my last student speaking event?

this last week, i asked the ys exec team to help me get a handle on my travel schedule, which has been killing me, and deeply frustrating everyone in my life (my wife, my kids, my co-workers). i’ll post more at length about this in the coming week. but one of the things we decided together, which much reluctance on my part, is that i need to say no to all student speaking engagements that aren’t national events.

this decision happened to fall just days before the only student speaking event i have on my calendar right now, as i was already in the midst of a one-year sabbatical from outside (non-ys) speaking engagements. i’d kept this one event because it was near my grandma’s home, and i got to take my daughter (who’s never been to my grandma’s home). as it turned out, my grandma was really sick and had to cancel.

flyer-little.jpgbut the speaking engagement was wonderful. i spoke for “meltdown“, a gathering of 1500 teenagers in panama city beach, florida. the event is unique in that it’s been going for over 20 years, and doesn’t have a primary host church or ministry. it’s put on by a rotating collection of youth pastors from this region. they meet throughout the year, divide up responsibilities for the event, and open it up to dozens of small churches that could never pull something like this off on their own. they’re an amazing group of youth workers, and i totally enjoyed getting to know them all.

i spoke five times to the students, and steve fee was the worship leader. ys friends (who help with our conventions) “big stuf productions” did the main stage production, and it was fun to be with them. the event was at a beach hotel complex, but the weather was horribly cold and rainy. but that didn’t really seem to matter too much.

the highlight of the weekend for me was an hour-long Q&A time i did with about 100 youth workers saturday afternoon. great people, with wonderful questions.

it was a bitter-sweet weekend for me. having liesl with me was wonderful (my niece, who is liesl’s age and one of her best friends, but lives in detroit, was with us also. we had a great time playing together sunday afternoon.). the students were great and i really enjoyed speaking to them. but it was hard knowing i won’t be doing this much anymore. luckily, the new junior high pastor at my church has asked me to step up my occasional teaching on sunday morning, and i’m scheduled twice in the next two months. getting to speak to the kids in my own church is probably better for me in the long run anyhow.

10 thoughts on “my last student speaking event?”

  1. My prayers are that God will use you in some amazing and wonderful ways in your own church as you begin to make this change over, Marko. I’ve often believed that the thing that keeps me involved in the local church is that I would truly miss getting involved in the students’ lives there. Being a speaker for events is fun and very helpful for those you meet, but it appears that your family, friends, co-workers – and perhaps even God – are calling you to change some of your focus. My prayers are with you, Marko, in this change. I’m grateful that we youth workers will still find you at YS gatherings AND that your own students and leaders at your own church will benefit from your skills.

  2. Good stuff! My buddy Jerad Herd speaks at the Big Stuf summer camps in that same location. He loves the Big Stuf production crew.

    Can I ask you this question: Did they give you content or did you develop the content?

    Also, because it was in the South did any of the youth pastors give you resistance?

    I know I may have crossed a boundary there, but I am really curious to hear your experience.

    Thanks for sharing your heart with our students and the rest of us…and I am praying for you and your family.

  4. jeremy — no problem. big stuf wasn’t in charge of this event, they just provided the tech and production support (which is a big deal, and which they do well). so, no, they didn’t give me content, as i understand they do with jerad for their summer camps. the organizers of the event (a collection of youth workers, like i said) had chosen a theme, and i built my own talks around their theme.

    no, i had no resistance (at least that i’m aware of)! everyone was great.

  5. Marko, you are being very smart and a Spiritual leader by putting your family first. As a father we only get one chance with them.See you this fall. Dave P

  6. I’m interested in learning why just because he was in the South he’d find resistance. Really. Enlighten me here, Jeremy Z.

  7. Thanks MarkO!

    Marty I apologize if my question came off condescending towards the South.

    From my own personal experience and others experience, the Southern Baptist Conference does not really enjoy the “postmodern” ideology. The arguments against it are: it is not biblically based, it is too postmodern, and it is not expository preaching.
    And I was curious to ask Marko if he experienced any flack for his content.

    Does that make sense? I was not knocking the South or the Souther Baptist Conference I was merely investigating another individuals experience preaching in the south.

  8. Dude, it makes complete sense. Sorry if my comment above came off standoffish. Looking back on it, I realize it could’ve.

    Yes, the SBC doesn’t usually like anything that has come about since the 1970’s, but I promise that there are some of us who aren’t like that. I can see where resistance might come in that aspect.

  9. Marko,

    Did you find it odd or ironic that the name of the event was “Meltdown” which is what we are no doubt headed for when we put our ministry to the teens of others above the ministry to the young ones in our own home.

    Maybe God was hinting at you and all of us in your story. May you be a Sycamore tree for those in your home and home church who ARE able to match up your life with your talk since they see both from the front row. In teaching those up close to our lives, we become more authentic.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. It spoke to me and to many.

  10. I want to thank you for all you do, Marko, in teaching youth workers and students, writing fantastic books, and helping Youth Specialties remain the wonderful company it is. I don’t know what I would do without the books and resources of Youth Specialties. the National Youth Worker’s Convention and the CORE have changed my ministry over the last several years. I no longer have the budget to attend the convention, but will be bringing a group to the CORE. I heard you speak there and at the NYWC last year, and you were great. Anyway, I hope you don’t feel badly about having to cut back on some things, because you provide so many vital opportunities to so many of us. God bless you!

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