For the last month or so, there has been much uncertainty in the youth ministry world as to what would happen to the youth ministry giant Youth Specialties after 7-year president Mark Oestreicher was released from the company. Marko was released and all the info that was given to the youth ministry world was found at this link: Statement by Moe Girkins, President and CEO of Zondervan.
This is my third convention and because of the uncertainty of what was going on with Youth Specialties, I had mixed feelings about coming to the National Youth Workers Convention this year. I didn’t know how it would be without Marko and Tic Long and I honestly wasn’t sure if I wanted to find out. But I came (obviously) and I was very glad that I did. After Andy Stanley’s message to us about uncertainty, the announcer for the convention (who I think was Mark Matlock) called a youth worker named Paul Bertelson up onto the stage for what appeared to be one of their normal interviews where they ask long time youth workers questions and give them a huge round of applause and a thank you! But this was different. After we found out that Paul was a 38-year youth ministry veteran who started his own company (YouthWorks) to help youth workers get the resources they needed. After we found out a little info about who he was, the announcer then called out another special guest, Moe Girkins, the President and CEO of Zondervan.
The announcer then proceeded to ask Moe some questions. He started off by saying that there are a lot of youth workers out there who have written nasty blogs and said some harsh things about her and her company after they released Marko. After that, his main question was: “Does it suck to be Moe Girkins right now?” She answered that yes it does suck to be her right now, but not always. She then said a few nice things about Tic and Marko and thanked them for how much they meant to the company and the youth workers all over the world. She announced the opportunity to write Marko and Tic a note to say thank you. Now (the day after), there are boxes set up for both of those guys and they are filling up pretty quickly. After that, Moe began to announce the shift that is going to take place where youth specialties will be sold to YouthWorks. The link to this acquisition can be found here: – – – -> YS gets sold to YouthWorks
When I first heard this, I was a bit skeptical. And now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, I realize that it was for selfish reasons. I love YS the way it is and the way it has been since I have started coming to their conventions. I did not want to see change, and I honestly (along with other youth workers) thought that it was going to be a change for the worse. But after doing some searching around on the internet and reading some of my youth ministry friends’ blogs, I found a very encouraging note about the deal between YS and YouthWorks. It comes from YS’s Online Marketing and eCommerce guy, Adam McLane. Adam said this:
“So the news is out. I am very happy the news is out. When I saw the presidents of Z and YW together yesterday I really hoped that the news would come out. It was a very exciting/somber (and a bunch more adjectives/adverbs) moment to be a part of. For me, the bottom line was that the news was getting out and that is good.
The people at YouthWorks are good people. (That’s been clear in the blogs/twitter/Facebook) The people at Zondervan are good people. (That hasn’t been clear, but trust me when I say that they are good people, too.)
Now… this weekend isn’t about Youth Specialties, YouthWorks, Zondervan, or even me. It’s about serving and encouraging youth workers!”
To see someone on the inside of Youth Specialties say such encouraging words is a great thing. It certainly changed my outlook on the whole deal and now I am hopeful for the future of the company and conventions that I learn from, grow during/from, and love so much!
It backed up Andy Stanley’s message that uncertainty is always going to be a part of ministry. My post about that message can be found here.I don’t know what the future will hold for these two companies, for the conventions, and for the thousands upon thousands of youth workers who attend the conventions each year. But I do know that it is a necessity for us to pray for them. So regardless of our negative thoughts/opinions on the whole ordeal, let’s leave it up to God and start/continue to pray for it and all the people that are involved!