Top Ten Youth Ministry bloggers

As we close out another here I wanted to give a shout out to the youth ministry bloggers out there.

This is my own personal list, not intended to be “the” list.

For a great list of youth ministry bloggers check out the Youth Specialties link below

Top 20 youth ministry blogs of 2010

*and by the way YS, no hard feelings that this blog didn’t make your list…maybe next year (hint)

I am not sure how these numbers are calculated.  Hits to site?  Readership?  Subscriptions? Impact?  Name recognition?

Here is how I created my top ten:

People that I actually read, value, and learn from their thoughts in youth ministry.  I have chosen a few “outside of the box” writers and thinkers.  Some of these men and women you have heard of and probably read, others maybe not.  Personally I don’t care as much about the statistics of certain blogs, but more about the ideas presented.  If I can bring some new, progressive, and emerging voices into the realm of youth ministry that would be great.

Clearly there are so many great bloggers out there.  My list will look very different from Youth Specialties or your own..and that is a very good thing.  Each one of us in on a different journey, and so diverse types of thinkers and bloggers will impact us and our ministry.  Here are the thinkers, writers, practitioners, activists, and bloggers who have impacted me this past year.

Top Ten Youth Ministry Bloggers

A new kind of youth ministry–   Chris Folsmbee (author, trainer, and director of Barefoot Ministries

Youth Specialties blog– Adam Mclane and an “assortment” of other youth workers and thinkers

Rethinking Youth Ministry-Brian Kirk and Jacob Thorne (mainline/progressive youth pastors offering new perspectives)

ReYouthpastor– Jeremy Zach (trainer and innovator in youth ministry w/ XP3 students

Mike King (author and director of Immerse Journal and Youthfont)

Why is Marko– Mark Oesteicher (author, speaker, YS emergent brain child)

evolitionist– Neil Christopher (activist and progressive youth pastor in TX)

Lars Rood (author, speaker, youth pastor in TX)

pomomusing– Adam Walker Cleaveland (theologian & “postmodern” youth pastor)

Peter Waugh (progressive and creative youth pastor in Belfast, Ireland)

Now I wish I made my list top 15 or 20 because there are so many other great youth ministry blogs out there.

For more of a fuller and broader list of youth ministry bloggers that I read, please scroll down the right of the home page of Emerging Youth

and find the RSS feeds under “Who I read”. That section is my personal blogroll for youth ministry people.

*Please comment with ones that you follow and read and I will probably add a few more as well!

Happy blogging and Happy New Year


“God is Loud” introduction

Friends and fellow bloggers,

It’s finally here!  Sorry for the delay in writing, but this book project (as great as it is) has been more time-consuming than I thought.

Anyways, here is the introduction to the God is Loud book project from Chris Folmsbee and I.

This is a rough draft.  Unpolished and unfinished…intentionally.   The final editing has yet to be done.

Here is my hope and dream for this project.  Every two weeks, I will post a new addition/chapter on this blog.

This is where you come in.

I would love to get feedback, input, thoughts, stories, links, etc….

Much of what you post will be used in the book itself in some way, shape, or form.

Some ideas will help shape our thinking and the overall direction.

Some might be used within the actual body of the text or perhaps as a sidebar, end note, or as a part of the student journal.

Already a few like-minded youth pastors from around the world have sent some wonderful writings to help compliment Chris and I.

Remember, this book is for our students, so we want to include content and ideas that can hopefully represent a wide variety of students, churches,  and contexts.

If you hate what we have to say, feel free to comment as well, but they will probably not be posted.

This particular book is not for youth leader development as such (in that situation critiques and opposite opinions can be very beneficial)

Rather, as stated before, our hope is for students to grasp the mission of God and their role in partnering with God that will lead to deepened spiritual formation.

So, please help spread the word to youth leaders so we can gain more insight and help make this book as helpful and inspirational to students as possible.

Thanks for journeying with us in this process.  We are excited to see what’s in store for the future, not only for this book, but for this network and friendship of youth leaders.

Dan Haugh & Chris Folmsbee

Attached is the intro chapter in a PDF format.

