Tag Archives: youth specialties

cool new online ys catalog

i’d seen some of these online page-turning chapters and catalogs and such recently, and asked our peeps at ys if we were thinking of using that technology. of course, they’re usually a few steps ahead of me, and were planning on beta testing our fall catalog with this app. it’s pretty cool.

we’re still gonna send a paper catalog this time around (it should arrive in the next week or week and a half, if you’re on our mailing list). but we’d love to get to the point where we can save a few trees and only do this online thing, if people want it and use it.

so, check it out; give us your feedback. and be sure to check out all the sweet new (and old) resources from ys.

here’s the little write up:

Hey Everybody —

Marko here. Okay, so summer is over and that’s a bummer. School is starting now and if you’re anything like me, things are crazy busy. Well, our cool people over in the online area have been crazy busy too. They’ve been playing around with some stuff to make things easier and more fun for you when you need to get that back to school shopping done. So check this – yep, that’s our new digital eCatalog — I thought it was pretty wild. Now you can flip through the catalog long before it hits your snail mail.

No more rummaging through your inbox in search of the coffee stained, dog-eared paper version — just add this link to your favorites and you’ll always know where to look. So you say “well the catalog is cool but what’s in it for me?” Besides all our new resources… we’ve got a killer deal. In addition to a 20% discount on all titles, if you place an order of $75 or more by September 8th, you’ll get a free copy of Kara Powell and Chap Clark’s newest book, Deep Justice In A Broken World. Just our way of saying “yeah, we know summer is over.”

So sit back and have fun with this and don’t forget, we love you because you love kids.


ys staff bowling tournament

the other day, most of our staff knocked off work early for our “first annual ys staff bowling tournament.” two of our staff organized it, and 16 more of us were grouped into teams of four. we had to come up with team names and “uniforms”. and, at the after-tourney pizza dinner, there were prizes for all sorts of things, including best team name, best uniforms, best combined score, worst combined score, most gutter balls, and a few others. good times.

here are a few pics:

my team (me, adam mclane, mindi godfrey, and beth slevcove). we won the best score!

here’s the team that one the best costumes. nice, retro, bowling-alley trash look (ian robertson, steve duhamel, roni meek, and amy gilchrest).

yup, we i’m a re-juvenille.

here’s a group shot, at the pizza place.

announcing: youth worker appreciation day

here’s the press release:

Independent Christian stores unite for Youth Worker Appreciation Day. Christian youth workers rarely get the recognition they deserve. That’s about to change on Sept. 6, 2008, as more than 100 independently owned Christian stores come together for the first-ever Youth Worker Appreciation Day. Organized by Youth Specialties, the youth ministry division of Zondervan, the day is intended to recognize and celebrate the efforts of the hundreds of thousands of youth workers worldwide.

Youth Specialties Certified Dealers, such as family-owned Mardel Christian & Education Stores and others, will partner with local churches to host events and promotions designed to help youth workers lead their faith communities. Events during this inaugural campaign include special sidewalk sales, music performances, mini-seminars on youth ministry, and author meet & greet parties, as well as free Youth Specialties swag and in-store discounts.

“Youth workers pour themselves into the lives of the kids they work with year-round, offering them guidance, support, and a listening ear as they learn to walk and grow with Christ,” said Mark Oestreicher, Youth Specialties president. “Youth Worker Appreciation Day is all about recognizing their selfless efforts and their genuine hearts for impacting the lives of kids.”

Youth Specialties expects more than 100 independent Christian stores to participate in Youth Worker Appreciation Day. The organization has provided a resource kit that includes suggestions, templates, logos, and promotional materials to participating retailers.

YS has created www.ywad.org for participating stores to get fresh and fun ideas. In addition, retailers can also learn how to become a Youth Specialties Certified Dealer, and pastors, church leaders, and parents can find information and ideas on how they can show appreciation for their youth workers—including ideas for a special recognition event the next morning during their Sunday service.

