Alan Ramsey is the Student Ministries Lead Pastor at Fellowship Church in Knoxville, TN. He’s been working with students (specifically middle school students) for over 20 years and is honored to play a small part in God’s plan for their futures. Before joining Fellowship Church, Alan was the Assistant Middle School Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, California. He and his wife Diane have been married since May 1997 and have 5 children: Madison, Abigail, Kayla Ray, Rusten and Favour, who they recently adopted from Uganda, Africa. Let’s just say they have their own youth group at home!
Brooklyn Lindsey loves being a youth pastor. She serves at Highland Park Church of the Nazarene in Lakeland Florida. That's why her Instagram pictures are just so ridiculously awesome. Being surrounded by oceans and a magical place where dream comes true, she can't complain. Brooklyn is a minister, a communicator, and likes to read and write. Her books include: The Kingdom Experiment, Confessions Of A Not-So-Supermodel, Sacred Life, To Save A Life: Devo2Go, Opposite Day, A Parents Guide to Understanding Your Teenage Daughter, and 99 Thoughts for Junior Highers. She is also the co-pastor of a Saturday evening missional community with her husband Coy Lindsey, also at Highland Park. They have two daughters. There are not pets in the house. But they do have a dog named Chip (who is actually any lizard that they see outside). Preferred mode of transportation: a fixed-up beach cruiser. Her favorite snack lately: Sasquatch Big Steak (Teriyaki Beef Jerky) and Frozen Hot Chocolate.
Dan is the Junior High Youth Pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Mansfield, Ohio and has been married to his wife and ministry partner, Melissa, since 2000. They have two children: Jenna and Kaleb. He has done ministry for 19 years in a wide variety of churches in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. Dan is a regular contributor, curriculum creator, and writer for Group Magazine, Stuff You Can Use, Youthworker Journal, and juniorhighministry.org., and he blogs about Middle School Ministry at jrhighuthguy.blogspot.com. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Elle is doing Middle School Ministry at The Chapel at CrossPoint in Buffalo, New York, where she focuses mostly on creating great small group environments and leading volunteers. She blogs about youth ministry stuff at ellecampbell.org and creates and shares original youth ministry resources at stuffyoucanuse.org. She is married to Kenny and loves coffee and making things and reading as many books as possible. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Jay is doing Middle School Ministry at Hope Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he oversees their mid-week outreach and worship service called Hazardous and hopes to ROCK YOUR FACE OFF. He is married to Liz and is the dad of Coali the black lab and Citgo the orange tabby cat. You can find him on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Jeff is nationally known as an urban ministry innovator and leader. He serves as Pastor of Youth Development at Peace Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia, where he oversees all of the children, teen, and young adult ministries. Jeff has produced several resources designed to empower and equip youth leaders, parents, and students in urban environments. He is the author of “Urban Ministry from Start to Finish” and co-author of “Everybody’s Urban” as well as “99 Thoughts Every Guy Should Know”. Jeff enjoys doing life with his wife Quovadis and three boys, Jeffrey, Christopher, and Cameron. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Jeremy is an Orange Specialist with The reThink Group's XP3 Student Team. He has a passion for connecting with and learning from student pastors, deliberatively researching, reading, and blogging about student ministry and family ministry, dabbling with online technology and experimenting in ministry lifestyle design and productivity in the church. Jeremy and his wife, Mikaela, live in Alpharetta, Georgia. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and on his blog.
Jeremy lives in Nashville, TN with his beautiful wife and two boys. He loves to breakdance, sing in the shower, roll down hills, look at stairs, and solve the world's problems. He is the guy behind ParentMinistry.net, one of the brains behind Uthmin.net, and he loves to inspire tribes.
Justin is the Junior High Pastor at Mariners Church, a multi-campus church in Southern California. He loves fun, surfing, Starbucks coffee, and going on dates with his wife, Brittany. They have a dog. You can connect with Justin on Twitter, Facebook, or on his blog.