*Copyrights for exclusive use of Barefoot Ministries, Chris Folmsbee and Dan Haugh

God is Loud_introduction

“God is Loud” book project

This week, Chris Folmsbee announced on his blog about my involvement in the God is Loud project.  To read his post, click here:

God is Loud announcement

*I would also recommend reading his two other posts on his site about this project (“Lets write a book together” parts 1 & 2)

A New Kind of Youth Ministry

I want to first thank Chris for this opportunity, as well as his support and friendship over the years.  This is truly his vision and idea, and I am glad to share his passion for it and be able to work alongside him and hopefully many of you.

I have provided some thoughts about this project and how you can be involved.  Please stay posted to this blog for updates and to leave comments as well.

Our vision for this book is to provide an inspirational, thought-provoking, and transformational book for students. This book is intended for your students…for my students.

In my opinion, there are many books out there written by and for youth leaders on spiritual formation.  These books have helped me a great deal in my journey and I attempt each week to pass on my experiences to my students through teachings and sharing life together.

However, very little has been written for students on this subject that  was not curriculum based.

Our hope is to provide students with a free downloadable resource written for them and speaking into their context, their issues, and addressing many of their thoughts and questions.

Is this task overwhelming? Yes

Is it feasible? We’ll see!

I truly believe God is behind this vision and project and have confidence that with reflection, prayer, and support, this can become something special for students around the world.

I would like to involve as many of you as possible.  Please post comments and/or email your thoughts to me.

Ideally, it would be great to get perspective from different youth workers from around the globe and be able to produce something that speaks to students across multiple contexts.

I may also contact a few of you directly for specific input.

I have already recruited Jeremy Zach to help in this process.  He is a brilliant thinker, gifted youth pastor out in CA, and a good friend.  You can read his writings by clicking the link below


The process for the God is Loud  project will go as follows:

Each theme/topic will be posted on this blog along with some initial thoughts from myself and Chris.

Please read, analyze, critique, and add additional thoughts, examples, etc in the comments.  Anything used in the book will be given credit to you, so also make sure to provide your information.

Once each section is complete (and subsequently each of the 5 chapters), they too will be posted individually for collective thoughts and revisions.

I hope this can truly be a collaborative effort on our part to provide a resource each one of us will be proud and excited to pass to our students.

It is vital that today’s teenagers understand the mission of God and their role in it.  As they journey through the process of spiritual formation and begin to understand the importance of living into the mission of God, we can see our youth groups, churches, neighborhoods, and the world change.

Thanks for your support everyone.  I am excited to begin this journey and believe this can be the first of many more collaborative efforts of  emerging youth workers from around the world.

$5 Training recap

This past weekend, Chris Folmsbee traveled from Kansas City to Bedford NY.  We had the priviledge of hosting the $5 Training from Barefoot Ministries.


Chris is the author of A New Kind of Youth Ministry and upcoming book Story, Signs and Sacred Rhythms: A Narrative Approach to Youth Ministry.  He has traveled the world, speaking and training youth pastors and youth workers.  He has spoken to 5,000 people at conventions and lead this same training for  hundreds in packed churches.  Yet, here he was coming to the northeast, to the small and sleepy village of Bedford Hills, NY to help struggling youth workers and volunteers better understand why we do what we do.

Since there is relatively little youth ministry culture in the northeast (not to mention the overwhelmingly busy and chaotic schedules everyone has) it is honestly difficult to promote anything having to do with youth ministry in these parts.  Perhaps it is similar where you live and work.  Conversely, I spoke with a youth pastor from Texas who said, “I could spit in the middle of a field, put a tent over it and call it a youth event, and get 200 students to show up.”

Chris came and interacted and engaged with our small and intimate gathering.  He seemed to thrive in the atmosphere, as he was able to have one-on-one conversations with every youth worker, volunteer, and parent in attendance.    I was able to have a good number of my team there, and the training was a perfect way to us to learn and grow together. Much of the ideas presented we have been working hard to implement, and so the training was an encouraging affirmation of the direction we are moving in.  It was great for my leaders look up and realize “Now I understand why we made that change” or ” Our curriculum and lessons really do work together towards the spiritual formation of our students.”

The training was perfect for parents as well.  Five of my leaders have students in the group and the material offered really helped them not only better understand the importance of youth ministry and their children, but better understand the  processes that students go through as they develope spiritually.

