Tag Archives: ys

ys rummage sale


from the ys blog:

With just a few days left until we relocate to our new offices we are now looking to sell even more stuff! The Mystery Box sale helped us ship out about 1500 pounds of Youth Specialties resources to youth workers around the world while helping us raise about $3000 for San Diego-based Reality Changers. Believe it or not that barely made a dent in all of the stuff that we need to sell as we downsize to our new building.

Mandy Helton, our brand new office manager, has done a phenomenal job helping us sell a lot of things on Craigslist. Now its time to sell the stuff that can’t be shipped so cheaply or just didn’t sell on Craigslist. We have a wide variety of books and resources, computer cords and accessories galore, electronic equipment, office supplies, office furniture, fake plants, artwork, and tons of items that fit in the category of “miscellaneous.”

Here’s the skinny!

Date: Friday, May 29th

Time: Starts 9:00 AM – we hope to have everything sold by lunch

Place: 300 S. Pierce Street, El Cajon California

What to bring: Cash/check (no credit cards) A car/truck/van/bus/semi or your vehicle of choice. Everything you buy has to be taken at the time of sale, we can’t store or ship anything.

Who is invited: This is open to the public. Our hope is that local youth ministries will come and stock up. After all, there are a few benefits with putting up with YS in your neighborhood.

If you don’t live in Southern California but know a youth worker who does, help us out and please let them know.

christian post reports on nywc changes

apparently someone from “the christian post” watched the podcast we did last week about the changes in the nywc for this fall. other than me being quoted as saying “pissed off” (which sounded ok on a live podcast to youth workers, but seems a bit edgy for the christian post!), i’m pretty pleased with this summary:

Youth Specialties, one of the largest organizations equipping Christian youth workers, will be making some dramatic shifts this year at their popular convention.

One of the major changes includes featuring main session speakers who won’t push the buttons of a theologically diverse crowd.

For years, Youth Specialties had brought in various speakers to the National Youth Workers Convention to cater to youth workers from different denominations, theological backgrounds and contexts.

“I think part of how we pursued that (serving a diverse crowd) is, to put it in a negative, we’ve almost built a convention where everybody has the opportunity to get pissed off or to get bugged by something,” said Mark Oestreicher, president of Youth Specialties, in a webcast this week.

“It’s like celebrating those differences was actually becoming divisive rather than bringing us together,” he added.

Oestreicher explained that the organization received “so much more critique,” some of which were ugly, from convention attendees last year who felt the youth workers organization was pushing an agenda of some sort.

One of last year’s main sessions addressed the issue of homosexuality and youth. The featured speaker was Andrew Marin, president and founder of The Marin Foundation, an organization created to build bridges between the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) and religious communities through scientific research, Biblical and social education.

Oestreicher insisted they were not trying to push any kind of agenda but realized that the convention was creating more contention that unity.

So this year, the organization is looking to shift their approach from presenting a “variety show” during the event’s main sessions to focusing on what they all have in common.

This year’s featured speakers will “address the heart and soul of youth ministry rather than hot button issues,” Oestreicher said.

“We’re trying to be very intentional to choose speakers that are not there to push buttons or raise issues as much as to speak to your soul as a youth worker, challenge you in areas of leadership or carrying out your calling but not like hot button theological topics,” the YS president stressed.

Speakers for the main sessions (now termed “Big Room” rather than “General Session”) this year include Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley; Andy Stanley, founder of North Point Ministries; and Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz.

While controversial topics such as homosexuality will not be discussed in the main sessions, Oestreicher noted that participants will still have the opportunity to engage in such discussions during the “labs” or seminars portion of the convention.

“It’s not like we’re trying to make this a vanilla event that is lowering the bar to the least common denominator so that we can all agree on everything and create some kind of false utopia,” he stated.

The point of the shift this year, he said, is to utilize the main sessions that everyone attends to encourage the soul and to challenge youth workers in their faith and leadership. Other topics are being saved for the labs.

Among other changes, this year’s youth workers convention will also include an “unconvention open source” day where attendees who want to lead their own discussions will have the opportunity to do so. Rather than have attendees choose from Youth Specialties’ own hand-picked list of speakers and discussions, the participating youth workers will be able to shape the day themselves.

“We really felt it was time for us to move away from only YS picking all the speakers,” Oestreicher said.

The changes to the 2009 convention come as Youth Specialties is undergoing some internal changes, Oestreicher noted, including relocating its headquarters which is currently in El Cajon, Calif.

“YS needs to continue to evolve and change and grow, or we shouldn’t exist anymore,” he stressed. “We have to become a new organization so we can serve you guys in ways that are timely and meaningful in the culture that we live in, not in the culture of 1978.”

