a few churches will. but more will forced to strip down and get lean, which will put them in a place to consider new (and old) approaches that are more integrated, and mo’ better.

here’s hopin’.

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.

the future of youth ministry, episode 4

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
episode 2
episode 3

while the last episode, with kara powell and brad griffin’s comments, focused on intergenerational ministry, andy root and lars rood (hmm, last name similarity?) narrow that focus a bit more to parents. i have noticed that discussion about youth ministry often makes these two subjects (intergenerational ministry and parent ministry) one and the same; but they’re not. there’s some overlap, to be sure; but the intergenerational question is more focused on helping teenagers rub shoulders with the whole community of faith, while the parent question is more focused on the role of parents in the faith formation of teenagers, and understanding the family systems teenagers live in.

mini bios:
andy root (andrew, if you’re looking for his books and such) is the associate professor of youth and family ministry at luther seminary. andy’s first book is on the top 10 youth ministry books list of lots of thoughtful youth ministry peeps: revisiting relational youth ministry. after that, andy cranked out 3 books in the time it takes many to read 3 books (relationships unfiltered, the promise of despair, and children of divorce). in short: dude is wicked smart.

lars rood is, in my opinion, one of the next wave of youth ministry voices. the lead youth minister at highland park presbyterian church in dallas, lars is one of the very, very few practicing youth workers with a doctorate. he’s got a book coming out soon, and i expect will have much more to say to us in the years to come.

here’s what andy and lars had to say (andy mentions more than parents, but i’m grouping these two together since they both touch on that question):

Andy Root
In the next few decades youth ministry will need to face the following: a way to actually work with families in a very complicated familial cultural locale, a way of dealing with pluralism–being able to claim the particularity of Jesus without it sliding into rigidity, and to find a robust theological position that connects revelation (the way we understand God’s revealing presence) with our practices and strategies of day to day ministry.

Lars Rood
I’m scared of one thing. How much we are going to have to shift things to draw parents into their faith for the first time. I think parent ministry is going to be a huge new reality of youth pastors.

here’s my 2 cents: i think there has been a LOT of talk about engaging parents and working with parents and parent ministry (and “family ministry”) in the last 10 or more years. but, other than youth workers trying to increase communication, and offering a parent event once in a while, i’ve seen very little rubber hitting the road. mostly what i see are middle aged youth workers changing their titles to “pastor of family ministries”, or something similar, as a way of sounding like they’re doing more, so they can warrant a salary on which they can survive. yeah, that’s snarky and pessimistic; but it’s what i’ve seen. i’m sure there are myriad exceptions; but they’re in the minority.

all the research out there (like christian smith’s stuff) shows us what we know, but often don’t want to admit: parents have a WAY bigger impact on their teenagers’ faith than we do. when we DO admit that, it’s usually our rationale for a student who didn’t respond to our amazing ministry efforts.

so what to do? i think lars brings up a good point: we have to engage the faith formation of parents. “but that’s not my job!” some would say. well, maybe it needs to be…

2 Corinthians 11 & 12, if Paul had been a youth worker

I repeat: let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. In this self-confident boasting, I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who insists that business leadership models apply to the church, or tells you to copy that new church that’s all the buzz, or insists that the loudest voice or the biggest donor wins, or replaces discernment with the safest course. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!

What anyone else dares to boast about – I am speaking as a fool – I also dare to boast about. Do they have the right degree? So do I. Have they published a book? So have I. Do they have a “proven track record”? So do I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been ignored more frequently, been second-guessed more severely, and been exposed to unimaginable smells again and again. Five times I received from a church board the veiled threat to bring my numbers up, or else. Three times I was belittled by a senior pastor, once I was sick for a week because of the mystery meat at camp, three times I was shot at close range with a paintball gun by a junior higher who thought it was funny, I spent nights and days in a van that smelled of armpits, farts, skittles and vomit, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from teenagers who didn’t take their meds, in danger from school principals, in danger from my own churchgoers, in danger from the bank that holds my mortgage; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger on the mission field; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known back pain and nausea and have often gone without anything but fast food; I have been cold and sunburned. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the teenagers. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of this surpassingly great ministry calling, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is make perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


last year, a bunch of youth workers in the midwest gathered for a dialogue around the ideas in youth ministry 3.0. i followed joel harris’s blogging about their conversations, and thought it was a very cool gathering — robust dialogue about youth ministry.

here’s how joel describes the event:

The goal of Seismos when it was started was to host a gathering (not a conference) of youth pastors that promoted dialogue and discussion among participants, was affordable, and dealt with issues that were relevant to the youth ministry that we love. Last year was a great start, with a gathering of 20 youth pastors from 4 states discussing “Youth Ministry 3.0” for three days. The conversations begun during these three days have had lasting results in our ministries, in our continued relationships, and in our personal lives.

so i was stoked when they asked me to join them this year for the second seismos event. check out joel’s post about it here. we’ll be wrestling with adolescent brain development (and its implications) as our primary theme. the event is cheap, and should be a kick.

it’s limited to 40 people, and is currently half-filled. so if you’re in illlinois, indiana, ohio, michigan or something else in that general vacinity, consider joining us!

official launch: youth ministry coaching program

Youth Ministry Coaching Program
A yearlong 360 coaching cohort, focusing on whole-life development and youth ministry issues.

