Category: Youthworks

By now, some of you may be aware that I have written two chapters in the new book, ‘Youth Ministry on the Front Foot’, edited by Zac Veron.

In the book I’ve written on two areas of youth ministry that have been key points of my teaching and training over the years.

Firstly, I wrote the chapter, ‘How to make your youth group fun and fulfilling’.

The main principle is that our ministry should be structured, participatory, applicable, dynamic and engaging, and that we should avoid using entertainment to make the Bible seem less boring.

Secondly, I wrote a chapter called ‘Think Dual-Action.’

The main principle here is that we should aim the whole youth program at both believers and unbelievers, and avoid the error of running separate youth activities aimed at either believers or unbelievers.

These chapters are only two of the 35 within the book, written by Mike Everett, Eugene Hor, Cameron Hyslop, Ron Irving, Sarah Macken, Dave Miers, Ken D Noakes, Murray Norman, Scott Petty, Graham Stanton, Zac Veron and Kylie Williams.

Overall, I reckon the book is worth reading if you’re involved in youth ministry and would like to develop your skills and hone your strategy.

Now, the good news is that if you haven’t yet got yourself a copy, I’ve been able to organise a mate’s rate… for my online mates.

You can take 20% off the purchase price (not the shipping cost) of the book for any purchases made through the CEP online store from 01 to 30 June 2012.

Simply click on this link, and enter the code JODIEMATE when you checkout your purchase.

It is with a sense of great joy and honour that today I announce that I have accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Sydney to become the new Rector of the Anglican Parish of Oak Flats.

Oak Flats is located around half an hour south of Wollongong, near Shellharbour and Albion Park on the shores of Lake Illawarra.

After ten years with Youthworks serving in youth ministry training, discipleship, outdoor ministry and writing, I am delighted to have the opportunity to return, with my family, to a parish-based ministry in a local church.

We will be leaving Youthworks and our current home, church and school at the end of September, and will begin at Oak Flats at the start of October.

We would be delighted if you could pray for me and Mandy, and for our children as we prepare for many changes, and that God will ready us for our new role in the future.

Please also pray that God would prepare the members of the church at Oak Flats, as they get ready for a new stage of ministry together.

Finally, please pray for everyone who lives in Oak Flats and the wider Shellharbour region, that God would be kind to use the combined ministry of the McNeill family and the Saints of Oak Flats Anglican to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those who are perishing without him.

Details of our commencement service will be available shortly.


This morning, I sent this email to all the staff at Youthworks:

Dear friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be stepping down as Executive Director of Outdoors next week.

They say it’s often a bad idea to make career choices over Christmas, but during our five weeks of holidays in January, Mandy and I prayerfully came to the decision that we would love to return soon to Word ministry in a parish setting.

Two weeks ago I informed the CEO of my intentions to leave Youthworks sometime before the end of this year to become a rector or perhaps an associate minister in a church team.

In the days after that discussion, we both came to the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of our ministry if I chose to vacate my position sooner rather than later, so that Outdoors can have the strongest, most focused leadership possible right now.

With this in mind, I accepted an invitation from Zac to work with him on some special projects and to also do some writing and study whilst I prepare for the move back to parish in the year ahead.

The past two years have been hard for our team as we have seen a drop in the number of guests and as we have felt the impact of decisions that were made that have been painful. These are the challenges of leadership in a ministry like ours which has such a great heritage of Word ministry to children, youth and families.

I have sought to help our team face the future with optimism as the world around us changes. Navigating these changes has been difficult but important, and I know that under God there is still much more for us to do to help build on our foundation of Word ministry as we approach this challenging future.

Nonetheless, over the last few weeks I heard three things that gave me encouragement about the future of Youthworks Outdoors.

Firstly, I spoke to a teacher who has been bringing camps here for seven years, and he told me that in recent years he’s noticed a significant improvement in the quality of the Word ministry of our outdoor ministers.

Secondly, I found out that for January and February our Division has had 17% more guest nights than the same time last year, which is a great start to the year. Having said that, it’s early days for 2012, and too early to call, but it’s a promising start and, I pray, a sign of good things to come.

Thirdly, I heard from the Principal of one of our biggest partner schools who said the reason he keeps bringing the hundreds of students away with us each year is because our staff believe in Jesus and model that to his students.

This is my tenth year at Youthworks and my fifth year at Outdoors, and I’m thankful to God for allowing me to be used by him to bring him glory, both through my strengths and often despite my failings.

I would ask that you would pray for me and my family that God would provide us with a church in which we might serve him with the gifts he’s given us. Please also pray for me that I would adjust well to a very different role within Youthworks, and that I would serve with energy and faithfulness.

At this time, I will be praying that the whole team of Outdoors will come together stronger than ever as brothers and sisters who are united with Christ by his death, and who share in the urgent and important mission to see children, youth and families be raised up as missional disciples to the glory of God,


Please pray for me and my family as we prepare for the next exciting chapter in the story of our lives that the Lord is revealing day by day.

In my mind, what makes a great church band is one that both understands the idiosyncrasies of playing in a band with fluid membership, and short and frequently-under-cooked rehearsals, yet also recognises the need to share the common vision of serving the congregation as they join together in one voice to praise their great God in the assembly of his people.

For this reason, I want to TWIST the arm of the congregational leaders in our churches. I want to TWIST the arm of the rectors, assistant ministers, wardens, and anyone who has a key role in our churches.

I want to TWIST your arm to encourage your church musicians to be a part of one of the TWIST (‘The Word in Song Together’) music events this year run by Emu Music and Youthworks.

To read the full article, click here.

For more details about TWIST, click here!

I’ve just had posted an article on about the whole idea of a Christian male rite of passage.

Should we run some sort of wilderness experience where we get fathers and sons to learn about manhood and to mark the occasion of a boy turning into a man?

Read the article (and join in the controversial comments) by visiting