Tag Archives: adam mclane

a moment of levity in port-au-prince

in the midst of an otherwise intense day in haiti, i had this moment of sheer levity, punk’ing adam mclane, who was sitting on top of the bags of rice and beans we’d just purchased for a poor community. maybe it was the tension of that day that made me laugh so hard; maybe it was adam’s legs flying up in the air; or maybe it was his earnest “yeah, but don’t do that again” in response to the driver’s “are you ok?”. but this video makes me laugh every single time i watch it.

ys releases our first iphone app

a few months ago, a few of us from ys were in a meeting, thinking about ideas for our youth ministry publishing efforts. adam mclane was there. i don’t remember if it was adam’s idea or not (i think it was), but somewhere in the midst of that meeting, he got pretty stoked about trying to figure out how ys could create some helpful iphone apps for youth ministry. and in very little time, adam got it done.

as a result, the very first youth ministry iphone app is now in the apple iphone app store, and it’s a tweaked version of our “tough topics” discussion starter book.

here’s adam’s post from the ys blog:


Youth Specialties brings your favorite discussion starters to the iPhone and iPod. Now you can kick off discussions wherever you are, anywhere your ministry takes you. Turn downtime into relationship building time.

Tough Topics brings you over 600 thought-provoking questions that will challenge you towards a deeper understanding of the Bible, a richer relationship with God, and insight into his purposes in their lives.

Version 1.0 Features:

* 4 categories of topics: Psalms, Proverbs, Life & God, Jobs & Career
* Going deeper: Follow-up discussion suggestions and Bible references
* Favorites: Save your favorite questions to come back to later
* Recents: Easily go back to recently viewed questions


If you experience any problems with Tough Topics, please leave a comment here or go to our troubleshooting area.

Buy and rate now!



welcome to the new ysmarko

when i started ysmarko a little over four years ago, i grabbed a clean and simple free wordpress template called “benevolence”, with a cross-section of green grass sprouting across the header. a little while later, ys online dude at the time, will leingang, helped me a tweak it a tiny bit. but for the most part, i’ve had that same old template for four years straight. and these days, i see so many blog designs i love (and quite a few i really don’t like). i spoke with adam mclane, my coworker at ys, about redesigning the whole thing. adam asked me to identify a bunch of blogs i liked (the look of), so he could get an idea of what i was thinking. after looking at a few hundred, it was obvious i don’t go for the ones with lots of clutter and darkness. i like clean. and i knew i wanted a twitter feed, and a current reading list, and a few other things. so adam asked ys media scion ian robertson to whip up a little ysmarko logo, then adam presented me with a string of ever-evolving possibilities.

and here it is!

i hope you like it; but, ultimately, i chose it because i like it.

the tabs at the top give a few more biographical options. the right side has the twitter feed (it had a facebook status feed also, but that seems to not be working with facebook’s redesign; so it might be back later), a few other sets of unobtrusive links, and my current reads. clean, baby, but with some life to it. yeah.

there are a bunch of back-end changes also, like the permalinks are now the titles of the posts, rather than a number; so you should be able to find specific posts more easily (as should google).

anyhoo. thanks to ian and adam (and i think jonathan matlock also).

whatcha think?

adam mclane on ym3.0

adam mclane (full disclosure: my co-worker at ys; but certainly no yes-man!) posted some great exploratory thoughts about youth ministry 3.0 on his blog recently:

I’ve been wrestling with the concepts of Marko’s book, Youth Ministry 3.0 for a long time. Actually, before I worked a YS I had been going through a prolonged set of discussions at Romeo saying in a thousand different ways… What I’m doing isn’t working anymore.

The problem was simple. I was trained and experienced at how to do youth ministry a certain way. The entire ministry was built around a youth group night of games, worship, small groups, and a talk. I had seen it work and do incredible things! Even in Romeo we had seen this ministry model draw 40+ students to a church of 120. Lives were changed, kids were discipled, volunteers loved it, on and on. We ran that thing and worked that model like a well-oiled machine. I was well-versed in all the terminology of all the other well-oiled youth ministry systems and had written tons comparing and contrasting the strength of one model over the other. But in the last few years the model tanked. Kids stopped coming. The whole thing became kind of toxic. Instead of re-arranging their schedule to make in on Wednesday night all of a sudden kids were trying to find things to do on Wednesday night so they could politely bow out. Frustration mounted and I kept saying, “What I’m doing isn’t working anymore.”

The crazy thing was my reaction to a YM 2.0 model. My response was always, even to the last day, “I know this works, something is just missing, that’s all.” I would tweak things here, re-emphasize this or that. It was never that the concept was broken. The problem was always either the kids not getting the vision of the model or my model not having the funding/support it needed to succeed. It never really dawned on me that my solution to fixing things was to kill the model and search for a better way to minister to students. My reaction was always to just work harder and to keep trying.