The training and content was also perfect for our area.  Most youth ministry “experts” don’t get the northeast.  There are many cultural factors here that make ministry frustrating and difficult, and 9 times out of 10, the books being written and training offered just does not translate to my experience here in NY.   Barefoot’s training and trainers seem to understand the dynamics at work.  It helps that someone like Chris grew up for a while in NY and was a youth pastor here for a few years.  Barefoot is also promoting and encouraging youth workers from our area to speak out and have a voice and they are willing to speak into our context and not just avoid it or disregard it like so many others.

A few of the factors that characterize this particular are that the vast majority of youth workers are unpaid and untrained.  Most youth workers here (even the paid ones) have never read a youth ministry book or attended a big conference.  Many volunteers are adults, who struggle to find the time and the balance between being a parent and, at the same time, being the church’s answer to the youth “problem”.

Morever, the effects of postmodernity and its ideologies have already permeated the schools and communities and anything to do with “religion” is not greeted warmly and looked down upon in many circles.  While there is a great history of Christianity and religious revivals, they are distant memories that in no way shape the current situation. These are just a few of the challenges facing us here, and so we need people to speak on our behalf and people to speak into our realities.  I think Barefoot has the ability to do that in the months and years to come.

Without giving away too much of the content, here are some key concepts presented in the $5 training:


Discipleship: Shaping Students for the Mission of God

This seminar will look at the key elements of the mission of God, foundational aspects of discipleship and a practical outline in which to guide students to engage in life-long spiritual discovery and growth.

Leadership 101: 10 Essentials for Developing Healthy Teams

Healthy teams are the backbone of successful youth ministries. God has called each of us to use our gifts and passions to contribute to something that is greater than ourselves – the mission of God. Discover 10 essentials for developing healthy teams that accomplish more than we could ever do on our own!

Engaging Parents: Keys to Helping Students Develop an Authentic Faith

It is widely known that parents are the primary influence in a teenager’s life. This seminar will look at how we can involve and encourage parents toward developing an authentic faith in the lives of their children. This seminar will look at the critical journey of faith and the three roles a parent can play to guide their children through their spiritual journey.

Discipleship is about shaping students for the Mission of God.  The redemptove storyline of the Bible is God’s plan to restore humanity to wholeness and complete harmony.  To understand the nature of God’s mission, it is vital to understand the Biblical text, your particular faith community, and your specific cultural context.

Some essentials for developing healthy teams include being a community first, open, honest, and truthful relationships, being able to listen, celebrate, and pray together.

Some keys to helping students develope an authentic faith is understanding the faith formation process and allowing for questioning, confusion, encounter, perplexity, etc..during the informative years.

Both parents and youth leader function at various times as Advisor, Advocate, and Guide and “youth ministry end only when the relationships cease to exist”.

What I appreciated the most about Barefoot’s training are 3 things:

1) The kindness and care of their leadership and trainers- they really took an interest in our church and our area.

2) The focus on theology, philosophy, and ideology behind youth ministry.  This was not a workshop on how to promote you group better or run sweeter games.  The material looks critically at the Scriptures and the Story of God and how the theology of the incarnation and mission of God should be what drives our youth ministries.  There was more theology and Biblical interpretation and contextualiztion offered in this training than any other youth ministry training I have attended, but it was done in communal and conversational way that promoted questions and discussions.

3) The price.  For the same cost as one of those 5 dollar footlongs at your local Subway, I was able to bring almost my entire leadership team for a day of training, inspiration, and support alongside other youth workers from our area.


My wife always says, “you get what you paid for”, usually in reference to the discounted garbage bags I buy that fall part once you put anything but paper in!  But don’t let the low cost fool you.  The content, structure, and materials offered (including a flash drive containing the content and slides) rivals (if not tops) the other one-day training events offered.  I have been to them all, and Barefoot offers one of the best at a rate that every church can afford to send people to.

I realize that locations could be problematic.  We were the only church in the northeast hosting, and only one of eight in the U.S.  But I know that Barefoot has received huge response already from churches willing and wanting to host next year. If you are one of them, check out the website and get info about hosting one in your region.  Readers and friends across the pond in the U.K, I am not sure what the plans for expansion are, but it is worth looking into as well.

