The 90th Annual Oscars took place last night. Now everyone is talking about the winners, Best Picture (The Shape of Water? Seriously? I fell asleep during the trailer), Best Actor, Best Actress, who wore what, moral statements, opening monologues and the like.
It got me to thinking, who would win if youth ministry held it's own version of The Oscars. We could call it "The Yoscars" (short for Youth Ministry Oscars.) And, because it was my idea, I could pick my own winners. So, if The Yoscars were an actual thing, here would be my picks:
For Best Comedic Actors...The Skit Guys. These dudes are the best, the absolute funniest and seriously good guys.
For Best Overall Youth Leader...Mr. Bill (if you've ever met him, you'd agree.) He's a youth leader at Grace Chapel in Castle Rock, Colorado. He is equal parts evangelism and discipleship. He loves teenagers, loves parents, loves the church and loves Jesus! He is living the values of a Gospel Advancing, disciple multiplying ministry like nobody's business. If I were to become a pastor again I'd ask Mr. Bill to be my youth leader.
For Best Youth Ministry Denominational Leadership...And the winner is...Assemblies of God! The Assemblies of God leadership is super serious about reaching every teen everywhere with the Gospel and are putting their programs where their priorities are! I'm also super pumped about where The Evangelical Covenant Churches and Evangelical Free Churches of America are headed. Who knows? They may get the crown next year!
For Most Willing to Strategically Refocus and Double Down on Evangelism Parachurch Organization...Word of Life! When we first met Kris Stout of Word of Life and shared with him the seven values of a Gospel Advancing Ministry we couldn't believe how quickly he and his entire team were willing to refocus their efforts nationally and double down on reaching every teen everywhere with the Gospel.
For Best Discipleship Strategy...Sonlife! At Dare 2 Share we had our own discipleship multiplcation strategy for years then I read 4 Chair Discipling by Dann Spader. We dumped our strategy and promoted his! It's that good! Dann Spader has taken the disciple multiplication strategy of Jesus and attached it to a simple analogy (moving people through 4 chairs). It's Biblical, practical and hard to beat.
For Best Spoken Word Artist...Propaganda. I've seen the best, worked with the best and he is the absolute best. Nobody can turn a phrase or hold an audience like Prop.
For Best "Helping teenagers navigate media" Expert...Jonathan McKee. His stuff on teens and smart phones is off the charts great!
For Best "Helping youth leaders navigate culture" Expert...Walt Mueller. Simply great. Always insightful.
For Best Youth Speaker...Zane Black. You may accuse me of bias because I've traveled with Zane for almost a decade and a half through our Dare 2 Share conferences. But I've also spoken at countless other conferences, events and festivals across the United States and have heard tons of other really good youth speakers. Having said all of that, I'd put Zane at the top of the heap.
For Strongest Youth Speaker...Heather Flies. She is a strong speaker in every sense of the word. She can hold an audience of teenagers and youth leaders captive with her words. She can also crush you like an ant if she wants to. Whenever I see Heather I tense up, say "hello Heather" and think "get it over with" as she walks over and hugs me while lifting me physically off the ground and squeezing the life blood out of me. It's like a rite of passage for youth leaders. Painful but necessary! She is the best!
For Best Pastoral Speaker to Youth Leaders...Derwin Gray. I know Derwin does a lot of speaking at a lot of venues, but whenever I've heard him preach at Youth Specialties or Simply Youth Ministry he stands out as a spectacularly gifted speaker, insightful theologial and practical tactician.
For Best "Wicked Smart" Youth Ministry Expert...Kara Powell. This was a close one. With super wicked smart people like Chap Clark and Duffy Robbins in the mix, this was a hard one to call. But I am always blown away by Kara. She brings, not only a great intellect when it comes to unpacking the facts and stats of youth ministry, but a great pathway to helping youth leaders turn those facts into a stronger, more effective youth ministry program.
For Best Overall Leadership of Youth Ministry...Doug Fields. Whether it be through his speaking, writing or online impact (like Download Youth Ministry) Doug provides leadership for youth leaders that is Biblical, bold and balanced. He is a voice of truth and transformation, equal parts lion and lamb. And he does Crossfit...so that makes me want to vote for him out of sheer fear and intimidation.
So these would be my choices for this year's Yoscars...if it were an actual thing. What categories did I miss and who would be your choices to win the Yoscars?