Top 5 youth ministry sites & resources

Here is a very simple list of my personal Top 5 websites for youth ministry ideas, resourcing, training, and networking.

The Youth Cartel

Barefoot Ministries





emerging youth ministry recommended resources

These are not listed in any particular order. I hope you may find some of these resources beneficial in the ever-changing climate of contextual youth ministry.

I have benefitted from these organizations, curriculum, and networks both in New York and now in an international setting in France.

Barefoot Ministries

Recommended:  “Missio Life”, Immerse Journal, Credo, “A World Unbroken”




Re:form curriculum (Confirmation, Ancestors, Traditions)

Echo the Story

The United Church of Christ

“Our Whole Lives” Justice and Sexuality Education series

Paraclete Press

The Jesus Creed (student edition)

YouthFront– spiritual formation and camps

The Youth Cartel

“Instigating a Revolution in Youth Ministry”


The Good News Curriculum

Open YM events

Short-term missions:


Habitat for Humanity

Group Work Camps

Academic and Theological Training:

Princeton Theological Seminary

*Institute for Youth Ministry

Fuller Theological Seminary

*Fuller Youth Institute

International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry (IASYM)

“Youth Ministry Theology”- an Immerse Journal article

Picture this: You are staring at a dusty old bookshelf in a library with a codex, of sorts, as your guide. You scroll through each section then each aisle, until finally you come across a small book that you carefully and reverently remove. The dust is whisked away, and with great care the cover is opened to reveal a table of contents you have rarely observed before. This is the hunt for theology in youth ministry.

Over the years, conversations have circled around regarding the importance, or lack thereof, of theology in youth ministry. For some youth workers, this discipline is viewed as archaic and unnecessary while, for others, yearly curricula are structured around theological treatises. So which is it? Is theology important in youth ministry or not?

Here is perhaps a better question: Do students need to learn theology (i.e., learn about God) in order to follow him? Or can students begin to follow and then learn to trust and believe? Are students’ experiences more important than their beliefs? If we believe the answer to be yes, then how important is theology in youth ministry?

*To read the rest of the article, please click on the following link:

Immerse Journal-featured article

Kansas City…a new hub for youth ministry?

Last week I was able to visit Kansas City, Missouri for five days.

What in the world is happening in Missouri you may ask?

There are some incredible, ground breaking, and innovative ministry happening in KC.  I was excited to be a part of the voices being represented, but wanted to go there myself to see what it’s all about.

KC is quickly being a hub of sorts….men and women with deep theological insight and tremendous passion for student ministry rethinking…..

Camp ministry


Community development

Youth worker development

Curriculum for Christian ministry

Spiritual formation for students

There are some great thinkers and practitioners involved in these conversations.  Many are interconnected and partner with each other, which brings a certain level of trust, collaboration, and collective vision.

Youthfront is really on the forefront of ushering in a new wave of camp ministry.   A dedicated, united, (and fun) team/family of passionate and gifted youth workers under the direction and spiritual leadership of Mike King follow Mike on Twitter are rethinking old philosophies and structure of camp ministry. I was able to visit their two campuses and witness firsthand the transformation of physical space into sacred places of spiritual formation.  The direction and vision are focussed on intentionality of spiritual formation, rather than attractions and programmatic.  They write their own content for the summer camps and additionally are produced some of the best curriculum and resources for camps and youth workers.

One of the main premises and dreams of Youthfront is to provide students opportunities to do life together and listen to God’s voice. Creating, nurturing, and allowing freedom for students to encounter God’s presence in real life.


Many of staff at Youthfront attend Jacob’s Well church, which is probably the most refreshing and intentional faith community I have seen.

Located in an old brick Presbyterian building in the center of midtown KC, they have reclaimed the physical space in the building and breathed new life.  The children’s program is by far the most innovative I have seen.  Storytelling, communal sharing, interactive learning, creative arts, sacred space for kids, etc…

The community has great aesthetic atmosphere and deeply values and includes all members of the family in worship and community life.

There is a focus on the eucharist, daily office, and learner style teaching on Sundays. The word on the street is that the music, led by Mike Crawford is profound, earthy, real,  musically amazing.

Mike Crawford music

Here is a brief blurb from their site….

“Welcome to Jacob’s Well. Thanks for joining us here.
Jacob’s Well began with a handful of people in 1998. We are joined together around a dream and a call to build a community in midtown Kansas City with Jesus Christ at the center. Our desire is that we would be an authentic, biblical community where people experience and express the reality of God’s love in the way of Jesus.