Pray more, blame the parents. Pray more, blame the money. Pray more, blame myself. Pray more, blame the kids busyness. In the end I was royally frustrated and a little angry at God that He had me in a place where I couldn’t fix things.

But as Marko’s book shows, there is a massive shift from what he calls “Youth Ministry 2.0? built around programs and models, towards “Youth Ministry 3.0? where the programmatic approach is, probably though not necessarily, foregone for a draw towards ministries built around affinity. (A super over-simplified analysis, right there!)

My wrestling point right now is pretty simple… how do I help ministries kill what has worked for a generation and open their eyes to a way to reach this generation. My experience in YM 2.0 environments is that they’d be happy running an un-attended YM 2.0 model if that means they don’t have to change things. Youth workers may not like the sacred cows of big church but they have certainly built some sacred cows themselves. (Remember the fury over my articles, “I Kissed Retreats Goodbye?“)

From a national perspective I’m seeing one trend that is scaring me and I don’t want it to be the solution: Killing youth ministry budgets, staffs, and programs. Please tell me that we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bath water? Simply because a model isn’t working doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t minister to adolescents!

What is a more productive outcome than that?

open source seminar at NYWC

so, we’re introducing a bunch of new things at the national youth workers convention this year. and one of these things that i’ve been excited about is the addition of a group of “open source seminars”. for these selected seminars, the presenter has put content online, on a wiki, where those who plan on attending the seminar have the opportunity to speak into and interact with the content prior to the convention.

i’m doing an open source seminar on creating your own middle school ministry curriculum. my hope was that people who plan on attending will interact with me around subject matter and other stuff; then we would come together in each of the convention cities and actually develop a 4 – 8 week series of interactive stuff.

problem is: no one is engaging on my wiki! now, i know there will be dozens, if not a hundred or more, people who attend this seminar. so, come on!

i asked my fellow ys staffer adam mclane to write up a little description of the dealio, and here’s what he provided me:

NYWC attendees can help Marko collaborate on his Developing Our Own Curriculum session by joining the Open Source site for your city. Head over to nywc.com, on the homepage you’ll see a section called “Open Source seminars.” Click on the city you’re going to and follow the instructions to create an account. Once that is done you can go back to the Open Source site and leave comments on Marko’s session or flat out edit the text he has there with your own thoughts. If you’ve never used a wiki for a project, it is incredible to watch morph from one persons thoughts to “our thoughts.” Together we’ll plug away, share ideas, and build a lot of the elements for the session Marko will present at each NYWC. If anyone needs help at the Open Source site, I’m here to help. [email protected]

my youth group experience

adam mclane, ys’s online community czar (or something like that), has had a running series of posts on the ys blog over the last couple months of ys staff telling their own youth group stories. i finally got around to answering adam’s questions, and he posted this bit about my own story:

Mark Oestreicher (everyone calls him Marko) is the President of Youth Specialties. As you would suspect, as the President he’s technically in charge of everything we do here. The best way you can follow what Marko is up to is to subscribe to his blog, ysmarko.com. Recently, I had the chance to hear a little bit about Marko’s experience in youth group.

What was the name of your youth group?
we didn’t have a name! I don’t think any youth groups had names back in the dark ages. But I do remember that the basement of the church, occasionally flooded and always moldy smelling, was where we met, and was called “The Hub”. It was filled with groovy carpet squares on the floor (easy to replace after the next flooding) and youth-created psychedelic painting on the walls.

Do you remember the first time you went to youth group? What was it like?
my older sisters were in the youth group, and I couldn’t wait to get in it. When I was in junior high, we weren’t part of the youth group (that changed when I was in high school, and my church hired a full-time junior high pastor long before that was a normal thing to do). The youth group really became the social center of my life. All my friendships and activities revolved around that group (and my high school choir!).

Tell us about your youth leader.
my high school pastor had a huge impact on my life. His name is steve andrews, and he’s the pastor of a large church in the detroit area now. He took a personal interest in me, and invested a lot of time in me. There’s no question that I’m in youth ministry, all these years later, in great part because of steve. Many of my friends have similar stories.

Share a memory of an activity you did as a group.
I’ll never forget the awkwardness of a junior high retreat that was all about sex. It was extra uncomfortable for me, because I had a massive crush on a girl who attended who was obviously more, uh, advanced (shall we say) than I was. I remember walking down the railroad tracks with her, and casually asking her, “So… What do you think about what the speaker’s talking about?”

What’s one thing that you learned in youth group that has stuck with you since graduation?
I’ll never forget when Terry Prisk, the youth pastor when I was in junior high (and now a pastor of a church in brighton, MI), stopped me in the hallway of the church and said, “Oestreicher, you’d make a great youth pastor someday.” I remember the exact spot, and can perfectly recreate it in my mind, even though that building has since been leveled and turned into a strip mall and condos.

If you could relay a message to your old youth pastor, what would it be?
thanks for believing in me, and holding onto the hope and belief that God was at work in my life, even when outward evidence may have been to the contrary.