Young Life or Youth for Christ “What’s the difference?”


we love young life too...I run a parachurch youth ministry called Youth Dynamics. And although we’ve been around for 42 years, there are lots of people who’ve never heard of YD. When I tell them what we do often times the follow up question is always something like: “So how are you guys different from Young Life or YFC?”

One of my good friends works for Youth for Christ and I asked him one day if he got that question a lot and he told me this awesome story.

One time the president of YFC was out with a donor who gave substantially to both Young Life and Youth for Christ. In the course of their conversation, he asked the President, “So what’s the difference between Young Life and YFC?” The President said: “Oh that’s easy.” “If Young Life was a car, it’d be a BMW. If Youth for Christ was a car it’d be a F-150.”  Then my friend asked me. What kind of car would “Youth Dynamics be?” I immediately responded. “A Subaru.” No question.

Youth Dynamics is the youth ministry that has that outdoorsy distinction to it. We do all this adventure stuff. Rock Climbing, River Rafting, Kayaking, Hiking, Mountaineering, Horses… I would say that the teenagers we work with are a little different as well. They aren’t the kids from in-tact families, they don’t often play sports, they haven’t ever been to church, some could be called “at-risk” but not all of them could be defined that way, but what teenager isn’t “at-risk” these days, right? I think that most of the teenagers we work with could be aptly called “fringe” kids. They don’t fit in for the most part.

“How do we differ from Young Life or YFC?” That’s the question people most frequently ask… what my church friends don’t ask, but what their thinking is: “Why do you even exist at all? You guys should be doing this in a local church… not taking money and students from us.”

I think I just found my next blog post.

~Moder

I’m a CEO. Why I volunteer.


Did you know if you put a Reese’s PB Cup on your smores it’ll rock your world? This is the night that happened for me.

It’s true. I have 50 employees in 3 states. I have millions of dollars that needs to be raised annually for the non-profit that I run. I’m married and still have a teenager at home. Fact is, I’m a busy person, and so are you.

And I volunteer every week in my church’s youth ministry, here’s why:

1. Volunteering with teens has helped me become a better parent – Being around teenagers has helped me learn how to relate to teenagers in general, how to have conversations – and learn what issues they’re dealing with. It’s also helped me learn what is normal developmentally and helps me freak out about the right things, instead of over-reacting about the wrong stuff.

2. The church needs parents in to be involved in youth ministry – I was a youth pastor for about 5 years before I had children of my own. I always thought I understood the relationship between parents and their children, but after I had my firstborn…. WHOA! I really understood it! I suddenly understood why parents freaked out about safety issues, about transportation, about who was supervising, about getting home late. I now get why some go off on coaches, and teachers, and Little League umpires, and youth pastors. Not that it make’s it okay, but I get it.

3. Teenagers need positive older male role models – this generation has been called a “fatherless generation.” Men are by-in-large gone from daily involvement in their teenager’s lives. Even the ones who have a father figure in the home, often are not engaged in relationship with them.  I used to think that my best days as a youth worker were  when I was in my early 20s; as a kind of big brother to teenagers. But now that I am the age of their parents, I am enjoying the STRONGEST platform I have ever had for youth ministry. Young men and young women alike need a responsible appropriate adult male in their world.

4. Teenagers need to see functioning marriages – Heidi & I have been married for 24 yrs. That’s like 172 in dog years. Our 17 yr. old son brings his friends over all the time.  We encourage them to stay for dinner. We invite them to watch a DVD with us. We ask them to tag along while we walk the dog. Many people want to mysticise discipleship but it’s really not that difficult and neither is youth ministry.  Teenagers need to see Godly men and women, responding to everyday situations, through the lens of the Gospel, from someone who loves them deeply.

And at the end of the day, that’s why I volunteer with teenagers in my church. As Christ followers we are to follow Christ in His mission.  In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commissions all would call themselves Christians to go and make disciples. You do not have to disciple teenagers. But if you call yourself a Christian, you’d better be discipling someone. I’m choosing to disciple teenagers and those who work with them. I invite you to do the same.

Think back on your life for a moment… who was it that influenced you as a teenager?

What did they do to influence you?

~Mark

Welcome to the Blogosphere Moderhead. Finally.


I’m not sure why it took me so long. I have been a mushroom-eater when it comes to everything techy. An early-adapter. But in this arena I have drug my feet. Actually, I know exactly why I haven’t done it yet.

#1. Some opinions are better off not shared.

#2. Writing should involve both thought and content, which is glaringly absent from most blogging.

#3. I did not want to add one more thing to my regular TO DO list.

SO WHY START NOW, MARK?

Well, writer’s write. And I want to stop making excuses and write more. I want to hone my craft. And now that I don’t have a regular preaching gig, I feel my need to communicate shifting mediums.

And, I suppose that I finally feel like I have something worth saying. This is my 47th year of life and my 27th year of youth ministry. I have worked with “literally” (channeling Rob Lowe here) thousands of teenagers. I have spent significant time in both small congregations and large congregations, in both the church and the para-church. I have performed both funerals and weddings of kids that were in my youth group; many of my former teenagers are now pastors and missionaries and board members; other are in jail, many are divorced; some have come out of the closet, and sadly some have renounced their faith all together. I’ve been both hired and fired, both cheered and falsely accused; had youth ministries in the single digits and some in the hundreds. I have been the low man on the totem pole and now the CEO of the organization. But most of my street-cred probably comes from raising 2 teenagers of our own with my wife Heidi over the past 20 years. I feel like I have not just a right, but somewhat of a responsibility, to add my voice to the conversation, at least in the arenas of youth ministry, the church, small groups and all things concerning Gonzaga basketball. I will occasionally chime in about parenting, discipleship, evangelism, home schooling and snowboarding and a few other topics I’m sure.

You will hear my biases.  You will both laugh and cringe. I have always tried to say what needed to be said, even if it’s difficult to say, or hear.  Like one of my mentors says: “Say the last 5%.” Don’t leave it unsaid assuming they understand. If you have the coins in the jar with people, say what they need to hear in love.

It will be fun to interact, to see who engages, and to learn from each other. Let’s agree upfront to agree to disagree and to have congenial dialogue. Because at the end of the day, you are my friend and I value that above just about everything.

Blessings. See you in the Blogosphere.

~Moder

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