Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Downloads, Streaming

And The Beat Goes On!

020316_MusicchartOver the 30 years of interlinc and Youth Leaders Only, we’ve seen it all. This email from one of our youth leader members is  “where it’s at” for kids, music, and youth ministry. We are bringing you YLO 2.0 digital and streaming – so you can be sure you are on top things!

“I wanted to let you know that I have used interlinc in the past at different churches I have served at and enjoyed it from about 2008-2012. Around 2013-current as I have asked questions of the kids they are just not willing to engage music through CD format. A majority of our kids have chosen the free route or even pay to have commercial-less versions of quite a few apps.  Apple Music appears to be out with most students and the others use Spotify.

I wish many would take advantage but they don’t. We had about 200 CDs out for the students to grab but not one was taken for about 2 years even when they were listed as free to keep. Most complained that they don’t own a CD player.”


Carrying Music In Paper Cups


Guest post by Mark Pittman

I like to think of myself as a fairly forward thinking person — especially concerning technology.  I seek out new gadgets and new ways to do things and revel a bit in my own latest-and-greatest superiority. But I have to admit, this playful puppy turned into an old dog when my daughter showed me how my thinking was still stuck in the 90′s.

New Tunes
Being an interlinc member, there is always a fresh stack of CDs on my desk. My daughter, armed with this knowledge and her love for Family Force 5, has an eagle-eye for the arrival of a new Youth Leaders Only box. She is rewarded for her watchfulness (how can I resist those big eyes and her smiling face asking me if she can have the latest CD from her favorite group?!) She is very polite and thoughtful, but the urgency of wanting to hear the new music recently made her ask “in motion” — disc already in hand, on the way to her computer and speakers in her room (knowing I would, of course, say yes). It took just a few seconds for me to hear the song “Chainsaw” (at full volume) from her room. I smiled, happy again to help get some great music into her hands, head, and heart.

About a week later, the kids and I were having a dad-induced clean-the-house session. My daughter was working downstairs folding laundry, so I took it upon myself to grab the upstairs trash. As I reached to pick up the can from her room, I gasped, and then bellowed out a loaded-lungs-yell that brought her bounding up the stairs. “Yeah, Dad?” she said, thinking I had another cleaning chore to add to her list. All I could do was point to the Family Force 5 CD in her trash can, so shiny in the midst of her other trash. “What is this doing in here?!” was all I could muster, still frozen in disbelief. How could my daughter throw this disk away? My daughter cocked her head, trying to process why I was so upset. Still not fully grasping the gravity of the situation, she simply said, “Um, Dad … I already uploaded it to my computer.”

That’s when it hit me.  To her, the bright, shiny disc was simply a paper cup—a vessel to carry music from the dispenser to her device. Once that was done, she didn’t see a need to keep it. I had to adjust my thinking.

Time to Clear the Shelves
For many of us who grew up displaying our music collection for all to see and admire, CDs are to be encased in notebooks or lined up on bookshelves for people to see. But in that split second, my daughter helped me make a complete shift in how I view CDs.

What’s YOUR “Paper Cup”?
Music that resides in our earbuds won’t do our students any good. Since CDs are now a thing of the past, we need to find a new “Paper Cup” to get music into our students’ ears. I know that interlinc’s working on developing that new delivery method. When the music is streamed to your students’ earbuds, it will flow, like water, into their heads and hearts.

“I haven’t seen a CD in years.”

– 8th grade student


I am the parent of a 19-year-old and 22-year-old. I serve on the Team interlinc Advisory Board, and I am always interested in what young people are thinking about their music and media.

Last week, I had the chance to be in the car with several eighth grade students and I thought, “What the heck, I’ll see what they are listening to and how they are engaging their music.”

Although I love Spotify and am an avid user, I have to admit I still have CDs that I listen to in the car and in my home stereo.

I must say I was shocked when I asked the kids if they ever listen to music on CDs. Only one of the three had ever actually played a CD, and that was on his parents’ player, not his own!

Another guy chimed in, “I haven’t seen a CD in years. I don’t even have a way to play one if I had one!”

At that point, I realized the game is over for teenagers and physical CDs. And it totally makes sense—they want to listen to what they want when they want it and where they want it. Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube meet those requirements. CDs never have and never will be able to meet those needs.

