Our incredible team of contributors represent a lifetime of passion, experience, and wisdom. They write many of the posts on the ym360 Blog, as well as some of our Bible Study Resources, Free Stuff, and more. Interested In Contributing? Click Here For Details.
Aaron Helman is on a mission to help end the epidemic of youth worker burnout. He writes Smarter Youth Ministry to help youth workers with their biggest frustrations, things like leading volunteers, managing money, and effective communication. He is a ten-year youth ministry veteran, and has served churches in Brownsburg, Indiana and South Bend, Indiana. Aaron holds an IU Business Degree and uses those skills to help other youth workers develop their "blind spots" so that they can run healthy and effective ministries. Aaron is married to Lindsay and they have two sons with a third child on the way.
Aaron Kirkpatrick has been leading the Chenal Valley Youth Group in Little Rock, AR for seven years. He is passionate about relational ministry and connecting with teens outside the walls of the church building. This has led to countless hours at basketball games, plays, recitals, Sonic parking lots, Minecraft servers, and anywhere else teens are congregating. When he needs to recharge his creativity, you'll find him haunting a local Starbucks, Panera, or Baskin Robbins. You can follow Aaron on his blog (http://aaronk13.wordpress.com) and catch up with him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/aaronK13).
Aaron Shaver is a motivational speaker, blogger, and "youth pastor's helper" who is available to speak and listen. Aaron has over 6 years experience in youth ministry. Recently, Aaron created Shaver's Razor, a multi-level resource for youth and the pastors, leaders and teachers who mentor them. Check out www.shaversrazor.com to find out how he can help you. Drop in on Aaron's blog (www.aaronshaver.com) or follow him on Twitter (www.twitter.com/shaversrazor).
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Alanna Arceneaux currently serves as the Minister of Education and Discipleship at Pineville Park Baptist Church in Central Louisiana. She has been in full time youth ministry for nearly 10 years now and is amazed at how time flies . . . and how things change! Alanna’s favorite things in life are her family, especially her three beautiful nieces, Louisiana culture, teaching, and baking fun cupcakes! She does not like drama, curry, or yard work. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@alannaiam), and Instagram (auntsis23) . . . sometimes.
Amy Jo Girardier is the Girls Minister at Brentwood Baptist in Brentwood, TN. She has been serving in this role for ten years and keeps pinching herself that this is what she gets to do for a job! She also is the founding editor of www.girlsminister.com, a website created to connect and resource girls minister, moms, and youth workers engaged in the girls ministry conversation. In addition, she has launched www.mygirlsministry.com to provide the first girls ministry social network. Amy Jo loves using technology, drinking coffee, serving with her husband Darrel, loving on Scout (her new baby), and chill-axing with her Boston Terrier Diesel.
Andy Blanks is the co-founder and Publisher for ym360. If it's a blog post, resource, or workshop, Andy had his hands on it. Andy has been designing Bible study and discipleship resources for youth ministers since 2003. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wonderful wife Brendt, their three daughters, and one son. He's a pretty big fan of both the Boston Red Sox and anything involving the Auburn Tigers. When he's not hanging out with his family or volunteering at his church's youth ministry, you can find Andy trail running or mountain biking. Follow Andy on Instagram: andy_blanks
Andy Disher has been in Student Ministry for 12 years. As he is starting his fifth year in full-time ministry at Kingsville Community Church, he is excited and hopeful for what the future holds. He has no idea what that is, but is fully trusting God. Hailing from Canada, he loves to dispel assumptions about Canadians. Yes, he has a pet moose. No, he does not live in an igloo (although, he thinks that's pretty cool) and yes, he eats everything with maple syrup. On a more serious note, his passions include connecting with students and leaders alike, teaching, leading worship and helping people. Follow Andy on his blog www.andydisher.wordpress.com and keep in touch via Twitter (www.twitter.com/@AndyDisher).
Austin is currently the student pastor at Courtney Baptist Church in Yadkinville, NC. He just finished his Bachelors degree from Piedmont International University in Christian Ministries with a student ministries and pastoral studies minors. He is now working on his Master's of Arts in Religion with a specialization in Christian Leadership from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is engaged to Crystal Garofalo whom he is marrying on August 5th. You can visit Austin's personal blog at www.austinmccann.com.
