Tag Archives: mark oestreicher

brace yourself

our friends at world vision wanted to do something fun in their booth at the national youth workers convention this fall. and they asked if tic and i would pose for pics that they’d blow up into lifesize cut-outs, that people could take pictures with. we thought it was a lame idea. if anyone wants a picture with us, we’re there, live, and in person. but we said we’d do it if they’d allow us to do something a bit more weird.

so, in the spirit of the freakish and fun website manbabies (where photos of dads and their children are doctored to switch the heads of the dad and baby), we came up with the idea of tic and i holding babies of each other. we shot the pics recently, and our media guy at ys mocked them up to show the world vision art peeps what we had in mind (they’ll have to make them look better than these rough drafts). yes, they’re a bit scary.

so, here’s me holding baby tic; and tic carelessly holding baby marko…

stop by the world vision booth at the nywc to see the full-size final versions!

monday morning update, september 15, 2008

the weekend that was: a few things (all of which were at home, in san diego); but the dominant feature was walktheirwalk, a 12-mile walkathon my family participated in to try to raise money for two clean water wells in twachiyanda, zambia, africa. jeannie got up at 4:20am (she was part of the planning team, and had to work set-up); so she had a pretty good excuse for only doing 9 of the 12 miles. liesl, max and i all did the whole 12 (though max was on his razor scooter for a good portion of it). i know people all over the world walk longer than this on a regular, even daily, basis. but it’s sure more than my body is used to, and it kicked my butt. my feet and hips were killing me that day, my back and shins the next day. saturday afternoon i vegged, watching my beloved university of michigan get beaten by the fighting irish of notre dame. sunday (after a hollow experience of church), was more of the same, as the san diego chargers got seriously robbed (no, really, read about it – two wrong calls that, due to quirks of technology and rules, couldn’t be undone, either of which cost the chargers the game). and, i’m getting another wicked cold. so, yeah — good weekend through the end of the walk, weary and sad weekend since then!

where i am at the moment: in my office. we have a ys staff retreat this afternoon and evening. we’re all a bit worn out and working at 110%, and the craziness of convention season is just beginning. so we’re getting away for the afternoon to remind each other why we do this.

on my to-do list this week: i was supposed to travel to new york on wednesday, then on to a CORE test in the LA area of friday, coming home saturday. but my boss casually mentioned that i should cancel the new york trip, and i instantly knew she was right. so, i’m in the office until friday morning (i still have the 30 hour trip to azusa for the CORE test friday/saturday). i have a presentation to make to the CEO of harper collins (my parent company’s parent company) the following week, so that’s a biggie this week. i also have emergent village work to do, CORE test to prep, a dcla planning meeting, and a wide variety of other stuff. one of the good things about canceling my trip to NYC is that i get to meet my new 6th grade guys small group this wednesday night!

procrastinating about: yeah, the book. i think i was procrastinating about a few boxes that needed unpacking in our bedroom, but they’re done now. i didn’t realize i’d been procrastinating about them until i got to them.

book i’m in the midst of: two right now…
jesus wants to save christians, by rob bell
the almost moon, by alice sebold

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: been diggin’ me some chouchou (seriously, check ’em out. i bought them off amiestreet, the coolest music download site in the world). here’s what chouchou’s website says about them:

Chouchou is a Japanese music group which exists only in SecondLife.
It was formed on July, 2007 searching for new possibilities of music.

next trip: now that i’ve cancelled my nyc trip, i’m only driving up to azusa (a suburb of l.a.) for one night, friday and saturday. but i leave sunday for a 5-day trip to grand rapids and holland (michigan, that is), for a zondervan leadership team retreat, speaking at baker book house in grand rapids (wednesday morning — kind of a late “youth worker appreciation day”; if you’re a youth worker in the grand rapids area, come on out!), and a presentation to the CEO of harpercollins.

how i’m feeling about this week: relieved that i’m not traveling to nyc, but wishing i could shake this new cold.

