Tag Archives: youth ministry coaching

calling all youth workers who want to grow

ymcp leafi’ve written about the impact of the youth ministry coaching program many times here on this blog. it continues to be one of the most deeply satisfying things i’ve ever been a part of in ministry. the combination of youth ministry conversations and real-life sharing, support and accountability, simply put, brings the sort of whole life growth that i just don’t see happening in other contexts (conferences or grad school included).

here are a handful of quotes from grads of the cohort i recently completed in san antonio, texas:

YMCP impacted me in so many ways this year – motivation, inspiration, and a desrire to seek more for me, my vocation and the ministry God has called me to. Marko pushed me to think more, read more, and be more discerning in my life, and he helped me rekindle an enjoyment and desire for learning. One of the core values I hold most dear is the pursuing of deep, persistent, and authentic relationship. What Marko created and presented in YMCP is very congruent for me and this value that I hold so dear. He enabled us to not only gather as individuals to be fed, lifted up and encouraged, but he brought about transformational change at the core of each of us.
Mike Woods

I have been deeply impacted by Marko this year. His wisdom, experience, love for youth ministry, and for our Lord are so evident in all he has done for us and how he treats all of us. I am so thankful to have had this year under his guidance – especially because we share a similar background – I feel like this was so clearly God’s hand. I really needed someone who could understand they why behind so many of the things I have been struggling with and working through. I’m thankful Marko was so willing to walk with me through this, and so patient with the back and forth of trying to figure things out. I will be looking back at this year with gratitude for many, many years to come. I have a renewed hope for my ministry and my life because Marko cared and was willing to use the gifts God has so clearly given him.
Abby Richards

YMCP helped me put words to what I was thinking, feeling, and dreaming for ministry in general. YMCP is special because it doesn’t just affect one area of your life, it affects everything. What an amazing experience that will impact me for the rest of my life.
Trey McCarty

Participation in the yearlong coaching program has strengthened my ministry to the youth of my parish primarily by the outstanding guidance of the program’s coach, Mark Oestreicher. He’s an exceptional coach, leader and facilitator. He speaks truth in his experiences as a youth worker and a faithful follower of Christ. He brings excellent resources in the form of study materials, self-evaluation, and discovery.
Marilee Pankratz

and here’s a video that got me all choked up watching it. the evangelical presbyterian church is working on filling a couple YMCP cohorts of their own. and they produced this video as part of getting the word out, interviewing 3 EPC youth workers who have been through the program (btw: if you’re an EPC youth worker and interested in these cohorts, let me know):

i’m currently starting the process of launching one full face-to-face cohort, and two more online groups.

the full YMCP cohort will meet in san diego (6 meetings of 2 days each, over the span of a year). i’m hoping to launch this one in may if we get the minimum of 8 participants. if you’re interested in considering that, please contact me ([email protected]), or go to this page on our website and read the materials (including downloading the overview doc, with all sorts of details).

i currently have two ‘beta-test’ groups of the online version of YMCP 1/3 of the day through their 9-month program. and i’ve experienced enough of it to know that it works. the online version is not the same thing as the full experience. but, instead of just sticking the full, face-to-face version online, myself and a few graduates worked to create an online experience that embodies the same values, and many of the elements, while maximizing the opportunities of online and acknowledging the limitations. for instance, the online groups meet for 3 hours every month, for 9 months. and they are groups of 5 (instead of 8 – 10).

i’d like to launch two more online groups in the months ahead (not before mid-march). contact me ([email protected]) if you’d like me to send you the overview doc for that program.

of the 88 past and present participants, 87 completed the program. the only one who didn’t got a job that made it impossible. not one of the 87 would say that it wasn’t worth every dime.

i have a great sense of anticipation as i post this, thinking about the youth workers i will soon get to know on an intimate level that moves us all into life-long friendships.

Youth Ministry Coaching Program update

i’m in winston-salem, north carolina at the moment, leading the 5th of 6 meetings with my YMCP cohort here. tomorrow i fly to nashville, for the final meeting of that cohort. my san antonio cohort is halfway done, but will soon be my only current cohort.

as i’ve written here before, i’m looking to launch a few more cohorts this fall. a couple of them are denominational groups, and will be “closed” (in that they pick who’s in them). but i’ve been shooting for a handful of other locations. here’s an update on those:

