​Who I am

Hi, I'm Brian Drinkwine, a husband, father, pastor, speaker and strategist. I help youth leaders take their leadership and ministries to the next level without burning out in the process.

​My Content

I have spent more than fifteen years in student ministry in large churches, small churches, and parachurch ministries. During these fifteen years, I have seen my ministries explode in size and impact. Over time, God has grown a passion in me to mentor youth leaders so that they can experience some of the same outcomes I have. This is why I created Youth Leader Academy.

​On this site, I write blogs and articles based on what I have seen work--and not work--over my years of ministry. I am a big believer that Jesus never told us to do youth ministry, because his first commission was to "make disciples." Clearly, if you want to make a real difference in the world, disciple-making must be at the heart of your ministry. To that end, my insights are trying to answer the question, "How did Jesus make disciples and what does that mean for us today?

Several people have observed that Jesus did ministry in five primary spaces: The Crowds, the 70, the 12, the 3, and alone with the Father. ​Out of my years of ministry experience and personal reflection on Jesus' life and ministry, I have seen that the most successful youth youth leaders leverage Five Growth Engines to make disciples and grow their ministries. These growth engines are:

  1. The Gatherings Engine (Jesus and the crowds) Successful youth leaders build killer large group gatherings that display and proclaim the Kingdom.
  2. The Parent Engine (Jesus and the 70) Successful youth leaders partner with parents as the primary influencers in the life of their kids.
  3. The Volunteers Engine (Jesus and the 12) Successful youth leaders develop a group of leaders who invest sacrificially in the life of teens.
  4. The Groups Engine (Jesus and the 3) Successful youth leaders facilitate small environments where teens can be transparent with one another.
  5. The Soul Care Engine (Jesus and the Father) Successful youth leaders develop life rhythms that keep them healthy and prevent burnout.

Most of my posts and articles center around these five growth engines because I believe that to become a successful youth leader, you must start by looking at how Jesus made disciples and apply it to your own life and ministry.

​My Bio

I grew up in Nashville TN as a "PK" (preacher's kid) with three brothers and a sister, all of whom participate in some sort of ministry today. I became a follower of Jesus as a child and gave my life to ministry while in high school. During college, I immediately became involved in Young Life while worship leading at a local church. As my passion for teenagers grew, I sought out a youth ministry position and took on my first staff position while pursuing an undergraduate Bible degree at Belmont University.

That first ministry position taught me a lot. I was pretty much clueless, but the kids in our ministry didn't pick up on that and we grew rapidly. Fortunately, I had the advantage of a seasoned ministry veteran who walked alongside me and guarded me from many of the ministry pitfalls rookie youth pastors make. He kept me from screwing up so I wouldn't get to much in the way of what God was doing. I could go forever about the life-change stories. Let's just say what God did was incredible.

After meeting and marrying my wife, I took on a new Student Pastor role in Phoenix so we could be closer to her family in Southern California. The church's student ministry had declined to a fraction of what it once was and I was tasked with bringing it back to health. Over the next five years, we saw our ministry grow explosively.

Eventually my wife and I were drawn back to my hometown in Nashville to plant churches and make disciples. We completed a church planting residency, studying under some of the world's leading missiologists. Since that time, I have spent the past few years mentoring leaders of house churches in the Nashville area as a part of a church planting experiment called ECHO.

While planting churches, I have had the privilege of ​coaching youth pastors around the country, helping them grow their ministries and care for their students more effectively. Out of this, I wanted to create a place online where I could put resources and reflections from my coaching conversations and past ministry experiences. This is how Youth Leader Academy was born.

My Family

My wife, Sarah, was born and raised in Southern California.​ She is an artist at heart and has traveled the world as a singer and actress. She completed a prestigious three-year performance conservatory in California, earned a Bachelors in Psychology from Arizona State University, and is finishing up her Masters in Clinical Counseling. 

While in Phoenix, Sarah taught vocal performance to rising singers while she fronted a rock music project called Covela. Let me just tell you: She can flat-out sing!

​In October of 2016, we had our daughter. Her name is Shiloh Grace Drinkwine and she is about the coolest little tike on the planet.

Oh yeah, my wife would kill me if I didn't include our dog Henry. He likes to think he's our son. I think Sarah agrees.

My Contact Info

You can email me at briandrinkwine@gmail.com. I'm also available through social media on Facebook and Twitter, among other platforms.​


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