Tag Archives: tic long

Tic Long will be at the middle school ministry campference

yup. big awesomeness.

many of you know tic long. tic worked at youth specialties for pretty much all of his adult life, well more than 30 years, until this past fall. he has given his life to youth workers. the dude is thoughtful, direct, articulate, insightful, creative, and–no question about it–fun.

many of you also know that tic and i have the friendship that shouldn’t have lasted, through the ups and downs of youth specialties. many of our friends have encouraged us, at various times, to not be friends. but somehow–by the grace of god, and by the grace of tic–we’ve weathered it. privately and publicly, we enjoy being together, and have great respect for each other. and i’m sure glad that’s the case, because these days tic is the executive pastor at my church; and i get a big grin on my face every time i see him on the church campus, or hosting a service.

so, a couple months ago when we were hanging out, i said something like this:

tic, last year at the middle school ministry campference, one of the fantastic surprises was the role michael flaherty, the CEO of walden media, ended up playing. sure, he gave one of the main session talks, and that was great. but the surprise was two-fold: first, he hung out with people. and second, he instigated fun.

kurt johnston and i talked about how much that added to the event, and how it would be great to find someone who could play that role again. but it’s not a role many could play. when adam and i were brainstorming, it struck me: there is pretty much no one on earth who could provide that combination of things better than you, tic. i’m wondering if you would be willing to come to the MSMC and do three things:

  1. give one of the main session talks.
  2. be our resident sage, someone that middle school youth workers can sit with and talk, someone who will listen and care about them.
  3. and, finally, i want you to mess with us, instigate fun, and be playful.

tic got a big grin on his face, and said he’d love to be there. he knows, as do i, that those are three things he will completely rock.

in addition, we’ve landed another absolutely brilliant presenter for a main session and other nefarious roles: mark dowds. many of you won’t be familiar with mark, but the dude is almost a savant in his brilliancy. mark is from ireland, where he was a youth pastor. after moving to canada, mark worked in a church for a while, and lead the staff of one of the largest camps in north america. then, he took a leap and started using his combination of natural insight and psychological training to consult with ministries and organizations, including both some of the biggest companies in canada, as well as a little company in san diego called youth specialties. mark worked with our entire staff, and provided leadership for about 10 leadership team retreats, shaping ys and each of us (tic and i maybe the most — in fact, we probably owe the continuation of our friendship to mark, in some ways). then mark jumped again, starting multiple companies himself, eventually moving to the san francisco bay area, and launching a series of tech start-ups.

bottom line: the dude is probably the most insightful person i’ve ever met (really). and, he’s an absolute blast. mark has also agreed to give one of the main session talks, and to hang out for the whole weekend, stirring the pot with his leprechaun magic.

i am off-the-charts ecstatic about these two guys–tic and mark–joining us for the MSMC; because i want nothing more than for this event to be the single most amazing and encouraging three days in the lives of people who work with young teens in churches; and i’m confident that tic and mark will dramatically increase our ability to do just that.

if you work with junior highers or middle schools in a church or other ministry context, i really hope you’ll join us on october 26 – 28, at spring hill camp in seymour, indiana (southern indiana). i hope you’ll bring a team, or recruit a few ministry friends to join you. it really is our tribal gathering, and you just can’t miss it. we need you and your voice. registration is open, so click through and check it all out.

tic long’s big move

my friends at ys made a pretty massive announcement this morning, via the video below.

tic long (the executive director of ys) and i were having a drink together in early january, and i mentioned how we really needed to find an executive pastor at my church. after explaining why for a bit, tic responded, “i’d love that job.” i completely thought he was kidding, and laughed. he didn’t laugh. he said, “i told you that before.” then he laughed — but only because tic and i have learned that we both, occasionally, have selective hearing with each other. he went on to explain the reasons he mentions in the video, including, “i’ve spent my life in a national ministry; i’d love to spend my last decade doing ministry at a local level.” tic and his wife terrie had, at that point, only started attending my church a few months earlier, and were really connecting with the vibe and values of the place.

a half hour later, i called our lead pastor, and told him about the conversation. his response, “you could push me over with your pinky finger right now.”