Our name reflects our dream and our mission. In the New Testament book of John, Jesus encounters a woman who is at the fringes of her culture, a woman with great hunger and great need. Jesus reaches out to her and invites her into his life and kingdom. In so doing she becomes a part of a new community. In the same way, Jacob’s Well is striving to be a place — like the biblical Jacob’s Well — where people who are searching can encounter God and find a place in his kingdom and community and join him in his work in the world.”

The focal of service and gathered worship is the eucharist, daily office, and learner-style teaching on Sundays with time constructed each service for the community to share their thoughts about the Scripture reading.

Jacob\’s Well church

Another visit while in KC was to the The House Studio, a very creative and artistic group working to create culture in Christianity.

The House Studio creates, comments on, and shapes the Church’s ongoing conversation—taking seriously good stories and making them available to faith communities.

The office is in a….wait for it….house!

It is located right across the street from the main headquarters of the Nazarene Publishing House

The good people at the House are pursuing a way of life together in intentional community

Their words:  “We publish. Not because this world needs more books. Not because the Church needs more resources. We publish because God is still telling stories.”

The House Studio

NPH (Nazarene Publishing House) was quite impressive. I was able to get a tour of the operations from ideas, marketing, publication, processing, shipping.  I am really honored and excited to be working with them to produced a number of forthcoming books and projects.

I had never been inside a major publishing house before, and it is quite extensive what goes into the inner workings.  Though part of a denomination, NPH is expanding its vision and reach and collaborating with a wide variety of authors and ministry partners.

NPH- youth ministry resources

The ministry in KC that I have personally supported and now partner with is Barefoot Ministries.  Under the leadership and vision of Chris Folmsbee,  follow Chris on Twitter Barefoot is really leading the way in producing great resources for youth ministry, as well as spiritual formation for students, and youth worker training.

In my opinion it is on the leading edge of creating thoughtful, innovate, and helpful resources for the church.   At my church, we use Barefoot products for part of our Sunday AM teaching time, spiritual formation and missions with our students, and all of our youth worker training.

Barefoot Ministries

Another cool thing I was able to learn about during my time in KC is an intentional community development project in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City.

Youthfront and Barefoot staff and friends are intentionally moving from the suburbs into this neighborhood to bring hope, redevelopment, social justice and advocacy.  They are seeking and working towards the ushering in of God’s kingdom-working in and for this community.

I was able to stay with one of the couples in their home during my time in KC and really appreciate their passion and long-term vision for the area.  One of the members  wrote a thoughtful piece on his blog regarding the reason he and his wife chose to move there.  It is well worth the read.

Aaron Mitchum\’s blog

*One final note:  If you do happen to visit KC, you must eat BBQ.  I have tasted some good meats in other places such as Dallas and Nashville, but nothing is quite like what you will find in Kansas City.  It is very much a passion and art for the fine folk there, and they take their craft very seriously.  I was amazed and impressed at how intensive and complex the process of smoking meat was, plus the importance of selecting (or making) the proper rub, spices, and sauces.

I ate too much that week, but it also was well worth it

And for the record, I do think Oklahoma Joes is the best!

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

Top Ten youth ministry resources

These are in no particular order.  Although the first few I personally like and recommend strongly.

I have found each one to be very helpful.  Some focus on youth ministry training, while others provide helpful resources such as curriculum and books.  Taken as a whole, this list is aimed to provide a youth worker with a holistic and balanced resource for their personal, professional, theological, and spiritual development.

Additionally, there are great resources for your students and your youth ministry program.  This list is intended to be diverse in nature.  I suppose that sub categories could arise from this list including: books, programming, blogs, journals, education, missions, training, etc…

These resources have blessed me personally in my own development in youth ministry over the past decade. Some of these are new, while others have a long (and good) track record in youth ministry.  I hope all of these will be around in the next decade as I sincerely believe they make a signficant contribution to the youth ministry realm.

Again, my list is not complete and I would love for you to comment with other helpful resources and websites (even if its your own)  Self promotion is fine with me!

I look for new and upcoming resources and also have an eye on ideas and ministries that are progressive and emerging.  I also try to include good academic/theological resources for those of you interested in pursuing more of that stream of youth ministry.  I left out youth missions/service resources as that can be a completely separate category.

