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Tic Long transitions out of the Youth Specialties office

First, check out the video below of Tic Long and Mark Matlock sharing about some big news at Youth Specialties and then read my thoughts below.

Personally, I’m pretty excited about this transition for a couple reasons.

1. Ever since Marko left Youth Specialties and the whole transition took place surrounding that, Youth Specialties appeared to be without a clear, visible direction. Its future was uncertain and many youth workers had questions about what would happen next.

When Tic Long became the Executive Director, it was a huge sigh of relief that made many of us feel like there was a sense of stability and familiarity at Youth Specialties again. Tic did a great job at getting the organization back on its feet and building a foundation that will now allow the organization to move forward again. Although I’m confident Tic could’ve filled the role for years to come, I’m just as confident that Mark Matlock will serve it just as well.

2. I’ve always been a fan of Planet Wisdom because I feel like Mark Matlock and I share many of the same ministry values and that comes out in the way Mark runs the student conference. With Mark stepping up to the helm of Youth Specialties, I expect many of those values and vision will transfer to Youth Specialties in bigger ways! And as that happens, I expect I’ll become a bigger fan of Youth Specialties.

It sounds like Tic will still be around Youth Specialties, especially the events — he just won’t be in the office. I’m confident that his new ministry as an executive pastor will be fruitful and totally awesome for everyone he serves.

QUESTION: What are your reactions to Mark taking over Tic’s role at Youth Specialties and the future of the organization?


Posted on April 19, 2011

  • billdawgcbc

    I like Mark a lot and think its a good choice, I just wonder if YS needs more "upheaval" at this point in time. I think as a brand its lost a lot of its influence in the youth ministry community, and it will be hard to get that back. Mark is the perfect choice to lead YS, he just has a tough road ahead.

    • Yeah, I agree it's a tough road, but if anyone is going to help bring YS back, I think it'll be Mark. I think his vision, his heart, passion and values are all what YS needs.

  • reflectionofgrace

    I agree that YS has lost significant influence over the past few years of abruptly out with the old (Marko) then abruptly back in with the old(er), Tic then abruptly passing the torch to a not so old but getting there (Mark M.) …. it almost feels as though they see the need for changing the way they do things (because obviously the lack of influence is an indicator that the old isn't working), but they continue being led by essentially the same people, just shifting them around. I hope that Mark has a clear vision and isn't too wrapped up in YS past to really make the changes they need before YS dies off all together.

    • I can see the whole "shifting the same people around" thing, but I think Mark has risen up to be more of an influencer in YS because he's not the same as the past. I think YouthWorks recognizes this and that's why they're supportive of it, too. He's tried new things like Open Space at NYWC, which was met with mixed reviews, but at least he's willing to try and experiment. I'd rather see that coupled with some failure than YS being in same place it's always been.

  • jerrythinks

    We're in a big Kingdom with PLENTY of room for excellence. I'm stoked for Mark and I think his heart and God-given DNA for discipleship and unashamed followership of Jesus is just what YS and the world of student ministry needs. I've seen the "glory days" of YS that people refer to, but completely believe that YS's brightest, most Kingdom-shaking days are still ahead. I think Mike's passing created a vacuum in the youth ministry world that is only now starting to heal, but how awesome that a God who is eternal somehow constantly says "I'm doing a new thing!" Excited for the new things God has up His sleeve for YS!

    • I think the old YS is too ingrained into people. I think they have a hard time imagining it as anything different than the old-school stuff. Maybe enough transition has happened now that YS will be able to start moving forward and become an influencer in the future.

  • In some ways, does it seem that youth workers are doing to YS what we hate when it's done to us when we make changes in our ministry? "Oh, our former youth pastor would've done it this way…" or, "I remember when YS was under Mike and he ran it like this…"

  • uthpastordave

    I think I'll just sit back and see how this plays out. I'm kind of an "old-timer" — been in youth ministry for 20+ years — at my current church for nearly 14. I remember the "good old days" of NYWC. I have a TON of YS resources in my office. I have been a cheerleader for YS for a very long time.

    However, I pulled away from them several years ago. I wasn't comfortable with their HUGE shift toward post-modernism. After attending my last NYWC and witnessing the shift up front on stage, and seeing the shift in the resources, I began to pull away. I think the main thing that caused it was a couple of workshops I attended that were the last straw. There were things said and shared in the workshops that bordered on heresy. There seemed to be a push to embrace "all things new." I guess what I saw was a shift from "orthodoxy." (for lack of a better word)

    Anyway – it seems they're returning to their roots. We do need to be on the cutting edge, but we also need to be true to the basic tenets of the faith. I think that under Tic's leadership, they've turned the boat some. I think that Mark is well-established and well-rooted.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not pining away for "the good old days." I guess I'm just looking forward to a more "centered" YS that still is willing to go out and push the envelope, but not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    • I agree with you. The organization as a whole felt watered down, a bit out-of-touch and somewhat impersonal. I feel that Tic helped stabilize the organization (as I've already said) and I feel confident that Mark has the qualities to make long-term changes that will help YS become what it needs to be in the future, not just make up for what it could've been in the past.

  • I value what Youth Specialties has to offer. I Think that its voice in youth ministry has diminished with the issues that happened a couple years ago. The conservative evangelical movement (particularly in the SE USA) kind of twinges at YS, but Mark might be able to build some bridges to that movement which would be completely beneficial. I would hope he would continue Planet Wisdom. His voice is influential in the lives of teens.

  • passionburnswithin

    I got to hang and talk with Mark a good bit as a volunteer at NYWC last year. As one of the "new wave" of youth ministers I am pumped about this transition. Don't get me wrong I love Tic and his leadership at NYWC genuinely moved me but I have a lot of confidence in Mark.

  • Wow! Lots of great comments here. Thanks Tim for hosting a cool conversation.

    I just want to affirm a couple of things:
    – I'm very happy for Tic and how he and Mark are handling this transition.
    – Yep, PlanetWisdom is still Mark's baby. We are returning to all of the same cities next year and PW is still a big deal to the YS team.
    – It'd be easy to vilify decisions that were made years ago about speakers, books, etc… I can only assume that good folks (who love Jesus) made the best decisions they could have with the information they had. For us at YS, reliving the past isn't going to help us find the future.
    – Speaking of moving forward, I've long said that the best way for me to honor the rich history of YS, of folks like Wayne, Yac, and Tic… is to continue to innovate. Youth ministry serves a subculture that is constantly evolving, subdividing, and morphing. Things like the Ideas Library and NYWC became huge because they were the right product at the right time. Just ask Kodak how that worked out for them when they failed to embrace cultural changes. :)

  • Jay Arisso

    ¿YS losing its influence? 2 things nobody is saying:
    1. Ha. Sorry, but all the other Youth Workers organizations are just copying what they learn from YS.
    2. Did anybody of you think outside the US? Check http://www.especialidadesjuveniles.com … the Spanish version of YS. NOBODY is doing what YS is doing for youth ministry outside of the US. That site is way popular than any english one, and is all YS.

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