playing hooky
Friday September 30th 2005, 10:57 pm
Filed under: personal

i’m playing hooky from the convention right now. scored backstage passes to the jimmy eat world / green day concert. at this second, jimmy is seriously rocking the arco arena.

likely blog silence as the black hole approaches
Friday September 30th 2005, 12:09 pm
Filed under: personal, blogs

i teach my first seminar at the national youth workers convention (a rant from a runt about what’s wrong with the church), in 50 minutes. then, things are pretty non-stop until… i don’t know, maybe sunday night? blog silence is likely!

what i said about women
Friday September 30th 2005, 12:31 am
Filed under: youth ministry, church, thinking...

sevita asked me to share what i said at the women in ministry CCC, about what i’ve learned about working with women in youth ministry. here are my notes, which might mean almost nothing…

What I’ve learned about working with women
1. Speaking the truth in love isn’t an excuse for being an jerk
· i had to unlearn the wrong lesson that my lack of mercy was a leadership strength. my failure in working well with women was the light bulb coming on about this)

2. Competent women willing to not “grind the agenda axe” can change their male co-workers more deeply than those who rage for rights
· examples of women on both sides of this
· I now work for a woman, and it’s GREAT

3. We (women and men) are not the same (in general), and one is not better than the other
· Processors/verbal vs. action/decisiveness;
· Traditionally, successful women have had to play it like a man – this is changing;
· Reality is – the only way through this tension is the way women would naturally handle it!

4. The world is changing, and women have SO much to teach men about effective leadership
· Businesses are finally waking up to the strength of female execs [tom peters];
· Mt Hermon last weekend – 4 out of 10 youth pastors were women; starting last year, more than 50% of the NYWC attendees were female

5. The future of YS depends, in part, on elevating and encouraging female youth workers

[[added later]]

ok, so someone very close to me rightly suggested that while it was nice of me to post these notes, it doesn’t really answer sevita’s question, which was “what do you LIKE about working with women?”

so, off the top of my head:

1. they complete me. ok, so that’s intentionally sappy. but seriously, our current exec at ys is 2 women and 3 men, and without the women, we would be substantially more brash in our decision-making, we’d fall prey to group-think on a much more regular basis (”yeah! [grunt-grunt] that’s exactly what we should do!”), and we’d have a much greater tendency to steam-roll people.

2. women force me to process. at least the women i’ve worked with tend to be more process-oriented than i am. i am usually very quick to a decision. while this can be a strength, it can also be a limitation. the women i’ve worked alongside call for thoughtfulness.

3. they tend to smell nicer than men.

that’s just a quick list — i could probably come up with ten more reasons. don’t misunderstand me — it’s not that i would prefer to work with an entire group of women (”the future of ys staff — 40 women and marko!”). i’ve just come to really enjoy, and personally benefit from, working on mixed-gender teams. i’ll never be willing to settle for anything else again.

working with women
Thursday September 29th 2005, 1:09 pm
Filed under: youth ministry

provacotive subject line, huh?

late this afternoon, i’ve been asked to step into the critical concerns course on women in youth ministry, being taught by ginny olson (youth min prof at north park college), kara powell (youth min faculty at fuller), and jeanne stevens (youth pastor of willow’s regional churches). talk about a sharp trio of women in youth ministry — holy cow!

anyhow, they want me to talk for 20 minutes about “what i’ve learned about working with women in youth ministry”.

any input for me? (be nice, now!)

how did this happen?
Thursday September 29th 2005, 1:03 pm
Filed under: faith, youth specialties, personal

i’m sitting here in my palatial suite at the hyatt in sacramento (when we have conventions, the hotels give us a handful of free suites — no youth worker is paying for this thing), one floor above ahnold schwarzenegger’s suite. 3400 youth workers will show up today for a convention. and i’m heavy with the thought, how the heck did i get here? how is it possible that i am the president of this thing?

i’m so imperfect
i’m so insecure
i’m such a poser sometimes
such a wannabe
i’m fumbling my way through this job
there are others who would do it better than i
i don’t deny that god has given me some gifts
i don’t deny, for a second, that every single life experience, especially the jobs i’ve had and the good and bad lessons i’ve learned, have been god’s careful orchestration and preparation for today
and for tomorrow
and for monday when i speak in the general session
and for whatever comes next year
i’m confident in god
and the weird thing is
god seems, for some reason beyond my grasp
to be confident in me
how twisted is that?
i suppose if it were logical (sorry, mr. spock), it wouldn’t be much fun
and if it were logical, i wouldn’t be here
and i think i like being here
most days
they’re my buddies as i leave my room this morning.

how did this happen? god, remind me again?