Barefoot Ministries is also producing some excellent training materials and curriculum that can be used for Student education (sunday school), small groups, Bible studies, and even youth lessons.

“Barefoot exists to provide youth workers with effective ministry tools and resources. Our deepest desire is to partner with you in guiding students into spiritual formation for the mission of God.

Through youth ministry training, books, media, curriculum, magazines, web-based resources and a growing number of resources in development, Barefoot is committed to walking along side of you with practical resources and training as you serve the students and families in your church and community.”

Barefoot Ministries

Check out the link above if you are searching for some quality materials and content that you can adapt to fit your particular group of students and needs.

Barefoot Ministries

My top 5 list for youth workers

As I meet new youth workers in my area, I am often asked the question “What books or resources do you recommend?”  My thoughts have changed over the years, but having read most youth ministry books out there, I have come to some decisions.  Granted, every youth worker is different and so is every context .  These are the five books I would recommend a new youth worker read and, in fact, I have given this list to my former interns who are now in full-time youth ministry.

(There are other non Youth Ministry books I highly recommend as far as theology, personal and spiritual development, church ministry, etc…, but this list is primarily about progressive and innovative youth ministry ideas, philosophies, and content that I have personally found to be the most helpful and inspirational in my situation)

I have posted a page on my blog with a more complete list of recommended books, but I chose to keep this list limited to five so not to overwhelm someone.  All of the books are fairly short and easy reads, and my advise is to read one book a month and really digest it.  After six months, you should have a good understanding of new models and thoughts for an every-changing youth ministry)

Each book speaks into different aspects of youth ministry including relational approaches, spiritual development, philosophical/theological perspectives, cultural/worldview changes and implications, and new ministry models.  I have written some reviews of these, which you can find by searching the blog, and intend to have a review written on each book shortly.

In no particular order:

A New Kind of Youth Ministry– Chris Folmsbee


An excellent book about re-culturing forms and structure of traditional youth ministry models such as evangelism, disciple ship, leadership, missions, etc..

“A New Kind of Youth Ministry should be the handbook for a generation of forward-thinking youth workers.” – Tony Jones

Youth Ministry 3.0– Mark Oestreicher


Marko realizes that the way we have been doing things is already not working. This book looks back historical to the major shifts in youth ministry while attempting to create a third way- new approach in ministering contextually and cross-culturally to new generations of students.

“This book will inspire, equip, and challenge you with an extremely thoughtful and realistic approach to youth ministry for the 3.0 orbs we find ourselves in.” -Chris Folmsbee

Postmodern Youth Ministry- Tony Jones


Probably the first book published that researched the effects of postmodernity on students and attempted to re-think what youth ministry needed to look like.  Eight years after publication, it is still probably the best book out there on the issues and countless people are finding encouragement as they realize the inevitable influence on postmodernity in their own contexts.

Presence-Centered Youth Ministry- Mike King


This book sets the bar for creating a theological and historical foundation for God’s presence in youth ministry.  The book shows how classic disciplines, symbols, and practices can shape the worldviews, virtues, and habits of young people today.    “If Brother Lawrence had been a youth pastor, this book would have been his favorite resource.” – Kendra Dean

Relationships Unfiltered– Andrew Root

relationships unfiltered

Andrew Root challenges youth workers to reconsider our motives for relational youth ministry and begin to consider simply being with and dong life alongside teenagers with no agenda other than to love them right where they are, by place sharing.  “Relationships Unfiltered is the single most important youth ministry book in a generation. ” -Tony Jones

5 Dollar Training



This fall (Saturday October 3), BCC has the honor of hosting Barefoot Ministries  $5.00 youth leader training. We are one of 8 host churches in the nation and will be representing the greater NYC metro area and the North East. For more information, check out the link below.  

5 dollar training

Here is a letter from Matt Wilks and Chris Folmsbee, two of the trainers for the day and now on staff with Barefoot Ministries.



Since its beginning in 2001, Barefoot Ministries has worked to serve churches around the world by publishing resources that help guide students into spiritual formation for the mission of God.  In addition to publishing resources for youth workers, Barefoot will be providing youth ministry training that will strengthen this core focus.

