This Week in Youth Ministry – Episode 2

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This is second episode of This Week in Youth Ministry podcast is LIVE. We’ll be bringing these to you every Thursday.  Next week: My guest is Stephanie Caro and our topic is Youth Workers Getting Fired.

from the description:
This Week in Youth Ministry – Episode 2: Modern Youth Culture with Mark Oestreicher. Terrace Crawford and Marko talk about 8 descriptors of today’s youth culture and give you insight into teens you are reaching.

Thanks for listening!  And please share the word with friends online about the new podcast.  You can also check out – our official podcast page.

Suscbribe in iTunes by clicking [here].

The End of An Era


My contract with is ending.

Five years ago when Crossroads had to make some painful budget cuts and had to reduce my position in Student Ministry to part-time status, I was seeking supplemental income to keep food on the table. I had no clue what to do. I literally prayed for a few weeks for provision and soon my phone rang. My friend, Mark Oestreicher, called me.  I’ll never forget it.  I was doing some ministry work in Philadelphia at the time and he called and told me about a position he wanted to recommend me for. It was a position as editor for a new site that was launching called  They were actually looking for their first editor and he said “I think you’re the guy for the job.”  What I didn’t tell Marko was that I had actually been told in college by my professors that I had the worst writing style they had ever seen.  As you can imagine, my confidence in writing since then has been low.  I’ve always been insecure about it, actually.  For this guy (Marko) to see something in me that I didn’t see in myself made all the difference.

I took 3 days to think about the position.  Why in the world would “I” even attempt to apply? Worst. Writer. Ever… I told myself.  Then, I thought, why not?  So I applied. I went through a series of interviews, took a battery of tests, and boom — God gave me that contract.
My confidence grew. And just 3 years later, I wrote a book.  I’ve never looked back. I’m working on my next book too.

In the last couple of months, I’ve felt in my gut that my work with CL would end. I didn’t like that idea (and still don’t). But it’s time to move on.  I have no clue what I’m going to do next (a part from doing Student Ministry, blogging, and yes — resourcing and mentoring youth workers through my coaching network and the new Podcast).  So it’s the end of an era for me.  I’m saying goodbye to my ChurchLeaders family. There’s something different in store for me. As you can imagine, I hate not knowing what that something is… but just as crazy as the events unfolded 5 years ago, there’s a new story about to be written.

Thanks you for your prayers for the journey ahead.

5 Types of Conference Goers

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People go to conferences for a variety of reasons: Some go to be inspired while others join to network, play, learn, or to simply have fun. In my experience there are several types of conference goers that I always run in to at every conference:

The Vacationer – These are the leaders who need a break and just book themselves at conferences to simply escape work!  Hey, we all need a break.  It doesn’t really matter the conference or the location, they’ll be there.  I actually know a guy that attended a conference and spent the entire weekend sleeping.  He missed most of the sessions and just slept!  I asked him why he didn’t attend much of the sessions and he said “I’m on vacation!”

Pros: Escaping work and attending conferences (even in vacation mode) can help ignite your creative mind.  Getting out of my routine has helped me immensely in brainstorming ideas for future projects.  This may be the key for you too.

Cons: Be careful to not miss out on some amazing content.  While touring the city (or getting your sleep on!) is great, you might miss something the conference offers that will help you in your career work.

Tip:  Make time for everything.  When I attend conferences I want to attend the sessions, have ample time to network with others, see the city, and yes, even strategically schedule some extra nap times in!

The Poser – Unfortunately, there are people who pose as conference goers. They aren’t attending the conference but they capitalize on it.  The big conference is in town and you live nearby, so why not network with people who are in town?  The sad reality is that some people don’t have a budget to attend conferences and still want to meet up with conference goers.  I feel you!  While others just take advantage of conferences (they don’t make much profit these days!) and sneak into sessions or private events.

Pros: Getting to meet up with conference goers and feeding off the energy of an event may be helpful to you.

Cons: You could get royally embarrassed if you get caught sneaking into events that you didn’t pay for. Plus, I’m an advocate for conferences and don’t want them to lose more money by people taking advantage of them. Suggestion here – ask the conference coordinators if they have any scholarships.  You could also try to win a FREE registration (Note: I’m giving away a FREE ticket to a conference in this post!)

Tip: There are many conferences I want to attend and don’t have the budget for it. Fortunately, I get to attend a number of them because they ask me to speak.  I’ve also volunteered for some. Try one of these options:  volunteer (email the conference to inquire), ask for a scholarship (sometimes we have not because we ask not!), be a presenter (email to ask if there are opportunities to speak).

The Planner - The organized conference goer is very strategic.  Even weeks before the BIG event arrives, they are systematically researching the conference website, tracking blogs, and scheduling meetings to network with others.  They mean business!

Pros: You are the most prepared person in the room.  You are incredibly efficient with time. You have learned to maximize your conference experience.

Cons: Often times the highlight of my conference experience is a late-night run to grab food with friends that is totally spontaneous.   Don’t miss out!

Tip:  Do your homework.  Find out what you absolutely want to attend, but leave room for the spontaneous times.  And don’t take yourselves too seriously at conferences.  Enjoy your time away from the grind.

The Plan-Not-to-Plan Person – There you are, Mister Plan-Not-to-Plan person.  I see you.  You attend conferences with no schedule and no agenda.  Everything will happen as it is meant to happen. This conference goer knows that the inevitable will be.  If you just show up to a conference you’re bound to get something out of it. You’ll probably run into someone you know, you’ll get rich content from breakouts that you didn’t sign up for, and you’ll benefit from that spontaneous coffee meeting that’ll happen.

Pros: Because you are not a planner and have wide open spaces in your schedule you are pretty much free to enjoy whatever comes your way at the conference.

Cons: Some conferences won’t allow you to attend anything you want without having signed-up for events. Your failure to plan might cost you something here.

Tip:  Do some research prior to the conference to make sure you don’t miss something you’d really like to attend. Then make the rest up as you go.

The Hunter – These conference goers are always on the hunt.  They have one thing in mind: meeting up with everyone speaker or presenter.  They don’t care about the regular conference goer as much as the person printed in the program.

Pros: Making big connections could help you. It could help you launch your career or you could gain a lasting friendship because you stepped out to meet someone who is further along in their journey than you.

Cons: You could spend your whole time chasing cool and miss out on some really great connections with regular conference goers. Besides, you may get disappointed in your efforts. Not everyone whose name is printed in the program at <insert conference name here>  is nice — and won’t attempt to oblige a meeting with you.

Tip: If you know there is someone you could really benefit from talking to, don’t be afraid to go for it.  I’ve taken many steps out on faith to talk to someone who I highly respected and knew I’d enjoy connecting with.  Thankfully, that initial conference meeting turned into a lasting friendship.

One amazing conference that I enjoy each year is The Orange Conference. The last few years I’ve enjoyed LIVE blogging the event and have spoken a couple of times too. It’s such fun networking with everyone there and the content is always solid!  Check out the conference website [here] to find out more.  You might also check out what others are saying about their experience with Orange by reading from these [blogs].

I want someone to experience Orange this year, so I’d like to send you there!   Click [here] to enter to WIN a FREE registration to this year’s Orange Conference in Atlanta, Georgia!

The Orange Conference 2015 will take place in Atlanta from April 29–May 1.  For more information and to register, please visit

This Week in Youth Ministry Podcast: Episode 1

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This is the Premiere episode of This Week in Youth Ministry podcast. We’ll be bringing these to you every Thursday.  Next week: My guest is Mark Oestreicher and our topic is Modern Youth Culture.

from the description:
This Week in Youth Ministry – Episode 1: How to Jump Start Your Parent Ministry, featuring Jeremy Lee, the founder of  Plus+ Tony Nolan, speaker on the WinterJam Tour, drops by to talk about how you can prep your students for events. Terrace Crawford also gives you the scoop on how you can win a GoPro!

Thanks for listening!  And please share the word with friends online about the new podcast.  You can also check out – our official podcast page.

20 Odd Lent Ideas

My friends at Youth Specialties recently shared 20 Odd Lent Ideas for Your Students. The idea of giving up something for Lent might be intimidating for some, so here are some not-so-typical ideas you can use as a conversation starter to explain why this season is so important.

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I created my own layout here for our use. If you’d rather use their original, just visit their Facebook page [here].

7 Strategies to Boost Your Parent Ministry

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My friends over at are sharing a special eCourse for FREE. This eCourse shares 7 Proven Strategies to Boost Your Parent Ministry this week! Check out a couple that I share here, and go [here] to download the rest of them! And join me for the PREMIERE of my brand-new podcast, This Week in Youth Ministry, THIS THURSDAY right here on the blog as I welcome the founder of Parent Ministry, Jeremy Lee! Jeremy and I will be talking about how YOU can jump start your parent ministry!


Every ministry needs a database or a list of the folks who attend their program. Tip #1 gives you a way to use your list to boost your Parent Ministry this week. (Click here to download the rest of the list and to watch the video for this tip!)


“Parents don’t read my emails. They don’t look at the flyers I send home. They are too busy and they don’t listen to me. How in the world am I going to minister to them?” (Click here to download the rest of the list and to watch the video for this tip!)

[Click here] to download the complete course from Parent Ministry.