Wednesday September 28th 2005, 9:17 pm
Filed under: faith, personal

i was just thinking about my daughter, liesl — who’s now 11 years old. and i remembered something she said once when she was about 3 years old. we were sitting at the dinner table, talking about something-or-other, and “jesus” came up. i mean, not as a swear word; but someone said something about jesus. liesl had been following the conversation, and i wondered if she had any idea what we were talking about. i asked her, “liesl, do you know who jesus is?” she smiled and said, “jesus makes no more owies.”

she’ll have plenty of years to learn about the problem of evil — actually, middle school seems to be teaching her that fairly quickly.

but hearing something like that from your kid is like catching the scent of a stargazer lilly when you weren’t expecting it.

early 20th century pulp fiction quote and the church
Wednesday September 28th 2005, 12:59 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, church

from thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. from ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away.
-raymond chandler

i ran into this quote in a book i’m reading right now, and, initially, it just cracked me up. raymond chandler was a defining author in a massively popular genre of books in the early part of the 1900s called pulp. eventually this spawned all the stuff we would currently call “pulp fiction”, but, at that time, it was all crime fiction — and, more specifically, slightly-outside-the-law private investigators.

anyhow, that’s not the point of the post (just the original context of the quote).

within seconds of reading the quote and laughing to myself, it struck me that the quote is an excellent metaphor for so much of what’s going on in the church (at least the american church) these days, as well as, more specifically, the arena of youth ministry.

i’ve blogged about this before in terms of both church and youth ministry. i attend a seeker-sensitive church (they don’t use that terminology anymore — does anyone?), but they’re reasonably free-spirited and not willow- or saddle-clones. really, there have been SO many good things that have come as a result of the seeker church. that’s important to remember. but there are also, unfortunately, so many natural results that suck.


focus on programming over people (which is a semi-ironic and truly sad outcome, since it’s the exact opposite of what this movement set out to do)

obsession with numbers

re-introduction of the idea that the building is the church (most seeker-types would violently disagree with this. but here’s my thinking: by placing so much emphasis on the parking experience, the lobby experience, seating comfort, lines of vision, big screens, kick-butt lighting, bullpens, crazy-high stages, disney-esue play places [or at least mcdonalds-esque], we’ve created a new blind embracing of the pre-eminence of the space. it’s not about creating a worship space like it once was — which was still an overemphasis on the space, by the way — but is still a re-emergence of the centrality of the building in representing the church).

franchised youth ministries

church marketing

acceptance and affirmation of consumerism (this is a tough one, because it’s a vicious cycle — certainly the modern seeker mega-church movement can’t be blamed for american consumerism! but by being so committed to the guiding principle of “what does the church attendee — especially a seeker — want?”, they [actually, i should be saying “we”, because i have been very much a part of this, and can’t stand to the side and lob grenades] have given in to consumerism. in creating programming and ministries [and buildings] that are responsive to the seeker’s desires, they/we have ushered consumerism right into our center aisle [”clean up on aisle three!”]).

boy howdy do i love the church. she’s my life-calling. i want to serve and encourage and resource and nudge.

but i have to figure out to to encourage her to wear a bit less make-up, so we can see her natural beauty from 10 feet away (or, even, 18 inches away), and not just her hollywood/tbn beauty that only looks good at 30 feet.

pitching tents?
Tuesday September 27th 2005, 12:53 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, church

the audio file for this youth pastor’s verbal slip came to me as an attached file five or six times a week ago; and it totally cracked me up. but geron (in a comment on another post) points us to actual video of the incident. the guy’s eyes, when he makes the slip, are absolutely classic.

fun time!
Tuesday September 27th 2005, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

a while back, my long-time pal, john musick, leader of bluer in minneapolis, had a bit of insomnia. he’d seen the corporate gibberish generator i’d posted. john stayed up way past his bedtime searching the internet for the widest variety of generators. i checked out most of the links he posted, and here are my favorites:

in the cyborg name generator, type your name (or senior pastor’s name!) and get an acronym-ed cyborg name.

marko becomes:

width="240" height="180"
alt="Mechanical Artificial Repair and Killing Organism"

then there’s the anagram generator. scrambles all the letters in your name or church name or youth group name or whatever to come up with all possible word combos using the same letters. i found that using more letters (like using my whole name: “mark oestreicher”) creates an almost impossibly long list. but if you pick through, you can find some fun ones. for instance, “mark oestreicher” can become…

if you’re sleepless like john was, and want to look at an absurd quantity of generators, go here.

finally, another friend, steve case, sent along this link to the ship of fools biblical curse generator. a bit lacking in techno-niftiness, but fun, none-the-less.

clarifying my ukulele position
Monday September 26th 2005, 3:20 pm
Filed under: youth ministry

it just may be that i have offended a whole segment of ukuleleophiles, with my previous post. let me clarify my position:

1. we must love the ukulele player, hate the ukulele — this is our biblical mandate.

2. our churches should be places where ukulele players feel accepted, as we are all sinful broken people.

3. we must hold that god’s ideal is for full-sized guitars.