Every year in the fall, Youth Specialties hosts three conventions. The 2009 National Youth Workers Convention will be held in Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Atlanta, respectively, beginning in September. More than 3,000 attendees are expected to attend each event.

changes to the national youth workers convention

we’re hosting a monthly webinar on the nywc site, leading up to this fall’s national youth workers conventions. i did the first one this week, and talked (for a LONG TIME!) about the changes we’re making for this fall’s events. next month, mark matlock will talk more specifically about the open space day at the event.

here’s the new nywc website (reg is now open!)

and here’s a recording of that webinar (we had a few technical problems, but got through them)…

ys re-organization, one month later

it’s been one month since the day we had to lay off 14 of our staff here at ys. and it’s still really difficult. i mean, it’s difficult, because these are our friends, and we would have preferred to keep working with them; plus, it’s gut-wrenching to send them out into this job market. please continue to pray for our friends.

7 of the people we laid off finished up that week; but the other 7 are staying on (if they choose) into mid-July, to help us get through the ys one day and dcla events. of course, this creates a challenge: for some of them, we felt it was the honoring thing to give these people the 5 months of lead time (rather than keeping the whole thing a secret and surprising them in 5 months); and for others, we really need them to stay to help us. but either way, it’s hard for us to see them in pain, and deal with our pain about their departure.

in the midst of all this, we’re trying to work toward a vibrant future. it’s got a bit of that saturday between good friday and easter vibe to it. there’s some unknowing about what’s next. we’re trying to move toward change, with a variety of ideas in the works. but we’re still in the transition space, and still grieving.

one thing I’m hopeful about is our immanent move. ys moved into our current building about 10 years ago. it was a cool thing to move into a space that had some neat elements to it, but was still kinda “professional.” made us feel like we’d grown up a bit. but now, 10 years later, we’re not sure we want to be all that professional or grown up! we’ve been toying with moving for about a year or more. when the lay-offs first came into view, we figured the idea of a move was off the table. but when we realized how deep we were going to have to cut in our re-org, the move actually became a necessity. our current plan, if everything works out on schedule (and it never does) is to move around may 1.

but there’s so much more to be hopeful about.

i’m excited about collaboration: the possibilities of collaboration extend so much farther than our workspace – the ability to collaborate better with each other, with our authors, our convention speakers, our convention attendees, and really do more to showcase the breadth and depth of how god is using youth workers, particularly as the church changes,
morphs and engages with our world.

i’m excited about the opportunities for more people to lead – and for the necessity of them to lead. i’m excited that many of our staff are feeling freed up to dream new dreams, to take steps to serve youth workers in new ways. i’m excited about the developing platforms for innovation and ministry that invite in a massive breadth and depth of the world of youth ministry and cultural leadership, both high profile “stars” and unknown local youth workers doing cool stuff.

there is much to be excited about in the midst of the darkness and anxiety.

youth specialties turned 40 this past year. studying organizational life cycles has been something of a little amateur interest for me in the past few years. i’ve been particularly intrigued by adizes theory, which i’ve blogged about here before. this change at ys is almost the deepest kind of change. it’s just shy of a “fire sale”, where the pieces are sold off or given away. but, even though I don’t “like” it, i do believe that this kind of deep and painful change is necessary. and it’s not just because I want to prop up ys so I can keep a job, or so we can perpetuate an organization that should just have the courage to go away. i really do believe that god has another chapter for ys, one that includes serving youth workers when they need it and how they need it (rather than the “we’ll choose what you need” way we’ve done things in the past). so that’s the vision. we want to be here to serve youth workers in new ways, in a changing world, for another chapter. if we don’t or can’t change, then maybe we shouldn’t stick around, and should hand off the baton to others. but if god gives the insight, wisdom, perseverance, courage and vision to pull off this change, we’ll be right here, resourcing, training, encouraging, and occasionally annoying you! Please pray to that end.

the ys widget

here’s a cool little app for your blog, website or desktop: the ys widget.

the widget is easy to load into your blog or website, or it can run on your desktop. there’s a pc version and a mac version. it provides quick links to regularly updated stuff, like:
– current “steal” (we’ll be offering a limited flash sale on certain products)
– podcasts
– blogs
– featured resource
– upcoming events

here’s what it looks like:

click the link above to see more, or to get the download instructions.

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.

ys staff bowling tournament

the other day, most of our staff knocked off work early for our “first annual ys staff bowling tournament.” two of our staff organized it, and 16 more of us were grouped into teams of four. we had to come up with team names and “uniforms”. and, at the after-tourney pizza dinner, there were prizes for all sorts of things, including best team name, best uniforms, best combined score, worst combined score, most gutter balls, and a few others. good times.

here are a few pics:

my team (me, adam mclane, mindi godfrey, and beth slevcove). we won the best score!

here’s the team that one the best costumes. nice, retro, bowling-alley trash look (ian robertson, steve duhamel, roni meek, and amy gilchrest).

yup, we i’m a re-juvenille.

here’s a group shot, at the pizza place.