Youth Specialties Blog

Trending This Week (May 30)

By Jacob Eckeberger on May 29 2014 | 0 Comments

Every Friday we pull our favorite links from across the inter-webs. This week Audrey Assad shares about her latest EP, we look at some practical tips on getting students signed up for events, we visit a great conversations about what youth ministry can learn from schools, we showcase our favorite hashtags from the week, and include plenty of fuel for your Friday procrastination. 

Blogs From YouthSpecialties.com This Week 

Mark Matlock (@MarkMatlock) shares PART 1 of his interview with Dr. Dan Siegel (@DrDanSiegel) about Dr. Siegel's latest book "Brainstorm: The power and purpose of the teenage brain." CLICK TO VIEW

Audrey Assad (@AudreyAssad) shares about her pregnancy, hope in the midst of devastation, and her latest EP "Death, Be Not Proud." CLICK TO VIEW

Blogs From Other Great Youth Workers This Week

Brian Mills (@BrianMills247) revisited one of his older posts that has some great practical advice: "How to signup students for an event." CLICK TO VIEW

Aaron Helman (@AaronHelman) started a great conversation with this post: "What Schools Get Right That Youth Ministry Gets Wrong." CLICK TO VIEW

Our friends over at DYM shared a post by Justin Knowles (@JustinKnowles3) that has some helpful thoughts for working with summer interns: "4 Realizations For Managing Interns." CLICK TO VIEW

This is a great post from Adam McLane (@McLaneCreative) about being present with our kids and it might be a good read for the parents of your students: "Two Dads Walk Into a Panera..." CLICK TO VIEW

Andy Blanks (@AndyBlanks) over at YM360 revisted a previous post full of encouragement if you're a youth worker that is feeling overwhemled: "Your God-Sized Task." CLICK TO VIEW

#Hashtags To Review 

Here are a quick list of some of our favorite #hashtags from this week. There is a ton of great insight behind each one. We pulled the twitter searches for each hashtag and made them clickable so you can easily view and scroll through all the youth worker wisdom in 140 characters or less. 

#MNUMC : CLICK TO VIEW - Great tweets about ministry and the vision of the church from the Minnesota UMC annual conference (@MinnesotaUMC). 

#RIPMayaAngelou : CLICK TO VIEW - Fans of Maya have been filling the twitter-verse with their favorite quotes and it's been inspirational to watch. 

Fun Things To Fuel Your Procrastination

50 Cent throws a baseball like a... well... me. But it's hilarious when he does it: "50 Cent throws Out First Pitch at METS Game." CLICK TO VIEW

Fair warning… This is one of those feel good videos so you just might cry a little. "Strangers Describe Their Flaws While People Behind A Two-Way Mirror Give Honest First Impressions." CLICK TO VIEW

The machines are taking over. "Google Introduces New Self Driving Car." CLICK TO VIEW

I'm not gonna lie, I've thought about turning my yard into a giant sandbox before. But this lady beat me to it. "Woman Is Officially Over It, Fills Entire Lawn With Sand." CLICK TO VIEW

Pictures of cheetos on instagram. Lots of them. Seriously. "Cheese Curls of Instagram" CLICK TO VIEW

By Jacob Eckeberger on May 29 2014 | 0 Comments


Introducing YS Coaching!

By Youth Specialties on May 28 2014 | 0 Comments

Last week we introduced you to our newest YS team member, Brian Aaby. We’re so excited for him to be spearheading YS Search (which we talked about on Tuesday) and YS Coaching, two brand new YS resources that will be launching soon.

Just like our highlight of YS Search, we wanted to give you a peak into YS Coaching before it officially launches.

Whether you’re a youth ministry veteran, just starting out, or somewhere in between, you know that Youth Specialties exists to help you maximize your impact. YS Coaching is a new YS division dedicated to a key purpose: guiding you to your greatest success.

YS Coaching is designed to help you identify your core motivations, strengths, potential blind spots, and the ways you’ve been designed to best serve God and others.