Another aspect of music consumption involves the discovery process. In addition to just about every “Classic Rock” CD, I also own an extensive Beethoven CD library. However, I never bought his Violin Concerto. I had heard parts of the first movement in music stores, but always ruled it out based on those few seconds at the beginning. Spotify, however, played the second movement in the mix of songs which was evolving based on my likes and dislikes. Spotify figured out I’d like the second movement, and boy were they right! This is only one of many examples I could describe about my discovery of “new” music over the last 18 months as a Spotify member.

Today’s students are all operating at warp speed when it comes to music discovery! They won’t browse CD’s at a store or wait to hear something on the radio!

Star Wars Replaces…


Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.- Winston Churchill

I have to confess, I got caught up in the Star Wars hype. I’m a first generation Star Wars fan and rather than break out the advent calendar this year, the event I’ve been counting down to has been the release of Star Wars, not Christmas.

I am a first generation Star Wars fan. I saw Star Wars, A New Hope, when I was 9 years old at a drive in theater in Brooklyn. It blew my mind.

Having seen the new Star Wars, and seeing it again today with some students, I’m doing my best to, inwardly, not become distracted from the joy I should be feeling for the Christ and the light of His birth has brought into my life.

Refection is a powerful tool in realizing what life is all about. As I take time this week to look in the mirror of faith, my hope is that I’ll see Christ and his gift to me and not just a reflection of Han Solo, or worse, a Wookie,

Your Turn

  • What distracted you from the true intent of the Christmas season?
  • How important is reflection and meditation to your faith?

The Cross-Cultural Power of a Song


Here is a response from a German girl to a for KING & COUNTRY concert that interlinc arranged for the Willowcreek Association’s BASE CAMP Youth Leader Conference in Erfurt, Germany.

Hi, I just have to say THANK YOU Yesterday night when I saw you in concert at the Willow Creek Base Camp I found God because of you.

You have to know that I had something like a faith-crisis since round about a year. First I wanted to believe in God and be a christian but I was not able to (don’t know why), then I wanted to stop believe in God because i could not stand the inner disruption, but something did not allow me to “leave” God and Jesus. So I started to serch a way for me, and I decided to believe in a God above but I did not pray or speak to him. I believed in a passive God, that just exists. So I was no christian anymore but I created something like a new religion. My own, not really satisfying religion.

I continued going to church and make music there, but I did not believe what was said in the songs and preachings anymore. My life was horrible at this time and I gave up trying to get back to life with Jesus.

Now I come to the present: This weekend my life has changed in a way I would never imagine.

At Friday and Saturday my life was like all the months before, but then you sang the song “Let my life be the proof of your love” and in this moment I understood what faith is all about. It is not about having a relationship with God because of the things I do but about doing the things God wants because I have a relationship with him and he loves me and his loves never fails, I don’t know why but I needed this simple sentence to understand this. Megan Fate Marshall and the other preachers that spoke at the seminars before said this all the time, they said exactly what I wrote, All the time! But I didn’t understand it. I just heard what they said in the knowledge that I will never be able to believe like this.

But then you sang that song. And – I can’t explain it – my life changed! I found God and I found Jesus and I invited Jesus to live in me. I gave my life to Jesus because of one little sentence that just repeated what the preachers said in 7 seminars before.

Can you believe it? I cannot. I am so excited about this and I am so happy that you sang this song. I am sure that you didn’t plan this, but God did. God had a plan, a masterplan!

But nevertheless I thank you, because you made Gods plan become true. And I can’t thank you enough.

And I want you to know that music has the power to save people like me, that gave up already and never thought thet they could believe in God (again).

So please, continue writing songs that touch people. And once again: THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Best wishes,

Get and Give


The paradox of the Christmas season is striking: people are giving lots of “stuff” and people are getting lots of “stuff.” We are all well aware the true message is what God gave us and how He delivered us through sending His own Son. We celebrate this gift but the truth of the matter is: He gives and we get. From this He calls us to give and then other people get.

We try so hard to get over the “getting” but let’s be realistic: giving and getting are meant to be held in tension. Celebrate how you give and celebrate what you receive. It’s okay – really!

