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.