Regardless of your current role, or your past experience, YS Coaching will give you much-needed insights and inspiration to propel you forward. It’s customized to fit your life and your situation. When you participate, you’ll receive a personalized, detailed assessment of why and how you work best in ministry, combined with a one-on-one coaching session with an expert in the field. This will prove to be a short-term investment with a far-reaching reward.

We’ll be sharing more details about YS Coaching in the near future so be sure to keep an eye out for an official launch date soon!

By Youth Specialties on May 28 2014 | 0 Comments


Death, Be Not Proud: An interview with Audrey Assad about her latest EP

By Jacob Eckeberger on May 27 2014 | 1 Comments

An interview with Audrey Assad

I have been a long time fan of Audrey’s records and have always appreciated her honesty dealing with matters of faith in the midst of life’s questions. All of us at YS are excited about having her back with us for the NYWC Atlanta. To help you get to know Audrey a little more, I took an opportunity to interview her about her most recent EP “Death, Be Not Proud.”

(JACOB) First of all, congratulations on the newest addition to your family! I’m sure it’s an exciting time for lots of reasons and that your pregnancy has brought about some new perspectives. Did your desire to write and record these songs have a connection with becoming a parent?

(AUDREY) "Death, Be Not Proud" was written and recorded mostly in my last trimester of pregnancy...I'd say the themes stem both from the awesome nature of being a soul's vessel for nine months, and also from my experience walking through cancer with my husband. Pregnancy is such a slap in the face to death's bitterness...life begins again, anew, always. Mortality is something we think and speak of a lot in our house, and John Donne's poem (of the same title as the EP) has long been a solace for me in my interior conversations with God. I couldn't help but set it to music, I suppose.

(JACOB) I love the imagery of the EP cover photo with the beauty of a pregnancy next to the title phrase, “Death, Be Not Proud.” It makes me think of times in my life when even the darkest moments seem pregnant with hope. How has your faith brought you to a point where you can so boldly say, “Death, Be Not Proud”?

(AUDREY) Everything from my parents' divorce when I was 25, to my husband's cancer diagnosis in 2011 (he's cancer free now!) is part of this record...it is in those things and through those things that I have truly learned the beautiful truth that death is not just the end of a life, but a door to what lies ahead—and in the midst of the effects of Death in the world, it can be very hard to remember that. The truth I cling to can be best summed up in John Donne's own words; 'Death, be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so— ... one short sleep past, we wake eternally, and death shall be no more—death, thou shalt die.'

(JACOB) My favorite track is probably, “Love Is Moving.” How do you hope that message of God moving among us can encourage students and youth workers in the church?

(AUDREY) I've always loved the story of the woman with the issue of blood who touched Jesus' hem and received healing, by her simple faith. I wish for a faith like that...I've often said that I write the songs I need to sing the most, and this one is no exception. There is (I hope) a really hopeful tone to this record, because Death is not the end. Jesus moved among us physically in his life, and moves among us today by His spirit.  (Also, being a Catholic, I attach a special significance to the song, because I wrote it thinking of the Eucharist, which we believe is Christ's Body and Blood present among us on the altar.) I hope that, among all the devastation of broken homes, sickness, and death, both youth workers and young people today can clutch the same truth close that I do–this is not the end, this is not the end. That truth may not change our circumstances, but it does change us.

(JACOB) The song “Receive” is a beautiful picture of the church and how we receive the message of Christ. Thinking back to your own faith experiences growing up, did you have moments when a youth worker helped you understand these things?

(AUDREY) For some reason I am hearkening back to a moment when I was 17 and sitting on the front porch with a relative of mine who worked with youth...I was heartbroken over a boy, and she counseled me to always hold my hands open around the things and people I loved for two reasons--firstly, that it would hurt less if I had to let go, and secondly, my hands would be in a receptive position for whatever God's plans were for me. I'll never forget that little (big) lesson.

(JACOB) We’re really excited to have you back at the National Youth Workers Convention this year in Atlanta. What do you think connects you the most with youth workers?

(AUDREY) I don't exactly know! Haha. I suppose maybe it's the simplicity of how I approach church music...youth workers are as diverse as any group in terms of temperament--and as I often lead alone, on piano, I wonder if maybe that's a respite for the introverted and/or contemplative types in the room!

