Tag Archives: ymcp

youth ministry coaching program, 2011

in 2010, i launched two cohorts of the youth ministry coaching program; one in san diego (which started in april), and one in nashville (which started in september). there are 9 in the san diego cohort and 10 in the nashville cohort. both are going so very well — really, meeting or exceeding all my hopes and expectations. in the months to come, i’ll get some testimonials from the participants to share with you.

in case you’re not aware of it, the ymcp is a year-long whole life coaching program for youth workers. it’s a cohort approach, so it’s built on a closed group of about 10 peers who get to know each other deeply and are involved in the challenge and encouragement of the process. we meet every other month for two days, and have lots of interaction via a closed social networking site and phone calls in-between meetings. there are homework assignments (mostly self-assigned), book discussions, topical discussions, personal sharing, and a host of other elements — all of which, hopefully, add up to significant growth in multiple areas of the participants’ lives.

i’ve been so encouraged by the response and impact of these first two cohorts that i’m starting to make plans for 2011.

here are my very tentative plans for next year (realize that the location of the cohort is only the location of the meetings — i have people from 5 states in my san diego cohort, as far away as chicago; and people from 8 states in my nashville cohort):

san diego cohort, starting in april of 2011

nashville cohort, starting in september of 2011

in addition, i’m tentatively planning on expanding by adding three new cohorts this next year, each led by a nationally known youth worker who will be trained by me in the values, approach and methods of the ymcp. i’ll stay involved as a coach to these coaches, to ensure the quality of the program. i’m not quite ready to reveal who these people are (that will come, soon enough), but i’m hoping to start cohorts at various points through the year in…

orange county (CA), hopefully starting in spring 2011

dallas, hopefully starting early in 2011

kansas city, hopefully starting before summer of 2011

i’d really like to add a 4th cohort lead by someone other than myself in the atlanta area, but haven’t found the right person yet.

i’ve heard from people all over the country who would like me to start a cohort in their area. and i’m very open to additional locations (either with myself leading, or with someone i train). but i can’t start a cohort unless i have 10 people (or close to it), and these locations have been chosen for their centrality and other factors that make them feasible. but, if you are interested in having a cohort built in your region, and can figure out how to partner with me to move toward a minimum of 8 participants, i’d be happy to chat.

i’ve also been in discussions with some people about starting a cohort in asia (4 meetings, once each in hong kong, korea, singapore and malaysia); or, just a korean cohort. also discussions about a new zealand and/or australia cohort; and conversations about a western or eastern canadian cohort. if you have interest in any of these locations, please let me know (in a comment, or an email to [email protected]).

if you’d like more info about the ymcp, please check out the this page of my website, or download the program overview.

i’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in considering the program this coming year. either leave a comment here, or email me ([email protected]).

confronting adolescence: thoughts from a meeting with robert epstein (part 1)

yesterday, one of my youth ministry coaching program cohorts had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with dr. robert epstein for 90 minutes. epstein graciously welcomed us into his home, served us iced tea and cookies, and engaged with us is a pot-stirring exploration of ideas. for an academic with such polarizing (and, some would say, extreme) ideas, we were pleasantly surprised by his warmth, humor and listening ability. we knew we’d enjoy his thought processes, which we did.

for those who don’t recognize the name: epstein has been a fly in the ointment of adolescent sound-bite propogandists for the last few years. particularly in light of the “new brain research” on adolescents, revealing a host of implications, epstein has consistently been the lone voice crying out as the antagonist: no, you’re drawing wrong conclusions from the adolescent brain scans. you’re assuming causality when there is no indication of causality.

epstein put his exhaustive study (and strong opinions) into a book released as the case against adolescence, then re-released a few years later (just recently) as teen 2.0. i’ve blogged about it a couple times here already, but most recently here (mini book review here).

when our group got back to our meeting place after our time with epstein (and a lunch stop that had a side-by-side in-n-out burger and chick-fil-a; possibly the 7th level of heaven when it comes to fast food — yes, a few of us ate at both), we debriefed our time, and created a list of the things that stuck out to each of us the most, or the things that would have implications for our thinking and practice of both youth ministry and parenting. here’s that list, in short-hand. in the days and weeks to come, i’m planning on writing posts about some of these, expanding and reflecting…

— our culture is awash in negative messages about youth. when we hear them enough, we believe them; but they’re not true, and are often driven by pr from drug companies who benefit from these views of adolescents. be hyper-aware of those messages; look for them. and be highly skeptical of what you hear. understand that they are a prejudice (comparisons to 1800s thinking about women and blacks, based on wrong assumptions about their brains).

— parenting needs to shift from a position of “control” to one of “facilitation”. facilitation = look for and encourage competencies. this has enormous implications for youth ministry.

— there are very few age restrictions in the OT, none in the NT. we need churches to return to a biblical concept of adolescence.

— what can we do? create “local culture” (micro-culture) in your home or youth ministry. repeat often that what teens experience ‘out there’ is not right, it’s broken. help teens understand that they do not have to live like the system says they have to live. (this fits in so nicely with the ideas i wrote about in youth ministry 3.0)

— “repetition is the mother of wisdom”

last call for ymcp nashville cohort

i’m finalizing the group for the nashville cohort of the youth ministry coaching program this week. i have 9 applicants with funding in place and applications turned in. and i have one or two more people who have either turned in an application, or in some other way expressed strong interest, but haven’t yet confirmed if they’re really in or not.

9 is a great number, and i’m stoked we’ll be moving forward.

but i’m good with 10, and might even consider 11 participants if i had the right people.

so… if you have any interest: this is your last chance this go-around. email me quickly, at [email protected], or through the contact page on my website.

if you want more info on the ymcp, including a downloadable pdf with a full overview, go to this page on my website.

youth ministry coaching program in nashville

with the great start of the san diego cohort for the youth ministry coaching program, and a good deal of interest from youth workers on the eastern half of the united states (for whom san diego is a bit far to travel 6x in a year), i’m launching the application process for a new cohort to start this september in nashville.

critical thinking and theological reflection are extremely important for youth workers who don’t merely want to perpetuate the way things have been done in the past. but thinking and reflection are merely one portion (though a significant one) of what will help youth workers stay true to their calling and also grow in maturity and effectiveness. emotional, relational, and spiritual health are critical to long-term impact. this program is designed to provide both an opportunity for critical reflection and discussion of youth ministry issues, but also to provide safe place to process holistic growth.

in many ways, this program will surpass the training that can be offered by seminars and conventions. it will even surpass the experience of formal education. this is specifically due to the structure of the program (a small cohort with accountability, safety and shared shaping of the content), as well as the content of the program (thoughtful youth ministry dialogue, real life application, personal development, emotional honesty, and spiritual direction).

each cohort is limited to a maximum of 12 participants, and meets six times through a year for two days. meetings are supplemented with a closed social networking site for the exclusive use of the cohort, plus individual coaching (via phone) with me in-between meetings.

here are a couple quotes from people in the first cohort, currently meeting in san diego:

“Being part of YMCP has helped me better understand my calling and role in ministry. It has been great to hear what others are doing and get input into how I can better do things in my life and role in my church.”

“After one meeting this cohort has made a difference in my personal and professional life. I have already addressed issues in my ministry that would not have been possible without this group. It is exciting to think about what this will mean to me personally and to the congregation I serve. I’m grateful to know that I will always have this group to lean on.”

for a full description of the program, including expected outcomes, overview of the 2-day meetings, pricing, and the application process, click here to download a pdf summary.

for an application, or to ask any questions, please email me at [email protected]

interested in the youth ministry coaching program?

with the wonderful launch of the first cohort of my youth ministry coaching program (ymcp) last week, i’m thinking about where this could go. it’s obvious to me (and i think, to the 9 who are in the first cohort), that this is going to be an amazing year of youth ministry discussions, professional & personal growth, and personal wholeness. i’m convinced this approach is unique and unparalleled in its impact. already, the participants are commenting on how life-changing the process is.


i’ve thought about starting a second cohort this fall, somewhere on the eastern half of the united states. this has more complications for me, since there’s flight, hotel and meal costs that i don’t have when i’m hosting the program here in san diego. but i’d love to do it if there’s enough interest.

can you let me know if you’d be interested in considering participation, if i hosted it somewhere like atlanta, or nashville?

here’s the post i wrote about the program, including costs (though i expect this time around to be a few hundred $$ more). i can send you this information in a pdf, if you ask. feel free to comment; but if you’re seriously interested, please shoot me an email.

official launch: youth ministry coaching program

Youth Ministry Coaching Program
A yearlong 360 coaching cohort, focusing on whole-life development and youth ministry issues.

Critical thinking and theological reflection is extremely important for youth workers who don’t merely want to perpetuate the way things have been done in the past. But thinking and reflection are merely one portion (though a significant one) of what will help youth workers stay true to their calling and also grow in maturity and effectiveness. Emotional, relational, and spiritual health are critical to long-term impact. This program is designed to provide both an opportunity for critical reflection and discussion of youth ministry issues, but also to provide safe place to process holistic growth.

In many ways, this program will surpass the training that can be offered by seminars and conventions. It will even surpass the experience of formal education. This is specifically due to the structure of the program (a small cohort with accountability, safety and shared shaping of the content), as well as the content of the program (thoughtful youth ministry dialogue, real life application, personal development, emotional honesty, and spiritual direction).

Expected Outcomes
After completion of the yearlong process in the Youth Ministry Coaching Program, participants will have had the following experiences and opportunities:
• Participants will grow in understanding their strengths and weakness, how these impact their leadership, ministry, and personal life, and how to capitalize on their strengths and minister within their weaknesses.
• They will experience new spiritual growth and insight as they safely process their own journey and the integration of their spiritual selves with their ministry selves.
• Cohort members will receive training on a wide variety of youth ministry issues, with an opportunity for dialogue and contextual application.
• They will have the opportunity to experience thoughtful dialogue on subjects of their own choosing, as the group will help shape the content agenda.
• Participants will develop life-long youth ministry peer relationships of trust and accountability.
• They will read 6 books, discuss them, and reflect on the implications for their own lives and ministries.
• Each will make presentations to the group in areas of their own choosing, with feedback and suggestions from the group.
• They will work through a series of self-selected homework assignments, with input from the group, and accountability from a “homework partner”.
• Participants will have 12 private coaching sessions with Mark Oestreicher (6 in person, 6 via phone).
• And each will have the option of 6 spiritual direction sessions with a trained spiritual director.

Each participant will also receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program.

Structure of the Year
The application process will run through February and March, with a plan to have our first meeting in April or May. Accepted participants will have an opportunity to speak into the actual meeting dates, but once set, the dates will not be flexible.

The cohort will meet every other month for a year. These meetings will likely occur in May, July, September, and November of 2010, and January and March of 2011. The meetings will be held at Journey Community Church, in La Mesa, California (15 minutes from downtown San Diego).

Each meeting will be two days long, starting at 8 am the first day and running through the evening; second day will begin at 8 am and finish by 5 pm.

In addition to the group meetings, participants will be provided a closed social networking site for updates, prayer, questions, and dialogue. This will also be a place for active participation in helping each other with practical issues in youth ministry, and Marko will be involved regularly in giving input and feedback. “Homework partners” will be assigned for the period of time between meetings, and weekly or bi-weekly calls will be expected to provide support and accountability.

In addition, each participant will be scheduled for a short, private coaching session with Mark Oestreicher at each of the 6 group meetings, and will schedule a coaching session to touch base by phone in between each of the group meetings.

Structure for Each 2-day Meeting (subject to change)

Day 1
8 – 9 am Getting caught up and sharing homework results
9:15 – 10:30 am Marko presents a youth ministry topic for discussion, with discussion and dialogue about contextual implications
10:45 am – 12 pm Personal sharing
12 – 2:30 pm
• Lunch break (on your own)
• Personal coaching sessions with Marko
• Spiritual direction appointments (optional)
2:30 – 3:15 pm Team member presentation (a 360 feedback process on a particular problem, idea, or growth opportunity in your life or ministry)
3:15 – 4 pm Team member presentation
4:15 – 5 pm Book discussion
5 – 5:30 pm Quick input blocks
5:30 – 6:30 pm Break
6:30 – 9 pm Dinner together and hanging out (cost of dinner on your own)

Day 2
8 – 8:30 am Prayer
8:30 – 10:30 am Guided discussion(s) around themes suggested and chosen by the group
10:45 am – 12 pm Personal sharing
12 – 2:30 pm
• Lunch break (on your own)
• Personal coaching sessions with Marko
• Spiritual direction appointments (optional)
2:30 – 3:15 pm Team member presentation
3:15 – 4 pm Team member presentation
4:15 – 5 pm Homework assignments

Application Process
• Email Marko ([email protected]) and ask for a copy of the application. It’s a simple form with basic information and questions about why you want to be involved. (If you’d like a copy of this entire post in PDF form, for better printing, please email me.)
• Once your application is received, Marko will schedule a phone call with you to talk through details, motivation, and availability.
• Once you are notified of your acceptance, you will have an opportunity to vote on actual dates for the group meetings.

Other Random Administrative Details
• Only one person from any particular church will be allowed in this first cohort. This is essential for the safe and honest environment we will be cultivating.
• Discounted rates at a nearby hotel will be negotiated for you. More information on this will be given to those who are traveling from out of the San Diego area.
• Our first meeting will begin the evening prior to the two-day schedule, to give us an opportunity to get to know each other.

• A fee of $2500 will be due prior to the first meeting. The reason for this is that, should anyone decide to pull out, we will not be able to add another person to the group once it has started. If paying in one lump sum is a hardship for you, Marko will discuss alternatives with you.
• All other expenses (travel, housing, meals, books) will be your own responsibility.

About Mark Oestreicher
After almost 30 years in youth ministry, Marko is now focusing his energy on consulting with non-profits about youth and young adults, and in launching the Youth Ministry Coaching Program. Marko spent the last 11 years at Youth Specialties (7 of those as the president). Author of more than 50 books for teenagers and youth workers (including the much-discussed Youth Ministry 3.0), Marko regularly speaks to youth and youth workers around the globe. Marko and his wife Jeannie have been married for 24 years and have two children: Liesl (16) and Max (12). Marko is also a volunteer youth worker, leading a middle school boys small group, at his local church.

soft launch: youth pastor coaching program

for the past 9 months, i’ve been in a wonderful leadership coaching program with dr. john townsend. we meet one day a month, for 12 months, and there are 7 others in the group with me. the 360 process has been one of the most valuable features.

as i’ve thought about what god is calling me to next, i’ve considered lots of options (and even turned down a few gracious offers that didn’t feel like the right fit). sometime in the next week or two, i’ll try to write a longer post about my discernment process, as well as a post about what i’m sensing is next for me. but one of the things that struck me is how much i would love to offer a coaching program, much like the one i’m in, but tailored specifically for youth workers.

i expect to finalize plans for this in the next couple weeks, and hope to open it up for registration. but i wanted to blog about it first to get some responses from you.

here’s some of what i’m thinking:
– i think once a month for one day is not ideal for youth workers (especially if there’s any chance of someone flying in). so i’m thinking we’ll meet for two days, every other month, for a year. so, 6 meetings of 2 days each.
– i’m going to host this first round in san diego to test it. if it fills up and goes well, i’ll consider hosting one or more in other parts of the country. in other words, i have no idea at this point if this will be the one-and-only time i offer this, or if i’ll be doing more of these.
– i’ll be limiting the group to 12 participants, and will likely go ahead with it if i have at least 6. the “cohort” aspect of this process is a key factor, and i want us all to become friends and family.
– our 2 days (each time we meet) will be combination of youth ministry discussions, personal coaching, spiritual growth stuff, and personal development. i expect that we’ll offer spiritual direction for all participants at each meeting, as well as individual meetings with me. participants will have the opportunity to present stuff to the group (plans, ideas, talks, problems), and receive loads of feedback. i’ll bring some topics to the table, and other topics of discussion will be decided on by the group.
– we’ll meet in a comfortable room at a local church here in san diego, and i’ll get some kind of discount set up with a hotel for those who need to spend the night. our schedule would run all day for two days, including hanging out the evening of the first night (so, something like 8am – 9pm the first day, and 8am – 5pm the second day).
– the meetings will all be mid-week (tues/weds, or weds/thurs), so it won’t take anyone away from sunday commitments.
– we would have a closed social networking site for regular communication between meetings, as well as scheduled phone calls with me between meetings and assigned “homework partners”.
– there will be homework (a book for each meeting, as well as homework you and the group will choose for your specific situation).
– i’m toying with launching this officially in the weeks to come, with a potential start of march or april of this year.

as for the cost: well, i’m thinking i can offer this for something around $2500, per person, for the year. that might sound like a lot to some, i realize; but i don’t think i can afford to do it for less than that. i tried to figure out a price that wasn’t completely prohibitive, but would still work for me, considering the time investment (and the other costs i’ll have). i’d really love to consider bringing in some guest speakers also; but i think i’d have to charge something more like $2900 to make that work. all other costs (transportation, meals) would be on your own.

i love that there are so many fantastic undergraduate and graduate youth ministry programs at accredited schools these days. but i also think there’s a level of personal and professional development that can be offered in a program like this that goes beyond what a school setting can provide.

my questions to all of you:
– what do you think? would you be interested in considering this?
– what’s your response to the basic parameters i’ve laid out? any suggestions?
– any ideas for me on how to get the word out about this?
– if you’re interested in being a part of this program, would you rather keep the cost to $2500 for the year, and not have guest speakers, or bump it up to $2900 and have some world-class youth thinkers join us each time to further our thinking and discussion?