Another episode of the Download Youth MInistry Podcast. Enjoy the show – and please be sure to visit and thank our sponsors Orange, Leadertreks, YM360 & Azusa Pacific University. Just enough youth ministry so you don’t feel guilty for listening!

* // Episode 295 // *
• Joel update on the blog
• Thank you from a youth pastor
• Dealing with questionable posts on social media
• Moving back from Lead Pastor to Youth Ministry
• Being single in youth ministry // Win a date at DYM100 
• Combatting spiritual apathy in upper classmen

Hi Allison, thanks for the call yesterday. Feel free to use any of the following in the episode you talked about, and please extend my thanks to the rest of the DYM folks. 

Unfortunately, the guy I asked to take photos of our leadership recognition is a parent of a grad and had his focus on other things at that moment. He is also my pastor! So the lesson here is not to ask the pastor for favors on Sunday, especially if his daughter is having a grad party after church. (: But here’s how it went down: each of the leaders received their sponsor donations and DYM codes in front of the whole church just before worship. I was able to share with the church how they all had stepped up to help elevate our ministry in a time when it very well could have tanked. I also was able to present them all with thank-you notes written by parents and students as well as gift cards from a gift card drive organized by one of our very grateful parents. 

The leaders were very encouraged and refreshed by the whole experience, which is good considering that I’m about to start a long summer of surgeries and radiation. Pending approval, I’ll have my first surgery at University of Colorado Medical Center on my right lung in mid-June. After about six weeks of recovery, the doctors want to radiate my left lung. Six weeks after that, they want to operate on the left lung. The hope is that when it’s all done, they will have taken out all of the cancer (along with the equivalent of about one lung). They consider it to be an aggressive plan — doctors don’t typically operate when this much disease is in the lungs — but this surgeon is more experienced and more adventurous than others, and my whole oncology team is excited and confident in this plan. As a bonus, just after the first surgery, I have a small window of time where I’ll likely still get to join my high schoolers at CIY’s Move Conference in Durango. 

This experience has opened up so many opportunities to talk honestly with students and families in our church. Over time, questions have gone deeper from “so what do you do all week” to “why hasn’t God healed your cancer.” I never would have thought that I’d be able to engage with families on this level, theologically, and I don’t think I ever could have trained up a volunteer team to be as committed as the people on my team in the wake of my cancer diagnosis last Thanksgiving. I always have felt it to be so trite when people talk about “God’s plan” in the midst of crisis — God’s plan never included any of this — but to see this level of engagement in the church and this level of selfless commitment among God’s people has shown me God’s plan on a whole new level. It’s put so much gas back in my youth ministry tank, and as I sit here, sick as ever, I’m so stoked to move on and keep doing kingdom work. 

Blessings to you and your team – I or my wife will make sure you are updated this summer.