Earlier this year, Download Youth Ministry and Orange announced they would be purchasing Youth Specialties, a longtime youth ministry resource organization known for the National Youth Worker Convention, among many other things. Of course, there was some speculation on how it would go. YS has had their ups and downs over the years, and many youth workers have wondered what was in its future. Will this be a good move for the organization? Only time will tell, but it certainly seems like the new owners have not only a deep respect for YS’ history but also some big thoughts about what it can be. DYM and Orange seem to be ready to continue YS’ lasting legacy.
As far as honoring the past, one of the strongest showings of this effort was DYM’s co-founder, Doug Fields, showing off his G.O.A.T. t-shirt with Mike Yaconelli’s face. Back in 1968, Yaconelli the co-founded Youth Specialities with Wayne Rice. As Fields took to the stage during the first Big Room (main session), his words were filled with deep admiration of Yaconelli and the history of YS. He spoke of all that YS had done for him through the years, especially as a young youth worker. And it did not stop there, as they continued to share stories from the past and also bring back several components from earlier NYWC events, including YS Moments, where they honored specific youth workers.
While they could not give much information yet (partially because they are still figuring out many things), representatives from both DYM and Orange spoke about their excitement surrounding the future of YS throughout NYWC 2018. They want it to be what it once was and more. They want to continue to reach out and help youth workers, uniting them, and providing resources like NYWC and more. They also created a Youth Ministry Hall of Fame this year, which further honored youth workers. Marv Penner, Mike Calaci, and Mary Calaci were all inducted this year. (Mike and Mary are actually on my team at LifeBridge, which is really awesome! I’ll share more on them in a future blog post.)
It was very evident that DYM and Orange plan to bring two important things to YS: respect for the past and excitement for the future. I believe we will continue to see more and more of that over the next few years, as the “new YS” begins to emerge. And even though I’m somewhat closely connected with both organizations, I still feel like my opinions are unbiased.