zondervan buys youth specialties

BIG NEWS! wow – i’ve been wanting to blog about this for months! it’s been killing me not to talk about something that’s so major in my life, and in the lives of so many people i love: zondervan has purchased youth specialties.

i wrote a long explanation of the whole thing, and that’s on our website – see here. zondervan also has a more fancy and formal press release, here.

but let me give a little back-story: youth specialties and zondervan have been partners for more than 30 years, almost since the beginning of YS. they’ve always proved their belief in our mission. and we’ve developed a significant amount of trust and friendship over the years. we like them; they like us.

i mean, let’s be honest: any 30-year relationship has its share of bumps and disagreements and inadvertent insults (like the time i asked zondervan, “do these jeans make my butt look fat?”). but the cool thing is that we’ve made it through those times and grown stronger for them.

i can say this with absolute and complete candor: there is no other publishing house in the world i would rather work for and with. our missions are compatible and i respect their strengths and abilities. but even more than that – as the guy who’s responsible for the future of YS – i’m confident about zondervan allowing youth specialties to keep being youth specialties. we’re not moving to grand rapids; we’re not eliminating our staff or handing over responsibilities to them; we’re not changing (or being asked to change) our values or mission, culture, vibe, staff, tone, resources, events, or occasional irreverence and childishness. i think this little video tic and i shot hints at that. what we’re doing is getting a whole lot more resources behind us to allow ys to expand and keep pushing the envelope on products, events and services.

for me, personally, it means a few more trips to grand rapids, a bit more accountability (which, frankly, i could use), and some great opportunities to learn and grow (my new boss, the president and ceo of zondervan – doug lockhart – is an amazing guy, and i’m pretty pumped about the fruit that will be showing up in my life because of my regular interactions with him).

so that’s the big news. ah – it feels great to have that out in the open. now i can get back to blogging about every annoying detail of my life!

67 thoughts on “zondervan buys youth specialties”

  1. Marko-
    Congratulations on the new gig. Everything will work out fine. The message never changes. Only the delivery of it. As it has in Youth Ministry for ages. This is just another changing of the delivery system.
    In Christ,

  2. the wild, dangerous, messy, wonderful ride continues! blessings for all of you. plus now all of us west michigan people may see some of the ys people out here for an event from time to time?! please!

  3. YOWZA! Please don’t let the new bosses change you guys. I love you and what you do just the way it is. Give my best to Karla and Tic. March on in “the dangerous wonder!” Hope to see you again this year at one of the conventions (backstage-not on stage).
    Dale Pokarney
    El Paso, IL

  4. Congratulations YS. I trust this new level of relationship will bring even greater blessings to the zillions of people you already touch. Hang in there for the transition. Great things are yet ahead. Jim

  5. AWESOME! God is doing “great big things” this year and I’m excited to be on the path! I look forward to the network with YS and being CONNECTED!

    Praise God!

  6. you think they might be pissed about your misspelling of their name in your entry title though? that would suck.

  7. awesome! i can’t wait to see the fruit from this change. i’ll definitely be praying for you guys as you start on this journey. loved the video, too!

  8. Yo Marko!
    More power 2 Ya! In an ever-changing world, change is a constant. Keep on doing the great work of bringing the Unchanging Word to an ever-changing world!
    from john of sunny Singapore.

  9. As a veteran youth leader spanning a few decades, thanks for all you’ve given us. And, thanks for letting us know the big news! We need you!!!

  10. The video was incredible. I’m going to be showing that to people who don’t even know what YS is! I think this should be the model for all “corporate” press releases.

  11. I guess I’m in the minority…I like you guys and gals being on your own. Free from influences beyond your mission. Who is on the board at Z.? Will they have input as well?

  12. Loved the video! Thanks for the early morning laugh! I appreciate and admire your creativity and all that you have done for the world of youth ministry! Never stop doing what you do. Enjoy the next chapter!

  13. I can endorse the idea of combining resources to enhance your ability to serve the youth ministry niche. Having said that I wonder if you ever wonder about how homogenous this might start to be. Zon seems to have a big swath of pomo stuff (or so the latest bib on my assignment shows) and now YS. Again I think there are good things about doing things together instead of apart. but here’s a question to consider. how is YS/Zondervan gonna react when an independant group starts pushing the envelope in youth ministry? I mean YS has always been a prophetic voice in the Christian community…

  14. Marko,
    I appreciate your openness and honesty in letting everyone know your side of the story. I know great things will continue to happen as a result of YS and Zondervan. I think both companies are awesome and together can only do greater things. I look forward to seeing the fruit God will allow to grow as a result of this opportunity. I for one will continue to pray for you and the rest of the staff. God Bless.