Ben Birdsong works with middle school students at First Baptist Church in Pelham, Alabama. He holds degrees in Marketing and Human Resource Management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a Masters of Divinity degree from Samford University's Beeson Divinity School. Ben has served with Student Life, Inc. and First Priority of Alabama. He loves to minister to students and challenge them to become campus missionaries and to live out their faith. Ben enjoys movies, reading, coffee shops, and blogging at http://www.benbirdsong.com.
Ben is the Director of Youth and Worship Ministries at Fellowship of Faith in Mchenry, IL. He has been working in Youth Ministry in some form or fashion for nearly a decade and is currently pursuing his graduate degree in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Ben's passion is helping youth internalize their own faith through mentoring. He also loves to continually push leaders to not shy away from the uncomfortable, because the uncomfortable is often what students need to talk about with their mentors and parents. He and his wife, Tessa, have a nearly two-year-old son, Carter. Visit Ben's personal blog at www.leadinginthemargins.com.
After a career ending knee injury, Ben Kerns left competitive curling and has dedicated the last 15 years of his life to loving students. He enjoys partnering with other youth workers to help students come to know and follow Jesus. Ben is a network facilitator for the pacific southwest for the Evangelical Covenant Church and has been a resource for other youth workers for the past 5 years. He still brings pizza to any and every youth gathering. And now he has to run 20 miles a week to burn off the pizza weight to keep the love alive with his wife. He loves his kids, baseball, writing, and his iPhone, and doesn't understand Twitter. Ben serves at Marin Covenant Church as the Pastor to Children and Students. You can check out his blog www.averageyouthministry.com or follow his struggling Twitter account at www.twitter.com/averageym.
Benjer McVeigh serves as the Small Groups and Connection Pastor at The Heights Community, a multi-site church in northern Utah. He resides in Ogden with his wife, Jennifer, and his two daughters, Bethany and Samantha, and he blogs about small groups, volunteers, and leadership at www.benjermcveigh.com.
Bill is a 15 year youth ministry veteran, which means he has a goatee with gray hair. He currently volunteers with his church in the youth ministry, but also gets to speak to teens across the midwest. Thanks to his "day job" with a large secular non profit (where he also gets to help churches fulfill Matthew 25), he can give freely of his time and energy to ministering to teens. He also has a passion for equipping youth ministers. He has been able to write and teach about youth ministry in a variety of settings. Most importantly, he is married to the most beautiful girl on the planet and has 4 kids under the age of 8. Its a crazy life. You can follow Bill's descent into madness (and read some good youth ministry insight as well) at his blog, http://www.billnance.org.
Brandon is the Student Pastor at Central Baptist Church in Warner Robbins, GA. A 2002 graduate of the University of Georgia, he received his Master of Divinity in Christian Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2008. He is an excellent communicator, with a passion for students and missions and is often found on school campuses throughout Middle Georgia. He and his wife, Kristen, are the proud parents of two children.
Brendt Blanks is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who lives in Birmingham, AL. Her B. S. in Human Development and Family Studies, as well as her M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy were both earned at Auburn University (War Eagle!). Brendt is an active member of her church (Shades Mountain Baptist), leading grief groups, as well as helping out with children's and student ministries. Brendt and her husband Andy (Co-Founder of youthministry360) have three incredible daughters and one son, who keep them on the go non-stop. Brendt would rather be at the beach with her family than pretty much anywhere else in the world. Drop her a note sometime on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/brendtblanks).
Brian Eberly has been in church ministry for over two decades in both California and Oregon. He is currently serving as associate pastor at Foothills Community Church in Molalla, Oregon. Seeing people make a meanignful connection with God, and experiencing authentic community with one another is the heartbeat of Brian's life and ministry. Next to serving the Lord, he finds his greatest joy in spending time with his wife and two children. He also enjoys good music, a good day on the beach, and good cup of coffee. Brian blogs about the ride at www.brianeberly.com.