monday morning update

the weekend that was: ys spanish convention, in mendoza, argentina. i did a super seminar (2 1/2 hours long — which i found out i was doing the night before i flew here!), a general session, and a regular seminar. i did various version of youth ministry 3.0 in each of the settings. the super seminar was on rethinking our assumptions about youth ministry; the general session was on belonging; and the seminar was the closest to the content of the book, on how youth ministry needs to change in light of changes in youth culture. i ate enormous steaks (argentina has this cut of beef called ‘bife de chorizo’ that is the most amazing thing ever to come from a cow) and wonderful malbecs. i spent time with friends i only see once or twice a year. and i enjoyed the beauty of western argentina — i have a stunning panoramic view of the snow-capped andes from my hotel room.

where i am at the moment: still in argentina, but flying to buenos aires this morning. i’ll spend today and tomorrow in BA, visiting our office there, debriefing the convention with lucas (our spanish vp), and shopping for some gifts for my family. i fly home overnight on tuesday.

on my to-do list this week: oof, hard week, once i’m home. we’re in a bit of a financial crunch at ys, and i have three execs from zondervan flying in for all day meetings on thursday (i arrive home wednesday). i’m hopeful about what we can accomplish, but it will be long and challenging. friday is a catch up day, with a bunch of meetings. saturday is walk their walk, the walkathon my family is a part of to try to raise money for clean water wells in zambia.

procrastinating about: i finished the CORE re-writes i had on my plate while in argentina. so now i’m truly back to procrastinating about the middle school ministry book scott rubin and i are supposed to be writing. we got our deadline moved from late august to the beginning of january, but i really have to start carving out time to work on it. wish it could write itself!

book i’m in the midst of: after a few weeks of not reading, i finished phyllis tickle’s amazing book, the great emergence, which comes out in october. i’ll post a review in the next week or two. i’m now reading rob bell’s next book, jesus wants to save christians.

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: listened to john legend a lot this past weekend. great music to write and work to. nice grooves.

next trip: i fly to nyc next week for a gathering of business leaders and ministry peeps who want to learn and stategize about the disparity between the educational realities of urban kids and suburban kids. could be interesting.

how i’m feeling about this week: stressed.

my youth group experience

adam mclane, ys’s online community czar (or something like that), has had a running series of posts on the ys blog over the last couple months of ys staff telling their own youth group stories. i finally got around to answering adam’s questions, and he posted this bit about my own story:

Mark Oestreicher (everyone calls him Marko) is the President of Youth Specialties. As you would suspect, as the President he’s technically in charge of everything we do here. The best way you can follow what Marko is up to is to subscribe to his blog, ysmarko.com. Recently, I had the chance to hear a little bit about Marko’s experience in youth group.

What was the name of your youth group?
we didn’t have a name! I don’t think any youth groups had names back in the dark ages. But I do remember that the basement of the church, occasionally flooded and always moldy smelling, was where we met, and was called “The Hub”. It was filled with groovy carpet squares on the floor (easy to replace after the next flooding) and youth-created psychedelic painting on the walls.

Do you remember the first time you went to youth group? What was it like?
my older sisters were in the youth group, and I couldn’t wait to get in it. When I was in junior high, we weren’t part of the youth group (that changed when I was in high school, and my church hired a full-time junior high pastor long before that was a normal thing to do). The youth group really became the social center of my life. All my friendships and activities revolved around that group (and my high school choir!).

Tell us about your youth leader.
my high school pastor had a huge impact on my life. His name is steve andrews, and he’s the pastor of a large church in the detroit area now. He took a personal interest in me, and invested a lot of time in me. There’s no question that I’m in youth ministry, all these years later, in great part because of steve. Many of my friends have similar stories.

Share a memory of an activity you did as a group.
I’ll never forget the awkwardness of a junior high retreat that was all about sex. It was extra uncomfortable for me, because I had a massive crush on a girl who attended who was obviously more, uh, advanced (shall we say) than I was. I remember walking down the railroad tracks with her, and casually asking her, “So… What do you think about what the speaker’s talking about?”