  15. very cool indeed! i’m just glad you didn’t get the tattoo cover mixed up with the hair gel! laugh out loud! enjoy the celebration – and was this the ‘gold fish bowl’ balancing you blogged about back in october that i’ve been praying about for you ever since??

  16. Hey guys!

    Wow! I am totally excited and awe struck at the same time. Yet! Change is good Right!!

  17. The stability and capacity building made possible by the acquisition is great. The fear is that you will become “company men” who are beholden. The church and youth ministry needs to be open to critique and the minority voice. If a book or a topic of ministry is not going to sell large numbers does it still get published, taught, spoken to? Will you have to suggestive sell–“would you like an NIV Bible with that?”
    I wish you the best. May you have the discernment, strength, and courage to make this an excellent step for youth ministy at large.
    Your video was a kick!
    Thanks for what you do,

  18. That video cracked me up…the shirt, the ties…the shorts…now that is a Sunday for a youth worker!
    Go “Day 14”

  19. Woo-hoo! My congratulations, too! I’m with Ty Hogue – how about a NYWC at the DeVos Convention Center in downtown Grand Rapids???

    By the way – the new Journal of Student Ministries is great!

  20. I’ve got mixed feeling and am bent towards the negative, but only time will tell and I so desperately want to be wrong.

  21. I’m with Rob on this. As on outsider it makes me a little nervous. I trust this won’t change YS from what it is. Coming from my tradition you guys are a big breath of fresh air.

  22. must “The Man” always win in the end? i am reminded of a ben folds song, “the ascent of stan.”

  23. Marko…

    I too hope this truly does mean no change. I’d hate to see YS lose it’s freedom, it’s style, etc… I’ve been quite happy with where I’ve seen YS going as of late. I hope that momentum does not change.

    Congratulations and prayers to all of you at YS!

  24. just great – so the local non-christian, publisher-of-christian-material bully is at it again. but i guess since you are all still employed, we are the only ones who suffer in the end…

    congrats – and hoping i’m wrong

    ~ tim

  25. I’m kind of ambivalent, in that I see YS as a community with a strong brand, and a corporate takeover of a group is usually abou the brand,and communities usually don’t translate.

    Eh, hope I’m wrong

  26. the only thing that was missing in the video was karla w/o makeup, w/o earrings, a dress down past her ankles, a big frilly white blouse…well you get the idea.

    i talked to one of my friends at zondervan who you know…and she’s just pumped! i trust her, i trust you…good things to come!

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  28. Marko,

    Wow, big news indeed! I’ve not yet read the links you’ve posted.
    Question, tho: Isn’t Zondervan still part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire? I worked at a television station that was acquired by Murdoch’s NewsCorp and then sold. That said, they are savvy in running businesses.

    Ah, but please tell me that ultimately YS’s hands won’t be tied!! If indeed Murdoch’s group still owns Zondervan, it does make me wonder about the degree of freedom that will be given to follow God’s unique leading and work. And like some others, man, I hope my fears are for naught!

    Best, Oregonian

  29. Why is ys going downhill? This is just another stop on the downhill train to compromise. Where is a youth worker to turn to now!

  30. We have always felt like YS is family. I hope this will not change that. How will this effect submissions from youth pastors.

  31. I guess Lighthouse Trails will have to add Zondervan to their list now …

    This sounds like an exciting opportunity; I look forward to seeing the risks, new ventures, and greater presence YS will be able to take and have through this relationship. It totally makes sense … although, I will admit there is a part of me sad that there isn’t a Yaconelli in owndership any more … :(

  32. Congrats, Marko!

    To some others: Yeah, Rupert Murdoch owns Zondervan, and lots of other things: Myspace, Fox News, Harper Collins, etc… Companies buy companies, the way these things go…what we can all do is pray and buy and encourage the Powers to their fullest possile vocations. The synergies involved have some real potential. I’ll be watching hopefully…

  33. I am glad we have a God that is in control. I pray that Zondervan does not become a controlling factor. I hope you keep your freedom, and your bookstore does not sell only “Z”.

    Thanks for all you do for youth ministy.

  34. Congratulations! Change is never easy but it is exciting. Ys is awesome and based on your love for God and commitment to Him, this is a good thing. From what was said in your blog Zondervan knows your “voice” and your heart for no compromise, and only positive changes can come from them buying YS. Continued prayers and blessings to you all. Thanks for all you do. Dawn

  35. let me guess: the reason you had to turn to zondervan is because ccm was too busy soliciting articles from pat robertson for youthworker journal?

  36. wow Why is eveyone so happy about this? I really see this as the death of YS! From what I see other the last few years YS has been getting away from its roots in youth work and going down many paths. May be its time for new blood at YS! Someone to take them back to there roots!

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