Since September 2010 I have been meeting with 10 other youth ministry professionals and Mark Oestreicher (Marko) as a member of Marko’s Youth Ministry Coaching Program cohort in Nashville. I’ve had a number of people ask me why I decided to pay a decent chunk of money and travel from northwestern Illinois to Nashville every other month when I could go to a national youth ministry conference for half the cost and 1/3 of the time commitment.
When I was in 8th grade, I was the star sprinter on our track team. Over 15 meets I lost three times. I did four events per meet and lost three events total. In other words, I went 57-3 in 8th grade. When I was a freshman I went in knowing I was not going to be the fastest on the team. But I expected to give the sophomores a run for their money. What I wasn’t expecting was to immediately have my coach stick me with the fastest juniors and seniors on the team.
It was a love-hate season for me. Those guys I practiced with were great. They didn’t haze me, they wer helpful and treated me like one of them, and I loved it. On the other hand, I got my butt handed to me every time we ran. I never once won in practice. We would run 200’s and 400’s and I was usually 3rd or 4th out of four of us. I wasn’t used to losing and I hated it, even in practice.
That practice time paid off, though. I became the only freshman to ever win the 100 in the varsity conference championships. Over the next four years my coach always made sure I was pushed by teammates older and younger. Basically, I became really good.
The YMCP is very much the same thing for me. I am surrounded by men and women with vastly different skill sets and levels of experience who constantly impress and amaze me with what God is inspiring them to do. I look at each and every one of them several times when we get together and think, “Man, I want to be like you!”
They push me to be better than I could ever be on my own.
They speak truth into my life and ministry.
They see my weaknesses and affirm my strengths.
To be able to benefit from the experience that Marko brings to the group has been great. He has an ability to discern truth that is, frankly, amazing. Marko’s love for students and youth ministers is apparent. He believes in the value of youth ministers and has a passion for developing us into better and better leaders. I also believe that his vision for where youth ministry needs to go in the future is right on.
That is why I’m in the YMCP.