Youth Dynamics – Scholarship Video


Take 3 min to watch this and help a teenager. Other than a missions trip, nothing in my 28 years of youth ministry has as much impact on a teenagers life as an extended adventure trip in the wilderness!

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$41 million judgement for teenager on a foreign trip with school


Youth Pastor, if you take teenagers overseas you better pay attention to this lawsuit.

5 years ago, Cara Munn, then a 15 yr old girl at her boarding school in Connecticut, contracted a tick-borne illness while on a trip to China with her school. (an excerpt from the linked article is below)

“On the trip, Munn and fellow students visited an area considered high-risk for tick-borne illness, and, upon her return, she was hospitalized for the disease that ended up ravaging her system and inflicting permanent brain damage.

Antonio Ponvert III, a lawyer for Munn, said of the $41 million award that the school was negligent in not only failing to manage students and protect them but also for neglecting to notify the woman’s family of the extent of her illness.”

“Hotchkiss failed to take basic safety precautions to protect the minor children in its care … I hope that this case will help alert all schools who sponsor overseas trips for minors that they need to check the CDC for disease risks in the areas where they will be travelling, and that they must advise children in their care to use repellant and wear proper clothing when necessary.”

Ponvert added: ”Cara’s injuries were easily preventable.”

While you cannot and should not ever guarantee safety while on a trip, negligence by definition IS preventable. Make sure you (over) communicate to parents and teens about the risks associated with the locations you are attending as well as the activities you will be doing, so that both can make an informed decision regarding their participation and the precautions they may want to take as attendees.

It’s hard to believe that something as simple as bug spray may have prevented both the $41 million judgement, and more importantly, Cara’s health. Save yourself some grief while you’re helping save the world.

Lead well,

~Mark

Teen Gets Sick On School Trip, Awarded $41M – link to original article

Teenagers are my mission field.


Today I am leading a team from Youth Dynamics to Urbana 2012 in St. Louis. With 16,000 young adults in attendance, it is certainly the largest missions conference of its kind in the U.S.

But why would Youth Dynamics be at Urbana? We are a stateside youth ministry. What business do we have at a missions conference? Conventional wisdom might say we don’t belong, that we should be at Youth Specialties or some other youth ministry conference to recruit staff. So why are we at Urbana? Simply this… we are missionaries. Here’s why:

1.       The U.S. is a legitimate mission field; the Northwest is as dark as any region in the States.

We are constantly battling with the Northeast as the most unchurched region of the U.S. In fact, the Northwest is called “The None Zone” because of it unbelievably high % of people who have no religion or religious affiliation at all. (See our new 3 min video on the “Rise of the Nones”)

2.       Teenagers are an unreached tribe.

I just finished reading a book by Vincent Donovan, the first missionary to work with the Masai tribes in Tanzania. Another one of my heroes is Jim Elliot, missionary martyr to the Auca Indians in Ecuador. I imagine I see Northwest teenagers in the same way they both saw the people God called them to reach ….  I see them as lost tribes. Teenagers need missionaries to live among them, to be Jesus with skin on, to a people who have never met Him.

3.       We raise our own salaries.

I speak at regional and national Youth Ministry Conferences. When we try to recruit staff there, youth workers come from a paradigm that says: “How much will I make?”  “What will my salary be?” However, at a missions conference, those who are answering God’s call to missions have already crossed that mental barrier. They know that they will have to raise their own salary to follow God’s call on their life. The questions then become… “Could God be calling me to be a missionary in the U.S.?”  “Could I see myself using adventure ministry to reach lost teenagers in the Northwest?”

4.       We are all about the Gospel.

Yes, we take teenagers on all kinds of amazing experiences. White-water rafting, kayaking, rock-climbing, hiking, mountaineering, etc., and I would contend we have some of the best adventure guides in the wilderness industry. But for us, adventure ministry is not an end to itself. It’s a tool. Our aim is NOT to convert young people from being indoor people to being outdoor people. Our staff uses adventure ministry to introduce teenagers to Jesus and to go deeper if they know Him already. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if they love the outdoors, they still go to Hell without Jesus.

5.       Lastly, the Church has stopped seeing youth ministry as missional.

It used to be that pastors and church boards saw youth ministry as a key strategy piece in reaching lost families in our local communities. That’s changed. Tragically, some are even questioning its legitimacy in the local church. This may be a bit of an overstatement but I contend that for the most part, youth ministry in the church used to be a place where we reached the lost; now it’s become a place where we take care of the saved.

Missions has always been my first calling. I remember the service as a Bible college student where I went to the altar, knelt, surrendered my will to His, and said “Wherever you send me, I’ll go.” I fully expected that meant I would be living in a mud hut in Africa soon after. But surprisingly He never asked me to go overseas to do missions. He asked me to do youth ministry in the States. And 27 years later He continues to ask me to reach lost tribes of teenagers in the unchurched Northwest. I’ve taken students all over the world on short-term mission trips. And every time God rocks their world. Inevitably on the ride home some of them begin to ask the questions… “What if I knew their language?”  “What if I understood their culture?”  “How many more could I reach then?”

Then I remind them, “You do know a language. You are a native to a tribe and a culture that others do not understand, the American Teenager.”  And I challenge them:  “Whatever your end up doing with your life, wherever you end up… Be missional with your life.”

We are all missionaries, we just all don’t get paid to do it.

~Mark

­­Is 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.”

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