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Mark Oestreicher has been involved in church ministry his whole life, particularly with teenagers and youth workers. Marko has had a broad experience working in churches in roles ranging from Junior High Pastor to Executive Pastor. For 11 years, Marko was at Youth Specialties in San Diego, an organization that trains and equips church youth workers – the last 8 of those years as president. Concurrently, Marko was also a part of the leadership team of Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI).
Marko has authored or contributed to more than 70 books, including the much-talked-about Youth Ministry 3.0, and Hopecasting: Finding, Keeping and Sharing the Things Unseen. Marko is a partner in The Youth Cartel, providing resources, training and coaching for church youth workers. Marko’s blog: www.whyismarko.com.
Marko has been married to Jeannie for 31 years, and has young adult and teenage children, Riley and Max.
Mark Oestreicher lives in La Mesa, CA
Random But True Things about Mark Oestreicher
- I grew up in Detroit, about 5 miles from where Eminem grew up. That’s why I can rap with such authenticity.
- Childhood nicknames: Marky, Ostrich, Ostrich Egg (I think they just needed an extra syllable), and Curly Girly (but that’s a whole different story).
- I grew up as a pseudo missionary kid. My parents worked in the home office of a missions agency, so I was technically an MK, but never had the ‘third culture kid’ experience.
- I once sang to a potential girlfriend, in her class, at a school I didn’t attend, pretending to be a new student making an announcement for the choir. She pretended she didn’t know me.
- I almost chopped off my left thumb in an ill-advised cabbage-chopping race against a Chinese cook, and—two years later—sliced off the tip of my right thumb on a meat slicer at a Pizzeria. I have concluded that my thumbs do not belong in restaurant kitchens.
- I was only accepted into Wheaton College because my youth pastor pulled some strings with his friend, the admissions director. I took 6 years to complete my 4-year undergrad degree, and 7 more for a grad degree that should have taken 18 months.
- I named my first Junior High youth group The Power Pack, which, I can now admit, was horribly dorky and made us sound like B-grade superheroes.
- Some favorite foods: chips & French onion dip, all things cheesy (but not moldy, stinky cheeses, so I guess it’s not quite “all” things cheesy), gazpacho, white chocolate, rice pudding, cold steak the day after it was grilled, sushi, tom ka soup, chicken korma, Thai chicken pizza.
- I love, love, love seeing movies in theaters, and wish I could see about four of them every week. Though this makes me seem anti-social, I will admit that I particularly love going to the movies alone.
- I whine about travel sometimes, but I really love it, and am likely addicted to it. I cannot seem to get enough of international travel, in particular. I think it’s because experiencing new things is such a happy place for me. Favorite countries: Northern Ireland, New Zealand, and Argentina. My running totals are: 48 states and 47 countries visited.
- I’ve been hospitalized for Pancreatitis three times in the last several years. It sucks. It’s super painful, and they only treat it by preventing you from ingesting anything, even water. On the bright side, I lost a few pounds each time.
- I’ve had a fairly charmed life so far, without any particularly horrible trauma. The most painful things I’ve experienced: getting fired from a church on trumped up charges, the surprise death of my dear friend and boss Mike Yaconelli, and getting laid off from Youth Specialties.
- Yes, I was fired from a church. I often find that great leaders have been fired once somewhere in their journey. I wouldn’t trade that experience for a lifetime supply of rice pudding (see #7).
- I completely suck as a pet owner. We had a dog for a while, but he behaved like a faster and more destructive 2 year-old child, and it was entirely our fault. These days, we keep it limited to the goldfish in our little pond, a family cockatiel (Sammy), and my oldest kid’s albino milk snake (Amii), none of which I have anything to do with.
- Speaking of my kids… hanging out with my kids (Riley is a student at Redlands University, and Max is starting at Regis University) is just about the best thing I can imagine doing, ever. They are wickedly hilarious, sarcastic and bright. They love music (Max is a drummer and plays a mean bass, ukulele and musical saw; Riley plays viola, keys, bass, and a bit o’ guitar), and—amazingly–still like to hang out with me.
- Speaking of Max… he and I once co-wrote a song called Poo Stew, which we sung for years, often when visitors were in our home (to the horror of my wife).
- Jeannie, my wife of 31 years, is the shiznit. Seriously, she rocks. And she’s nothing like me (Praise the Good Lord). She’s super loyal, super sweet, super insightful (sometimes a bit too much), and super fun.
- I am addicted to buying funny T-shirts online (well, and wearing them). This, rightly so, annoys my wife. But they’re so funny! And I don’t have a continual river of free event T-shirts flowing my way like I did in all those years of church youth ministry employment.
- I am passionate about change. I want to grow and change my entire lifetime. I want to curate change in organizations and churches. I want to instigate change in youth ministry. I want to push, prod and encourage youth workers toward change. Mmm, I’m getting excited just writing this!
- As a frequent flier, I am obsessed with all that frequent flier stuff, kinda like the George Clooney character in Up In The Air. I annoy my family when we travel together, because I have a long list of things that must be done in a particular way.
- You can find me on Twitter @markosbeard, and on Instagram @whyismarko.
- I have lived in Detroit, Chicago, Omaha (not as bad as it sounds!), Orange County (CA), Pasadena (by L.A.), and now San Diego. San Diego, I have to say, really the most amazing and wonderful place to live.
- I like to read widely – fiction and non-fiction, leadership books and graphic novels, youth ministry books and young adult fiction, memoirs and humor. I find that reading widely causes me to think more creatively, often seeing connections or coming up with ideas that would have never come to me if I only read what I already know.
- I currently have 5 tattoos, and every one of them means something very important to me, about my faith and my family.
- I am passionate about the whole church: Evangelical and Mainline, Protestant and Catholic. I believe that God is actively working in all corners of the church, and I want to serve youth workers in every one of those corners. Diversity is good (and homogeneity stinks).