The Source for Youth Ministry
Jonathan's Resource Ezine

Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In This Issue

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Featured Article: Polar Reactions to the "Church/Para-church Fight" Article

Jonathan McKee JONATHAN WRITES: I had a feeling that last week's article would generate some polarized responses. After all, our experiences vary.

Let's be honest! We've all met sharp people from a certain church or organization... and then, unfortunately, we've met other people from the same church or organization that stink! It's presumptuous to assume that all people under a certain umbrella will be the same.

I think you'll enjoy some of the responses below. You'll relate to some, disagree with some... and with others you might think, "I wish that all the people from that organization were like this guy!"


Hey I just read the e-zine...another great job on another article. Here's my experience...the para-church ministries I knew were more like parasite ministries. All they did was take resources (the two churches I served supported them financially) and kids (we had kids come to us and ask us to request the Young Life leaders to stop asking them to attend their program). NEVER...seriously NOT ONE kid got plugged into a church ministry. Instead they (Young Life) became their own youth group.

I just want to see one work. Believe me as a church youth pastor, I'm so frustrated by this. Not just para-church stuff but even by our networks. I couldn't agree more with your last statement...Enough with "we" vs. "them." Let's be all about uniting, not dividing. After all... we're on the same team.

New York

Thank you Jonathan! I have been working hard at building relationships with Pastors and Youth Pastors to show them that my heart, and Young Life's heart, is to work ourselves out of a job. I tell kids, if it is a question of whether to come to a Young Life event or their church's event, to go to their church's event.

Honestly, a lot of the tension I see isn't mainly whether or not we are stealing kids from Youth is how a lot of Youth Pastors look down on YL for hanging out with such "out-there" kids. I have tons of Youth Pastor friends, but the idea of "relational OUTREACH" is not natural to many of them.

I also see Young Life and other para-church ministries needing to communicate and actually be a resource to the local churches. I have Youth Pastors come to Club so they can build relationships with these kids. I also love speaking at Youth Group meetings, and retreats. On this side of heaven...we will never run out of kids to reach for Christ!

Fort Bend Young Life

In 12 years as a youth pastor, I have worked closely with two para-church ministries, and have served several others in various ways. One of them was great... the others were NOT. Consequently, I do not think one can justify a judgment of para-church ministries based on the one they might know. Further, the article's intent was to address the church's relationship to ALL para-church ministries (Youth for Christ, FCA, Campus Crusade, Student Venture, etc.), not just Young Life.

Yet, in over a decade of youth ministry, my experiences continually bring me to the two points of criticism most common to para-church ministries. First, more often than not, they do not connect young people with a local church, even though many of their mission statements promise this. This is sad, because no para-church ministry can replace the Christ's Church (regardless of denominational affiliation). Secondly, the discipleship components are often weak in comparison to that of the church. Granted, discipleship is not their first ambition. But isn't this another great reason why the para-church ministries should diligently encourage their students to connect with a local church?

As a youth pastor currently in tandem with a Young Life ministry, I must say I am glad they do what they do, evangelistically! But Jesus never asked us to make mere converts or believers, He asked us to make disciples. There is a difference! Since the church is the best one poised to do that, I believe the para-church ministries should allow Her to do just that.

Temple Terrace, FL

Thank you SO much for writing and publishing this article about church vs. para-church!! It's something we ALL need to hear about.

I've worked w/ YFC for 7 years. I've heard so many of those questions that you posed (from churches and youth pastors). Fortunately, I've had the privilege of partnering with a few amazing, Kingdom-minded, youth pastors and churches, and, as you said, it WORKS!! What a great fit! I hope that this article will help both sides truly understand that we are only a part of the Body and we need each other.

Indianapolis Youth for Christ

Just read your article on this. I totally agree with you on it all. In my last church we had a very active Young Life ministry in the town and I did all I could to try and work with them and I didn't have any jealousies or selfishness in the least with them. The Young Life director and I became friends and even accountability partners. The thing that I found frustrating was the leaders' attitudes toward me and dealing with the differences in approaches to youth ministry.

For example, one time the Young Life director introduced me to a couple youth at a fast-food place. I immediately told them I was a youth pastor and tried to make connections with them based on people we both might know. The Young Life director later told me that he didn't want to introduce me to any more youth because he thought I blew it with the youth by telling them I was a youth pastor up front. He believed that you should build a relationship first so that the youth didn't think you were trying to proselytize them. I feel the opposite- that if you don't say it up front, you're more likely to make them feel duped once they find out you are one later.

I'm all for partnering together, but I know that for me and many of my youth pastor friends, we've had a hard time because of hang-ups we've struggled with from the para-church organization ends.


I worked in youth groups at my past church for about 5 years, and it was hard to hear these answers within the church. "You can't go help that ministry, I need you here." or "So and so would kill me if I had you come help me in this ministry; I want to have your help, but I can't." It was hard to hear that about other churches as well.