Be sure to pick up Audrey’s EP “Death, Be Not Proud” and join us for NYWC 2014

By Jacob Eckeberger on May 27 2014 | 1 Comments


Introducing YS Search!

By Youth Specialties on May 27 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is written by Brian Aaby, our newest YS team member that we announced last week.

Introducing YS Search!

At YS, nothing gets us more excited than new opportunities to partner with churches in student ministry. That’s why we are thrilled to announce the launch of YS Search. It’s another unique YS resource that pulls in all of our experience working with youth pastors, understanding healthy youth ministries, and assisting our church partnerships that are in the middle of a leadership transition.

I have operated on both sides of the Youth Ministry search equation; as a youth pastor searching for a healthy church and as a part of youth pastor search teams. I know from experience that it’s not an easy transition and I know how much I wish the resources of YS Search had been available to me.

So here’s how it works…

YS Search partners with churches in transition to provide a health assessment, a strategic plan for necessary adjustments that need to be made before new leadership comes into play, and a recruitment team that vets all the best candidates according to the church’s needs.

YS Search partners with youth pastors that are looking for a transition of their own by utilizing all of our church partnerships and championing you and your abilities.

Our goal is for YS Search to be the outside help, perspective, and leadership for both our church partners and our youth pastors so that we can continue to see healthy youth ministries engage students for Christ.

Here’s an excerpt highlighting the recent experience of Two Rivers Church, one of our first YS Search church partners:

Our experience with YS Search was first rate… Working with YS instilled the confidence that they understood our church and culture, and that we were going to find the right person.  On their site trip they spent the time necessary to gather a profile that fit us, rather than coming in with preconceived ideas of their own, and the candidates YS Search brought to us demonstrated a thorough grasp of that... YS Search was able to tap us into resources all over the country and beyond our reach, giving us a wider range of exposure for our position and the potential of folks to fill it... We experienced an ongoing personal investment in our process, and even some hand holding along the way… Grateful for the process, and grateful for a new hire!

If you have questions or would like more information, fill out the form below so that I’ll know more about your needs and how best to help. I’m excited to show you how YS Search can help you as a church that is searching or as a youth pastor looking for your next position!


Brian Aaby is the director of YS Search & YS Coaching, assisting churches with personnel placement and provides coaching guidance for youth leaders. Brian served 17 years as a youth pastor and then founded and led Youthmark since 2008. Brian speaks nationally at churches, camps, conference, and events. He and his wife, Elisabeth, have three children and reside near Seattle. 

By Youth Specialties on May 27 2014 | 0 Comments


Brainstorm: An Interview with Dr. Dan Siegel - Part 1

By Youth Specialties on May 25 2014 | 0 Comments

Mark Matlock sits down with Dr. Dan Siegel to discuss his latest book, "Brainstorm: The Power & Purpose of the Teenage Brain." In Part 1 of the interview (posted below), Dr. Siegel shares his passion for communicating the different development stages of the teenage brain, why they are important, and specifically what youth workers can do to help support students during these pivotal years. 

Check out more about Dr. Siegel's book "Brainstorm" at his website DrDanSiegel.comCLICK TO VIEW

By Youth Specialties on May 25 2014 | 0 Comments


Trending This Week (May 23)

By Jacob Eckeberger on May 22 2014 | 0 Comments

Every Friday we pull our favorite links from across the inter-webs. This week we looked how contemplative prayer might unintentionally marginalize urban youth, Perry Noble shares "5 Thigns Every Student Ministry Must Have To Be Successful," we shared a great conversation about the Church's role with mental illness, we list an overview of our favorite #hashtags to review, and provide some fuel for your Friday procrastination. 