Brian is founder & feature Writer of Xposed2Jesus (http://www.xposed2jesus.com). He's been in youth ministry for 15 years as a youth pastor, writer and speaker. He's also a Deep & Wide Youth Ministry Advocate for Dare 2 Share and a member of the Life in Student Ministry Mentor Team. Brian is currently serving with Agape Christian Church in Terre Haute, IN as the Student Ministries Pastor. His passion is to communicate the Word of God so as to equip teenagers to live their life fully committed to Jesus. Brian believes teens want and need to be exposed to biblical theology so as to deepen their faith as well as equip them to share their faith. After living a life of rebellion, running from the truth, and roaming the streets of Newark, NJ, Brian put his faith in Christ as a result of one man taking the time to share the "clear" message of the Gospel. Since that moment his heart's desire has been to grow closer each day in his relationship with Jesus Christ and serve God in youth ministry. Check out Brian's website (http://www.xposed2jesus.com) and follow him on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/ypbrianford).
Brian is an ordained minister for the Church of God (Anderson, IN). He is the Lead Youth Pastor at Cloverdale Church of God in Boise, ID (www.cloverdalechurch.org) and has worked with teenagers for over 14 years. He graduated from Northwest Nazarene University with a bachelor’s degree in youth ministry. Brian has a passion for youth ministry that extends beyond his local church and has been involved with several different national youth organizations as well as mentoring other youth workers. His first book, “Flimsy Ministry” was released in 2012. God has blessed he and his wife Maureen with three boys; Colin, Curtis, and Cameron. Brian loves living in Idaho, especially for all of the outdoor recreation options like wakeboarding, snow skiing, and riding dirt bikes. He also likes Boise State football a bit (ok, more than a bit) and does not believe the blue turf is an un-fair advantage. You can read more of Brian’s work on his blog (http://myendofthedeal.com), or keep up with him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/brian.seidel.3) or Twitter (http://twitter.com/brianseidel).
Bucky Rogers is student pastor at Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. His wife of 11 years, Julie, and 3 sons, Sasha, Xan, and Brennan, and daughter Becca are the loves of his life. He received his Bachelors from the University of Tennessee and his Masters from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He can be occasionally found tickling the ivories, destroying helpless students at tennis, and beasting at some Tetris. Bucky is the author of Rooted in the Ancient Words, a devotional book for teenagers.
Chris graduated Xavier University (Cincinnati, OH) in 2003 with a BA in Communications (Electronic Media). He moved to Baltimore in the fall of 2003 where he served as a Jesuit Volunteer for a year. During that time he felt God's calling to Student Ministry. In the summer of 2004 he was hired by Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland as a Middle School Youth Ministry. He currently oversees grades 6th-12th as the Director of Student Ministry. Today he lives in Pikesville with his wife Kate and his sons Matthew and Benjamin. Chris loves to cook and create new recipes, he's an avid runner who believes there are no limits. You can read more about Chris and his ministry at http://christopherwesley.org.
Danny oversees the student ministries at First Baptist Church Harvester in Missouri. He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have two sons, who are both cute, handsome, and manly. Danny and his family greatly enjoy the outdoors of all sorts. Southern California is home, but Colorado is where Danny and his wife grew up. Danny loves Java, working with high school students, and adventures that Jesus puts him on. Danny's biggest prayer is that he doesn't waste his life. Follow his blog at http://www.simplystudents.blogspot.com. Catch up with his tweets (http://www.twitter.com/dannybowers) and friend him on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/dbowers75).
Danny Ferguson currently works for Youth For Christ/Youth Unlimited in the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada. However, he has over 15 years of youth ministry experience, the last 7 of them involved in urban community youth work. In his role as Director of the Langley chapter of Youth Unlimited, Danny has worn many hats: youth worker, social worker, counselor, spiritual mentor, teacher . . . even medic. You name it, Danny's been there. But maybe his favorite role when it comes to teenagers is that of friend. Having worked within the context of church youth groups and on city streets, Danny offers a variety of experience on the relational aspects of youth work. Check out his blog at http://proyouthworker.blogspot.com to read Danny's thoughts on youth culture and stories from his ministry. Oh, and he loves being married to his wife, April.
