On My Return to Youth Specialties

What does a trainwreck look like? Like Tony, Mark, and Doug attempting to reprise the Church Basement Roadshow at the National Youth Workers Convention in 2008.

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.

  • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com Kelly J Youngblood

    I attended a NYWC once, 11 years ago. Can’t believe it has been that long. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of memories about it, other than having Chris Tomlin sign the cd I bought.

  • brandi

    I will be there in the morning! Really looking forward to the atonement seminar, and super excited to see more conversations and opportunities in youth ministry outside of the evangelical bubble. I feel like I’m finding my people.

  • http://www.whyismarko.com marko

    dude, 2 seminars and 2 panels! wow. maybe i need to bomb, then wait for years, in order to get more than 1 seminar. :)

  • http://Www.whateverisgood.blogspot.com Wes Ellis

    This will be the first year in the last few years that will not be at the conference. Too bad! I would have greatly enjoyed your seminars. This is a good sign that YS is going in a good direction. I thought so last year too, when they held the theological forums. Exciting stuff!

  • Kelly

    I found the theological forum this evening very interesting on several fronts. I think these are good conversations but I’m not sure we left the normal talking points. It seemed a little like we were being talked down to as not able to think theologically and is you would do it fir us. I am probably theologically center bit I also came from the seminary just a few blocks north – DTS. I hope I can catch up with you at some point again. Oh – and I’m not so sure you weren’t angry but I understand making a point. Thanks!

  • Kevin Huddleston

    Tony,
    It was great to see you at NYWC. I highly value your thoughts and your voice is important to the conversation as we move forward. Peace and blessings to you!
    Kevin


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