Sunday, November 15, 2009

YS and the end of an era

This week marks the end of an era: the final Youth Specialities National Youthworkers Convention of the Rice/Yaconelli era. For more than 30 years YS has been bringing together the most recognized leaders of youth ministry so that vocational and volunteer youthworkers could have the chance to be trained by, challenged by, and influenced by those who have been deeply invested in ministry to kids. As of the 2009 Atlanta Convention, this run will come to an end.

Youth Specialties is not dead, for they are being bought by a group of great people who plan to morph this movement into viability for the coming future. But the YS that Mike and Wayne began and passed on to Tic Long, Jim Burns, Rich Van Pelt, Bill McNabb, Duffy Robbins, Chap Clark, Marv Penner, Helen Musick, Doug Fields, Laurie Polich, Marko Oestreicher, and lots of others is coming to what some may see as a screeching halt. I envision that the future will be bright for the "new" YS, but the "old" YS is about to breath its last.

Most of us old timers call this a family. People who have come out of the influence of YS, like Walt Mueller, Tiger McLuen and Kara Powell, have also been an integral part of YS and are feeling the effects of the slide. Since Mike and then Karla Yaconelli saw the need to hand off YS to a new ownership group, the writing has been on the wall. The economy made this inevitable, at least according to some, but the passage of time and the consequences of choices have brought us to this place.

I will miss YS. I have obviously missed Mike since he died, but I especially miss his heart for youthworkers and for Jesus, and his style and humility and humor. I will miss the chance to argue with Tony Jones and Brian McLaren alongside Duffy, and listen to Mark Yaconelli and Shane and the godfather himself, Tony Campolo, while standing in the back making snide comments about "the old days". I lament the chance to visit for hours with veteran youthworkers who are trying to hold onto their job, and volunteers who have been hanging in there with kids for decades, and YM profs who are trying to find that middle way between academics and practice. I will miss YS.

Yet I also have hope. I believe that God has led us to YS - all of us. I know firsthand that what Doug Fields' "Simply Youth Ministry" partnering with GROUP has meant is exciting and contemporary. I believe that what Reggie Joiner and Jared Hurd are doing with the Orange conference is creative and powerful. And I do believe that the new "owners" of YS (those " " are intentional, by the way) are committed to the best of what YS has been.

But I still will miss YS for a long, long time. YS has raised me. YS has taught me. YS has nurtured me. YS has loved me. Goodbye, my friend. You will be missed.

Chap Clark


chap said...

well said chap. thanks!

ty hogue

Sacred Outfitter said...

Thank you Chap for these words from the heart. I don't have the longevity that you do with YS, but YS has helped me as a youthworker and now a writer. Without the influences of you, Fuller Theological Seminary and the opportunity to lead a few seminars at the YS conventions, I don't know if God would have opened the door for my first book - Following Jesus into College and Beyond (and now my second - "Ingenerational Ministry"). I am grateful for the old YS, but hopeful for the new YS. May God take it further and deeper for the sake of youth workers for His Glory!

drobbins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
drobbins said...

Good word, Chapper. I think you've really captured both the sense of mourning and the sense of expectancy that a lot of us feel about the changes at YS. We've all had the privilege of sharing in an amazing adventure together so far! And, like you, I'm excited and optimistic about the chapters ahead. I know I speak for a lot of youth workers in saying thanks to you for your leadership and mentorship in that adventure. BTW, as a gesture of gratitude for your leadership and mentorship, I'd like to encourage everyone to chip in so we can buy you some good spell-check software. Love you, buddy!!
Duffy Robbins

chapclark said...

I surr wissh i culd spel gooder lick youu, oldd DuFfuy!

Dr Sharky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Sharky said...

Nicely put Chap. We have been mourning over this side of the Atlantic as a few of us have had the priviledge of attending a number of the conventions over the last 10-15 years. We have concerns about the future, but like you are sure that our wonderful God will use the good people you mentioned to accomplish HIS purposes - He is certainly not tied by even the hands of "Christian corporations".

We also rely on the likes of you and Duffy to keep them all in check ;)

Becky said...

I tried to meet you at the Atlanta conference but you were surrounded by too many others. Your session on leadership and theology breathed such refreshment into my heart.
I have volunteered for 30 (million) years at our small church in Arkansas and feel as if I grew up with Mike and YS.
I know that much of my personal spiritual theology seems to mirror what you discussed in the session and I imagine it's because you, Mike, Duffy, Doug and all at YS have been my go-to place for so many years. I assure you and the others,..the old YS will indeed live on in the lives of generations.
Thanks for pouring yourself into such an exciting ministry.

Dr Sharky said...

Amen Becky! I wonder if those guys know how much God blesses us through them...?