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  • 24 Jun 2014 9:00 AM | Todd Buegler (Administrator)

    YouthWorks, one of the premier organizations across the church to offer short-term mission experiences for youth groups, has signed on as a "Silver Partner" with the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.  The Network and its partner organizations commit to a relationship of mutual support that includes Prayer, as well as access to Network resources and a financial commitment. Read more...

  • 10 Jun 2014 1:59 PM | Todd Buegler (Administrator)
    The Network has released a new version of its smartphone app.  This version is lighter, faster and takes up less memory than its predecessor.  It features a robust media section, along with upcoming events, contact information, the Network blog and more...

    The app is available for the iPhone and iPad, as well as the Android platforms.

    The app is free and is provided as a part of the ministry of the Network.

    You can get more information and download the app at
  • 10 Jun 2014 12:11 PM | Todd Buegler (Administrator)

    The Network’s Board of Directors has drafted the following letter, to be sent to Rev. Stephen Bouman, Executive Director of Congregational and Synodical Mission at the ELCA.  It requests that staffing in the area of children’s ministry at the churchwide offices be considered.

    The Network Board invites you to co-sign the letter… <read more>

  • 02 May 2014 9:00 AM | Todd Buegler (Administrator)
    The results of the 2014 ELCA Youth Ministry Network Salary Survey have been released!  The survey, taken by almost 300 children, youth and family ministry leaders, paid and volunteer, from all the regions of the church, was taken from March 1 - April 15, 2014.  

    The survey looks at salary and benefits, as well as vacation and expense reimbursement across the church.  It is intended not as guidelines, but rather as a snapshot of salary scales.

    Data is also sliced and diced by geographic region, size of congregation, education level, gender and ELCA roster status.

    The survey is designed to be used as a tool in helping congregations do budgeting and planning, and to assist in the salary negotiation process.

    Network members can access the salary survey results by going to

  • 28 Apr 2014 1:13 PM | Todd Buegler (Administrator)
    The ELCA Youth Ministry Network's Board of Directors is meeting from April 27-29 in the Twin Cities.  The Board is meeting to continue conversation on the mission, vision and goals of the Network as it continues to grow.

    Particular attention is being paid to tending the Network's strategic plan, as well as thinking about how the Network can continue to advocate for those who do children, youth and family ministry in ELCA congregations.  
  • 14 Mar 2014 4:17 PM | Todd Buegler (Administrator)

    March 14, 2014 – St. Paul, Minn. – After forty years of leadership, Rev. Dr. Larry Dean Johnson announces his retirement as president of Youth Encounter. Under Johnson’s leadership, Youth Encounter has reached millions of youth worldwide with the saving message of the Gospel and has developed more than 1,100 professional church leaders through its team ministry program.

    “Larry has given his ministry life to this organization and we are fortunate beyond belief to have had him for so long,” said Brian Brooks, Chairman of Lutheran Youth Encounter’s Board of Directors. “I rejoice in that life of ministry as Larry moves to a new time with new goals and new challenges.”

    Johnson’s caring Biblical emphasis has bridged across church bodies and made Youth Encounter activities a prominent inter-Lutheran gathering point for generations.  The organization has partnered with over 50% of the Lutheran congregations in the United States and with national Lutheran churches in over 50 countries. 


    “It has been my privilege to serve Jesus Christ through the ministry of Lutheran Youth Encounter,” said Johnson.  “Our Lord has richly blessed me.  I trust that He has also richly blessed many others during my years of service.  My thanks to everyone who has participated in this ministry. I am pleased to welcome my successor Thomas O’Neill. I will keep Tom and this ministry in my prayers that God might continue to bless it.”

    Johnson also played an important role in the formation of the Network.  He was a part of the planning team for the first Extravaganza and worked to help develop the infrastructure for the organization.  Todd Buegler, Executive Director of the Network said that "Larry spent hours writing and editing the Network's bylaws, most of which are still in place today.  It was not glamorous work, but it was very important.  We're very grateful to Larry for his time and energy, given to this organization."


    O’Neill comes to Youth Encounter with significant experience in both the non-profit and corporate world.  He spent seven years as the Director of Programs at Camp Luther in northern Wisconsin and most recently as a Senior Community Engagement Leader with Thrivent Financial. 

    “Thomas possesses the gifts Youth Encounter needs at this time in its ministry. We are blessed that God sent him to us at this time,” said Brooks.

    O’Neill’s appointment is effective March 17, 2014. He succeeds Johnson, the only president in the history of Youth Encounter.

    “I’m extremely excited to be back in youth ministry,” O’Neill says.  “God has a fantastic plan for Youth Encounter, and I am humbled that He has chosen me to be a part of that.” 


