GUEST POST: paul martin reflects on his YMCP experience

one of the highlights of my experience at leading the 2010/2011 nashville cohort of the youth ministry coaching program was getting to know paul martin. we’d met before, but didn’t really know each other. he’s such a gifted and thoughtful youth worker (and person, in general) that i often felt like i was co-leading the cohort with paul. at our last meeting (at the end of the cohort’s 6th and final 2-day meeting), i asked paul if he would consider writing a short reflection on his experience, as a guest post. paul’s blog, btw, is here.

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As I drove home from my Youth Ministry Coaching Program (YMCP), I struggled with another experience to compare it to. Conferences seem like high school pep rallies compared to it. Seminary wasn’t nearly as personally challenging. Cruising at a leisurely pace down I-65 and giving myself plenty of time to digest this rare opportunity, nothing seems to fit into a nice neat description of what has just ended for me.

Maybe this is similar to what the disciples felt after their time with Jesus. It seems like it, after a year of meeting with ten other people from various other places in the church. Like Jesus’ chosen twelve, we seemed to stumble through trying new skills, having our comfortable ministry lives tested for strengths and weaknesses. The result feels much like Jesus renaming Simon and calling him Peter. Jesus recognized something deeper in Simon that changed his identity. Each of us has realized a depth of our unique character inside us, that now surfaces in our lives.

This wasn’t just a learning environment, though. Each encounter was designed to force a confrontation between ourselves and our ministry practices. Though we read books and discussed them, the focus wasn’t on the always on the content, but rather how we interacted with the ideas. I was surprised at how much I got out of the group. As an idea guy, I’m used to new ideas. They way the group interacted with each other and the ideas created a depth that one person just couldn’t plumb.

there was freedom in the personal coaching time to talk about those ideas that were stirred up in our learning time, but Marko always challenged and affirmed how they would play out back in my own context. This is more than mentoring. I found that Marko’s longevity in youth ministry likely stems from his ability to recognize and encourage youth workers. Because of his experience, he can easily connect ideas to application.

I can’t wrap this up in a small package. The benefits are just too numerous and too complex to summarize. I do remember thinking going in that this was a big commitment with a sizable cost. Having completed the experience, it was such a bargain. The experiences of seminary and conferences, though valuable, just can’t compare. If you work with youth and can commit to the process, I can think of no better way to grow as a person and a youth leader.

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we’re in the final weeks of filling this year’s YMCP cohorts. the san diego cohort is full; and nashville is very close to full (a spot or two may remain). there’s a good amount of room in the others. check here for details.

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