Critical thinking and theological reflection is extremely important for youth workers who don’t merely want to perpetuate the way things have been done in the past. But thinking and reflection are merely one portion (though a significant one) of what will help youth workers stay true to their calling and also grow in maturity and effectiveness. Emotional, relational, and spiritual health are critical to long-term impact. This program is designed to provide both an opportunity for critical reflection and discussion of youth ministry issues, but also to provide safe place to process holistic growth.

In many ways, this program will surpass the training that can be offered by seminars and conventions. It will even surpass the experience of formal education. This is specifically due to the structure of the program (a small cohort with accountability, safety and shared shaping of the content), as well as the content of the program (thoughtful youth ministry dialogue, real life application, personal development, emotional honesty, and spiritual direction).

Expected Outcomes
After completion of the yearlong process in the Youth Ministry Coaching Program, participants will have had the following experiences and opportunities:
• Participants will grow in understanding their strengths and weakness, how these impact their leadership, ministry, and personal life, and how to capitalize on their strengths and minister within their weaknesses.
• They will experience new spiritual growth and insight as they safely process their own journey and the integration of their spiritual selves with their ministry selves.
• Cohort members will receive training on a wide variety of youth ministry issues, with an opportunity for dialogue and contextual application.
• They will have the opportunity to experience thoughtful dialogue on subjects of their own choosing, as the group will help shape the content agenda.
• Participants will develop life-long youth ministry peer relationships of trust and accountability.
• They will read 6 books, discuss them, and reflect on the implications for their own lives and ministries.
• Each will make presentations to the group in areas of their own choosing, with feedback and suggestions from the group.
• They will work through a series of self-selected homework assignments, with input from the group, and accountability from a “homework partner”.
• Participants will have 12 private coaching sessions with Mark Oestreicher (6 in person, 6 via phone).
• And each will have the option of 6 spiritual direction sessions with a trained spiritual director.

Each participant will also receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program.

Structure of the Year
The application process will run through February and March, with a plan to have our first meeting in April or May. Accepted participants will have an opportunity to speak into the actual meeting dates, but once set, the dates will not be flexible.

The cohort will meet every other month for a year. These meetings will likely occur in May, July, September, and November of 2010, and January and March of 2011. The meetings will be held at Journey Community Church, in La Mesa, California (15 minutes from downtown San Diego).

Each meeting will be two days long, starting at 8 am the first day and running through the evening; second day will begin at 8 am and finish by 5 pm.

In addition to the group meetings, participants will be provided a closed social networking site for updates, prayer, questions, and dialogue. This will also be a place for active participation in helping each other with practical issues in youth ministry, and Marko will be involved regularly in giving input and feedback. “Homework partners” will be assigned for the period of time between meetings, and weekly or bi-weekly calls will be expected to provide support and accountability.

In addition, each participant will be scheduled for a short, private coaching session with Mark Oestreicher at each of the 6 group meetings, and will schedule a coaching session to touch base by phone in between each of the group meetings.

Structure for Each 2-day Meeting (subject to change)

Day 1
8 – 9 am Getting caught up and sharing homework results
9:15 – 10:30 am Marko presents a youth ministry topic for discussion, with discussion and dialogue about contextual implications
10:45 am – 12 pm Personal sharing
12 – 2:30 pm
• Lunch break (on your own)
• Personal coaching sessions with Marko
• Spiritual direction appointments (optional)
2:30 – 3:15 pm Team member presentation (a 360 feedback process on a particular problem, idea, or growth opportunity in your life or ministry)
3:15 – 4 pm Team member presentation
4:15 – 5 pm Book discussion
5 – 5:30 pm Quick input blocks
5:30 – 6:30 pm Break
6:30 – 9 pm Dinner together and hanging out (cost of dinner on your own)

Day 2
8 – 8:30 am Prayer
8:30 – 10:30 am Guided discussion(s) around themes suggested and chosen by the group
10:45 am – 12 pm Personal sharing
12 – 2:30 pm
• Lunch break (on your own)
• Personal coaching sessions with Marko
• Spiritual direction appointments (optional)
2:30 – 3:15 pm Team member presentation
3:15 – 4 pm Team member presentation
4:15 – 5 pm Homework assignments

Application Process
• Email Marko ([email protected]) and ask for a copy of the application. It’s a simple form with basic information and questions about why you want to be involved. (If you’d like a copy of this entire post in PDF form, for better printing, please email me.)
• Once your application is received, Marko will schedule a phone call with you to talk through details, motivation, and availability.
• Once you are notified of your acceptance, you will have an opportunity to vote on actual dates for the group meetings.

