Today, 5 years ago, ym360 turned on our store for the first time. And while that may not seem like such a big deal to some people, it's a big deal to me.

A little over five years ago, Les Bradford and I felt God telling us to leave the ministry where we were serving. The vision? Start a new youth ministry content company that served youth workers with biblically solid, creative, and affordable Bible study and discipleship resources. And to do it in a culture of excellent customer care and true relationship. While we have a lot to learn, and while there is always room to improve, through God's grace we've managed to build the ministry we set out to build.

Starting a business/ministry is absolutely one of the hardest things you can set out to do, I think. Here are a few things we've learned along the way.

Starting something new is difficult. There were years of lean days, some so lean that we thought we wouldn't make it. But God never allowed us to go without. We downsized family budgets and changed our lifestyles, but our kids never missed a meal. God is a very good provider.

This world is full of truly amazing people who serve in local churches. No, really. The youth worker is a force to be reckoned with. Youth workers have indomitable spirits. To the youth workers we serve, you are the most committed, resilient, passionate, and industrious group of people I have ever encountered. We love you. I am not exaggerating.

Everyone makes mistakes. It's how you handle your mistakes that separates good organizations (and people) from the rest. We make mistakes like the next guy. But part of our ministry ethos is to bend over backwards to make things right. I think people recognize the heart behind this and are overwhelmingly graceful.

If you try to the best of your ability to honor God in everything you do, He will honor your efforts. I believe that because I have seen it. Our devotion in staff meeting this morning was Proverbs 22:1: "A good name is more desirable that great riches." That's been our drive since day 1. Treat people well. Honor God. The rest will fall in place.

We are never better than when we surround ourselves with great people. With God's guidance, Les and I gave birth to this little ministry. But we are infinitely better because God has brought, and continues to bring, incredible folks alongside us. Lee Moore and Angela Terry, our dynamic customer care duo, are superstars. We hear from youth workers all the time how great it is to have a customer care team that truly cares about the youth workers they serve. From our authors, to our designers, to our video team, to our ministry partners, God has allowed us to join with like-minded, mission-guided individuals who are advancing His Kingdom daily. It's a true privilege.

On behalf of Les Bradford and myself, and the entire the ym360 Team, let me please say thank you to everyone who has allowed us to play a small role in partnering with you to lead teenagers closer to Christ.

We deeply value the relationship and look forward to serving you in the future.

There are big, exciting things on the horizon. You're going to love the next five years.

God Bless,

Andy Blanks