Kurt leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California and blogs at morethandodgeball.com. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4% of his time. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Mike has worked with junior highers in three states (Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky) and at five churches since 1996. He is currently the Middle School Pastor at Mount Pleasant Christian Church, where he oversees their Preteen Ministry called Fifty-Six for fifth and sixth graders, and their Middle School Ministry called Seventy8 for seventh and eighth graders. He is part of the leadership team of FourFiveSix, a network dedicating to helping people take the next step with their preteen ministry. He is also a curriculum writer for juniorhighministry.org and a regular contributor to the N B Tween column in K! Magazine. He and his amazing wife are the parents to two sons and one daughter. You can find him in the social universe on Facebook, Twitter, and his blog.
Nikomas is the lead Student Pastor at Harvester Christian Church in St. Louis, Missouri, where he primarily focuses on Middle School Ministry. He loves youth ministry, his wife and two daughters, and St. Louis Cardinals baseball. Combining any of those loves together causes him to giggle like a girl. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and at nikomas.com.
Scott is the director of Elevate, the Junior High Ministry of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, Illinois. Scott, along with an entirely-fantastic team of staff and volunteer leaders, has the privilege of helping young adolescents follow Jesus. He also co-authored two books in the Middle School Survival Series with Mark Oestreicher. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.
Tom (also known as "Coach Shef" or just "Shef") is the co-founder of Uthmin.net and the North Point Ministries Multi-Campus Director of Transit, their Middle School Ministry. Tom’s passion involves working with campus directors and their teams, as well as recruiting and developing the hundreds of volunteer small group leaders it takes to pull off Transit at the five churches of North Point Ministries. He also co-wrote Lead Small with Reggie Joiner, a resource for children and student small group leaders. Tom and his wife Julie live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three children, Mac, Joey and Cooper. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.
North Point is an interesting place to work. There are so many great things about it.
But there are also some things I would put in the category of “freakin’ hard.”
For instance, in a church that is led by Andy Stanley, the “bar” for speakers is unbelievably high. It’s almost impossible to feel like you did a great job. And that’s hard.
If you are speaking in a children’s environment, a student environment, or even just leading a volunteer meeting… you need to be on your game! (Not to mention what it’s like to talk in “Big Church.” But that’s a topic for another time.)
Yesterday, I introduced the educational concept of “constructivism.”
In case you missed it, “constructivism” is an understanding of how a learner builds knowledge for themselves through the building blocks of discovery, hands-on, experiential, collaborative, project-based, and task-based learning in order to engage knowledge.
But beyond these educational building blocks, what are the spiritual building blocks that will help us (as communicators) construct teaching that is B-U-I-L-T to last?
We all want the things we are teaching to last longer than the back door of our youth room. We teach lessons that need to last and become foundations for life.
In order for us to do that, we must create youth ministry environments and lessons that give students the building blocks to construct for themselves the truth that will last for a lifetime.
I am not talking about a “pick and choose what I like and don’t like” model of teaching truth. I am rather talking about an intentional approach that is less “preacher” and more “teacher.” It is an educational model and approach that allows us to come beside, lead, and teach while handing off the unchanging truths.
When I was younger, I worked at a local company. I wasn’t doing anything special… I just worked. The days were long, the work tough, and the pay was poor. But it was a job. And it taught me a ton. One of the things I learned was that there was no use in being lazy. The more I “messed around,” the longer the day seemed to take. So, I learned to put my head down and work hard. I would almost get lost in my work and the day would be over before I knew it.
As the parent of two teenage girls, I think one of the biggest mistakes parents of young teens can make is thinking we need to control the behavior of our kids. We can feel pressured to tell them what kind of people they need to be, so we can keep our kids from moving outside God’s moral boundaries. But this is dangerous.
When we focus on trying to control the outward behavior of our young teens, we actually hinder their development and cause a great deal of stress for ourselves.