    O’Neill grew up in eastern North Dakota and graduated from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND with a degree in Mass Communications. He and his wife Jennifer live in the Minneapolis area with their three young boys, Austin, Caleb, and Trevor.


    For more information please visit

  • 20 Feb 2014 11:27 AM | Todd Buegler (Administrator)

    Click here to take the survey.

    One of the tools that the Network has produced over the last 15 years is the annual salary survey.  The survey is an indicator (not the only indicator…but certainly an important one!) of the health and well-being of our congregations in their approach to children, youth and family ministry.

    The survey is also an important tool for congregations and those who work with children, youth and families as they go about planning and budgeting for the future.  You can use this tool as you enter into conversations with your congregation about salaries and overall compensation.  Read more...

  • 13 Feb 2014 10:33 AM | Todd Buegler (Administrator)
    The 2014 Tom Hunstad Award for Excellence in Children, Youth and Family Ministry has been awarded to Peggy Hahn, Associate in Ministry, of the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod.  

    Watch the video of the presentation here.

    When the Network was started, there were many all over the country who were an important part of creating the Network. And over the years, literally hundreds of people have played a part in its development. There has been energy, excitement and enthusiasm.

    But it was Tom Hunstad, who called people together, cast a wide vision, and made it happen. Tom was diagnosed with, and then died from an aggressive form of cancer in 2000.  

    The Network Board of Directors created the Tom Hunstad Award for Excellence in Youth and Family Ministry.  “The Tommy” is an honor and a thanksgiving, bestowed on someone by the Network through its board. We select someone that we want to honor and to thank for their service. It is the highest award given in the field of youth and family ministry in the ELCA.

    More information on the award can be found at

    Peggy Hahn, the recipient of the 2014 Tom Hunstad award is a member, friend, and advocate of children, youth, and family ministers. For 32 years she has been a passionate champion for youth ministry, working 3 in congregations in 2 states. Peggy has served the Network as a coach to the board, a workshop leader, intensive care course teacher, and has been on the grand ballroom stage on more than one occasion.

    Peggy’s enthusiasm for the gospel has been made known in this country and across the globe. She has led groups to Spanish speaking countries for over 20 years...and is still trying to learn Spanish. This person survived being hit by a motorcycle in Africa, has hiked the Inca Trail, and has been eating papoosa’s in El Salvador with dear friends for 25 years. 

    Her servant heart is evident to anyone who spends time with her undefined and was also demonstrated when she walked 65 miles in 3 days to raise money for the Central African Republic. She has coordinated service projects for 36,000 people at the 2009 and 2012 ELCA Youth Gatherings in New Orleans, and has been the innovator of Camp Hope Day Camp Ministries and The Disciple Project

    Peggy is the mother of 5, grandmother of 2...with 2 more coming this Spring, which prompted her to needlepoint Christmas stockings faster than a speeding bullet. She loves gardening, walking, reading and sitting on the front porch in her house in the country with her husband, Duane and a bottle of wine. She has served on synod staff for almost 14 years, and is embarking on a new journey as the Director of LEAD, which is focused on developing leaders with a deep, bold, consequential faith in Jesus Christ. On behalf of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Board of Directors, it is our joy and honor to present the 2014 Tom Hunstad Award to Peggy Hahn. 
  • 06 Feb 2014 11:11 AM | Todd Buegler (Administrator)

    The Network is excited to launch a partnership that is going to put new resources right into the palm of your hand.  The “Things That Matter” podcast has been around for several years, and is a production of the Nebraska Synod of the ELCA, along with Nebraska Lutheran Campus Ministries.

    We discovered the podcast last summer and immediately, we fell in love with the idea.  Read more...

  • 08 Jan 2014 8:31 AM | Todd Buegler (Administrator)
    Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, has entered into a new partnership with the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.

    Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp is an Outdoor Ministry resource located in the Rocky Mountains of Northern Colorado which works to Facilitate an Encounter with Christ on the Mountaintop. With program experiences for people of all ages, they introduce their guests to the beauty of creation, emphasize the value of retreat to physical and spiritual wellness, and explore our everyday call to service and action as we seek to live the gospel. We offer weeklong residential camping, as well as a wide range of service-learning and adventure based programs for high school groups and adults. 

    The Network, and its partner organizations, work together to enhance the ministry of both organizations.  The hope is that working together, adults who work with children and youth can be better served by both the Network and its partner.

    Sky Ranch has long been a strong and effective ministry partner with an impact throughout the church.  We are grateful for their continued support of those who work with children and youth in ELCA congregations.

    For more information on network partnerships, you can go to our partnership home page, or contact Mike Ward.

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