Let your youth ministry embrace this wonderful tension in the Christmas season with these three strategies:

  • Get – Be sure to have fun with gifts over this season, but keep it simple. Schedule a gift exchange of the “white elephant” variety. I define “white elephant” as something you bring from home and no longer want. Have participants wrap it in newspaper. We have done this for years and seen everything from the ordinary to the bizarre to the silly.
  • Get/Give – Another rewarding part of the Christmas message is how we get and give. From childhood most of your youth have experienced the joy of receiving from loving family members. They know what it is to receive a genuine gift from one who knows and loves them. Offer your youth the opportunity to give as they have received. One way our youth ministry has done this is to plan an annual Christmas shopping trip. We load up the vans and head down the road to a local shopping mall. The clearly stated purpose of this trip is encouraging youth to buy presents for their families, other relatives and close friends. They bring their own money and we set them free for a couple of hours. Back at the vans it is fun for our leaders to hear them share what they purchased. One year I had a student text me and ask me to try a coat on as her dad was the same size as me!
  • Give – Though you knew this one would land on the list you can see how the first two set up the joy of giving. When we remember the happiness of receiving our giving becomes even more meaningful. Throughout the Christmas season our youth participate in a variety of giving opportunities in the lives of the community through loving service with low income families and those without homes. It is a joy to serve and give together. You undoubtedly have places where your youth can bring their getting and giving together to love others with the love of Christ and bring His presence to the neighborhood.

Make the most of Christmas movies

The holidays are the perfect time for a low-key movie night with your students. But don’t miss the opportunity in the middle of the popcorn and beanbags to shine a light on the true meaning of the season.

We’ve had the chance over the last several years to put together Youth Ministry Resource Guides for three great seasonal movies – The Nativity Story, A Christmas Carol and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I’ve shared some excerpts below that might help you make the most of movie night.

Youth Leaders Only members have access to the complete youth leader guides for each of these movies (and many more!) 24/7 at If you’re not a member yet, check out the benefits of membership here!

The Nativity Story

You know the Christmas story inside and out. You know the flow of events, the cast of characters, the intimate details, and even the ancient prophecies that foretold it all. You know many of the misconceptions, misunderstandings, and mistakes that many people have about the story. You started learning the story before you could even walk or talk. And every year, you hear the story again.

Your challenge as a youth leader tasked to teach that familiar story to teenagers once every year is to find a way to make the familiar into something exciting, insightful, or even interesting.You need to find something, ANYthing, to bring to the surface the phenomenal wonder and mystery of the Christmas story. (from the introduction to The Nativity Story Youthworker Kit by Ken McCoy)

A Christmas Carol

From Ken McCoy’s introduction: Dickens’ novella highlights a uniquely Christian virtue: self-sacrificial love. An old-English word for it is “charity.” Dickens’ A Christmas Carol not only emphasizes togetherness, reconciliation, and concern for the poor; it is also a critique of the anti-population social planners who speak of “surplus population” and those who believe that “workhouses” will solve the problems of poverty while “prisons” will solve the issues of ignorance.

  • Watch the trailer.
  • Download the Bible study “A Reason For The Season” from our youthworker guide for Disney’s A Christmas Carol

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

I didn’t become a fan of Narnia until I was a father, and I needed something to help the time go by for my three kids as we drove across the country on vacation. That’s when I got an audio version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and was immersed in a world of mythical creatures, talking beavers, and an evil White Witch that kept her world in a perpetual winter. Only after listening to the story (several times!) on that long vacation did I finally get the books and read them for myself.

The Chronicles are classics for good reason: they are wonderful stories that are also morality tales. They entertain as they teach. The language used, and the scenes depicted, are so wonderfully deep and engrossing that the pages just fly by. No wonder so many people around the world know and love those stories. (Excerpt from the Youthworker Kit introduction by Ken McCoy)


Media Use by Tweens and Teens

Surprise! TV and Music Still Dominate Daily Media Diet


This new study just came out today. Guess what? That “7.5″ message we’ve been talking about – that 7.5 hours that teenagers spend on Music and Media every day? Well, it’s now up to NINE hours daily!

This is why we do what we do, and why being a member of Youth Leaders Only is so important!



Adele Can Relate


We probably should have been ready for it. Whenever Adele releases a new song, suddenly almost every girl in our youth groups will be listening to it non-stop! Youth leaders can become a hero to the girls in their groups by understanding who Adele is, what she sings about, and why she is so popular.