You pretty much laid it out. It made me wonder who was in charge of my church; was it Christ, or the head pastor and his politics?

What is interesting about Des Moines is, in a 5 mile radius, we have about 12 churches. Mostly different denominations, but mostly they are separated by race and language. When we started going to our new church the first thing I asked is if they knew who was in charge of the other churches. The pastors replied that they get together with as many as they can, once a month.

It was a breath of fresh air coming here.

Des Moines, Iowa

Loved your article on church vs. para-church. I'm what they call a Young Life Church Partner. I work for Young Life and I'm a youth director at a Presbyterian Church. I agree with you that we all should have the same mission of reaching unchurched kids. I'm in the process of trying to get all the youth directors in my town together so that we can work together for one mission. Thanks for the article and the website.

Jeff Iosa
Dunedin, FL

I just read your article concerning Young Life vs. the Church. For the most part, I agree, but on some issues, I don't.

For instance, Young Life isn't the church. It may be a part of the church, but it isn't the church. It represents one demographic (teens/college students) of the church. The same applies for every church in America. We represent one demographic of the church, the American demographic.

Young Life is excellent, for the most part. But we all know of chapters of Young Life that are less-than-healthy (just as there are churches that are less-than-healthy). Depending on the leader, the chapter can be great or it can be borderline cultish (same with churches).

Secondly, Young Life does a great job of meeting teenagers where they are. It's great at reaching one demographic and introducing them to Christ. But it is not a long term solution. Most of the leaders for Young Life are college students who are around for a few short years and then off to start their careers. Who is "there" for the student long term? Who is making connections with that student so that ten years later they still have a caring Christian family connected with them? When Young Life sees itself as the church we have a problem.

When the Young Life comes into town lots of churches get worried. And we start competing. But this is on both sides. We both get worried about our institutions, instead of worrying about the Kingdom.

My beef with Young Life is the fact that there are a number of my students who go to Young Life who should be plugging in to an area church (or at least being challenged to). Young Life is designed to introduce students to Christ, but it doesn't do a great job of discipling them. They offer Campaigners, but very few of our students go to Campaigners and they consider the club time their church time. Consequently, they are getting a steady diet of "Jesus-Died-For-You," but little about why or how that impacts the decisions they make.

Where's the accountability? Are relationships being made in such a way that students are getting plugged in for the long haul? Will there be someone available long term for that student? How are students being challenged to go deeper than "Jesus-died-for-you"? For many of my students, Young Life is an easier commitment than church. It demands less of them relationally, leadership-wise, financially, theologically, spiritually....

Dan Mershon
Centerville, OH

Your story on the struggle between church and para-church ministries made me think about another story of conflict. Two boys fight over an orange. They both really want it. So they come up with what they feel is the best solution: they decide to split the orange and then each go his own way. The first boy takes his orange half, throws the peel in the garbage and eats the orange flesh. The second boy peels his half, throws the flesh in the garbage and uses the peel in a recipe.

If only they had talked, they could have both had their needs met completely. Each boy held the same position ("I want the orange") but they had different interests, different reasons for that position. Greater understanding would have led to a more effective outcome.

Your church organization might be great at bringing youth in, introducing them to the gospel. Another might be good at fostering discipleship. Maybe together you can get the job done.

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Volunteer Help: Dealing with the New Breed of Volunteers- get Jonathan's new book now with free shipping and signed by both authors

  Dealing with the New Breed of Volunteers
The new breed of volunteer works well with the new breed of volunteer manager-that's you! Youth workers, parent coordinators at a school, directors of a community center, children's workers, librarians, museum curators... you name it. If your job involves recruiting or handling volunteers, you're a volunteer manager.

But here's the bottom line: Could you use some more volunteers? And whataya do with the ones you got?

Three Hats You Wear
We've identified three essential hats you must wear for working with this new breed of volunteers:
  • The volunteer recruiter. With this hat on, you understand how to recruit the new breed of volunteer, who is "cause" driven.

  • The volunteer manager. As you step into this role, you understand how to empower the new breed of volunteer, who wants to be led instead of managed.

  • The volunteer leader. While wearing this hat, you understand how to establish the power and passion of your volunteer team.
These three roles serve as the Section divisions in this book; we explore each in depth.

"Jonathan and Tom have teamed together to present a very practical and fun book to read. I cannot think of anything more important in ministry or business than volunteers. The book contains not only valuable ministry enhancing principles but is also filled with stories of real people. The resources section alone is worth the price of the book."
Les Christie
Chair, Youth Ministry Department
William Jessup University

Here's a glimpse of the Table of Contents of THE NEW BREED:

Introduction: The Common Predicament
Where It All Begins

Chapter 1: Who Is the New Breed of Volunteer?
    A Profile of the 21st Century Volunteer

Chapter 2: Recruiting the New Breed of Volunteers
    The "Courting" Relationship

Chapter 3: Finding the New Breed of Volunteers (Not Scaring Them Away)
    The Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting Volunteers

