Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Mark Oestreicher is finished.

He will still continue his work as president of Youth Specialties, and all that entails. He's just done doing the on-line thing. The rationale for his decision is laid out in his most recent (and final) post on his blog. His ministry with YS will continue in full-force, but for thousands of youth ministers who, like me, only know Marko through his blog posts, Tweets, and discussion threads on Facebook, his decision to "unplug" is the end of our shared ministry with Marko.

I first "met" Marko about seven years ago when I was a fledgling youth minister in Orion, IL. I had a few questions about effective jr. high ministry and sent them off to the generic "Ask YS!" inbox. (Note - this was highly extraordinary for me at that time; if my information wasn't coming from ELCA sources, it wasn't valid.) Marko replied the next day with a four-paragraph reflection on relationships being more important than memory work, acts of kindness resonating more than hour-long Bible studies, and mentoring being key.

This was a seminal moment for me in three ways:
  1. I was getting helpful insight from this new thing called "the Internet"
  2. A multi-denominational source was providing ideas that made sense
  3. Those three suggestions continue to be the bedrock of my adolescent ministry philosophy

A few years later, I discovered that Marko was offering his thoughts on ministry on a "blog". I read it regularly and even commented a few times on articles. He quoted me (along with dozens of other blog readers) in his Youth Ministry 3.0 book. I always appreciated the perspective he offered through his website.

Recently, Marko had this to say about blogging:
I started blogging quite a few years ago now, and find that it’s a great outlet for me to riff, rant, wrestle and share. It’s somewhat of a spiritual discipline for me at times, and at other times just plain fun.

It's clear that those things no longer hold true for Marko. His decision to discontinue his on-line presence is one that I respect. I just hope that other youth ministers don't follow suit simply because they think that blogging has become passe or that pulling the plug is the cool new thing to do.

Marko made a personal decision which was impacted by circumstances that no congregational youth minister is faced with. Those of us who work with young people in a specific context have much to offer one another through our expanding use of on-line tools. The evolution of open source youth ministry resources has enriched ALL ministers...from the 20-year mega-church vet to the fresh-from-Bible-camp newbie and everyone in between.

I wish Marko godspeed in his quest to rearrange his priorities.

As people try to fill the ysmarko.com void, here are some of the sites in my "Youth Ministry" rss feed that I get a lot out of:

Rethinking Youth Ministry
Jake Bouma
Matt Cleaver
Faith Lens

What are some of your favorites?


  1. and i do still have email, which is how we connected in the first place! :)

  2. Do you have the xml address for Tech Geek? For some reason I can't get the link to work.

  3. Here's what I have in my rss feed reader:


    I hope that works for y'all. Thanks for reading.


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