I will attempt to provide a very concise overview of each resources (and by concise I mean really really short)

Top Ten Youth Ministry resources:

1)  Youth Specialties (the mecca of all things youth ministry)

Youth Specialties

2) Barefoot Ministries (training, youth worker development, theology, spiritual formation for students)

Barefoot Ministries

3) The “Group” network (an assortment of everything from events, missions trips, curriculum, books, coaching, training)

Group-youth ministry

4) National Network of Youth Ministries (regional and national networking)

5)  Youth Worker (lessons, magazine, articles, programming)

Youth Worker

6) YMtoday (articles, books, resources)


7 ) Student Ministry ( a youth pastor friendly site by and for youth pastors)

8 ) Fuller Youth Institute (theology, research, leadership, academics)

Fuller Youth Institute

9) PTS- Institute of Youth Ministry (theology, research, forums, degrees & certificates, academics,)

Princeton Theological Seminary Institute of Youth Ministry

Princeton Institute on Facebook

10) Sparkhouse– publishing & curriculum w/ innovation, creativity, and imagination for church and youth ministry)


Moving on up……

Youth Ministry 360 (* a new site for training, networking, bible studies, and resources)

Youth Ministry 360

Awakening Advent

Over the past few years I have recently learned to appreciate the season of Advent.  I grew up in church traditions that typically did not follow the church calendar nor celebrate Advent.

Though my particular church does not formally follow Advent, I have taken it upon myself to prepare for the Christmas season spiritually through the blessing of the Advent season.

We are also doing a new series at youth group on Advent, based from a number of Lectionary studies and advent devotions.

What I appreciate so much about Advent is the rich and vast history of it in the Christian church.  When we celebrate Advent we are tapping into a long line of believers and church history.  Additionally, millions of Christians around the world and across denominational lines join together in preparing hearts for Christ’s arrival.  It joins Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic Christians together in anticipation and celebration on what should unite us all….Jesus Christ.

In the busyness and chaos of the holiday season, I find myself more and more in need of reflection and solitude.  Advent readings help me focus on why Christ came and to prepare my own heart daily for his arrival and presence.

So often I would wait until the day before Christmas, when all the buying and wrapping and parties were over to really slow down and focus on what really matters-why we celebrate Christmas.

Advent provides time and space each day (or least on the Sundays leading up to Christmas) to do this intentionally.

We are encouraging our teens this year through a number of ways.  I would love to hear what you do to help prepare your students for the incarnation of Christ.

1)  We are doing a 4-part series on Advent:  Hope, The Way, Joy, and Peace

2) We have an advent calendar in our youth room

3) We will have an advent wreath and lighting of a candle for each week

4) We will have a nativity scene, without the Christ child, and will place him in the manger after our Christmas Eve service

5) We will give each student an Advent devotional

6)  We adopt a family in need for Christmas, purchase gifts and visit them to decorate a tree and sing carols

7)  We encourage our students to ask for one less gift or $$ instead and to support a charity, sponsor a child, or give to someone in need

Last year we watched the movie “The Nativity Story” during the last Sunday school before Christmas.  Might do that again  The Nativity Story

*Please share ideas and resources you have used!

Here are some resources to help awaken advent in your youth ministry or church

Advent Lectionary studies from Barefoot

Magnificat Advent companion

Advent Wreath

Advent Booklet_

The First Candle (The Candle of Prophecy/Hope)

The first candle is sometimes called the candle of prophecy because it symbolizes the promises the prophets delivered as messages from God; promises that foretold Christ’s birth. Others consider the candle to be a symbol of the hope we have in Christ and so it is called the Hope candle.

The Second Candle (The Candle of the Way)

The second candle shows that Christ is the Way. Christians are lost in sin and Christ is the Light sent into the world to show them the way out of darkness.

The Third Candle (The Candle of Joy)

The third candle indicates that the only lasting Joy to be found in life on earth is through Christ. All other joy is fleeting and does not last.

The Fourth Candle (The Candle of Peace)

The fourth candle reminds that Jesus comes to bring Peace to both the world and to people’s hearts. Without Christ there is no peace in this world.

The Fifth Candle (The Christ Candle or Christmas Candle)

networking in Nashville…NYWC 2010

Later this week, I will be traveling to the land of BBQ and country music…Nashville, TN for the National Youth Workers Convention. NYWC 2010


I will be blogging and tweeting on a regular basis during my time there so stay tuned.

If you will be attending this year, I would love to try to connect up with you.

This will be my 10th year attending (hard to believe!), and each year I look forward to it more and more.

