Five Minutes with Marko
5 Minutes with Marko might be the shortest youth ministry podcast ever; but that doesn’t mean it’s shallow. Marko (Mark Oestreicher, of The Youth Cartel) gets right to the point, sharing thoughts and insights about some aspect of church work with teenagers.
Nuggets, part 9
April 9, 2024 • 6 MIN
A final four weeks of “small plates”. This time around Marko serves up questions, mistakes, flexibility, mystery, and rest!
4 Teenage Moments that Resulted in a Lifetime of Youth Ministry, part 2
March 19, 2024 • 7 MIN
Marko reflects on four seemingly insignificant moments from his own teenage years that significantly impacted the trajectory of his life.
4 Teenage Moments that Resulted in a Lifetime of Youth Ministry, part 1
March 12, 2024 • 5 MIN
Marko reflects on four seemingly insignificant moments from his own teenage years that significantly impacted the trajectory of his life.
Prepared but Flexible
March 5, 2024 • 5 MIN
One of the many secret sauces in great youth ministry--having rails to run on but being responsive to the need for shifts in our plans.
Finding Real Hope, Part 3
February 28, 2024 • 4 MIN
This final part of the three-part subseries on hope wraps things up and makes a bunch of suggestions for youth ministry.
Finding Real Hope, part 2
February 20, 2024 • 5 MIN
In this second of a three-part subseries, Marko unpacks the model he developed to understand biblical hope.
Finding Real Hope, part 1
February 13, 2024 • 4 MIN
A three-parter on biblical hope, starting with the story of how Marko discovered he had (like so many Americans) wrongly made hope and optimism synonymous.
Measuring Success in Middle School Ministry
February 6, 2024 • 5 MIN
Accurate feedback loops are almost non-existent in middle school ministry, which is part of why it’s so challenging to measure success.
Disengaging Spiritual Auto-Pilot
January 31, 2024 • 5 MIN
A bit more devotional this week, as Marko shares thoughts from a time a few years back when he realized he was ignoring his spiritual wellbeing.
Conviction, Collaboration and Calling
January 23, 2024 • 6 MIN
Marko briefly unpacks three essential components of leadership in a post-hierarchical world.
Asking for Help
December 5, 2023 • 5 MIN
Our American culture tells leaders that asking for help is a sign of weakness and will push people away from you; but just the opposite is true.
10 Commandments of Discipling Others
November 28, 2023 • 5 MIN
Marko’s friend Paul Martin wrote a blog post years ago with this episode’s title, and Marko reviews a copy of it from time to time as he thinks about the junior high small group he leads.
Four Mindsets for Staying Put
November 14, 2023 • 5 MIN
Ask any youth worker who has stayed at the same church for more than 10 years, and they’ll easily provide a laundry list of benefits. In this episode, Marko unpacks four mindsets that can help you achieve longevity.
Nuggets, part 8
November 7, 2023 • 6 MIN
Three more nuggets in this collection: on embracing your oddity, creating safety in your ministry, and a poetic prayer for rest and rejuvenation.
Nuggets, part 7
October 31, 2023 • 5 MIN
Four nugs this week, including a 10-part collection of sub-nuggets! Confused? It’ll all be clear when you listen.
Nuggets, part 6
October 24, 2023 • 6 MIN
Three nugs in this episode on being childlike, why it’s important to get guys to do stuff, and defining the best life.
Nuggets, Part 5
October 17, 2023 • 7 MIN
Think of this as four episodes of 90 Seconds with Marko, briefly touching on belonging, failure, and how to become a youth ministry veteran.
Parenting Pendulum Preventer
October 10, 2023 • 5 MIN
Marko looks at how our culture has massively swung the pendulum from treating young people like little adults, to treating them like children.
Pastoral Identity
October 3, 2023 • 5 MIN
What’s the relationship between “who you are” and “what you do”? Marko suggests they shouldn’t be the same but can spoon.
Killer Expectations
May 23, 2023 • 4 MIN
Marko shares the story of how he got fired from a church over unspoken expectations. Bad endings for youth workers are pretty always due to misaligned values or unspoken expectations.
Inviting Decisions without Manipulation
May 16, 2023 • 0 MIN
Marko shares a tension he used to struggle with, between his ability to manipulate teenagers into a faith decision and still wanting to offer those opportunities. He found help in a new mindset and language.
How Do You Want to Receive Feedback?
May 9, 2023 • 4 MIN
Marko shares five prompts to get you thinking about this important question, which you can use for your own growth in self-knowledge or with a team you do ministry alongside.
Teenagers and Anxiety
May 2, 2023 • 9 MIN
Marko quickly interviews Brock Morgan, author of The Anxious Teen, about the rise of anxiety in teenagers, and what we youth workers can do. (note: this is a double-size episode!)