Who She Is

Adele Adkins knew that she loved music from a very early age but she didn’t plan to pursue singing as a career. She went to the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology, to learn how to launch other people’s careers. But, she had been singing all her life. Inspired by artists ranging from Etta James to the Spice Girls to Pink, she recorded a demo that a friend posted on MySpace. British record label, XL Recordings, signed her to a record deal. In the United States, Columbia Records liked what they saw and heard enough to sign her and begin promoting her debut album, 19, named after the age she was when she wrote and recorded it. It was a big hit in the UK but it was a performance on Saturday Night Live that truly launched her US career. From there, she has never looked back. Her next album, 21, became the kind of record that is not supposed to exist in the twenty-first century. As of 2015, it has sold in excess of 30 million copies worldwide. What made this even more extraordinary is that she was unable to tour to support the record, due to vocal issues. It sold simply on the strength of her universally relatable lyrics and that hurricane of a voice. Her third album, 25, releases in November.

Check out Adele’s Artist Page and re:Tuned Discussion Guide

What Her Messages Are

What makes Adele’s success so astounding is that she eschews almost every notion of what is supposed to make a modern pop star. In an age of constant over-sharing on social media, she chooses to retain an air of mystique. In an era where many singers are more reliant on what they wear (or don’t wear) and any other number of gimmicks, she lets her music speak for her. Her lyrics almost always relate to love, heartbreak and loss, but are never crass or tawdry. Take some of her biggest hits as examples. “Rolling In The Deep” is filled with scorn for an ex who blew their relationship apart but she remains triumphant, knowing she will survive this loss. In the heartbreaking “Someone Like You”, she laments losing the love of her life but reminds herself, through her tears, that she will eventually find someone who will treat her better. “Hello” finds her on the other side of a failed relationship, explaining how she tried to make things right and mend the brokenness of a relationship, even though the song’s subject is uninterested in such closure. Sure, she has a flair for the dramatic, but that’s part of what makes every song so relatable.

What Youthworkers Need2Know

Youth leaders, especially guys, can learn a thing or two from Adele about relating to girls. Relationships, whether romantic or not, are often the most important things in a teenaged girl’s world. When they shift or are in peril, teenagers often feel that those relationships are the only thing that matters. Adele understands that and puts those feelings to music. Her songs are like journal entries, set to music. Girls sense that they are listening to a friend sing to them, instead of a global superstar.

YLO Members get discussion guides for mainstream artists. Join YLO and you can have them too!

Adele is the rare artist who transcends age and taste. When she releases new music, it’s an event. If youth leaders treat it as such too, you will have an incredible opportunity to open up discussion with your students about loss, heartbreak, and the intricacies of relationships. There are few better modern artists to use as a springboard for these topics, especially because Adele seems to grow, both personally and musically, with each new album.

“Chewie, we’re home!”

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 11.26.23 AMStar Wars. It broke Fandango. The Twitter/Instagram/Facebook worlds were filled with photos and posts about it. Even my 25-year-old houseguest proudly sleeps in Star Wars pajamas! No bout adoubt it, Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon.

Yes, I’m old enough to have been there when the first movie (which is actually the third movie, right? I could be wrong about that.) was in theaters. I was enthralled when I first saw it. And when I saw it again. And again.

Those of us lucky enough to hang around teenagers a lot MUST be aware of cultural phenomenon like this. We can’t afford to be seen as hopelessly out of touch with what is happening. If we don’t at least acknowledge they’re happening, we lose cred with the kids.

The youth leaders who know how to use these kinds of things to further their ministry with teenagers are the savvy ones.

Some youth leaders try too hard. For instance, one guy used a television show he loved as the basis for a series of messages. Problem was, the kids weren’t really all that into the show, so a lot of the tie-ins fell flat.

This Star Wars thing is big, and yet I’m not going to make a huge deal out of it right away. I need to find out how much of the mania is caused by Baby Boomers (who are thrilled with the prospect of seeing Chewie and Hans Solo on the screen again), and how much is from my teenaged friends. I also need to see if it’s a couple-of-days thing, or something with a bit more staying power.

For SURE I’ll make mention of it, and use it to initiate some discussion with the young people I’m around.

How will YOU take advantage of this opportunity? Leave a comment below!