joel mayward’s comments about ymcp

joel mayward is a sharp young youth pastor in the phoenix area, and one of the deeper thinking junior high pastors i have ever met. he’s a great blogger (really, if you’re a youth worker, add joel’s blog to your reader). and he just completed a year in my youth ministry coaching program. here’s what joel blogged the other day about ymcp.

Five Reasons Why You Should Join the YMCP

I’m not sure how to rank transformational experiences in one’s life, but participating in Marko’s Youth Ministry Coaching Program this past year has certainly been one of the most enriching and life-giving experiences in my story. If that sounds hyperbolic, so be it; it’s true. Beyond seminary classes, beyond conventions and seminars, beyond my own personal studies, the YMCP is a uniquely holistic approach to leadership development that addresses heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Here are five reasons why I think the YMCP might be for you:

1. It’s educational. I learned more about youth ministry philosophy and practices in this one-year program than I did in Bible college, leadership books, or ministry conventions. I read incredible books I would have never picked up. We had discussions around relevant ministry issues, sharing our own stories and insights with one another. I filled pages and pages of solid ministry information in my Moleskin notebook. The stuff I learned has reshaped my youth ministry in the best kind of way.

2. It’s spiritual. Unlike many classes and seminars, the cohort experience goes way beyond information transfer. Some of the most profound spiritual moments of my life happened this past year as I allowed space to listen for God’s voice and others prophetically spoke words of grace and truth into my spirit. My relationship with the Lord feels richer and more personal than ever before as I have learned to be present to Him and find my entire identity in Christ. The cohort is a safe place to openly wrestle with doubts about your ministry calling and relationship with God.

3. It’s relational. Much of our time was spent simply laughing and being together, enjoying the company of like-minded youth workers from a variety of backgrounds. There is almost no other life context where I would have encountered and built relationships my fellow participants. Now I would consider them my friends and partners in youth ministry, people I pray for on a regular basis and genuinely care about what’s happening in their lives. I love them and want the best for them, and I know they feel the same for me. It’s not this mushy-gushy temporary thing either, like a summer camp emotional high. These are people who have spoken encouragement into my life, and there is a clear sense of safety and accountability.

4. It’s customizable. Each cohort member gave a number of unique presentations about their ministry context and experience which shaped many of our conversations in very personal ways. For the two presentations I did, I received honest and insightful feedback that dramatically affected the direction I was heading. Our ministry discussions centered around what we found relevant in youth ministry, ranging from conversations about extended adolescence to the best books we’ve ever read. There is clear direction and guidance and structure, but there is also freedom and flexibility to see where God is leading us.

5. It transformed my life, and it’ll transform yours. Take a group of like-minded people who are eager to learn and grow. They have a diversity of stories and backgrounds, but the same passion for youth ministry. You put ’em together in a safe environment for dialogue, personal sharing, and spiritual direction. You add a competent and wise facilitator who spurs on conversation and offers insights into each person’s life. Then give it a year. I can guarantee that your life will never be the same again. I’m a better pastor, a better husband, a better father, and a better follower of Jesus for being a part of this. Seriously. No exaggeration. Ask my wife.

Check out this video to get a glimpse of what the YMCP is like. And be sure to check out more information about 2011 cohorts here.

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