Tis the season where we start thinking a bit more than other months about how we want to make the most of the year ahead of us. How do you want to grow? What new habits do you want to form? What questions have been haunting you for far too long? What do you want to accomplish this year?
In youth ministry, the school year is pretty much the same for everyone. We have Sunday responsibilities, office hours, midweek programs, contact ministry, and stuff like that. But I’ve found that summer is highly unique.
Recently, I had the chance to catch up with Jake Kircher to ask him a few questions about his summer, both from a ministry perspective as well as what he’s doing with his family.
If you don’t know Jake, he’s virtually a Cartel staffer. He leads Open Boston, authored Teaching Teenagers in a Post-Christian World, is the writer for our popular THINK curriculum, and starting this Fall will lead our first YMCP cohort focused on youth ministry in post-Christian contexts. Besides the stuff he does with us he’s also a pastor at Grace Community Church in Connecticut, a husband and dad. Pretty much the only thing I don’t like about Jake is his love of the Red Sox. That just doesn’t make sense to me. At all.
we wrapped up another year-long cohort of the youth ministry coaching program this week, in san antonio, texas. this was a unique cohort of 10 youth workers, in that the west texas diocese of the episcopal church organized it and paid 3/4 of each participant’s fee. so, unlike most of the YMCP cohorts, the 10 youth workers mostly knew each other before we even started.
but we had an amazing year together — 6 meetings of 2 days each, plus phone calls in-between, and lots of interaction on our closed facebook group. the meetings were full of youth ministry conversations, personal development, leadership training, life sharing, and great accountability to personal and professional growth.
here are a few unedited words from some of the participants:
I have been deeply impacted by Marko this year. His wisdom, experience, love for youth ministry, and for our Lord are so evident in all he has done for us and how he treats all of us. I am so thankful to have had this year under his guidance – especially because we share a similar background – I feel like this was so clearly God’s hand. I really needed someone who could understand they why behind so many of the things I have been struggling with and working through. I’m thankful Marko was so willing to walk with me through this, and so patient with the back and forth of trying to figure things out. I will be looking back at this year with gratitude for many, many years to come. I have a renewed hope for my ministry and my life because Marko cared and was willing to use the gifts God has so clearly given him.
YMCP impacted me in so many ways this year – motivation, inspiration, and a desrire to seek more for me, my vocation and the ministry God has called me to. Marko pushed me to think more, read more, and be more discerning in my life, and he helped me rekindle an enjoyment and desire for learning. One of the core values I hold most dear is the pursuing of deep, persistent, and authentic relationship. What Marko created and presented in YMCP is very congruent for me and this value that I hold so dear. He enabled us to not only gather as individuals to be fed, lifted up and encouraged, but he brought about transformational change at the core of each of us.
YMCP allowed me to explore, wrangle and discover personal and professional attributes to my vocation in ministry. I thank Marko for challenging me to see myself and youth ministry different and in a more holistic context. I am forever grateful for his gentle but honest leadership.
Participation in the yearlong coaching program has strengthened my ministry to the youth of my parish primarily by the outstanding guidance of the program’s coach, Mark Oestreicher. He’s an exceptional coach, leader and facilitator. He speaks truth in his experiences as a youth worker and a faithful follower of Christ. He brings excellent resources in the form of study materials, self-evaluation, and discovery.
i love these youth workers. they went from being “participants” to being my peers and friends (which seems to happen with each cohort).
we just started a cohort in calgary, and another in nashville. that brings our total numbers of graduates to 63, and our current number of active participants to 25. we hope to start a cohort in san diego at some point this year, and are in a few conversations with denominational groups about closed cohorts like the one in san antonio (one or two cohorts for youth workers in the evangelical presbyterian church; a cohort for UMC youth workers in the dallas area; a cohort for salvation army divisional youth secretaries in the western territory). we also started beta testing two online groups — the 2nd meeting of each of those is next week — and we’ll probably start a couple more of those throughout the year.
if you’re interested in a full YMCP experience, or an online group, leave a comment, or email marko (firstname.lastname@example.org), or watch for news!
click here for more info, and to download a program overview.
so, here at The Youth Cartel, we have a handful of very cool events in development. one of ’em is WAY cool and likely to happen, and we’ll get the info out on that, hopefully, by the end of the month. but we’re busy exploring more.
one of the plans we’re fairly sure we’re going to try is:
this would be a one-time 4-day version of the youth ministry coaching program. it would embody the same values, many of the same elements, and the same cohort approach. but all in a compact version (meaning: less depth, but also less travel and cost). maybe charge something like $900 (instead of the $3000 of the full YMCP).
however, there’s one version of that we’re considering at the moment, and i thought i’d toss it out here to our insiders to get a feel of whether or not there’s interest…
YMCP-mini… ON A BOAT
we have access to a gorgeous 75 foot motor yacht, with staterooms for 10 or so, if you don’t mind sharing a bed (not that it would be free, but we think we could get a good deal). we talked about offering this as a couples’ retreat, since it makes such good sense with the bedroom situation. but we’re not clear that people (or churches) would be up for paying for 2 spaces). hey, if that were possible, we’d be all over it. but my thought is that there might be 10 youth workers who would pay that fee knowing that it includes all food and accommodations (but the accommodations are shared, as in, 2 people in a shared bed in a stateroom). the location would be in the san juan islands out from seattle. a YMCP-mini elsewhere would be about the same cost, but would not include accommodations or food. we would tailor the program on this particular YMCP-mini (or couples’ retreat) to give you free time for enjoying our surroundings also (and it might be 5 days – but that wouldn’t impact the cost).
let me know what you think, would you? is this something you could imagine consider? is there any chance you’d be up for the ‘youth ministry couples’ retreat’? or would you only be interested in the YMCP-mini… ON A BOAT? what about a YMCP-mini elsewhere?
oh, and we also have access to a gorgeous and safe resort in mexico where we’ve thought about doing this couples’ retreat. same thing — we’d probably make that one about 7 days long (and would include some serving together), and a very light schedule. in that location, every couple would get a suite, with living room and bedroom and kitchen. we’d bring some food down, and the resort would prepare the rest. total cost for that one, including accommodations and some food, for 7 days, would probably be about $1500/couple, but we could take more people than we could on the boat (which would, by the nature of the boat, be very exclusive).
speak to us!