Chapter 4: Tapping into Two New Breeds of Volunteers
    Retiring "Boomers" and "Generation @"

Chapter 5: Motivating the New Breed of Volunteers
    Discover Three Levels of Motivation

Chapter 6: Empowering Volunteers to Do It Their Way
    Move from Delegation to Empowerment

Chapter 7: Managing the Virtual Volunteer
    Virtual Volunteers and Using Technology

Chapter 8: Managing High Maintenance Volunteers
    Performance Coaching the Volunteer from Hell

Chapter 9: Leading the Successful Volunteer Organization
    Mobilize the Collective Power of Volunteers

Chapter 10: A Leadership Case Study
    A Fable of How to Do It Right

  • Sample Position Charter
  • Sample Project Charter
  • Interview Guide for Hiring a Paid "Volunteer Manager"
  • Sample Questionnaire for Virtual Volunteers
  • Sample Board Code of Conduct
  • Strategic Planning Retreat - Agenda of Questions
  • SWOT Analysis Form
  • Ice-Breakers and Openers
  • Team Building Activities
  • Sample Training Exercise-A Case Study:


Get Jonathan and Tom's
new book, THE NEW BREED


"Eye Opening
  And Thought

Recruiting, Training, Managing
and Occasionally Even Firing Today's Volunteers

Adapt to the changing world of volunteer management.
More than ever, today's volunteers work online, need flexible hours, and want to play a role in defining their jobs. They also want to feel a sense of responsibility for your organization's overall mission. Harness this passion and potential-with results that uplift your goals and enable your volunteers.



Discover how to:
  • frame your recruitment message for today's volunteers
  • understand how the different generations are motivated
  • empower volunteers to "own" their projects
  • create a climate of teamwork across generational boundaries
  • involve "virtual" volunteers from around the country
  • engage the passion of your volunteers
    Dozens of "must-have" resources.
You'll find job descriptions, applications, and interview questions; activities, icebreakers, and team-builders for volunteer meetings; community-building activities; plus, tips for board retreats and planning sessions.

"Leading volunteers has always been among the most vital tasks in ministry. Yet as society has changed, and people's lives have become more chaotic and fragmented, the task of leading leaders has never been more challenging. In The New Breed, Tom and Jonathan McKee offer us all a comprehensive, thorough and usable handbook for equipping and training volunteers in today's hectic world. Well researched, solidly grounded and filled with practical tips and tools, The New Breed is sure to become the standard for raising up and leading a new generation of volunteers."
Chap Clark , Ph.D.
Professor of Youth, Family, and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary
Author, HURT: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers
Senior Editor, Youthworker Journal



Jonathan McKee Books Jonathan McKee is president of The Source for Youth Ministry and author of numerous youth ministry books like "Do They Run When They See You Coming?" and the brand new "Getting Students to Show Up." Jonathan studies youth culture and trends, speaking and training across the country and providing free online resources, training, & ideas for youth workers at

Thomas McKee Thomas McKee is the president and owner of, a leadership development firm specializing in volunteerism. He has over 40 years of experience in volunteer leadership and has trained over 100,000 leaders on how to manage the chaos of change in an organization. His books include They Don't Play My Music Anymore-How to Plan Your Future When the World Keeps Changing and How to Make the Team Work-A Leadership Training Manual for New Managers.

DVD Movie Giveaway: We're giving away five DVD's of the upcoming Christian Stand-up Comedy Movie THOU SHALT LAUGH 2 to five of you just for telling us how our free resources have helped you!

Thou Shalt Laugh Yes, it's that simple. We want to hear how has helped you. And anyone of you that sends us an email telling us how our resources have made an impact in your ministry registers to win one of five "Thou Shalt Laugh 2" DVD's that we'll be giving away on its release November 6th!

The laughter doesn't stop in THOU SHALT LAUGH 2: THE DEUCE as comedy legend and Emmy Award-winning writer/actor Tim Conway (The Carol Burnett Show) hosts an uproarious night of stand-up comedy featuring some of the most talented artists working in show business today. Returning performers and audience-favorites Taylor Mason and Thor Ramsey are joined by TSL2 newcomers Saturday Night Live's Victoria Jackson, Bone, and Dan Nainan. All the comedians are Christians!

Available October 23, 2007 (online at and November 6 (everywhere)

We're giving away five of these hilarious DVDs free to five names we'll draw from a hat. Just send us an email telling us how our resources have helped make an impact in your ministry and we'll add your name to the hat.

  1. Send an email telling us how has helped your ministry. What free resources, ideas or articles have been a help? What were the results?

  2. Include the following four logistical items:
    • Your name
    • Your youth ministry title (jr. high coordinator, volunteer, janitor, etc.)
    • Your phone number
    • Your correct mailing address

  3. Type these words to us in the email: I give Jonathan McKee and/or The Source for Youth Ministry permission to use this information as an example for any of their trainings, articles, publicity, books or resources.

That's it! Enter now!

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