Youth Ministry in Iraq

Yesterday I received a pretty encouraging email from a fellow “youth worker” ministering in a distant land. He’s a chaplain in Iraq!

Over the last decade we’ve seen used by youth workers all over the the English speaking world. I get emails from across the pond, down under, Africa and Asia. It’s amazing to see how many people use our free resources and training. But yesterday’s email was particularly encouraging coming from our troops in the desert.

Below is the email I received from Captain Dave Christensen who just listened to our free podcast for youth workers (basically, a free “radio show” for youth workers- this particular episode answering a bunch of questions from the field). Dave liked one of the suggestions we gave to youth workers, a suggestion to “debrief” as leaders after each ministry gathering, to evaluate and improve.

I’ll let his words tell the rest of the story:


I’m an Army Chaplain, currently deployed to Iraq and I wanted to comment on your answer to Millie in “Help Me! Episode 26.”  I spent about 10 years in youth ministry before becoming a chaplain.  I’ve actually found being a chaplain much more similar to youth ministry than anything else due to the majority of my flock being 18-24 years old.  Anyway, I thought you’d find it amusing that the regular debriefing thing you suggested is a very “Army” idea.  We do this with everything we do.  Of course, we have a fancy name and acronym for it.  We call it an After Action Review (AAR).  Every time a squad goes on mission “outside the wire”, we have an AAR when we make it back.  I have one with my Chaplain Assistant after a service or Soldier visitation.  I do one on my own after every counseling session.  I write up formal AARs after more highly visible events like Memorial Ceremonies.  My point is that this practice is one of the things that make our military the best in the world.  We constantly evaluate what we do and try to improve.  Everyone has a say too, from the most junior private to the unit commander.  I really believe, this practice, combined with prayer would benefit almost any ministry in any setting.  Thanks for everything you do at the source.  I think I’ve been using the web site for about 10 years now and I plan on continuing to the use all the wonderful resources here.


CH (CPT) Dave Christensen


Thanks Dave! I know those of us in the U.S. appreciate your service to our country! And all of us appreciate your work for the Kingdom. Keep up the good work!

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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2 Responses to Youth Ministry in Iraq

  1. Jack Hager says:

    As an older-than-dirt youth guy; I say “roger that” to our chaplain…and add thanks for serving.
    Debrief when in Vietnam was a lot more useful than the body-count follies that were so infamous (perhaps a main reason why I hate “numbers” re ministry)
    I’m at the close of a jr hi week at Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Wisconsin; and begin a senior high week here Sunday…and tonight we will “debrief”. I do liken youth camp to R&R; a respite from the warzone…but the students are going back to real life 101. Camp “decisions” provoked by tear jerker stories and long pleas will not cut it…Jesus always made it easier to say “no” than “yes,” may we who work with students do the same; regardless of those who want “numbers” rather than life change!

  2. mikey says: