Tag Archives: MSMC12

Tic Long will be at the middle school ministry campference

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:

  1. give one of the main session talks.
  2. be our resident sage, someone that middle school youth workers can sit with and talk, someone who will listen and care about them.
  3. 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.

registration for the middle school ministry campference is open!

i haven’t written much about the middle school ministry campference in a while, and i have some very exciting news taking shape (to be announced in a couple more weeks, hopefully). but in the mean time, adam and i decided to go ahead and open registration. we didn’t change the rate from last year — still the same absurdly cheap price for an all-inclusive event. in other words, get yourself to the campference, and everything else is included:

    – program
    – accommodations (in cabins, but still)
    – all meals
    – a flower necklace upon arrival (wait, no, that’s from the MSMC hawaii in my dream last night)
    – close encounters with marko’s beard (i don’t know what this means yet, but as i wrote it, i realized it’s going to need to be something more than five words here. i feel a crowdbreaker coming on.)

at the risk of sounding like a sales pitch (let’s be honest: i am pitching you, because i really want you to join us), most three day events cost around the price of this, or more, but don’t include accommodations and meals. which means that your cost easily doubles or triples.

the only reason we can price this thing so low is due to our wonderful partners: spring hill camps, christ in youth‘s jh believe, group missions tripsweek of hope, and simply junior high.

here’s what a few of last year’s attendees wrote on their evaluation forms:

The MSMC just confirmed the importance of middle school ministry and confirmed my calling from God to continue in this work.

MSMC was everything you love about camp – fireside chats, laughing until your sides hurt, worship, and the felling you’ve made an entire army of new friends who love random, awkward, authentic, and deeply impressionable middle schoolers. I left refreshed, encouraged, and challenged to go back and love middle schoolers and their parents to Jesus!

MSMC was a great experience! From late night silliness to deep discussions about the lives of middle schoolers, I truly feel energized and ready to do ministry.

This unique event allows us to learn in a conference style while at the same time getting to hash out application in the laid back camp feel. It was also an incredible time of sharing life, ministry, joys and sorrows with other middle school ministers.

if you genuinely care about junior highers and middle schoolers, come to our tribal meeting this october 26 – 28. here’s the website. just scroll down to register (and get the early bird rate between now and the end of june).

announcing the 2012 middle school ministry campference

last year i took a big risk. well, i took a bunch of them; but one of them, for sure, was to put on the first-ever national event just for people who work in churches with junior highers. this is my tribe-within-a-tribe, my people. i love middle school youth workers maybe even slightly more than i love middle schoolers themselves.

four amazing organizational partners believed in the dream and took the risk with me (simply junior high, christ in youth, group mission trips, and springhill camps). i called in favors from middle school ministry friends (who, frankly, didn’t take much convincing, because they couldn’t stand the idea of missing it). and 75 people trusted us enough, or were desperate enough, to attend the event. honestly, i was worried — a month out — that it was going to be too small. but as the event drew near (last october), i had this deep sense that the size was going to be just perfect for the first time out. i still figured, at that point, that it was a one-time thing.

then the middle school ministry campference happened. and all of us who were there felt like we were on holy ground. we could tell we were onto something. every single one of my hopes and expectations were surpassed. it was like no other youth ministry training event i’d ever been to. “speakers” stayed for the entire event, hanging out, having meals and conversations and laughing fits with the level playing field of attendees. even michael flaherty, the CEO of walden media, instigated late night shenanigans.

people who attended said things like:

MSMC was everything you love about camp – fireside chats, laughing until your sides hurt, worship, and the felling you’ve made an entire army of new friends who love random, awkward, authentic, and deeply impressionable middle schoolers. I left refreshed, encouraged, and challenged to go back and love middle schoolers and their parents to Jesus! (elizabeth)


The MSMC just confirmed the importance of middle school ministry and confirmed my calling from God to continue in this work. (andy)


Wait! There are other people like me? I think this is one of the main reasons I enjoyed the campference. To hang, talk, laugh, pray and cry with like-minded people. (mark)

and, people begged us to do it again.

honestly, i kinda put out a few fleeces to god. i don’t know that they were hard-and-fast fleeces. but they were questions i needed god to answer for me.

first, i needed to know that at least a couple of the partner organizations would support the idea. i checked with them, and was thrilled to find out they were all ‘in’ for another year (that was a huge confirmation from god, actually).

second, i felt we needed to find a good location for the campference that was farther south. this was a conflict for me, because springhill camp in evart, michigan, had been such a generous partner, with a facility that rocked. but springhill came back and offered their south camp, in southern indiana. check.

finally, i wanted to hear from my inner core of middle school ministry peers (a.k.a., the “speakers”). 100% unanimous, they were all in, and certainly not with reluctance!

so, here we go! the 2012 middle school ministry campference is a reality, and the site is live. we’ll take registration live in a couple months (though you can enter your info if you want us to let you know when that happens, or keep you informed of other developments). just yesterday i invited a very special guest to join us, someone i would be so completely, off-the-charts stoked to have join us.

much more to come in the months ahead. but i hope — if you care about junior highers and middle schoolers — that you will join us this year.