While the training, content, music, and speakers are all great and inspirational, what I appreciate and need more than ever is the time and space to pause, reflect, and re-connect with God and others.

NYWC does a fantastic job of allowing for and creating sacred space for these moments. Around this time of year (every year) I often get bogged down and stressed.  These few days offer an escape and chance to recharge my batteries.  Some years I attend every seminar and session offered.  Other times, I take the opportunity to find solace and peace and rediscover my passion for students.

Over the past few years, the connections, conversations, and friendships made have probably been the most important to me.  During these conventions I have had the opportunity to meet so many youth workers, writers, theologians, volunteers, etc.. and maintain regular relationships with them to this day.  These connections have lead to times of support and encouragement, not to mention opportunities to partner and collaborate on projects and ministry.

For me, youth ministry is all about relationships with 1)  our students 2) other youth workers

It’s these relationships that keep me motivated, inspired, and challenged to continue in the journey.

Please do shoot a message or send a tweet if you will be around for NYWC 2010.

Here are a few of the places you might find me meandering around at in the big room (the one with all the tables and booths set up for ministries that like to give stuff away and then get to you sign up for stuff….)

Here are a few that I have affiliation with and support their cause and vision.  There are other great organizations and ministries represented that I hope to check out and connect with as well and have provided a link at the end.

Barefoot Ministries with Chris Folmsbee

Barefoot Ministries

We Are Sparkhouse (Re:form Confirmation) with Andy Root and Tony Jones

We are Sparkhouse

XP3 Students with Jeremy Zach

XP3 students

My Broken Palace with CJ Casciotta

My broken palace

YWJ (Youth Worker Journal)

Youth Worker


Youth Ministry Today

NNYM (National Network of Youth Ministries)


Click here for a complete list of all the exhibitors

NYWC 2010 exhibitors

Updates from Nashville to be typed with BBQ sauce-dripped hands in a few days…..

Barefoot comes to the Northeast

This past weekend I had a great opportunity to lead a  special half-day training at  Nyack College from Barefoot Ministries.

5 Dollar training is intended to help unite, encourage, inspire, and equip all types of youth workers.
This training offers affordable and applicable training for everyone
We had over eight different churches from our area in attendance and were able to connect and support each other.  New friendships were formed and some helpful insights and ideas were presented.
Here in the Northeast there is limited resources or training offered for youth workers.  Additionally, it is often a lonely road that is traveled by those in student ministry when most towns may only have one paid youth worker (and many have none)
Any chance we have to simply get together to support, learn, laugh, and encourage one another is great.
Additionally, in my opinion and experience, Barefoot offers really good training and the 5 dollar training content changes each year as culture, society, and youth ministry does as well.
This year’s topics/seminars are:
Small Groups, Big Impact: The Essential Aspects of Effective Small Groups-Being able to imagine a transformational small group and to know the key elements of an effective group facilitator are imperative for youth workers. This seminar will equip you with knowledge of some common challenges for effective small groups and explore key ideas and skills to overcome those challenges. In the end, you should be able to envision an effective small group in your local context.

Evangelism: 10 Considerations for Equipping Students to Share the Gospel Story Effectively

Empowering students to live and share their faith is a high priority for many youth workers. This session will guide you through 10 important concepts to consider in that endeavor. It will allow you to discern key concepts and activities to focus on in youth ministry in order to equip students to share the gospel story.

The Art of Mentoring: Uncovering the Secrets of Reaching, Teaching, and Sending Generation Z

Our current generation of young people needs open and authentic relationships with spiritual guides in order to develop into the people God is calling them to be. In this seminar, the ideas, myths, and role of a mentor will be explored in order to equip youth workers with a strategy to take up the call to be a mentor in their faith community.

In addition to over 3 hours of focused youth ministry training and interaction with other youth workers, for $5 every volunteer and youth worker also receives the following:

  • Outlines and notes for each seminar
  • A Flash drive with all the content from the seminar, including:
    • Seminar Outlines for the three sessions (.doc and .pdf)
    • Seminar Presentation Slides (.ppt, .pdf, .key)
    • Barefoot Catalog with hundreds of resources
    • Free Product from Barefoot Ministries including a 30 day trial to
    • the latest edition of Immerse Journal
    • the latest edition of Credo student interactive journal
    • Just the give-aways alone are worth the $5!
Here are some helpful sites and links for more information on Barefoot Ministries and the training they can provide.