Darren serves as Pastor for Youth & Preteens at Christ Point Church in Corpus Christi, TX. He and his wife Katie co-founded Millennial Influence, a resource equipping and encouraging the adults capable of making the biggest potential impact on teenagers: their parents! Darren and Katie produce a weekly podcast & monthly newsletter for parents of teenagers and help encourage and resource youth pastors to impact the family. Darren & Katie have served in student ministry for over 20 years and between them have degrees in youth ministry, kids ministry, psychology, sociology, counseling, and discipleship. (They ought to have a degree in how to pay off student loans to a private college on a youth ministry salary!) They have three sons, a cat they hate (but can't get rid of), and a blog you can read at www.everyonescalledtoyouthministry.wordpress.com. Connect with them at their website (http://www.minfluence.com), their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/darrensuttonfans), or on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/darrensutton).
David Kennedy serves as Student Minister at South Jeff Christian Church in Louisville, KY. David's educational pathway is different than most. He received his BA with a concentration in Poor Choices at Hard Knocks University. This degree prepared David for an exciting and fulfilling future in the United States Marine Corps. The side note to this experience is that during his time in the Marines, David committed his life to following Christ. David is passionate about youth ministry, particularly engaging public schools and the local community. David is experienced at speaking at conferences and camps. You can contact him firstname.lastname@example.org. David lives in Louisville, with his wife, Julie and their 5 kids (I know...crazy, huh?). David enjoys spending time with his family, continuing his education, and his unhealthy knowledge of 1980's professional wrestling.
You would think that after nearly 15 years of experience as a student minister that Eric would be better at his job by now. Nope. Every day is still on the job training. But he is passionate about discipleship and even wrote a book about it called, More than Words: How to Move from Believing to Following. Anything involving the outdoors will peak his interest, especially if it's sports related. His life long dream is to represent his country as part of the USA Olympic Ping-Pong team. Proving he is brain as well as brawn he once received a gold star for a spelling test in the first grade. Eric currently serves as the youth and college pastor at a church near Houston, TX, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.
Erin is the Creative Director for YM360. Since 2004 Erin has been working to integrate creativity and imagination into authentic worship experiences through video, spoken word, and interactive elements, specifically built to engage the minds and hearts of students. She firmly believes in the power of creating beautiful, powerful, and hilarious things as a way to help teenagers consider the Gospel in fresh ways. When not leading rousing office discussions on the spiritual implications of LOST or Harry Potter, Erin is pen pals with Robert Duvall, the co-author of a YA fantasy-adventure series, and a story coach for Arc Stories. She lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband and two wonderful daughters.
Greg Wilson received his bachelor's degree from Baylor University. He holds masters degrees in Marriage and Family Counseling and Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed additional graduate study at Dallas Theological Seminary. Greg is a biblical counselor specializing in adolescents, families and men at North Texas Christian Counseling in Flower Mound, Texas. For the past 20 years, he has provided gospel-centered biblical counseling in both individual and group contexts, and has also served churches in Texas and Georgia as a youth pastor and teaching pastor. Greg also blogs regularly at www.thirstyones.com, writing on issues related to spiritual formation, adolescence, youth ministry and counseling. Greg currently lives in the Dallas, Texas area with his wife and daughter, where they are active members of The Village Church.
Harper Cossar, PhD, is a professor at Georgia State University and has been teaching film and media studies for over a decade. He is the author of Jesus at the Movies, “How to Read a Film” for Christians—enlightening readers to the form, practice, and complexities of cinema and connecting it with a biblical worldview. He is also the author of Letterboxed: The Evolution of Widescreen Cinema (2010, University of Kentucky Press) and has been published in numerous academic journals and anthologies. He is available to teach a 4-class series on faith and film. He and his wife, Heather live in Atlanta, GA. You may contact him at email@example.com.
Heather moved several times growing up, but considers her hometown to be in Southern California. She moved to the south to attend Samford University, where she felt a call to ministry. She received her BA in Communication Studies from Samford and recently graduated with her Masters of Divinity from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Heather loves discipleship and equipping other leaders for the work of the saints. She loves sharing her story of how God redeemed the 'bad' in her life for His glory. And she loves listening to others' stories as well. Although she has lived in Alabama for 8 years, she has yet to choose a football team to cheer for. Maybe you have some suggestions? You can drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter (http://twitter.com/HeatherBJohnson).
