Tag Archives: ys blog

ys releases our first iphone app

a few months ago, a few of us from ys were in a meeting, thinking about ideas for our youth ministry publishing efforts. adam mclane was there. i don’t remember if it was adam’s idea or not (i think it was), but somewhere in the midst of that meeting, he got pretty stoked about trying to figure out how ys could create some helpful iphone apps for youth ministry. and in very little time, adam got it done.

as a result, the very first youth ministry iphone app is now in the apple iphone app store, and it’s a tweaked version of our “tough topics” discussion starter book.

here’s adam’s post from the ys blog:


Youth Specialties brings your favorite discussion starters to the iPhone and iPod. Now you can kick off discussions wherever you are, anywhere your ministry takes you. Turn downtime into relationship building time.

Tough Topics brings you over 600 thought-provoking questions that will challenge you towards a deeper understanding of the Bible, a richer relationship with God, and insight into his purposes in their lives.

Version 1.0 Features:

* 4 categories of topics: Psalms, Proverbs, Life & God, Jobs & Career
* Going deeper: Follow-up discussion suggestions and Bible references
* Favorites: Save your favorite questions to come back to later
* Recents: Easily go back to recently viewed questions


If you experience any problems with Tough Topics, please leave a comment here or go to our troubleshooting area.

Buy and rate now!



teen ethics

recently, The Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics surveyed 29,760 American high school students about their ethics and activities. The results are disturbing at first glance…

*a total of 30 percent overall — admitted stealing from a store within the past year.

*More than two of five (42 percent) said that they sometimes lie to save money.

*A substantial majority (64 percent) cheated on a test during the past year

*More than one in four (26 percent) confessed they lied on at least one or two questions on the survey.

*A whopping 93 percent said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character

read the full summary of the report here.

i’ve been planning on posting on this for a while. but many others have done so; and i think the best summary and reflection was by mark matlock on our ys blog, who helpfully points out some cautions in reacting to the data.

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.