  • nashville. this cohort looks very likely to fill. i have 5 confirmed (out of 10 spots), and about 8 more people figuring out funding and timing. but, if you’re interested in joining a cohort — this is the one to jump on. i hope to launch this one in late september or early october.
  • canada (vancouver and calgary). i’m still hoping this cohort is going to fill. i’ll be co-leading with matt wilks. we’re on the edge, and need to get a few more participants to make it work. if you’re interested, please contact matt or myself soon!
  • greenwich, CT (NYC). i have 2 confirmed for this one, which i would co-lead with brock morgan. but we’re working on some potential scholarship funding, which could make it possible for a bunch more people. waiting to see if that works out.
  • san diego and atlanta. well, i don’t think these cohorts are going to fill. there doesn’t seem to be enough interest for either of them, unless there’s an unexpected response in the next few weeks.

one of the denom cohorts i’ve been working on is with the evangelical presbyterian church. they’re hoping to launch two cohorts in 2013 — one east of the mississippi, and one west. they put together a video with two senior pastors of previous participants, talking about the experience of their youth pastor. this was shown at the EPC general assembly a few weeks back. nice endorsements!

if you’re interested, please contact me: [email protected] click here for more info.

paul martin connects coaching and real discipleship

i just returned home from nashville, where i had the 5th of 6 meetings with my youth ministry coaching program cohort that meets there. such an amazing group of youth workers, and we had an amazing time together.

recently, YMCP grad paul martin riffed on the connection between coaching and discipleship on his blog. i really loved the post — not only because he affirms me and YMCP, but because i hadn’t really thought of YMCP as discipleship before. but, in many ways, it is. here’s what paul wrote:

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Mark Oestreicher’s Youth Ministry Coaching Program (YMCP). As an graduate, I have posted and talked to church leaders and youth pastors about the many benefits of coaching. If you’ve never heard of it, definitely go check it out. There isn’t a better opportunity for new and old youth workers out there.

I’m not writing because of the benefits of coaching programs. This is about the church. Simply, the church has failed in doing its primary function of making disciples. It reminds me of the beginnings of organizations like Young Life. If the church were doing what it should have been doing to help teenagers in the first place, there wouldn’t have been any need for Young Life. Likewise, if the church were discipling young people (and old people too) into coworkers in their communities, coaching wouldn’t be needed.

The church downgraded discipleship into a system of education. It now has measurable outcomes based on life stages and spiritual maturity. This removed it’s mission replacing it with the mindset of a factory foreman. I said in another post that the church had castrated itself. I wish that were true. At least then this mindset would have died, and the church could have been reborn. Instead, the church has courted people through one-off prayers of conversion leading to an epidemic of illegitimate children. It’s shameful.

There are many cures needed to help the church steer out of the mess it has made. Coaching is the best I’ve seen. It’s hard, glorious, slow, painful, redeeming, Biblical and proven. Why would any church seeing the constant failures of the current system hesitate to make use of a coaching program? It’s way cheaper and less time consuming than seminary. On the other end of the spectrum, it infinitely more effective than small groups, conferences or, as in the case of most leadership development in churches, nothing. This is a no brainer.

cohorts are now forming for the fall of 2012, with plans for san diego, nashville, and three other cities. click here for more info.

The Point of Youth Ministry Coaching

quite a while ago now, the fine peeps at Canadian Youth Worker, asked me to write a short article on youth ministry coaching, highlighting the youth ministry coaching program for their Canadian Youth Worker Resource Guide (pdf).

i have to say, this journey of coaching youth workers is interesting. after 63 participants over 7 cohorts:

  • i’ve not had one person drop out
  • i’ve not had one person think the program wasn’t worth every penny
  • i’ve seen more life change and transformation (skill, maturity, character, leadership, ideas) than anything else i’ve ever been a part of in youth ministry training, by far

and yet, it’s SO tough to fill new cohorts. i know the price level is a big hurdle for many, though i also know i’ve seen people move heaven and earth and re-arrange their lives to get the growth they want. so i’m struggling a bit to understand why these new cohorts (2 i’ll lead, in san diego and nashville, and 3 i’ll co-lead, in atlanta, NYC, and canada) aren’t getting more traction. part of the struggle, i’m sure, is my extremely limited marketing reach; and part of it, i’m sure, is how difficult it is to explain what YMCP really offers (which is why the current and past participants are so much better at putting words to it than i am).

here’s what current participant tom clutter had to say:

This program is an oasis in the lonely desert that youth ministry often feels like. Somehow I come away from each meeting feeling affirmed, called out, and hopeful all at the same time. Plus, after being in the same room with Marko’s beard for two solid days, deacon boards and staff parish committee’s seem much less scary.

and dan jones:

