re-organization of youth specialties

This is a very tough day at Youth Specialties.

As is true for so many of you in churches, YS has not been immune from the economic challenges currently facing most ministries and companies. As such, we have been forced to take a close look at the structure of the organization to determine a more agile approach that allows YS to honor our mission to serve the needs of youth workers. We have spent a great deal of time exploring a number of options and ultimately creating a new organizational structure that will help us adapt and prepare for the future. The new structure also better positions YS to expand our platforms for both publishing and events through live, print and digital formats.

As a result of the realignment, three new positions have been created and will be filled in the near future and 14 positions are being eliminated across all levels of the organization. One of the most significant changes is that Tic Long, President of Events, will be leaving the organization in July after the completion of the DCLA student training conferences.

It is not an overstatement to say that YS would not be here today without Tic. Tic joined YS 32 years ago and has been absolutely instrumental in building YS, saving us from extinction a few times, serving as the public face of the organization and building and maintaining excellent relationships with key partners. Tic was closely involved in the discussions around this realignment and offered great insight as we were making difficult decisions. We greatly appreciate his grace, wisdom, understanding and most of all his passion to see YS well positioned to continue its important work. Tic’s contributions to YS have been immense and are greatly appreciated. He will be dearly missed.

In addition to Tic, 13 others are also affected by this change, seven of whom will be leaving this week, and an additional six who will be leaving in mid-July after the YS One Day and DCLA programs.

The new organization will be streamlined, and – hopefully – more nimble and responsive to what you need. YS events will be co-led by Michelle Fockler, as the VP of Event Administration, and Mark Matlock, as the VP of Event Content. Jay Howver will continue as VP and Publisher, and Dave Palmer as VP of Marketing.

While there’s a good amount of energy and vision for our future, with a bunch of new stuff to announce in the months to come, today just sucks. These 14 people are not only our co-workers, they’re our friends; and we seriously grieve their departure.

Please pray for these departing YS staff, and for those of us who are staying, for wisdom, insight, hope, and peace.

59 thoughts on “re-organization of youth specialties”

  1. Dear Friend,

    It is never easy with decisions we face. They define us, hurt us, haunt us, and destroy us. May you seek peace today.

    Know that you are not alone.

  2. Thanks for sharing this with us. YS is certainly not alone in making these tough calls. I think I can speak for all youth workers that are encouraged by YS when I say that you have our prayers.

  3. So sorry to hear about this changes. Tic Long is one of my favorite guys on the planet. My God be with YS as it moves forward.

  4. Marko-
    This bums me out. Know that YS is in our prayers as your team has been instrumental in launching our ministry. Thank you for being real with us. May God continue to be your strength during this difficult time and may God continue to pour His joy into all of your lives.

    I am sure you know this but by helping us get our ministry off the ground you have helped opened the doors to share the gospel with 100’s of 1000’s of people around the world.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    your partner in ministry,

    Danny Ray

  5. So sorry to hear. Praying for all of you right now. I’ve also got that sick feeling in my stomach for you, too.

    I probably don’t know many of the others that are leaving, but I really connected with Tic’s heart and passion. What a great guy! We love you, Tic, and believe that God’s full and abundant plan is just around the corner. You have been a big blessing to Deanna and I. Thanks so much!

    Sad day, fo-sho.

  6. It’s a shame that things had to come to this, but I’m sure everything will work out for both the company and those who will no longer be with you.

    My prayers are with you all.

  7. I will be praying for you guys. This is a tough time and have confidence you all made only the wisest of choices. I have had the benefit of your conferences and the effect you all have had, still directs the way I do ministry today.

  8. We’re thinking about you guys and offer our support to anyone and in any way we can. Thanks for providing this very honest and clearly emotional description; it is always good to know that there is a heart behind the organization (as there clearly always has been).


  9. To all of you I wish the best. As I read this I couldn’t help but think about those I have met at the NYWC and wondering how each of you are personally doing. I want to share a line from a poem written by Ralph Waldo Emerson which includes these words, “To know that even one life has breathed easier becase you haved lived; that is to have succeeded.” Thank you all for making me breathe easier because of your ministry.

