The cone of silence has been lifted and I can finally say it! . . . Big news in the world of youth ministry today. . . . the Youth Specialties extreme makeover that became and remained the talk of our youth min world beginning last January publicly opens the curtain on its next act this morning. Now, we’ve got something new to talk about. Tic Long is back at Youth Specialties! For me personally, this is exciting news because it’s good news for the world of youth ministry.
Those of us who know Tic know that he will hit the ground with those legs of his churning fast. The race they’ve run for so many years in an effort to serve Christ and His Kingdom by serving, loving, encouraging, and equipping youth workers is the same race they’ll be running today. Come November in Nashville, that will be obvious to us all who were scratching our heads month after month as we wondered what God was doing with an organization (people!) we loved, and that loved us for so, so long.
Thank God the Youth Specialties story isn’t over. There were times this fall when many of us wondered if it was. But I’m very, very grateful for a smaller yet very dedicated YS staff that kept things moving forward, serving youth workers through a fall that was far more uncertain for them than it ever was for the rest of us. Thanks Mark, Michelle, Adam, Kelly, and the rest of you. You guys kept your hands on the plow when it wasn’t easy at all.
I’m grateful to Zondervan for rising above the dictates of conventional business practice and wisdom. Zondervan remained dedicated to keeping the YS “plug” in the wall until sustainability was certain. That was far bigger than what any one of us knows. . . and we need to be grateful. If Zondervan had cut their losses they would have increased ours. But they didn’t.
I’m grateful for the folks at Youthworks who have purchased Youth Specialties. Several months ago a small group of us had the opportunity to meet them, learn about their heart for ministry and plans for YS, and have them ask us questions about the YS that we all knew and loved. Three things impressed me about the folks at Youthworks. First, they have a real heart for Christ and His Kingdom. That was clear after meeting them personally, visiting their website, and hearing from people who have ministered with them over the years. It was very evident in their deep humility and maturity. Second, they are very wise. As I watched the process of purchasing YS unfold, I realized that I needed to watch carefully. I was being afforded an opportunity to learn from some people who were doing things right. And finally, they are people of prayer, the positive implications of which are too many to even begin to mention here.
For months now it’s been YS that has dominated so many of my conversations. People either wanted to share and discuss what they knew, or they wanted to know what I thought and knew. Today, I’m sure what’s happening at YS will once again be the talk of the youth ministry world. But I want to issue a challenge to myself and everyone else. The story isn’t over, and we need to play our part in that story by getting on our knees to intercede on behalf of everyone in the YS story.
No doubt, we need to be praying for our friends at Youthworks. We need to pray for Tic and the rest of the staff that will be serving alongside him. We need to pray that God will do great things as the YS ship continues to be righted. . . . not by itself, but by Him.
But there’s one more group of people we need to be praying for. If you’re a National Youthworkers Convention attender who has saved those convention books. . . . go get them out. Somewhere near the front of each of those books are pictures and bios of the YS staff. Some of those folks are still at YS. Others are not. We need to pray for each of those people whether they’re still with YS or not. The events of the last few months and years have been difficult on them all. Pray for God’s shalom to rest on their lives, and for their openness to embrace whatever plan it is that God is revealing for their lives.
Welcome back Tic! This is going to be fun.