For more information on Youth Specialities, visit www.youthspecialties.com.

to find if there’s a store in your area participating in youth worker appreciation day, click here.

the new ys video podcast

youth specialties had an audio podcast for a year or two. and that was nice and all. but we finally decided to step up our game a bit, and just launched a video podcast. we’re hoping to pull this off weekly.

you can check out the ys blog, or put it in your rss reader, to catch the podcast weekly.

or, you can subscribe to the ys podcast on itunes (that link is still being fixed — but if you’re a current ys podcast subscriber, it will automatically fill-in when it gets fixed).

or, you can find it on the ys page of youtube. (if you log in to youtube, you can subscribe to this page.)

here’s the first one, which includes a rambly devotional by me, talking about belonging and adolescence and the trinity and pentecost. yeah, rambly:

canadian youth workers conference

last year, ys took a risk, found a great partner, and launched the first-ever canadian youth workers conference. we’d had canadians making their way down to our national youth workers conventions in the states for years. but it wasn’t really reflective of canadian youth ministry, and was pretty pricey back in those years when the u.s. dollar was stronger than the canadian dollar.

that first event last year surpassed all of our expectations. with about 700 in attendance, the event was a smashing success, mostly due to the support of a wonderful group of partner denominations and youth ministry organizations. it was a crazy-beautiful combination of churches and people, and the spirit of god was palpable. i blogged about it quite a bit:

o, canada!

cwyc, saturday evening

cwyc, sunday morning (if you only click through one, read this one)

cwyc, last post

photos and an article from the cywc

at that event, we had a dinner with those leading all the denominational partners. we asked them if they wanted to repeat the event. the response was unanimously positive. we asked where they thought we should hold the event in its second year (the event was in vancouver last year). they were also unanimous about this: toronto, december 4 – 7.

so, the website is up, registration is open (in fact, the super early bird deadline has already passed), and the list of partner denoms and organizations is growing.

here’s the website.

here’s a link for scholarship help.

and here’s the list of partnering denoms and organizations:

• The Presbyterian Church in Canada
• Apostolic Youth Ministries International
• CBM Youth
• Sonlife/Youthfront
• Canadian Youth Network
• Christian and Missionary Alliance
• Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
• Nazarene Youth Ministry International
• YFC Canada
• Evangelical Missionary Church
• Brethren in Christ
• MB Conference
• Salvation Army of Canada
• North American Baptist
• The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada (new this year)
• Christian Reformed Church of N. America
• United Church of Canada (new this year)
• Canadian Youth Worker
• Southern Baptist Convention of Canada
• Canadian Catholic Youth Ministry Network
• Muskoka Woods Sports Resort
• The Wesleyan Church
• Independent Christian Churches
• Mennonite Church of Canada
• Anglican Church of Canada (new this year)

here’s the promo video:

planet wisdom joins youth specialties

yup — here’s the big announcement i’ve alluded to a couple times. i’m pretty pumped. we’ve been friends with the planet wisdom gang for a while, and walked down the road of considering merging with them a couple years ago — but the timing didn’t seem right then for a few reasons. as we (ys) were considering our desire to expand into student events more, to compliment our student line of books (invert), we thought it was silly to create something new, when the planet wisdom tour and website is already fantastic, something we’ve promoted, and something we could really help expand.

mark matlock, the main dude at planet wisdom, has spoken at our events for years, and has published a bunch of books with us.

so this means ys will be working with mark (and a few of his staff that we’re bringing on board) to host the planet wisdom event tour, planetwisdom.com (a website primarily for teenagers), and to develop a parent training initiative.

here’s a great announcement video the skit guys helped us make:

and here’s the press release:

SAN DIEGO, CA, July 22, 2008 – Youth Specialties, a world leader in youth ministry resources, has acquired Dallas, Tex.-based Planet Wisdom from Wisdom Works Ministries. Planet Wisdom, a ministry dedicated to teens and those who care about them, hosts student tours, maintains a robust web site and offers a variety of published resources including books and curriculum. Terms of the acquisition, which was effective today, were not disclosed.

“Youth Specialties and Planet Wisdom have enjoyed a long-standing relationship and have a deep admiration for one another so this acquisition makes a lot of sense for both organizations,” said Youth Specialties president Mark Oestreicher. “We have been anxious to expand our services to include student and parenting events and resources, and this acquisition will allow us to do just that with an organization we love and respect.”

“It’s been evident to us that our organizations strongly complement one another and our missions are closely aligned,” said Mark Matlock, founder of Planet Wisdom. “This acquisition will afford us the resources we need to grow and build our events, web site and content of the Planet Wisdom tour beyond what we could do alone. Our commitment is to continue to deliver the quality resources and services we are known for, while improving and expanding our ministry to students, parents and youth workers through innovation and creativity.”

Planet Wisdom will launch the eighth year of their popular student tour in October, with events in 13 cities planned between October 2008 and April 2009. Mark Matlock will again serve as main speaker and presenter, with long time performers The Skit Guys returning, as well as worship leaders Dutton.

Matlock is a long time speaker and presenter at the annual Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Conventions, as well as the author of more than 10 books with Youth Specialties publishing. He is currently developing a training curriculum called Real World Parents which will roll out in the spring of 2009. Real World Parents is designed to train youth workers to present parenting resources that encompass a partnership between parents and youth workers in the spiritual development of teenagers.