  10. this just makes me want to cry for all of you. those leaving and those staying on. we know God will provide but sometimes we just don’t like how we have to find our way there.

    it’s a very sad day…

  11. I’m sorry to hear about Tic’s leaving. I’m also sorry about the departure of everyone else. It’s such a difficult time for everyone. I pray that Tic and all the others would continue on in the path that God has for them and that YS would prosper more than they could possibly fathom at this time.

  12. prayers all around ya’ll as you live thru this transition

    and prayers of thanksgiving for Tic – what a glorious guy

  13. Our Prayers are with you. I also pray that you and everyone at YS can find time to be still. It seems like you guys are always going. Much Love, Grace, and Peace

  14. Our OtB team is lifting you all up in prayer. We can’t say enough about how much we love you all and our ministry together. We join with you in both the joys and pains that life brings. We’re hurting with you today. Love you!

  15. NO WAY! YS without Tic?

    14 staffers gone. Man, hard to believe. We love YS and finally after years of not going got to attend NYWC. We(my wife and I) loved everything YS has always done and hope the best for YS.

    I am curious to see what next adventure Tic has in front of him.

    We will pray for Tic and the others as well as for you and your leadership and the rest of the staff at YS!

    Thanks for everything.

  16. I’m heartbroken and sad to see so many of us who give so much of our time and energy to keep Youth Ministry alive effected by this economic crisis. You are in my prayers. Thank you all for all you do to keep me going each and everyday.

  17. *sigh*

    I guess drastic times call for drastic measures. God speed to those laid off, and thank you for your contribution to those of us in ministry, and God speed to YS as it plugs on.

  18. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Tic personally for the last 11 years and will miss him tremendously. He has been the face of YS for thousands of youth workers for years and I trust God will open up a new door of opportunity for him to continue serving God’s Kingdom. Tic, I will miss you and what you bring to ministry my friend…

  19. my heart is with all of my former fellow co-workers. i totally understand the deep, deep sense of loss, the grieving, the anger, and the “wtf do i do now?” … much love to you all.

  20. Marko, I feel as sad as I did the moment I learned Yac passed away, upon hearing that Tic is leaving YS. He will be sadly missed. I was your ‘fly in’ in Nov. 2006 in Cincinnati. An honor and event I will never forget. Tic met me ‘backstage’, calmed my nerves before I went on stage in front of all those awesome youthleaders! YS has and always will be such a great source of help, love, caring and curriculum for youthworkers. Know that! Prayers that you all will go on doing Gods will, even though you’ve had to say goodbye to a few.

  21. Youth ministry took a major hit today. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. I grieve with you.

  22. Oh my word, I am so, so sorry. This financial stuff just plain sucks, no way around it. You all have a special place in my heart and I’ll continue to think about you all in the days ahead.

  23. Most of us don’t actually know each other, but the intensity of how we’re connected is almost impossible to explain. I sit here in tears, grieving with you, grieving our own loss as youth workers..but yet there is joy and immense gratitude for Tic and all of the others who have spent their career teaching us, telling us to have courage, to be open to change, to be bold, to dig deeper than we ever thought we could and who continue to lead us in their own personal time of crisis. That is, and always has been, what YS is about to me and I completely appreciate all of you today as I lift you up. Just yesterday, in an unrelated meeting that turned to church with someone I had never met, our discussion was about change and the intensity of our own personal calling that church business as usual might be no more. All of you are experiencing that today and my heart aches. Peace, and as always, your transparency in sharing life with us makes all the difference.

  24. Wow, I’m really, really sorry to hear you are all going through this. I can’t imagine YS without Tic, as I’m sure it would be just as hard to picture without the thirteen others. It’s hard enough seeing one or two friends move on, I can’t imagine how the YS staff is doing seeing fourteen go. I’m praying for you guys!

  25. My prayers and heart go out to all of you at YS, especially Tic and the others who were let go. It wont be the same without any of them Im sure.

  26. Marko,
    Sorry to hear of the losses. Tic helped me connect and feel welcome @ YS-NYWC years ago…very approachable, very funny, very focused on youth leaders and most importantly God. Many of your ‘bretheren’ ministries are hitting the smae wall. my prayers are lifted for each of the families effected by the hardships, and for YS in the restructuring…not an easy boat to row.

