Today, Thursday, April 19th, 2018, the youth ministry universe was rocked with another bombshell announcement from our friends at Youth Specialties. For the third time in almost 10 years, Youth Specialties finds itself under new management. From Zondervan to Real Resources to a partnership between the folks from Orange and our friends at Download Youth Ministry (DYM).
In a press release posted on the Youth Specialties blog, the new partners promise, "With fresh leadership and direction from both Orange and DYM, Youth Specialties is entering a new era as an organization, continuing to make an impact on the next generation by serving youth workers." (Read more of the press release here: Orange & Download Youth Ministry Partner to Assume Leadership of Ministry.)
Let's be honest, NYWC is not the same convention it was 10 years ago. With the years of transition and the proliferation of conferences such as Orange, SYMC, RYM, NCYM, and D6 (to mention just a few) there has been much speculation when it come to the future of NYWC. And while the convention has pushed through the years of transition, let's admit that the culture and feel of the convention is different from what it use to be. Long gone are those tear-jerk moments of stories that tell of tough seasons in ministry and the honoring of youth workers who overcame difficulties and challenges. No more high-fives or big bear hugs from the likes of Tic, Mike, and even Marko. And those infamous late night concerts and comedy, the showcases of new bands and even major headliners, well their gone just like all the cool chair-drops we used to get. Not to mention the convention is a day shorter and more expensive.
And remember when we longed for the welcome from Mike and Tic, and the reminder that we are normal and valued and celebrated, we looked forward to seeing the face (or faces) of NYWC. It was like a great big family reunion that we couldn't wait to get to. But now, there is no face, and instead an Emcee and a DJ who try to bring a little hype and excitement before the speaker comes out.
Now I know it sounds like I might be trashing the convention. I'm not. I've shared these very concerns with the YS/NYWC leadership. But let's admit it, NYWC has changed. And change is good. I'm all for change. Over the years I have continued to serve on the volunteer team and be a champion promoting each years convention. I love NYWC and what it stands for. I can live with the changes as long as youth workers are loved, encouraged, valued, and equipped to do ministry better.
I can live with the changes as long as youth workers are loved, encouraged, valued, and equipped to do ministry better.
I am excited about the Orange and DYM partnership. I am excited about what this means for NYWC and YS at large. Doug was quoted in the press release as saying, "We’re excited to be a part of helping the ministry find its way now and continue to elevate the space of youth ministry to get people the training, help, and hope they need to see their student ministries succeed in discipling teenagers." Isn't this what we ultimately want, the training, help, and hope to succeed with our students? It's what I want.
(Read more of the press release here: Orange & Download Youth Ministry Partner to Assume Leadership of Ministry.)
No, I am thrilled with this partnership. I love Doug. I love his heart for the youth worker. I love Josh. I love his desire to see youth workers resourced and ready to serve their students. Both have influenced my ministry in significant ways. To have them now at the helm, well, it can only get better! And maybe we'll return to the heart of what NYWC is all about, "helping Christian churches of every denomination lead students to find and follow Jesus."
Doug, Josh, and our friends at Orange, I don't know that you will ever see this blog post, but know that I am for you. I will continue to be a voice of positivity and support for NYWC and the ministry it is to youth workers in the trenches like me. I will promote and invite and share how NYWC has impacted my ministry and how others will benefit from the wealth of wisdom and resources that fill each seminar and general session. I will continue to pray for you, the leadership team, the volunteers, the speakers, the worship leaders, the production crews, and all those who work behind the scenes to make the convention a reality. And I will lift up the youth workers, entrenched and embattled, facing the frontlines of faith and culture, desperately desiring the rescue of students through the grace of an Almighty God.
I will be in St. Louis.
I hope you will be too!
Jay Higham is a veteran youth worker of over 30 years; having worked with students in the local church and Christian camping settings. Jay is currently serving as the director of family ministry at a church, located in West Virginia. Jay has been married to Amy for over 25 years. Together, they are raising 5 kids, (4 boys and 1 girl). Jay is an aspiring author, blogger, speaker, vlogger, and social media junkie. He is passionate about student ministry, family ministry, and training youth workers to love and serve their students with passion and excellence.