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:
- give one of the main session talks.
- be our resident sage, someone that middle school youth workers can sit with and talk, someone who will listen and care about them.
- 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.