Guest / Limited Access /

Even organizations known for pushing the envelope can push only so far.

Youth Specialties, a for-profit company owned by Zondervan, plans what its president Mark Oestreicher described as "dramatic shifts" at its three National Youth Workers conventions this fall.

The shifts occur as the El Cajon, California-based company deals with an internal reorganization that included laying off nearly half its 30 full-time staff members in January.

The biggest change: The 3,000-plus youth workers expected to attend the conventions—held in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Atlanta—can expect keynote speakers to address fewer hot-button issues from the main stage than in years past.

Organizers promise more unifying "big room" gatherings that celebrate what the diverse crowds—ranging from conservative evangelicals to mainline Protestants and Catholics—have in common: the gospel of Jesus Christ, a belief in God's power to transform lives, and a passion for developing young people of faith.

"Whether you're a liberal [Methodist] or Presbyterian or some other denomination like that, or whether you come from a Southern Baptist church or an independent Bible church, those are things we can stack hands on," Oestreicher said.

Typically, Youth Specialties' national conventions have featured speakers expected to challenge audiences and offer fresh, even controversial, theological perspectives, said Chap Clark, professor of youth, family, and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

"Youth Specialties has been the forum for thoughtful youth ministry conversations for 30 years," said Clark, a regular speaker at the conventions. "Youth Specialties' niche has never been to proclaim a certain slant. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedHere's How 770 Pastors Describe Their Struggle with Porn
Here's How 770 Pastors Describe Their Struggle with Porn
More than half have wrestled with it, but less than 1 percent recommend telling their congregation.
TrendingWhat to Give Up for Lent 2016? Consider Twitter's Top Ideas
What to Give Up for Lent 2016? Consider Twitter's Top Ideas
(UPDATED) Charting how Lenten abstinence has changed over time, as 2016 data comes in.
Editor's PickGod's Place in Black History
God's Place in Black History
Looking to the past provides direction for the current fight for justice.
Christianity Today
Less Edgy Conferences
hide thisJuly July

In the Magazine

July 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.