A promotional video with Chris Folmsbee

Here’s a short blurb about Barefoot Ministries:

“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.

We understand the value you place on training for your volunteers and parents. We also understand that the current economic times can put a strain on your training budget. For this reason, we are so excited to be able to offer you a day of youth ministry training for $5 a person! Now you can bring your entire ministry team to one of our 12 training locations and take the content of the training home with you to share with your church and community!”

Will I see you at the Pole?

Let me start out by acknowledging and commending the good folks who organize the national SYATP youth day of prayer.  Let me also state that this was the first time in over 10 years that I did not participate, nor did we actively promote this event with our students.  I mention these two things right away to clear the air about what shall follow.

Since I am an equal-opportunity blogger….feel free to click the link below to learn more about this event.

See You at the Pole

When I was in highs school, my youth pastor encouraged me to go to the flagpole that one Wednesday a year and take a “stand for my faith”.  I went and stood there by myself the first year and we had over 30 students and teachers by my senior year.

Naturally, when I became a youth pastor I motivated, or better stated “challenged” my students to show their faith by praying at their school.  I used phrases such as “If you don’t stand up for your faith, you will fall for anything.”
I am ashamed to admit, but I would use Matthew 10:33 as fuel, “But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

We purchased all the gear, held youth rallies weeks before, got our leaders to sign up to attend various schools, took pictures and videos and then celebrated that evening by having the students who went to the infamous Pole  share testimonies.

Now, at the time , this was good and probably right the group and our students.  But something happened over the years.  The enthusiasm from students started dwindling and I began to notice a subdivision of students forming as a result of this one-day event.  The students who went to the pole were praised and put on platforms.  But what happened to the ones who did not go?

Some would make excuses claiming they slept in.  Others could not get a ride.  Some just did not want to go but felt pressured by their youth pastor (me).  Some excuses I am sure were valid, others were not.

On those particular Wednesdays each fall we had everyone stand up who went to the flagpole to pray, sing, or simply stand.  As one would imagine, all eyes would turn to those still sitting down and questions such as “Where is your faith?” or “Are you ashamed of what Christ did for you?”  were often assumed and even publicly asked at times.

I always felt uncomfortable for those students, some of whom were Christians and others not.  But they were meant to feel like outsiders simply because they did not stand outside of some school flagpole at a ridiculously early hour of the day.

But the more I have been thinking about the bigger issue at hand, I am not sure that standing at the flagpole or “standing up for your faith” once a year is a good indicator anyways of spiritual formation and affirmation.  What about the other days of the week?  What about those students who actively fight for what is right and engage in promoting justice and seeking peace and unity at their schools?

What about the students to stand up for the oppressed, made fun of, and discriminated at their schools?

Are they not following God’s commands and pursuing the Kingdom of God as much, (if not more) then the students who publicly pray?

Listen, if you asked me what I would rather:

1)  75% of my students going to their flagpoles today to make a statement


2) the same % living out their Christian ideals in tangible and visible ways each day within relationships….

I think you know what I would choose.

The flagpole works for some students, but not necessarily because of where their faith is at, but perhaps based upon their personality and whether they are extroverted or introverted, or if just a bunch of their friends will see them or not

For more students, this event is not a natural statement of their beliefs or faith.  Now I do believe that students need to “step out of their comfort zone” from time to time, but I have witnessed that happen by teens embracing someone with AIDS, feeding the homeless, befriending someone who is homosexual, or confronting forms of social evils.  These “statements” seem to line up more with Jesus’ dream for the kingdom of God to become a reality here on earth.

Let me end with this thought (especially for all you youth pastors who were at the flagpole today)

I admire and respect the event…I truly do.

Just reflect for a moment on two questions:

1) What about the students who do not go?

2) What about the other days of the week and year?

As an interesting way to follow-up with this event, perhaps considering look into something like Credo Journal for students. It is a great daily reflection and spiritual exercise aimed to help students live out their faith for the mission of God in very real and concrete ways.

Credo on Facebook

Credo Journal

May we all agree that living the Christian faith is deeper and fuller than simply standing at a flagpole.  Hopefully today’s event will motivate students to daily live out their faith, and for that I am glad.  I have no doubt that God will be honored and will stand with those who stand up today.

But let’s remember and celebrate that God is equally honored by those silent students working in their own way to bring His love, peace, and blessing to the world.  And he equally loves those who care less at the moment, because in the end they too are created in his image as sons and daughters.