12 films in 12 months update

i posted before about my co-worker ian robertson’s creative side project, 12 films in 12 months. it’s a combo film and blogging project, creating a short film each month, and blogging relentlessly about the whole process. great stuff.

ian now has his may and june films up.

for ian’s may film, he wanted to take a shot at making a music video. really fun and creative stuff.

this film for june was all shot in the ys offices, and stars two ys staff (holli and carrie).


so, if you have a mind to pray, i would really appreciate your prayers today.

the spanish division of ys has been exploding in the last few years. really exciting stuff, which i’ve blogged about many times. we have developed some wonderful friends through these years, in the spanish church and youth ministry world. many of these people have spoken at lots of our spanish conventions.

a few guys in particular had become very close friends of ours. even though i ride the coat-tails of the spanish stuff, i consider these guys personal friends. we were together multiple times a year, and have really enjoyed each other and believed in each other.

but some time in the last year or so, things got sideways with them. they had banded together to form an organization, which is absolutely wonderful. but somewhere we all lost sight of the friendship, and things turned into a competition. i don’t think any of us actually intended for this to happen, but it’s become hurtful to the kingdom of god.

recently, when things were spiraling a bit, we all agreed to get face to face and rely on our friendship to work through and past this current nastiness. so today, i’m flying to dallas for a three hour meeting (then home tonite). i’m confident we will embrace and start off well. but i’m praying (and ask you to pray with me) that we are able to stay on the level of, “how can we bless you guys and your ministry?” that’s my real hope. there’s plenty of work to do in the world of spanish youth ministry for these two organizations and twenty more. getting into finger-pointing or “he said, she said” will get us nowhere.

i’ll let you know how it goes.

thanks for praying — the meeting went well. we got caught up on life for a while, and then they shared the vision for their ministry for a while, which was good (both good to hear, and good for them to be heard, i think). then, for a couple more hours, we talked about how we got sideways, and what commitments we can make to each other to speak highly of each other and hope for the best for each ministry. the one thing that surprised me the most was how hurt one of the guys had been – some from things we did, some from things people did that he associated with us, and some from misunderstanding. but being heard, combined with our genuine apologies, seemed to be important.

i’m hopeful for the future.

new book cover, and, i got punk’d

at ys, we do our publishing interaction (within the publishing team and with the authors and freelancers) on basecamp, an online project management space. it’s great for a few reasons. first, because the four staff in our publishing team are geographically dispersed — one here in san diego, one in chicago, one in grand rapids, and one in princeton, nj. add to that that our freelance designers, editors and proofreaders are all over the place, and having an online space for work really makes sense. the other reason basecamp is cool is that it creates a totally transparent process for the authors — they see all the discussion and can chime in on any aspect where they so desire.

so… to this story. the comps for my youth ministry 3.0 book were posted to basecamp a week or so ago. i didn’t like any of ’em, and no one else really seemed to either. we all gave input, and a second round was created. the art director, in grand rapids, posted the new cover, with the comment that they had taken my desire for something bolder into account. one of the marketing peeps, and the publisher of ys both posted affirmative comments immediately, before i even had a chance to digest the whole thing. they affirmed the choice of the large, bold one-name-only MARKO across the top. and i bought it hook, line, and sinker. that’s not to say that i liked it. i thought it didn’t work at all; but tried to be really tactful and kind in my hesitant response. then the truth was revealed, and i was shown as the gullible idiot. here’s that “fake” cover:

a few more tweaks later, and with the byline in the always-intended, post-punk’d style, here’s the final cover:

a case study in hatred and intolerance

the massively popular website ebaum’s world somehow got a hold of the pic of me and jeannie in costume at the ys staff christmas party last year, and posted it on thursday. within 12 hours, there were over 40,000 views, and over 1100 comments (now, two days later, it’s at 64,000 views and 1500 comments)! the crazy thing is that 99.9% of the commenters clearly thought it was a serious picture of real dancing protesters. dude, i should feel flattered that our outrageous costumes were that believeable!

(warning: the 1100+ comments are seriously raunchy)

it struck me that this was an unintentional case study in hatred and intolerance. we were snarkily mocking people who exhibit hatred and intolerance with our costumes (the “youth specialties leads to hell” posters were inspired by a guy at our anaheim conventions that year who had real posters that said that). but the response of the commenters on ebaum’s world exhibits the same level of hatred and intolerance. interesting, and kind of sad, really.