  27. What can I say? I’m literly speechless. My heart is just filled with sadness for you all. It will be hard to go to NYWC and not see Tic. I will be praying for all of you.

  28. I’m with Mike Solomon on this one.

    I’ve Come to love YS and all it encompasses. I didn’t think that one of the most Prominent faces of YS would be leaving.

    I’ve been to 2 NYWC’s and have had the opportunity to talk to Tic at both of them. Tic is a very friendly guy, and will be sorely missed, Especially by this Youth Leader in Training(YLIT).

    I just got laid off myself, So I know what’s going on in the other 13 people’s minds right now, and it’s rough.

    This sucks.

    My prayers go to y’all in this time.

    Love y’all,
    Nate Gnau

  29. An era has ended and a new one begins. Love and many thanks to all of you who have put their heart and soul into YS / NYWC. It made a difference in my ministry and gave me an opportunity to serve others in ministry. If I can be of service to any of you, please let me know. <3

  30. Tic believed in me (perhaps even before I did)…didn’t know you all were processing so much these past days. We’ll be praying.

  31. I am not sure what to write, but I will miss Tic Long and celebrate his love, courage, and cheer! He had a heartfelt smile for every volunteer and delegate. I consider him a mentor and friend! Tic, as you always remind us, we could not do this without you!!!

  32. I can’t ever remember a time like this for our nation. Not a single industry has been spared. I am excited to see what God has in store for our country…He has done remarkable things in the worst of times. My husband lost his job in October. He was the president of his company and felt it better for him to leave and save the jobs of others. It’s been challenging. And many more in our church family are in the same situation. Good thing I am a youth pastor! So we understand your anguish and we will continue to pray for YS, Tic and the others who are leaving…God will be glorified in all this even if we can’t see how!!! Stand strong!!

  33. Marko,
    Whoa…my heart goes out to you and your staff and especially Tic…our Youth for Christ family will be praying for all of you at YS.

  34. A few of you have asked what tic will be doing next. He doesn’t know yet, and is in no hurry to figure that out. He’ll be working at ys through mid-july (5 months from now), then has a good cushion to take his time, use discernment, and consider his options.

  35. Marko,
    I’m so, so, sorry! That is shocking! Hanging with Tic a little was definitely one of the highlights of every convention – and I think I’ve been to about 30 or more by now. We will miss him very, very much! I pray the next few months are filled with grace and great memories and productive work for both of you! I certainly wish Tic the very best and we’ll miss him tremendously!

  36. You’re right, Marko and all the others: this sucks. Big time. We don’t have to like it or understand it…and I don’t…but I’m willing to trust the future for everyone involved to our wise and gracious Lord, which is all I can do and what I should do. I’ve recently moved from 20 years of youth ministry to a new position with InterVarsity, and the many NYW conventions which I attended will ALWAYS be a major highlight of those years. Tic, and everyone else who had ANYTHING to do with those conventions….thank you, thank you, thank you. I will cherish the training, fun, zaniness, and mostly the fellowship, the rest of my days. God bless you all immensely!!

  37. ive always felt honored to be called one of the “campers” by tic at nywc events. God has a plan for tic and for all of us to continue to being blessings to students and to each other, in ways we’ve yet to find out.

  38. wow! i don’t know that i ever imagined YS without tic around. i remember in 1999 when my wife and i attended NYWC in San Diego, he took a moment just before a general session to just talk with us. he made us feel as though he’d known us for years. through the years he always remembered my name, no matter what city in which our paths crossed among the thousands he interacted with.

    thanks, tic, for all you’ve done to champion youthworkers.

  39. can’t you keep jody or steve?

    it’s only a matter of time before zondervan makes the rest of ya’ll move up to michigan…

    I remember another sad day at YS, when Mike died. Grieved with the YS family then and now. In both cases, YS pressed on and youth pastors were and will be equipped. Thanks for staying committed to your mission all these years. We’re behind you and I encourage the team members who move on to put their gifts and passions to work to reach teens for Christ.

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