An Interview with Jared Herd of XP3 Students
At Youth Specialties we are always on the lookout for ministry resources that are excellent. While we love our own products we fully recognize that there are excellent resources available to youth workers that aren't published by YS. Recently, I had the opportunity to catch-up with Jared Herd, the Creative Director of XP3 Students. XP3 has taken the idea of curriculum development for youth ministry to a whole different level of engagement with in-the-trenches youth workers. Here's my interview with Jared.
Why are you involved in student ministry? Why do you do what you do?
The simple answer is a 10th grader named Ethan. I was in college—on my way to Law school—and was helping out with the local student ministry, leading a small group of 10th grade guys. I was twenty-two with big dreams of how much money I was going to make. And then Ethan showed up. His parents were going through a painful divorce like mine had when I was in 10th grade, so we connected. I got a front row seat to watch Christ heal him of pain. I realized no amount of money or status could ever make my heart alive like the joy of watching God’s work in a student’s life.
Who are you and what is your role for XP3 Students?
I am the Creative Director, which basically means that I oversee our curriculum development from junior high through college. I lead a team of incredible people who are way more talented than me and each of them brings a different perspective that shapes what we do. I wish I had time to tell you each of their stories and why they are passionate about students.
What is XP3 Students all about?
XP3 is all about partnering with student pastors to help them do what they do. We believe that being a student pastor is one of the most rewarding but also one of the most difficult jobs in the world. This is why our focus from day one has been not to just to provide resources for churches, but to develop relationships with churches and be there in any way we can to help them think through all the complex issues that they face. What our team is most proud of—and what we love to tell stories about—are the deep friendships we’ve all developed with student pastors and the stories they share with us.
What sets XP3 Students apart?
The level of partnership you experience. When you sign up for XP3 students, you don’t just get curriculum that is biblical, theological, practical, and contextual. You get a relationship with us and the other thousands of youth pastors who are a part of XP3. For example, we have three full-time student ministry specialists, with vast student ministry experience, that spend all day meeting the needs of our partners. Last month we did a bowling event at our annual Orange Conference where hundreds of student pastors came together. We laughed, ate, dreamed, and bowled together, and I was so moved at how student pastors from all over the country shared stories and encouraged each other. It was a very special time for us as a team.
Who is XP3 Students for?
For a 23 year-old student pastor that has been on the job for a week, a student pastor that has been at his church for 30 years, and everyone in between. We have a wide cross section of denominations and geographical locations.
In my experience, there are two uniting themes for our partners. One is ORANGE. Orange is the organization that XP3 is a part of, but more than that it represents the idea of how we reach parents and interact with the family. We all know that no one has as much impact on a student as their parents, for better or worse, so we have to have a plan for how to engage the family. One of the components that every series comes with is a “Parent Cue,” which is basically a way for the church and the family to interact. If you do fifteen or so series in a year, that’s fifteen opportunities you have as a student pastor to connect with parents. That’s huge.
The second uniting theme is STRATEGY. I know that is quickly becoming an overused word, but it’s really important for what we do. In student ministry, we don’t have the luxury of time. Students are a few short years and months away from leaving our care, so we have to think strategically about what to do with the time we have. In short, that is what XP3 is. Our curriculum helps you to be strategic about what you say, and our other resources and components help you to be strategic about parents, volunteer training, and many other areas in a student pastor’s realm of influence.
Why you think XP3 Students matters?
Ultimately, XP3 believes this generation is unique in its abandonment, its spiritual curiosity, its awareness of problems all over the world, and many other defining characteristics. While the need for Jesus is the same as anyone in history, how we translate Jesus to a new generation matters. Our writing teams work harder at that than anyone. We work diligently to present timeless truths in fresh and exciting ways. Beyond that, I think we matter because student ministry matters, perhaps now more than ever. Adolescence is changing, and how we care for the students God has entrusted us with—how we meet those changing needs—and what we do for the short period of time we have them really, really matters.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.