What’s Your Ministry’s Achilles Heel?
April 25, 2023 • 5 MIN
Considering that little, seemingly innocuous part of your ministry that could be its downfall.
Young People Need Hope
April 18, 2023 • 6 MIN
Marko unpacks a powerful scene from Les Miserables to consider the sort of hope we all need, especially the teenagers we work with.
An Attitude of Curiosity Toward Parents
April 11, 2023 • 5 MIN
Adopting an attitude of curiosity will completely reframe your interactions with parents of teenagers.
Acknowledging and Addressing Our Weaknesses
April 4, 2023 • 5 MIN
Marko unpacks an area of his leadership that needed to change, how he became aware of it, and what he did about it.
Happy Police (Happiness, week 2)
March 28, 2023 • 7 MIN
Marko tells a story about a time he realized the lie perpetuated by so many in the church, that we can make ourselves happy by choosing it.
Happy Teenagers in a Lousy Parenting Goal (Happiness, week 1)
March 21, 2023 • 7 MIN
A message to parents of teenagers about what our goal should be, unpacking the misguided cultural shift to teenage happiness as the culturally-promoted focus of most parents.
Two Fancy Words I Made Up
March 14, 2023 • 5 MIN
Certainly you’re familiar with Orthodoxy (right belief) and Orthopraxy (right behavior); but Marko wants you to consider prioritizing Orthoanakálypsi and Orthodokimí (two words he made up!).
Criticism and Thin Skin
March 7, 2023 • 3 MIN
With a bit of vulnerability, Marko shares about times when criticism has been particularly hard for him to receive, and what he’s learned in that process.
Three Components of Great Youth Ministry
February 28, 2023 • 4 MIN
Marko takes a blazingly-short 3 minutes and 54 seconds to share his math equation for excellent youth ministry.
The Ministry of Fun
February 21, 2023 • 6 MIN
Almost all youth workers want fun to be an aspect of their youth ministry, but we often (wrongly) consider it less spiritual. Marko lists seven reasons why fun is a spiritual value.
The Long View
February 14, 2023 • 6 MIN
A humble and hopeful Long View says, “I care that a teenager is actively engaged in her faith today—and even if she walks away from it, I trust that God is going to continue working in her life.”
6 Ideas for Fueling Your Creativity
February 7, 2023 • 6 MIN
In this episode, Marko unpacks six different ways to spark your creativity.
The Importance of Storytelling
January 31, 2023 • 5 MIN
Marko talks about why storytelling is so important, and offers four practical ideas for stepping into this in your ministry.
Spiritual Formation Boarding Schools
January 24, 2023 • 5 MIN
Marko provides a quick history of how we got to this place of isolated youth ministry in the church, and points out the need for change.
Teenagers and Bible Reading
January 17, 2023 • 5 MIN
Marko interviews himself (yeah, it’s a little weird) about why it’s hard for teenagers to engage with Bible reading.
Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
January 10, 2023 • 5 MIN
Why we avoid talking about this topic, and what that unintentionally teaches. As a bonus, Marko sings “The Sex Song” he used for years with middle schoolers when teaching on this topic.
Rethinking Belonging
December 20, 2022 • 6 MIN
A quick look at why the search for belonging has become the primary lens through which teenagers view everything, and a run through Edward Hall’s belonging theory, called Proxemics.
The Ministry of Remembering
December 13, 2022 • 5 MIN
Marko connects the memory of a child in a Haitian orphanage with the difficulty of ministry in the early months of the pandemic, with principles that still apply today (particularly for those teenagers who have not returned).
Baby Sea Turtles (and me)
December 6, 2022 • 6 MIN
Marko recounts an experience of watching baby sea turtles crawl from their nest to the ocean and unpacks a bunch of allegorical connections.
Podcasts I Listen To
November 29, 2022 • 7 MIN
Since Marko often gets asked what podcasts he listens to, he takes a few minutes to list his regular podcast consumption diet.
Nuggets | Week 4
November 22, 2022 • 4 MIN
Final week of this 4-week mini-series called Nuggets, where Marko brings four shorties for you to think about.
Nuggets | Week 3
November 15, 2022 • 5 MIN
Whoa, six nuggets this week! So much seasoning in such a little podcast!
Nuggets | Week 2
November 8, 2022 • 5 MIN
Four more nuggets this week--disconnected one-off thoughts to get you wrestling.
Nuggets | Week 1
November 1, 2022 • 5 MIN
Marko starts a 4-week mini series he’s calling “Nuggets”. it’s sort of like four or five 1 Minute with Marko bits smashed into five minutes!