Heather is a youth director at St. Luke's UMC in Indianapolis. Heather is passionate about middle school students, the St. Louis Cardinals, and her one-eyed cat, Iris. Heather's central blog is heatherleacampbell.me.
J. Roger Davis joined ym360 in 2015 as President and leader of all live events & experiences. Roger has been creating and giving leadership to excellent, gospel-centered youth ministry events since 1993. Roger bleeds Tennessee Vol orange and is a big Dallas Cowboys & San Antonio Spurs fan (where he used to be a ball boy.) He and his wife, Becca (a former YM) live in Birmingham with their 4 kids: Sterling, Landry, Kinsley, and Murray.
Jason Curry is the Pastor To Students at The Church at Rock Creek in Little Rock, Arkansas. During his time at Rock Creek, Jason has seen the student ministry grow from just a handful of students to over 300 students, from every school in Central Arkansas, actively involved in Rock Creek Students. Additionally, Jason is a frequent speaker at Student Retreats, Camps, Disciple-Now events, parent conference, college retreats, & church wide events. Jason attended Mississippi College where he played four years of college baseball (and was named an All-American), and graduated with a degree in Communications. During his first year of college, Jason began a two-year commitment as a volunteer for K-Life ministries, an extension of Kanakuk. He then served at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN and later joined the staff at First Baptist Church in Jackson, MS. Jason is married to his high school sweetheart, Courtney, and they have two daughters, Carson & Cameron. Jason is an avid college football fan and loves the outdoors, especially duck and deer hunting. You can keep up with Jason at http://www.jasoncurry.org.
After ministering to students for 20 years, and families for the last 10 years, God has led Jay to be part of a new church being planted in the northern Washington County area in western PA. In July of 2012, Jay and his family made the move to assume the role of senior pastor at Harvest Church. Jay is married to Amy, and dad to 4 boys and 1 adorable princess. Jay is also a life long dcTalk, Star Wars, and Philadelphia Phillies, Flyers and Eagle fan (though he has been known to cheer for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Penguins!) You can visit Jay's at www.jayhigham.com. And be sure to look him up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Linkedin and Vine.
Jeff Goins is an idea guy. Although originally a northerner, he now considers Tennessee home. He lives in Nashville with his wife Ashley and their dog Lyric. Working for Adventures In Missions, he helps mobilize people to follow Jesus into some of the darkest corners of the world where people need light and truth the most. He loves music, writing, movies, and coffee. He is especially passionate about words and used to collect pez dispensers. You can connect with him on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/jeff_goins) or his blog at http://goinswriter.com.
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.
Jeremy Zach easily gets dissatisfied with status quo. He reeks with passion and boredom is not in his vocabulary. He becomes wide awake when connecting with student pastors, thinking and writing about student ministry, experimenting with online technology, and working out. He is married to Mikaela and has two calico cats, Stella and Laguna. He lives in Alpharetta, Georgia and is a XP3 Orange Specialist for Orange—a division of the REthink Group. Zach holds a Communication degree from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. Visit Jeremy's blog at http://www.reyouthpastor.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jeremyzach.
Jerry Varner tries daily to be the Student Discipleship Pastor at Southside Church on the south side of Richmond, VA where he’s been for over 7 years. A graduate of Nyack College, he’s been in fulltime student ministry for 17+ years. He and his wife Merritt have 4 kids. Besides his family, his passions are communicating God’s Word in any way possible, leading students to love and follow a wild-eyed Jesus, writing, finding the best cheeseburger ever made, tweeting, & mountain biking. Jerry blogs at http://jerrythinks.com and you can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@jerryvarner.
For more than twenty-five years, Dr. Jim Graham has been helping teenagers fall in love with Jesus through studying God’s Word. Jim is a youth ministry veteran, online seminary professor, and advocate for youth ministry workers everywhere. His most recent book is (Re)Tell—Jesus, an Interactive Bible storying experience for Students. Jim and his wife, Robin, have two teenagers and live in Dallas.