Blogs From YouthSpecialties.com This Week

Our new friend Pablo Otaola (@pablootaola) asked if contemplative prayer was unintentionally marginalizing urban youth. CLICK TO VIEW

We are so excited to welcome Brian Aaby (@brianaaby) to the YS team! He'll be heading up two new resources; YS Search & YS Coaching. Check out an interview with him from this week: CLICK TO VIEW

Blogs From Other Great Youth Workers This Week

Perry Noble (@perrynoble) created a great conversation starter with the post "5 Things Every Student Ministry Must Have To Be Successful." CLICK TO VIEW

Amy Simpson (@aresimpson) shared a compelling post at QIdeas.org entitled: "Mental Illness: What is the Church’s role?" CLICK TO VIEW

Our friend Jim Hancock (@jimhancock) pointed us to an article from CommonSenseMedia.com about selfie-improvment apps and how students are responding to a constant need to look perfect: "When Selfie-Improvement Apps Go Too Far" CLICK TO VIEW  

Christopher Wesley (@chrisrwesley) wrote a solid and practical post with "5 Simple Steps To Recruit More Volunteers." CLICK TO VIEW

The kind gentleman Andy Blanks (@andyblanks) over at YM360 shared his recent message to graduating seniors and I think it's a good "forward-able" post to some graduating seniors: "My Message to Graduating Seniors" CLICK TO VIEW 

Our hilarious friends the Skit Guys (@skitguys) released a new video for graduates. It's a good one to send on to your students too... and a bit of a tearjerker: "Graduation: Your Story" CLICK TO VIEW

#Hashtags To Review 

Here are a quick list of some of our favorite youth ministry #hashtags from this week. There is a ton of great insight behind each one. We pulled the twitter searches for each hashtag and made them clickable so you can easily view and scroll through all the youth worker wisdom in 140 characters or less. 

#FaithForward2014 : CLICK TO VIEW - I'm really jealous that I'm not at Faith Forward's gathering this week. It's been packed full of creative collaboration and heavy discussions about ministry and culture. 

#UPN2014 : CLICK TO VIEW - The United Pastors Network had their annual gathering and they were sending out some pretty inspirational thoughts on ministry and leadership. 

Fun Things To Fuel Your Procrastination

This teen does Michael Jackson better than Michael Jackson. CLICK TO VIEW

Hilarious life hacks for dogs: CLICK TO VIEW

For that bump of adrenaline... Rally Car vs Formula 1 Car: CLICK TO VIEW

A town in Austria has way cooler bus stops than your town. "Seven of the world's most unique bus stops..." CLICK TO VIEW

Make your own deodorant... ya hippies. CLICK TO VIEW

Great life advice from 12 of the best commencement speeches. CLICK TO VIEW

By Jacob Eckeberger on May 22 2014 | 0 Comments


Introducing Brian Aaby

By Jacob Eckeberger on May 20 2014 | 4 Comments

Introducing Brian Aaby

We are so excited to introduce you to our newest YS team member, Brian Aaby! He’s a youth ministry veteran hailing from Seattle who will lead the way on two new YS initiatives—YS Coaching and YS Search, both of which are launching soon. In the meantime, I cornered Brian to answer a few questions so that you can know a little more about him.

How long have you been connected with YS?

(Brian) I have known YS for over 20 years, starting with using ideas from their Ideas Library when I began as a youth pastor at age 19. I participated in many YS events, including numerous YS Core, One Day and of course NYWC (even ran-camera as a volunteer in 1999 when our budget would allow me to get to NYWC). I have spoken at NYWC and YS Team Trainings as well.

What is your favorite thing about working with youth pastors?

(Brian) I love connecting the dots and helping others. I was the recipient of a great network right out of college and networking has always been a source of life for me. Because I am a strategic thinker, the relationships formed through local networks often led to informal consulting and coaching opportunities. I absolutely love collaborative environments and helping others discover how (and where) they can best use their gifts/skills.

As God has blessed me with friendships across the nation, I have had the opportunity to work with many churches now and as much as I love working with youth pastors, I love helping churches discover their uniqueness as well. The best part of this job is the opportunity to work with both the youth pastors and the church to help create the best-fit environment.

What are your favorite things outside of youth ministry?

(Brian) I love spending time with my wife and three kids (12 and 10 year-old daughters and 6 year-old son). I mountain bike in an attempt to stay in shape, and I love watching and going to sporting events (I think I've been to 18 of the major league ballparks). Coffee is a must as well.

You’ll start to see much more of Brian as we officially launch YS Coaching and YS Search in the near future. Keep your eyes out for more info soon! 

By Jacob Eckeberger on May 20 2014 | 4 Comments


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