The following is an excerpt from the Youth Unlimited Fall Magazine. To read more, click here.

Brian Bierenga

Q. What’s your favorite place to meet with students, and why?

A. Starbucks – because the students enjoy it and I’m a sucker for earning those “stars”.

Q. What do you do to stay relevant to youth?

A. It’s all about relationship. While I appreciate the “heart” behind this question and understand that it’s a common question among youth workers, I find it a little strange. I have two kids of my own, ages 7 and 9, and I would find it strange it someone asked me how I remain relevant to them. Although there’s always room for improvement, I think most parents would say they’re able to connect well with their own kids because they’re in relationship with them. The same applies with my students; I aim to always be in relationship with them as if they were my own kids so that the connection happens naturally.

Q. I never leave for youth group without my ____

A. CB radios for the vans because they’re tons of fun. And a can of Febreze to secretly freshen up the guys’ stinky laundry piles while they’re away on free time.

Q. What resource has inspired you for ministry lately?

A. I regularly listen to the “Defining Moments” leadership podcasts from Willow Creek when I run. I’m also enjoying the book Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull (head of Pixar and Disney animation) much more than I thought I would. In addition to some great Pixar stories, Ed has great ideas on intentionally creating the culture you want among your team.

Q. What do you do in your free time?

A. I enjoy time with my kids, running, cooking or working on my yard or car. I don’t sit still very well.


John Bijl

Q. Where could we find you at 10:00 AM on a Saturday morning?

A. I would either be grocery shopping with my wife, doing weekend chores around the house or having breakfast at a local restaurant. I love going out for breakfast.

Q. What’s your favorite place to meet with students, and why?

A. I love to meet at local coffee shops because I love the atmosphere in these places and even though coffee shops can be busy, it is still a great place to relax and get to know where the students are at.

Q. I never leave for youth group without my _____

A. iPad, which has all of my notes for announcements as well as my Bible. Once, I did leave it in the youth room while I got something from my office and I came back to a series of “selfies” some of the students had done in the five minutes I was gone.

Q. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for a youth group fundraiser?

A. We did an 80’s themed dessert night where the other leaders and I lip synced to a mash up of 80’s tunes. I was lip syncing Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night”, and yes, there is a video of it.

Q. What is one website you visit every day?

A. I usually go to flipbook to read up on men’s health, health food or photography.