Joshua Gill has been in youth ministry for nearly a decade. He lives in Downingtown, PA with his beautiful wife, Vicki, and their son, J.D. Currently, Josh is the Youth Director at Covenant Presbyterian Church. Josh holds a B.A. in Youth Ministry from Eastern University, a M.S. in Non-profit Business Management, and is currently working toward an M.DIV. from Palmer Theological Seminary. He has taught at several conferences including CAPS-East, and the annual Messiah College Youth Workers Conference. He has been published in Youth Worker Journal and at ym360. You can get more info about Josh and his consulting business, Directions in Youth Ministry at http://www.directionsym.com.
Justin serves as Director of Ministry, Jr. High at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA. Since starting as a high school leader at his home church eight years ago, he hasn’t looked back. He speaks at camps and FCA meetings, writes, and is a social media fanatic. He lives and breathes Jesus and the creativity that is so vital within youth ministry, with a goal of being a quality voice in the building process of the next generation. He was born in NYC, raised in Buffalo, educated in Missouri at a small bible college, and now lives in California. You can connect with Justin on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/HeyJustinHerman) or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/heyjustinherman) or follow his blog (http://heyjustinherman.com)
Justin Knowles is the Lead Next Gen. Pastor of Christ's Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. He oversees Jr. High, High School and College ministries at the church. He loves disciplining the next generation to help them become fully developed followers of Jesus. He has been in the ministry for the last 7 years and loves what he does.
Kenny and Elle Campbell lead the Middle School Ministry of The Chapel at Crosspoint in Buffalo, NY. They are also the founders of www.stuffyoucanuse.org, a platform for churches to share and discover free, editable resources for Student Ministry and Family Ministry. They are passionate about middle schoolers and seeing churches come together to share the very best of their ideas and resources. And they’re married. To each other. Follow Kenny on Twitter here (http://twitter.com/kennnnnnnnny), Elle on Twitter here (http://twitter.com/ellllllllllle), or Stuff You Can Use here (http://twitter.com/stuffyoucanuse).
Leneita Fix is the founder and lead consultant for Blue Sky/Green Sky Consulting (http://www.blueskygreensky.com) whose heart is, "Development and Training, With the Goal of Creating Experts Of Those In Pursuit of Taking A Generation from Survival To Thriving In Christ." Her heart and passion is to see the next generation walking out fully in who Christ has made them to be. Leneita looks at the sky through the lens of 18 years of ministry experience. The early years were spent in camp ministry, both with suburban and rural youth groups. With the Lord's moving, the last 14 have been spent ministering in three different cities in an inner city setting (New Jersey, Virginia and Florida). Her responsibilities have included Bible-based program direction for children ages 5-18, curriculum writing, staff training and recruiting, discipleship, conference direction, resource creation, and speaking to national audiences. For the last five years her heart has been for multiplication of workers in the urban harvest field. Leneita's passion is to raise up workers in practical, relationship-driven methods for bridging the gap from the green sky to the blue sky world. One of her greatest joys is serving in ministry as a family with her husband, three wonderful children, and niece. Simply, she resides among her friends in the city just living life as a family that loves being there. Email Leneita at email@example.com or check out her blog at http://www.blueskygreensky.com.
Les Bradford is the co-founder of youthministry360 and leads in all administrative aspects of ym360. Les has worked in this capacity in youth ministry orgs for over 9 years. Les has a knack for making all the moving parts work together. Youth ministry helped shape his life, and his youth pastor continues to be a great source of encouragement and friendship to this day. Les enjoys all things outdoors and wishes he was better at golf. Les and his wife Jamie live in Birmingham, AL with their son, Gage and daughter, Gracie.
Mark is the Student Pastor at Indian Springs Baptist Church just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. He has lived all over (Ohio, Minnesota, Alabama, Indiana, Virginia, and Arkansas), but his hometown is Indianapolis, Indiana. He was part of an exciting student ministry as a high school student, which is where most of his influence in student ministry came from. He went to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he met his wife, Christi. Mark and Christi volunteered at a great church while in college, and knew that they both had a future in student ministry as a married couple. He graduated with a BA in Biblical Studies in 2005 and has been doing full-time student ministry ever since. Mark and Christi have two sons (Kipton and Caden) and a teacup Yorkie. Mark loves coffee, frisbee golf, and the Boston Red Sox. You can catch up with him on his blog at www.thinknextnow.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/markhcox, or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/markhcox.
Mark Jenkins is a graduate of Union University and Beeson Divinity School. He worked in full-time student ministry for years before co-founding Urban Purpose (http://urbanpurpose.org), a ministry that glorifies the Lord by obeying his command to care for the poor and broken in Birmingham, AL. Mark still speaks and teaches teenagers whenever he gets the chance and loves seeing students become passionate about the Bible and living out their faith on a consistent basis. When he's at home, he loves hanging out with his wife and three children, grilling, reading, and watching the University of Tennessee dominate collegiate sports (2010 men's tennis runner-up!!!!). His experience stacking packages of grits on the midnight shift at the Martha White Factory during the summer of 2005 helped mold him into the man he is today.
Mary Elizabeth is the Ministry Assistant at the Pray for Me Campaign. Mary Elizabeth grew up in Alabama and graduated from Auburn University where she studied Communication Disorders and Human Development. After graduation, she served on staff with RUF at Texas Christian University for three years before moving to Chattanooga in July. Mary Elizabeth lives in St. Elmo, loves a good hike, good coffee, a good book and a good taco.
Matt is currently the Executive Director of First Priority of Greater Birmingham, working daily to mobilize the church to reach every student, on every campus, in every community. Since beginning in youth ministry in 1998, his passion has been networking local churches, developing Godly youth leaders, and training student leaders who partner with him in reaching students with the love and message of Jesus. During his time at First Priority, Matt has been able to speak to hundreds of students weekly on local public school campuses. He enjoys spending time with his family, training for triathlons, and being an advocate for orphans around the world. He is married to Michelle and has two children, Jess and Miriam. He holds a degree from the University of Mobile and a Master's of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Follow Matt and First Priority on twitter: @mattwilson518 and @firstpriorityal.
Melanie, originally from Snellville, GA, attended Samford University in Birmingham, AL for studies in Graphic Design and Fine Art. She was called into ministry while working in Student Ministry at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Vestavia Hills, AL. But God wasn't done "calling." Melanie was called pick up her life and move in order to make disciples of the nations. She is now doing church-planting, Youth Ministry, and Leadership Development in Cape Town, South Africa. When not doing ministry, she loves reading, watching 'Lost,' eating cucumbers and drinking South African tea. You can follow her South African journey through her website (www.melaniedill.com).
Paul Sheneman currently serves the Lord with the UMC of Macedonia community where he seeks to lead teens and their families to encounter God’s LIMITLESS love and follow Jesus in the way. The reality of the transformation of a person, through the faithfulness of Christ working through a community of disciples, is an observable yet mysterious process that energizes his life. Paul is married to Sarah Joy. They live with their two adorable boys, Nathaniel Micah and Zachary Isaac, in Macedonia, OH. You can follow most of his ramblings at www.discipleshipremix.com or on Twitter @PaulSheneman.
Paul Turner has been working with teenagers for over 20 years. He is a speaker, author, and youth ministry trainer. His greatest joy is being married to his wife Kim and raising his three kids, Haley, Bryan, and Jon. Check out Paul on his website, (http://thediscipleproject.net/) on Twitter (http://twitter.com/PaulTurnerToo), or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/paulwturner).
Phil Bell is a youth pastor, writer, and blogger. He is originally from England and now lives in Michigan where he has been ministering to students and their families since 2000. Phil is passionate about helping students own their faith for the long haul, and is deeply committed to leadership development in youth workers in the local church. He loves spending quality time with his family, playing soccer, and drinking a good cup of English tea! He blogs at www.youthworktalk.com and tweets at www.twitter.com/PhilBell
Phil Cunningham is the husband of Amy, the father of Emma (8) and Abby (3), and the new baby coming in January 2011. Phil is a follower of Jesus and a champion of Justice. He has worked for Youth With A Mission (YWAM) since 1993, currently serving with them in San Diego, CA. Phil has cared deeply for Justice issues for the last 6+ years. He blogs about it over at www.stepsofjustice.org which, is also the ministry that Phil co-founded in 2009 with a good friend. Phil is Irish by birth, Canadian by his upbringing, and American by matter of his current address. The border guards love it when Phil rolls through. Follow Phil on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stepsofjustice and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/philcunningham.