within a week, the three of us were meeting for coffee. more coffee appointments followed. more meetings. i was giddy. i kept telling our lead pastor, and eventually told the church board, “we shouldn’t have this opportunity — no church gets the opportunity to have a world class leader like tic, who we already know and already knows us, join our staff team.” everyone agreed, and tic is about to start as our executive pastor. he’ll phase in slowly, transitioning out of ys and into our church over a number of months, allowing him to finish strong at ys (though, with tic, nothing actually moves slowly, and he’s already met one-on-one with most of the pastors). tic will continue leading the national youth workers conventions through this fall, though he’ll be full-time at the church by that point (our church has a great kingdom mindset, and is totally fine with him taking those weeks off).

it’s a funny twist in my long story with tic, really. we were friends (like hundreds are) for a decade before i joined ys; we worked together at ys for 11 years; the boss of my parent company made me lay him off in 2009, just a few months before she laid me off; right before i got laid off, i started conversations with tic (on the sly) about him rejoining us; after i got laid off, youthworks hired him back to lead ys; and now he’ll be one of my pastors (btw: i’m not employed at my church, but function like an adjunct, lay pastor, teaching a various settings, advising and coaching a few of the pastors, and — of course — leading a middle school guys small group).

as for ys: well, i’ve been less privy to the process on that side of this story. but i agree with tic that it’s a good time for a new day and new leadership. i worked with matlock for a couple years, and believe he brings a great raft of ideas, skills and experience. i’m excited to see how things unfold in the next couple years. and please understand, this is nothing like the shake-ups we went through at ys in past years: no one chose that stuff; this is, i’m confident, an intentional hand-off, a natural and good transition.

tic long and the new ys

i am genuinely and overwhelmingly pleased.

the reason, which is talked about on the ys site (as well as in an awesome user-generated youth ministry tribe video pulled together by the amazing adam mclane), is tic long’s return to youth specialties.

the last year (really, the last 18 months) were a surreal and difficult period for ys. it wore us all down to the nub. unquestionably, one of the most difficult aspects of that period was the gut-wrenching move to lay off tic (which was announced last february, and took place officially in late july). tic and i had developed a very rare and life-giving working relationship with each other that constantly and intentionally blurred the boundaries between friendship and co-worker. we had developed a deep respect for each other’s gifts, and often acted as a counter-balance to each other in the leadership of ys. without him, i felt like i’d not only lost a significant portion of how i wanted to lead ys, but that the youth ministry community was going to suffer for it.

when i was brought into the discussions already underway between zondervan and youthworks about the then-possible sale of ys, i traveled to minnesota to meet with the quality dudes leading that ministry. in the midst of our day together, i said, “i want to throw out a crazy idea: what if we hired tic back again?” i was blown away when they laughed, and responded that they had been thinking the same thing, but didn’t know how i would respond. we kind of “tabled” the idea for then, since there were so many other bridges to cross at the time.

so i was immensely pleased when tic (with whom i’ve kept up a close relationship and communication over all these past months) told me he’d been contacted by youthworks (in the weeks just after my dismissal from zondervan). and now it’s a reality. tic is returning to ys to give leadership to whatever it is that ys will become in the months and years to come.

probably the biggest aspect of this that gives me joy (in addition to just being happy for tic) is that i’ve been very concerned that, as well-intentioned as the leadership of youthworks is, a significant portion of the ys “vibe” would be lost with so many of the key leaders of ys no longer part of the future. but with tic there, the commitment to loving youth workers and holy irreverence that has always been a hallmark of ys will be retained, even as the organization continues to morph into its next chapter.

many have blogged (including tic) about how “my ys” was gone, and whatever ys became was going to be something new. but this move gives me hope that both can be acheived: ys is going to be something new, and “my ys” (the youth specialties i have so deeply loved for decades, even before i worked there) will not fade away.

tic and i spoke on the phone last night, expressed our commitment to one another, and our desire to continue to find ways to partner and work together. and my heart was warmed. really. i love the guy; and this is such a huge gift to the youth ministry community, i can hardly find words for it.

so join me in raising a toast and a prayer of thanks. three cheers and a prayer of blessing on tic as he re-begins. three cheers and a prayer of blessing on the leadership of youthworks for having the insight and humility to bring back a leader of such character, skill, and childlike wonder.

a few korea pics

our time in korea last week was wonderful in so many ways. i’ll likely post more about the trip, but here are a few pictures:

tic and i with ralph and judy winter outside sarang church

judy with the debris from a typically wonderful korean meal

the stage of the convention. this group was a trip! they were a wild combo of traditional korean music mashed-up with a punk attitude, performance art, and a dash of rock music

me outside the korean folk museum

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.

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!