What’s one thing that you learned in youth group that has stuck with you since graduation?
I’ll never forget when Terry Prisk, the youth pastor when I was in junior high (and now a pastor of a church in brighton, MI), stopped me in the hallway of the church and said, “Oestreicher, you’d make a great youth pastor someday.” I remember the exact spot, and can perfectly recreate it in my mind, even though that building has since been leveled and turned into a strip mall and condos.

If you could relay a message to your old youth pastor, what would it be?
thanks for believing in me, and holding onto the hope and belief that God was at work in my life, even when outward evidence may have been to the contrary.

monday morning update, august 25, 2008

the weekend that was: busy weekend. we had a birthday party to go to friday night for dave palmer (vp of marketing at ys), which was fun — nice dinner and conversation. then, saturday, ten of us from the ys CORE team presented the second draft of next year’s CORE to a very small group at a church here in san diego. i rewrote and presented the first session: “The Word is more than Words” (our theme this year is on helping students engage the bible). after all four session were presented, the team stuck around for another 5 hours and critiqued, re-wrote, pushed and pulled. sunday morning, jeannie and i went to the wedding of the daughter of my church’s preaching pastor (he was also my boss in youth ministry in a church in omaha about 20 years ago, and we knew his daughter when she was 5). then, sunday afternoon, our home church came over and helped us pack, then we had a pool party. oh, and i had to spend 5 hours saturday night doing an online traffic school due to running a stop sign while house-hunting a month ago. good times.

where i am at the moment: home. i’m taking this week off to move!

on my to-do list this week: MOVE! i also have a handful of phone appointments and other ys stuff i didn’t cancel, so i’ll do a bit of work from home.

moving update: can’t believe it’s here so quickly. the sale of our house closes wednesday, and we have ’til friday at 5pm to be out. the purchase of our new house closes thursday, and we officially get the keys at 5pm. but the owner is letting us start to move in a few hours early, and we have a handful of people helping us move all our boxes thursday afternoon. friday morning, movers come to move all our furniture. by friday night, we’ll be living in our new home!

procrastinating about: i have no time to procrastinate about anything right now. i feel like i’m managing a swarm of crises — both good and not-so-good. i worked 12 – 16 hours every day last week, often going into the office at 5:30am, and not leaving until 8:30 two nights. i think i actually stopped for lunch one day the whole week.

book i’m in the midst of: i haven’t read a word this week. so i’m still reading phyllis tickle’s manuscript of the great emergence.

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: in the name of love: africa celebrates u2. what an amazing collection of songs done by a wide variety of african artists.

next trip: a week from wednesday i leave for argentina.

how i’m feeling about this week: excited, but massively stressed.

simon hall

simon hall is the leader of a wonderful emerging church* in leeds, UK (*alt. worship, as they call it there), called revive, and a significant part of great change that’s happening in the changing church in england. i’m sure he’ll be at greenbelt this weekend (wish i was!), leading worship or seminars, or drinking tea outside the tiny tea tent. probably all three of those.

a dozen year ago or more, jeannie and i took a trip to denmark, where i spoke at a camp, and simon brought his young worship band to lead the music (the band was fronted by then-14 or 15 year-old corrinne bailey rae). we became fast friends with simon, and have stayed in touch over the years (he visited our home in san diego a year or two ago). we have always annoyed him by singing the old SNL mike myers kid-in-a-bathtub bit: “hello, my name is simon, and i like to do drawrings…”

as part of packing for our move, jeannie and i were going through old boxes of photos stashed away in our garage, winnowing down the stack to a fourth of its size. and i came across this pic of me and simon. our hosts at the camp had taken us all out, one day, for a sail on a nearby lake, on a huge old boat.

don’t you love simon’s femme pose, and my dorky closed-eyed wonder? don’t even know what i’m holding — a danish sea-worthy cup of coffee??

my two newest books

the last two books in the middle school survival series just came out this week. i’m pretty stoked about them. i wrote the first four books (my faith, my family, my school, and my friends) with kurt johnston; but these last two i co-authored with scott rubin. we had a great time doing them together.

so, here they are:

my changes
my future

monday morning update, july 28, 2008

the weekend that was: holy cow. it was all about house hunting. so freakin’ stressful, as our house sold so much more quickly than we expected (2 weeks). more update below…

where i am at the moment:
sitting at my desk for a day! yeah!