October 25, 2022 • 5 MIN
God doesn’t want me, or you, to live a life of regret. But I can’t pretend my regrets don’t exist. I have to face them square on, and push into and through them, to the freedom offered on the other side.
Post Youth Ministry
October 18, 2022 • 5 MIN
After years of ranting about various changes needed in our youth ministry approaches, values, mindsets and methods, Marko got caught off guard by a suggestion from a friend about the future of youth ministry. It raised more questions for Marko than easy answers.
Paradoxes of Middle Schoolers
October 11, 2022 • 5 MIN
After 40 years in middle school ministry, Marko has identified a handful of paradoxes that those of us who work with this age group have to be aware of and lean into. It’s messy and confusing and beautiful stuff!
Asking Great Questions
October 4, 2022 • 6 MIN
Marko gets practical in this episode, describing five different types of questions (with examples of each) that should all be used to bring vibrancy to your youth ministry discussions. This would be a great episode to share with your small group leaders.
Lonely Boys
September 27, 2022 • 6 MIN
Marko has noticed an uptick in teenage guys without meaningful friendships. He unpacks why this might be, and suggests six things we can do to help.
Fueling Your Creativity
September 20, 2022 • 7 MIN
Kicking off a new season, Marko suggests a selection of passageways that will potentially lead you to creativity in your youth ministry.
Jesus Sauce
May 24, 2022 • 4 MIN
In this final episode of the season, Marko unpacks an experience of discovering a challenge in 1 Corinthians 3, and applies it to our work as youth workers.
New Realities for Teenagers
May 17, 2022 • 5 MIN
Marko identifies five new(er) cultural realities that are shaping teenagers, and different from the youth culture most of us grew up in.
Honesty About Innovation
May 10, 2022 • 7 MIN
Marko unpacks four forces that corrode innovation, and two ‘thrusters’ needed.
Four Practices of Great Parent Ministry
May 3, 2022 • 5 MIN
Winning with parents and helping them live into their own callings includes Listening, Communicating, Equipping, and Inviting Involvement.
Four Types of Curriculum
April 26, 2022 • 6 MIN
Marko unpacks Formal, Hidden, Nonformal, and Null curriculums, and asks us to bring more intentionality to all of them.
Emmanuel Year ’Round
April 5, 2022 • 4 MIN
Celebrating Emmanuel – God with us – shouldn’t be limited to the Christmas season!
Curiosity is the Serum for Judgmentalism
March 29, 2022 • 5 MIN
The increase in tribalism in our culture has brought with it an increase in judgmentalism. Marko suggests that Curiosity is our antidote.
Control or Open Hands
March 22, 2022 • 5 MIN
In this second week focused on control, Marko talks about the opposite of control: releasing your grip.
The Myth of Control
March 15, 2022 • 5 MIN
In youth ministry, we often try to control the beliefs and behaviors of teenagers. But it doesn’t work.
Tortilla Chips and Salsa
March 8, 2022 • 4 MIN
Consider this episode a ‘devotional’ thought, an encouragement to stay connected to the only One who can truly fill you up.
Responding to Brain Discoveries, Part 2
March 1, 2022 • 7 MIN
Marko has talked and written quite a bit about teenage brain development; but in this two-part episode, he reflects on how we should respond to brain discoveries.
Responding to Brain Discoveries, part 1
February 22, 2022 • 6 MIN
Marko has talked and written quite a bit about teenage brain development; but in this two-part episode, he reflects on how we should respond to brain discoveries.
A “Nothing Prevents You” Ministry
February 15, 2022 • 3 MIN
A reflection on the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, and what it might say about the approach to great youth ministry.
Aligned With Your Calling
February 8, 2022 • 3 MIN
Marko shares the story of Marvin, a 60-something youth worker who tried to run away from his calling to youth ministry.
A Reminder of Why We Do What We Do
February 1, 2022 • 3 MIN
Marko shares a short and moving story about a youth worker who thought he’d blown it, but was actually being used by God in exactly the right way.
1 Kings 19 Rewritten for Youth Workers
January 25, 2022 • 3 MIN
Part 6 of Marko’s snarky 6-part sub-season of scripture rewritten for youth workers.
Psalm 23 & Luke 5 Rewritten for Youth Workers
January 18, 2022 • 4 MIN
Part 5 of Marko’s snarky 6-part sub-season of scripture rewritten for youth workers.
2 Corinthians 11 & 12 Rewritten for Youth Workers
January 11, 2022 • 3 MIN
Part 4 of Marko’s snarky 6-part sub-season of scripture rewritten for youth workers. Learn more about The Youth Cartel's coaching and resources at
Daniel 3 Rewritten for Youth Workers
January 4, 2022 • 8 MIN
Part 3 of Marko’s snarky 6-part sub-season of scripture rewritten for youth workers.