Beginning this fall, we will be in 12 cities in North America – 4 in Canada and 8 in the US.  Along side our friends at each location we’ll be hosting one-day of youth ministry training comprised of 3 separate seminars for only $5 per person. 


This year our seminars will specifically relate to: 

   * The spiritual formation of adolescents
   * Dynamics of healthy ministry teams

   * Collaborating with parents for an even more effective youth ministry

The training is designed to challenge you, equip you and inspire you for another year of ministry with youth and their families.  

Not only will you experience the training for only $5.  We’ll also give it to you FREE on a flash drive when you join us at one of the 12 locations –the handouts, the power point slides, the leaders guides – everything we use during our training seminars.  We want you to have the training at your fingertips for use in your own local ministry setting.   We don’t want the cost of training to be the thing to deter your ministry teams from being equipped for the challenges facing us as Sunday school teachers, mentors, small group leaders, mission trip leaders and volunteers.

We want to invite you to go to  to sign up to be notified of the site launch and to  receive information about our training experience dates and locations, registration and costs.   -Matt and Chris



I believe this will be a great way for youth leaders and volunteers from our area to connect, learn, network, and share with one another as we discuss the challenges, hopes, dreams, and aspirations for youth ministry in our context.  If you are in the area, we would love to have to come and join us and partner together to help change the face and future of youth ministry here in the Northeast.  I encourage you to look for this training in your region.  If there is not one, then contact Barefoot to see about possibly hosting one in the near future.           


Here is a sample of what the day will look like as well as the themes and topics discussed. 


Topics —


Discipleship:            Shaping Students for the Mission of God.

The mission of God is an opportunity for students to learn how they contribute to God’s unfolding story here on earth.  This seminar will look at what the mission of God is and how we can teach students to move into it.


Leadership 101:  10 essentials for developing healthy teams

It is critically important that we learn what it means to function in healthy teams as leaders.  God has called us to be contributors and use our passions and gifts to contribute to something that is greater than ourselves.  Learn what the 10 essentials are for developing healthy teams that accomplish more than what we can do by ourselves.


Engaging Parents:  Keys to Helping Students Develop an Authentic Faith 

Parents can be one of the most consistent influences in an adolescent’s life.  This seminar will look at how we can involve and encourage parents toward developing a real and authentic faith in the lives of their children.  This seminar will look at the critical journey of faith, the three roles of a parent and what we can do to move a student towards a dynamic faith.


 Trainers – Chris Folsmbee and Matt Wilks will be appearing in each city


Schedule –


9:00 am –                         Registration


9:30 to 10:30 am –            Discipleship:            Shaping Students for the Mission of God


10:30 to 11:00 am –            Break


11:00 to 12:00 pm –            Leadership 101:  10 essentials for developing healthy teams


12:00 to 1:00 pm –            Lunch off site and on your own


1:00 to 1:30 pm –            Q&A with the trainers


1:30 to 2:30/3:00 pm –            Engaging Parents:  Keys to Helping Students Develop an Authentic Faith


Cost is: $5 per person

It includes:

– Jump Drive with all the files, powerpoint, notes that we used for those three sessions

– Training manual to be downloaded when you register

– Barefoot Ministries products




Naturally, I am plugging this one-day training event because I believe in its purpose and potential, but what I really want to encourage is for youth leaders to gather together for any kind of training, fellowship, and networking available to you.


 I personally find myself continually encouraged, inspired, and blessed after meeting with fellow youth workers (especially those in my local area who can truly relate to my context and students).  I realize that these huge national conventions are appealing and attractive.  Who doesn’t like to worship to Crowder and listen to Doug Fields!

But I have found over the years to get more practical and relevant information and ideas from youth workers doing what I am doing in the same area I am serving.


 They are the ones who truly understand the struggles and challenges of our demographics and and dreams of our particular are.

 Let’s face it, youth ministry in Texas is going to look very different than in Michigan.  Students in CA are not the same as in NY (although there are many similarities between the two coasts).  Youth ministry needs to be down contextually and what better way to be trained then in a local context with local youth pastors and volunteers.

5 dollar training attempts to do just that.  If you happen to host or attend one this fall, please let me know and post your thoughts and experiences.