on my to-do list this week: the main thing is a trip to Z for a leadership team retreat, which i have a bunch of prep for today. we also need to start packing, and hopefully, agree on a purchase price for the home we made an offer on.

moving update: wednesday night, we drove by 25 houses (thank god for gps, baby). thursday, we started spending 5 – 7 hours a day with the realtor. we went through 9 houses thursday, 10 friday, 15 saturday, and 8 sunday. our spirits were pretty down by saturday night, as we were finding that buying a house has a lot of similarities to a software or website build. software and web people say there are three variables everyone wants: finished quickly, low price, and custom/robust features. and, they say, you can only have two of those — any two, but only two. we found in our house hunting that there were three variables also: neighborhood we want, house we want, price we want. we could only find two of the three. we’d find a great house in a great neighborhood, but couldn’t afford it; or we’d find a good house for a good price, but in a neighborhood we didn’t really want to be in; or we’d find a house we could a afford, in a neighborhood we liked, but the house sucked or was too limited in one way or another. finally, on sunday, we found a couple that met all three variables, and after going back to them a second time, one was the clear winner. we made an offer sunday night, and are waiting to hear a response.

procrastinating about: not much. everything is at full-tilt right now. i’m not making progress on my next book, but i don’t know how i could — so it’s not really procrastinating.

book i’m in the midst of: the book of general ignorance, by John Mitchinson and John Lloyd, and the blue parakeet: rethinking how you read the bible, by scot mcknight

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: very little music this week.

next trip: tuesday through thursday in holland, michigan, for a zondervan leadership team retreat.

how i’m feeling about this week: i’m sure the leadership team retreat will be great, but i’m really stressed about what we have to accomplish this month with our impending move.

dedication and acknowledgments

finally wrote the dedication and acknowledgments for my youth ministry 3.0 book (due out this fall). thought i’d post it here, so that some of you can have a heads-up that your name will appear in my book!


This book is dedicated to the fantastic youth workers who allow Youth Specialties to serve them every year. I’m so humbled and honored to come alongside you, dream with you, cry with you, laugh with you, complain with you, strategize with you, hope with you, and forge ahead with you.


I’ve written or contributed to a small shelf of books over the years. But in many ways, I feel like this is my first “real” book. Not to demean the others, but this is the first one with real sentences and paragraphs of ideas, written for adults. And, of course, it wasn’t written in a vacuum – many added to it.

When I was incubating these ideas for a general session talk at the National Youth Workers Convention in the fall of 2007, I posted some questions on my blog. A handful of youth workers were especially helpful in helping me with words to describe what I was thinking about Youth Ministry 3.0. Particular thanks go to D. Scott Miller, Chad Swanzy, Joe Troyer, Adam Lehman, Len Evans, Gordon Weir, Tammy Klassen, Jay Phillippi, Natalie Stadnick, Grahame Knox, Dustin Perkins, Sue Van Stelle, Bob Carlton, Tash McGill, Liz Graves, Tammy Harris, Mark Riddle, Robin Dugall, Daniel So, and Jodi Shay.

At the first convention that year, I sat on my hotel balcony for hours with my friend (and YS’s publisher) Jay Howver, and he helped me flesh out many of my ideas for the application section, which, later, become the seeds for Chapter 6 in this book.

Four very, very smart friends of mine read the first draft of this book and provided extremely helpful and shaping input. After their responses, I re-wrote entire sections, added new stuff, clarified and cut. They deserve co-author credit in many ways. So, big, massive thanks to Dr. Chap Clark, Dr. Kara Powell, almost-Dr. Tony Jones, and Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean.

Michelle Fockler let me use her house for three days as a writing haven. Those three days made all the difference, and I’m in Michelle’s debt. Later, i spent two days on revisions in the quiet apartment of my friend, Andy Padgen. Dude, perfect writing spot.

Finally, my wife (Jeannie) and kids (Liesl and Max) are the best family this guy could have. I’m so in love with you all, and love my life with you. Thanks for supporting me in this little book.