2 Timothy 1 & 2 Rewritten for Youth Workers
December 14, 2021 • 5 MIN
Part 2 of Marko’s snarky 6-part sub-season of scripture rewritten for youth workers.
Exodus 3 & 4 Rewritten for Youth Workers
December 8, 2021 • 4 MIN
Part 1 of Marko’s snarky 6-part sub-season of scripture rewritten for youth workers.
Be Courageous
November 30, 2021 • 4 MIN
In what aspect of your ministry do you need to try something new?
The Myth of Balance
November 16, 2021 • 5 MIN
Balance isn’t a biblical goal; sustainability and thriving are.
Traditions and Sacred Cows
November 9, 2021 • 5 MIN
Traditions in youth ministry are awesome until they become objects of worship.
The Intersection of Intentionality and Faith
November 2, 2021 • 5 MIN
These two choices--intentionality and faith--define the gooey center of great youth ministry.
The Glass is (at Least) Half Full
October 26, 2021 • 4 MIN
Are you weary in ministry? Let’s celebrate the unflashy path of consistency.
The Extension of Adolescence
October 19, 2021 • 4 MIN
Naming and resisting the factors that have made adolescence of 20-year journey in our culture.
The Seduction of Ease
October 12, 2021 • 4 MIN
Marko unpacks why ease is the enemy of growth.
The Patience of Plodding
October 5, 2021 • 5 MIN
It’s difficult not to see the value of determination and a ruthless commitment to one mission while standing on The Great Wall of China.
10 Percent Wrong
September 28, 2021 • 4 MIN
Even if accusations or criticism are 90% wrong, wisdom addresses the 10%.
What Would I Do Differently?
September 21, 2021 • 4 MIN
If I could go back and start all over again in youth ministry, what would I change?
Helping Teens Meet the Real Jesus
September 14, 2021 • 4 MIN
Let’s help teenagers examine their childhood images of Jesus and meet the real Jesus.
Stretching Toward Faith in Ministry
September 7, 2021 • 4 MIN
A church capital campaign causes Marko to reflect on how he’s exercising faith in youth ministry.
The Power of Small
August 31, 2021 • 4 MIN
The pathway to great youth ministry is shorter in smaller churches.
Teenagers and Risk
August 24, 2021 • 4 MIN
Teenagers are naturally (and wonderfully) wired for risk. Our ministries should reflect this truth.
What Redwood Trees Teach Us About Youth Ministry
August 17, 2021 • 4 MIN
Staring at some massive redwood trees causes Marko to reflect on the kind of youth worker he’d like to be.
12 Awesome Things About Middle Schoolers
August 10, 2021 • 5 MIN
Marko could list 100 reasons to love young teens; but this episode highlights 12 reasons.
Improving Your Relationship With Parents
June 22, 2021 • 5 MIN
Adopting an attitude of curiosity will completely reframe your interactions with parents of teenagers.
Being Open to Changing Your Mind
June 15, 2021 • 4 MIN
Marko unpacks an area of his leadership that needed to change, how he became aware of it, and what he did about it.
LGBTQ Teens Need a Pastoral Response Over a Theological Response
June 8, 2021 • 4 MIN
Marko digs into research that reveals why a pastoral response to LGBTQ teenagers is more important than a theological response.
My Resistance to Excellence as a Value
June 1, 2021 • 4 MIN
Excellence is a good thing. Marko’s just not convinced it’s a great thing.
Invitation to Partnership with God
May 25, 2021 • 5 MIN
Marko unpacks what it means to partner with God in youth ministry.
Growth Practices of Leaders
May 18, 2021 • 5 MIN
Balance is a misguided goal and not even biblical. Way better, and more in alignment with the life of Jesus, are the goals of sustainability and thriving.
May 11, 2021 • 5 MIN
Youth workers like to think of ourselves as fearless; but the honest truth is, most of us struggle with all sorts of fear. Let’s talk about how to orient to that.
Decisions as Ebeneezers
May 4, 2021 • 5 MIN
Let’s reframe spiritual decisions (especially the big ones teenagers make at summer events) as Ebeneezers—mile-markers on a spiritual journey.
Divergent Thinkers
April 27, 2021 • 4 MIN
Marko talks about Divergent Thinkers. Are they good or bad for our congregations?
Competency Facilitator
April 22, 2021 • 5 MIN
Marko explains what he means by "competency facilitator" and what it means for you, your volunteers, and students.
Seven Sins of Reinvention
April 12, 2021 • 6 MIN
Join Marko to learn about the seven sins of reinvention in youth ministry.