Tomorrow will mark my return to Youth Specialties as a content-provider. And I’m thrilled.
My publishing career began under the tutelage of Mark Oestreicher, who was then the publisher at YS. He signed me to write my first and second books, and he advocated for me to speak at the National Youth Workers Convention. Tic Long, who I’m guessing was as uncomfortable with my evolving theology as his peers at the heart of the YS world, invited me to speak at the convention for ten years straight, culminating with my crash-and-burn experience on the Big Stage.
Since that fateful day, I have not been asked back to speak at the NYWC.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t had thoughts on the various changes at YS. I wrote YouthWorks (my former employer) an open letter when they acquired YS. I mused about the future of youth ministry publishing. And I returned to the NYWC as an exhibitor, completing a full circle (I first attended the convention in 1994 as an exhibitor…for YouthWorks!). I even had some thoughts about the convention last year: that youth workers are moving (slightly) to the theological left.
YS is under the new leadership of Mark Matlock, and I’m happy to report that Mark and I have become friends. I have a great deal of respect for him. Also, he asked me to return as a speaker this year to the convention. I’ll be giving two seminars tomorrow: one on the intersection of church and culture, and one on the various versions of the atonement. I’ll also be on two panels in the new theology track, curated by Mike King of YouthFront.
I’m honored to be going back to YS as a speaker, as someone providing content to the convention. Much has changed: my theology continues to evolve; YS is under new ownership and leadership; and the mass of youth workers is ever-changing.
If you’re at the convention, be sure to say hi. If not, check back here for my thoughts on how it goes.