The meetings and months of our cohort have been some of the most intensely challenging and rewarding ones of my life. I did not expect the amount of personal growth that I’ve experienced; this has hurt, in all the right ways. Professionally, I’m also convinced that no conference, training, seminar or class I’ve taken has had as significant an impact on my ministry day-to-day as these hours with Marko and my fellow participants.

well, i’d love to chat with you, via email or skype or phone, if you have any interest or questions about YMCP. i’d also be more than happy to hook you up with a current participant to get the spin-free perspective.

here’s what i wrote for our friends up north:

Off the Bench: The Gift of Getting Coached

One of the trends i’m greatly encouraged by in the world of youth ministry is the rise of coaching. there have been lots of training options for a long time; but most of those have, by their very format, relegated attendees to being passive observers, learners by listening only.

But we all know, from our own lives and from our youth ministry efforts, that the best learning is more experiential and dialogical. that’s the beauty of good coaching: it’s contextual (not assuming a one-size-fits-all approach), it’s rooted in conversation (which ramps up application and learning a hundred-fold), and it’s small (big is great for hype and motivation, but not the best for growth).

i experienced a major “grace of God” gift a few years ago. My boss, the CEO of Youth Specialties’ parent company, decided to pay for coaching for all of her executive team. She paid a huge chunk o’ change for me to participate in a leadership coaching program with a gifted Christian psychologist who specialized in leadership development. the cohort model (a group of people, meeting regularly and traveling a learning journey together) provided both a safe place to hone in on my baggage, and to experience massive personal growth in almost every area of my life—including my ministry context. that was the year i got laid off from my job; but the coaching fee had been pre-paid, so i got to complete the whole thing (talk about a blessing, given what i was going through!).

Out of that profound learning and growth experience, i fashioned the Youth Ministry Coaching Program (YMCP). it’s a whole-life cohort-based coaching program, designed exclusively for youth workers. i’m leading my sixth cohort right now, and am continually blown away by the deep, beautiful growth i’m seeing in all the participants. a Canadian cohort of YMCP, may be starting up this fall. whether you join us in this opportunity, or find something else (there are other options), i could not more strongly encourage you—based on my own experience—to find a coach who will point you towards growth.

announcing the 2012 plans for the Youth Ministry Coaching Program

over two years ago, when i was trying to figure out what to do with my post-ys life, one thing was pulling at me more than anything else: starting a coaching program for youth workers, built on what i had learned about myself in the coaching program i had been through with dr. john townsend. so, in early 2010, i launched the beta group of the youth ministry coaching program, with 9 youth workers in san diego (who traveled to our meetings from 5 different states). very quickly, i could see that i was really onto something: a whole-life coaching program rooted in personal and professional growth, wholeness, and leadership. a safe community where honesty was prized. accountability and customization, providing what each person needed for practical growth.

six months later, i started a second cohort with 10 youth workers, meeting in nashville (that group is having a reunion late next week, with all 10 attending, from 9 states). i’ve discovered much about myself in the process of leading these groups, including the reality that i love this more than anything else i do. i feel like i was made for this.

this year, i’ve been running four more cohorts of 10 people each, in san diego, nashville, winston-salem, and san antonio, plus a modified cohort for some of the staff of a church in detroit. here’s what some of them are saying:

Emily Capes, Pensacola First UMC (Pensacola, FL)
I am so thankful to have been invited to join such an incredible group of people that make up our YMCP. Marko is so intentional to hear and be present to each one of us but also allows us to listen, challenge and encourage each other. Every time I head home after a few days together I am overwhelmed with what a gift we all have in each other. It is rare to sit with men and women in the ministry who are willing to be so vulnerable so quickly. I wish everyone had the chance to be a part of YMCP – to know what it is like to be heard, valued and allowed to sit as part of our incredible Body of Christ in such a beautiful way.

Christopher Freeman, Ward EPC (Northville, MI)
Mark has a profound depth of intuition when it comes to understanding both a person’s strengths and weakness…it is an unmistakable gift of his. Every time I have been with Mark he has used this gift to bring the best out of me, and in such unexpected ways. I am not exaggerating here when I say that I would NOT be leading with the confidence I currently have had it not been for the insights and tools offered to me by my times with Mark.

Rocky Supinger, Claremont Pres (Claremont, CA)
There’s really no way to overstate the value of the YMCP. The interaction with a cohort of dedicated and creative youth ministry leaders is invaluable, and the one-on-one coaching and spiritual direction grounds the learning in practices and actions. It’s the most valuable youth ministry development opportunity I’ve ever had.