Richard Parker is the resident youth ministry guru at ym360. Richard has served as a youth minister for the past 36 years. ("Shockingly, he was Les' youth minister yet STILL decided to stay in ministry"!) He is currently co-pastor and student minister at a new church plant, Branches Church, in Russellville, AL. Richard serves as a special projects editor and staff writer. Richard wrote ym360's "REACH: A 6 Lesson Study on the Book of Psalms" and has contributed on all of their ongoing curriculum projects. He's also written many of ym360's free lessons, devotions, and blog posts. He and his wife Amy have two daughters, Lauren and Leah, and one granddaughter.
Russell is currently the youth minister at Reid Temple AME Church's north campus in Silver Spring, MD. He has served in youth ministry for over 10 years, and has a passion to see students and families connected to Christ. Russell has had the opportunity to write and train for many youth ministry organizations. He is currently working on a book entitled "After The Music Stops" which is focused on helping youth ministries and youth ministry leaders serve their students in a more effective way. Russell is married to his lovely wife Erica and they currently reside in Maryland. Check out his blog at www.afterthemusicstops.net.
Sara Evanchick has been in youth ministry for just over 5 years. She spent 4 years leading the youth ministry for a small town church and now runs a youth center in the same community. She met her husband, Tim, at the National Youthworkers Convention in 2009. They were married in 2010 and are expecting their first child in February 2011. Tim and Sara both work as missionaries with Scarlet Thread Ministries in Western New York.
Sarah Garrett is a passionate educator and founder of the Transformed4More Ministries (http://www.transformed4more.com/). It is her desire to reach struggling teenagers and tell them about the transformative power and love of God. Be sure to take a look at her website for great resources.
Scott Burks is currently founder and President of ymnow.com and Fishhouse Creative. Scott has served on the Ministry Council for the National Network of Youth Ministries, See You at the Pole - The International Day of Prayer for Students, Student Discipleship Ministries, Student Life, and Youth Specialties. He's also served on church staffs in Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma. A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Midwestern State University, Scott holds degrees in marketing and theology. Scott is a resident of Arlington, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Kelli, and three girls — Baily, Kori Kate and Macy.
seventy8 Productions was inspired from Psalm 78 to utilize technology in hopes to reach the next generation of youth with the Gospel. You can find more details about our mission and what we blog about daily at seventy8productions.com.
Spencer is Founder and Executive Director for Neverthirst. Graduating from David Lipscomb University in 1995, Spencer spent over 13 years in various business ventures which included everything from restaurant ownership to the "We Buy Ugly Houses" business in Alabama. In 2006 everything changed. Spending time in orphanages in Ukraine and in the villages of Sudan he came face to face with the reality that almost a billion people live without access to safe drinking water. Now, as Neverthirst Executive Director, Spencer oversees operations at home and abroad as he evaluates partners and projects in target countries. At home you can usually find him enjoying time with his wife, Allyson, and their two young children.
Tom Pounder has been sharing Jesus Christ with teenagers and their parents for over 17 years. Currently Tom serves as the Student Director and Online Campus Pastor at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA Tom has 4 amazing daughters..yikes! He also blogs regularly at www.ymsidekick.com, inspiring youth ministers with practical tools to effectively build a ministry that lasts.
Tom Shriver is the Associate Youth Minister at West Market Street United Methodist Church in Greensboro, NC. He has been involved in ministry as a professional and a volunteer for over 8 years. Tom enjoys video games (WoW, GW2, etc - aka major nerd), spending time with his wife, and eating more than any man should in one sitting. Tom blogs at www.tomshriver.com. Follow him on Twitter @tomdshriver.
Vickie Greatwood is a Virginia Wesleyan College graduate with a degree in Communications. She lives in Virginia Beach with her husband, Russ, who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy. Vickie felt the calling on her life to become a youth pastor at age 14 and she is currently serving as the youth and young adult director at Francis Asbury United Methodist Church. Everyone asks if she will one day move on to become a pastor. She doesn't know what God has for her future, but for now this is her heart and it's where she will stay until God calls her to move! In her spare time she likes to spend time with her husband and her Aussie, Sadie, go camping, hit the beach, or read. For information on her church you can visit www.francisasburyumc.org. Or, follow Vickie on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/VGreatwood).