Other Random Administrative Details
• Only one person from any particular church will be allowed in this first cohort. This is essential for the safe and honest environment we will be cultivating.
• Discounted rates at a nearby hotel will be negotiated for you. More information on this will be given to those who are traveling from out of the San Diego area.
• Our first meeting will begin the evening prior to the two-day schedule, to give us an opportunity to get to know each other.

• A fee of $2500 will be due prior to the first meeting. The reason for this is that, should anyone decide to pull out, we will not be able to add another person to the group once it has started. If paying in one lump sum is a hardship for you, Marko will discuss alternatives with you.
• All other expenses (travel, housing, meals, books) will be your own responsibility.

About Mark Oestreicher
After almost 30 years in youth ministry, Marko is now focusing his energy on consulting with non-profits about youth and young adults, and in launching the Youth Ministry Coaching Program. Marko spent the last 11 years at Youth Specialties (7 of those as the president). Author of more than 50 books for teenagers and youth workers (including the much-discussed Youth Ministry 3.0), Marko regularly speaks to youth and youth workers around the globe. Marko and his wife Jeannie have been married for 24 years and have two children: Liesl (16) and Max (12). Marko is also a volunteer youth worker, leading a middle school boys small group, at his local church.

soft launch: youth pastor coaching program

for the past 9 months, i’ve been in a wonderful leadership coaching program with dr. john townsend. we meet one day a month, for 12 months, and there are 7 others in the group with me. the 360 process has been one of the most valuable features.

as i’ve thought about what god is calling me to next, i’ve considered lots of options (and even turned down a few gracious offers that didn’t feel like the right fit). sometime in the next week or two, i’ll try to write a longer post about my discernment process, as well as a post about what i’m sensing is next for me. but one of the things that struck me is how much i would love to offer a coaching program, much like the one i’m in, but tailored specifically for youth workers.

i expect to finalize plans for this in the next couple weeks, and hope to open it up for registration. but i wanted to blog about it first to get some responses from you.

here’s some of what i’m thinking:
– i think once a month for one day is not ideal for youth workers (especially if there’s any chance of someone flying in). so i’m thinking we’ll meet for two days, every other month, for a year. so, 6 meetings of 2 days each.
– i’m going to host this first round in san diego to test it. if it fills up and goes well, i’ll consider hosting one or more in other parts of the country. in other words, i have no idea at this point if this will be the one-and-only time i offer this, or if i’ll be doing more of these.
– i’ll be limiting the group to 12 participants, and will likely go ahead with it if i have at least 6. the “cohort” aspect of this process is a key factor, and i want us all to become friends and family.
– our 2 days (each time we meet) will be combination of youth ministry discussions, personal coaching, spiritual growth stuff, and personal development. i expect that we’ll offer spiritual direction for all participants at each meeting, as well as individual meetings with me. participants will have the opportunity to present stuff to the group (plans, ideas, talks, problems), and receive loads of feedback. i’ll bring some topics to the table, and other topics of discussion will be decided on by the group.
– we’ll meet in a comfortable room at a local church here in san diego, and i’ll get some kind of discount set up with a hotel for those who need to spend the night. our schedule would run all day for two days, including hanging out the evening of the first night (so, something like 8am – 9pm the first day, and 8am – 5pm the second day).
– the meetings will all be mid-week (tues/weds, or weds/thurs), so it won’t take anyone away from sunday commitments.
– we would have a closed social networking site for regular communication between meetings, as well as scheduled phone calls with me between meetings and assigned “homework partners”.
– there will be homework (a book for each meeting, as well as homework you and the group will choose for your specific situation).
– i’m toying with launching this officially in the weeks to come, with a potential start of march or april of this year.

as for the cost: well, i’m thinking i can offer this for something around $2500, per person, for the year. that might sound like a lot to some, i realize; but i don’t think i can afford to do it for less than that. i tried to figure out a price that wasn’t completely prohibitive, but would still work for me, considering the time investment (and the other costs i’ll have). i’d really love to consider bringing in some guest speakers also; but i think i’d have to charge something more like $2900 to make that work. all other costs (transportation, meals) would be on your own.

i love that there are so many fantastic undergraduate and graduate youth ministry programs at accredited schools these days. but i also think there’s a level of personal and professional development that can be offered in a program like this that goes beyond what a school setting can provide.

my questions to all of you:
– what do you think? would you be interested in considering this?
– what’s your response to the basic parameters i’ve laid out? any suggestions?
– any ideas for me on how to get the word out about this?
– if you’re interested in being a part of this program, would you rather keep the cost to $2500 for the year, and not have guest speakers, or bump it up to $2900 and have some world-class youth thinkers join us each time to further our thinking and discussion?