Mikey Pitts, Bay Pres (Bay Village, OH)
I was searching the youth ministry job boards and on the verge of resigning my church. My wife and I had already begun punching the numbers for a season of transition. When my church agreed to support my cohort participation, we felt it was God giving us a chance to step back and breathe. The cohort for me has been invaluable and life changing. It has been a year of sanctuary, presence, growth, clarity, and learning sustainability. For once in my ministry career there are people more concerned about my health and my growth then the ministry I am leading. It was a cohort of people like me who understood me. They were looking for the same things I was looking for and on the same path to be figure out what it meant to be the sustainable youth workers God called us to be. Once I was able to step back and heal, I figured out that my church wanted the same thing for me.

this year — 2012 — i hope to launch a handful of new cohorts, starting in august, september, or october. i’ll be leading two on my own. and i’ll partner with a few very carefully chosen co-leaders for a few more. depending on what fills up, the plan includes:

  • san diego
  • nashville
  • atlanta (which i’ll co-lead with paul martin)
  • greenwich, CT/NYC (which i’ll co-lead with brock morgan)
  • vancouver/calgary (which i’ll co-lead with matt wilks — this cohort will meet 3x in each city)

each cohort meets six times over the span of a year for 2-day meetings, filled with rich discussions, problem solving, personal sharing, one-on-one coaching, spiritual direction, and other components. you can download a PDF of a more detailed program overview here.

the cost for the two i’m leading on my own is $3000; and for the ones i’m co-leading (where i’ll be at 2 of the 6 meetings), the cost is $2250. i realize this is a steep hurdle for some; but i can honestly tell you that every single one of the 59 past and current participants would tell you it worth every penny.

a few more unedited quotes from current participants:

Shawn Kiger, Lane Memorial UMC (Alta Vista, VA)
The YMCP has been the best and most helpful professional development I have experienced in my 14 years of youth ministry. The love and support I have received not only from Marko but all the other members of the cohort have helped me to not only be a better youth minister but also a better husband, father, and Christian. I have recommended this program to every youth minister I know!

Kimberly Clarke, St. Matthews UMC (Greensboro, NC)
I was hesitant to join this cohort because I felt it would overlap with my master’s program in youth ministry. In actuality, it has turned out to be the perfect compliment! This cohort has encouraged me to reevaluate and improve my whole health–spiritual, physical and emotional–so that I can best minister to others. Marko’s wit is deceptive and masks a truly sharp mind. He is quickly able to hone in on the root issues, offer you the opportunity to make tough choices about self and ministry and guide you to resolution. Being able to bond and share with my cohort members is icing on the cake. Truly a God send.

Jonathan Odom, Beavercreek Nazarene (Beavercreek, OH)
When it comes to professional development, there are many options from which to choose. However, if your experience in the Youth Ministry Coaching Program is anything like mine, there’s no debate. YMCP is truly great because it isn’t solely about professional development. It focuses on whole-life transformation that will help you develop professionally, but more than that, you will grow as a Christ-follower. If you believe that value-driven, whole-life formation is the most valuable commodity you have to offer your ministry, then YMCP is for you.

Jesse Oakes, Lake Avenue Church (Pasadena, CA)
After nearly a decade of service and training in the church, parachurch, and seminary, YMCP is easily the most formative personal development program I’ve ever experienced. The chance to grow as an individual in community is wonderful. The return on investment makes YMCP a bargain.

i’ll be taking applications and filling spaces on a first-come, first-served basis, starting immediately. if you have any questions at all, please email me ([email protected]).

youth ministry coaching program video

tomorrow i’ll be launching the plans and application process for the 2011 youth ministry coaching program (7 cohorts this year: san diego, kansas city, chicago, nashville, calgary/vancouver, atlanta, and NYC). until then, here’s an overview video to whet your appetite:

please feel free to pass this around (facebook, twitter, etc)!!


with the wide variety of stuff i’m doing these days (speaking, writing, consulting, coaching), i knew it would be helpful to have a website to point people to. there have just been too many times in the last few months where i didn’t have a communication tool other than my blog or email, in order to let people and organizations know what i can help them with. so, thanks to the patient wizardry of mclane creative, it’s time for the official unveiling of markoestreicher.com.

i thought long and hard about the url, knowing that so many people struggle with the spelling of my name. but the easy options (marko.whatever) were all taken. so, in addition to markoestreicher.com, i bought markoswebsite.com. if you struggle to remember the spelling of my name, i hope you can remember “marko’s website [dot] com”. there are pages for the various things i’m doing these days, as well as my current speaking schedule, and an easy-to-use contact page. there are also links to this blog and my facebook page and stuff.

let me know what you think!