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Video: This Week in Youth Ministry Podcast

I’m excited to be able to launch my brand-new Youth Ministry podcast next week (Launching Thursday, February 19th!) and we came up with a quick little whiteboard animation video to celebrate!  Check it out and please spread the word to your friends about the podcast.  I interview Mark Oestreicher, Jeremy Lee, Tony Nolan, and Greg Stier in our first few episodes!  And don’t forget to enter our BIG giveaway for the GoPro!

Win a GoPro!

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I’m stoked to announce that we’re celebrating the launch of my new podcast THIS WEEK IN YOUTH MINISTRY (#ThisWeekinYM) with a BIG giveaway!  Today we unveiled that we’re giving away a brand-new GoPro!

The podcast officially launches next Thursday, February 12th, but we’re giving you a chance to win all month long!   Go [here] to enter the contest now!  And be sure to spread the word about this brand-new podcast created for youth workers!


5 Ways to Avoid Becoming Irrelevant to Teens

Do you feel like your ministry is becoming irrelevant to teenagers? Are you looking for creative ways to get out of “that rut?” Maybe I can help.

I want to share with you 5 Ways to Avoid Becoming Irrelevant (to Teens):

1. Get Connected to Teens: I speak to a number of youth pastors each and every week. I’m always asking them questions about their ministry and how they do what they do. I’m very surprised by the number of them that seem to be disconnected from teens throughout the week. I believe one of the things that could cause you to become irrelevant to teens is by being disconnected from them. If you only talk to them on Sunday, you need to make a change. I encourage you to get in their world. Show up on their turf! Action item: Meet with a couple of students each week. Be intentional about getting connected to your students. Grab a cup of coffee, meet them for ice cream, or have lunch with them at school.

2. Reinvent Your Events: Another thing I’ve noticed in my conversations with youth ministers is how they seem to duplicate the same things every year in their ministry. The same camp, the same missions project, and the same events. Why is this? I understand we want some things to become a tradition or we feel that certain events will create momentum…but there are too many things available to us as leaders for us to be repeating everything we did last year. Just because it worked last year doesn’t mean it will work next year. Action item: Spend a day (or even a half a day) evaluating what events you are passionate about. Then determine which ones you could scrap and allow for new adventures or projects.

3. Ask Questions! When I’m around students, I am always asking questions. Often, getting a response from them is like pulling teeth…but I don’t give up. I ask questions like “What music do you enjoy?” “What do you and your friends like to do?” “What do you really like about what we do?” Sometimes, their responses give me great insight into determining how we should shape our ministry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions…and prepare yourself for their honesty! Action item: Determine a few questions that you’d like to ask students.

4. Think Outside the Box: Making some changes or tweaking things just a bit can make things really interesting. For example: we have a number of students who love to longboard. They will often bring them to church and ride before and after our services. One day, I decided to tell our Student Leadership Team to promote a “Bring Your Longboard to Church Day.” We had a lot of guests show up with longboard in hand that day! Things like this have helped us think outside the box about what we are doing in order to be more effective…and yes, more relevant to teens. Action item: Try anything once. Don’t be afraid to tweak something just for test purposes. Then debrief it with your leadership team and determine if you should try it again.

5. Let Teens Takeover: We have students leading in a lot of different areas in our ministry, but last fall when I felt the Lord leading me to step away from the mic and allow teens to completely takeover, I was skeptical. I took a few days and prayed over this idea. Then, within a couple months, we began a series called “STORY” and let students, who were already greeting and leading games and worship, take the mic, too! Teenagers were encouraged to tell their stories of how God had worked in their lives. God used this in many ways: It became our longest running series ever (3 months!), students invited their friends, and God used it to create a safe community where teens are comfortable sharing. Action item: Evaluate your ministry and question what areas you might give up control to youth. Then provide coaching to students who take you up on the offer and want to lead.

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BIG NEWS: I’m Launching A Podcast!

I’ve got some BIG NEWS that I’m pretty stoked to share with you, my readers, today.  It’s been a while since I’ve been a part of a youth ministry podcast, but I’m excited to announce today that I’m launching my very own #YouthMinistry Podcast this February!

Here are the details that I can share with you now:

  • The podcast will be broadcast each and every week online.
  • The broadcast will feature a guest every week (in fact, we’re booking shows now!). We’ve got some incredible interviews already lined up!
  • It’ll be 30 minutes or less.  We know your time is valuable to you.
  • We’ll be giving resources & prizes away to listeners each week!  Everybody loves freebies!
  • It launches early February. Subscribe to my feed here on the blog so you don’t miss the launch date and details to follow!

I hope you’ll share in this excitement with me.  If so, would you share this news with your tribe (via blog, twitter, facebook)?  I want the first episode to start strong. Trust me, you don’t want to miss the first episode!

I hope this podcast will be helpful to all my youth worker friends.  I’m looking forward to our conversations together!