goodbye to youthworker journal

20-something years ago, ys decided there was a place in the world for a professional journal for youth workers. kind of like a youth worker equivilent of leadership journal. so we launched youthworker journal. and ever since then, youthworker has been an important space for exporation and discussion. it’s been an intentional place for pushing thought, pushing boundaries, and pushing buttons. sure, some articles — or maybe even the occasional issue? — have missed the mark; that’s the nature of exploration, i suppose. but, in general, it’s been one of the few places in the youth ministry world you could find side-by-side articles that opposed each other, or topics that no one else would touch, or extensive and wide resource reviews (not just three or four), and stacks of summarized research.

but, alas — ys is a business (run like a ministry). and sometimes, in business, things happen that you don’t want to happen. here’s some history:

ys used to have an entire periodicals department, because we had three of ’em: the wittenburg door, youthworker journal, and youthworker update. we sucked at the back-end stuff; and it’s pretty difficult to break-even in the magazine business when you can’t spread things like advertising and circulation cost over several magazines with decent subscriptions. this got WAY worse for ys after we decided our wittenburg door days were over, and sold it to the trinity foundation in dallas for a dollar. we made what seemed like a great decision at the time (it WAS a great decision at the time): we sold youthworker journal to ccm communications and entered into two agreements with them — a marketing agreement (that paid us for promoting the journal), and an editorial agreement (that paid us to provide all the content). we also managed all the web stuff over the years, and this loosely fell under the editorial agreement.

well, a handful of years ago — much to our shock and surprise — our good friend at ccm, john styll, sold his company to salem communications. salem is the largest provider of christian radio in the u.s. (in the world?), and was stretching into a few other areas. oh — and to complicate things a bit more: our contract with ccm had expired just prior to the sale, and no one had gotten around to re-negotiating it. so we began the road with salem, with no contract (but still operating under the terms of the old contract). a couple years ago now, we started the process of re-negotiating the contract. for whatever reason, it’s been a crazy-slow process.

ys passionately desires to serve the WHOLE church — all kinds of christian youth workers. and this doesn’t just mean serving youth workers who are more ‘liberal’ than whatever our theological median would be; it also means serving youth workers who are more ‘conservative’ than whatever our theological median would be. so the fact that salem is a decidedly different, and more conservative, organization that us shouldn’t have posed a problem. but there was a good deal of rub, to be honest. our “wide net” approach was just a different approach than they would likely have chosen. in the end, though, their decision to discontinue our contracts was purely a business decision (at least as i understand it), not a theological decision or compatability decision. they’d like to take a shot at running all aspects of the journal themselves.

it’s a great loss to us. yes, we sold it; but to be honest, that was to keep it alive — so we could do what we do well, and someone else could do what we do didn’t do well. the current issue (ironically, on “truth”) is the last that we’ll have anything to do with. the editor will change, the advisory board will change, many of the authors will change.

we’re not sure yet what we’re going to do to replace the important role of youthworker journal in the ys world. we’re still considering our options. i’ll post seperately the last-page column i wrote in the current issue, which talks about our calling to exercise a prophetic voice.

12 thoughts on “goodbye to youthworker journal”

  1. I heard a rumor this weekend that Will Penner might have some ideas in this area. As you know, he’s a talented guy with a heart for ministry. I can’t wait to see if the idea germinates.

  2. wow.
    i guess i’m just simply shocked to hear that YS won’t be doing youthworker journals anymore. they have always (and still do; i often re-read issues) challenged me like crazy. I know you are all trying to put on the “pc” face behind your statements, etc., (and heck, i’m sure you know that maybe it is just “time” for a new thing), but…wow. i also read about the re-realization that the prophetic voice of YS has suffered…i cannot comment on this per-se, but i do want you YS folks to know that only a mere 4 1/2 years ago, the YS “prophetic voice” was used by God to absolutely revolutionize who I am as one of God’s kiddoes, the way i look at ministry (to all, not just students), and other areas that i can’t put into words. so…wow. excited to hear YS’s renewed “prophetic voice”.

  3. i just got my jan/feb issue of youthworker journal and have only flipped through it. i saw your back page article and was wondering what happened that caused the split. thank you for this post to clarify what happened. and thank you to ys for all you do to support youth workers – i look forward to the prophetic voice!

  4. I had heard about the split back in November.

    I’m sorry to hear it – yes, Marko – the one thing that I could count on from YW Journal was riding “both sides of the fence” with it’s articles. I appreciated that, coming from a more liberal theology and churches…

    It’s very difficult these days to find the more liberal stuff or at least the things that allow a liberal view as well as conservative. Conservative Christian materials are what sell in the stores. YW Journal did not have a view. One article would contradict the other.

    I truly hope YS can find a way to continue that tradition. What that is? I don’t know…

    Thanks for what you did do though with YW journal in the past!

  5. well that just sucks! i love YWJ and the thoughts of YS not doing it anymore is aweful. I’ll have to reconsider whether I renew my subscription again or not.

    Thanks for all y’all have done through it. YWJ has challenged and encouraged me. I guess I’m trying to say that YWJ definitely met the two goals of YS that you describe in your next post.

  6. also just heard that emergent’s publishing contract with YS ended and is not being renewed. i hope this isn’t a negative thing. in the last couple years, i have been so blessed by what YS has done. keep up the good work, in whatever form it ends up taking!

  7. just to be clear, abbasfriend, the two are completely unconnected and it’s only coincidental that they occurred in the same twelve months. the emergent decision was ours, based on our desire to re-focus exclusively on our core calling. the ywj thing was salem’s, and was surely a business choice.

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