Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Zondervan buys Youth Specialties

EMail Newsletter Comment from Oestreicher:

We have HUGE news! Our longtime publishing partners and friends at Zondervan have purchased Youth Specialties. While you pick your jaw up off the floor, let me back up for a moment...

Youth Specialties was founded by Mike Yaconelli and Wayne Rice in the late 1960s, with a passion to train, encourage and provide resources for Christian youth workers. After a couple years of selling their "Ideas" books out of the trunks of their cars, the publisher of Zondervan came to them and said, "We love what you guys are doing. Let us help you get these resources out to youth workers all over North America." Thus began our more than 30-year friendship with the world's largest Christian communications company.

Over the years, many things have changed in the church and in both companies. But both have stayed true to their mission and to the church we love so deeply. Zondervan talked to Mike and Karla Yaconelli about buying YS several years back, but the timing just wasn't right. The timing is perfect now.

Youth Specialties is a funky and small rag-tag group of youth workers who want to serve other youth workers. And we've always been as unstable as a middle school girl. One really bad move (and we make bad moves all the time!) could finish us off, and end our ability to serve you. So this gives us quite a bit more strength and stability?not to mention opportunity to expand what we're doing. This partnership?and our entire reason for wanting it?is so that we can serve youth workers better. This will allow us to take more risks, try more new things, grow and evolve.

If any other company were buying YS I would be extremely nervous. But we know the peeps at Zondervan, and they know us. I count many of their staff as close friends, as do most of our staff at YS. I'm tellin' ya?this whole thing is a love-fest!

Here's the big elephant-in-the-room question you're likely thinking at this moment: will YS change? Well, on one hand: I hope so! YS has always been committed to change. And we can never continue to fulfill our mission to bring change to the church unless we are changing ourselves. But here's what won't change: our mission, our culture, our vision and values, and our commitment to providing you with the best resources, training, encouragement and challenge. Zondervan is 100% committed to us staying who we are. We'll keep our offices here in San Diego, and our staff isn't experiencing any major changes?except Karla Yaconelli, who will no longer be our owner, but will be actively involved in a consulting role with us (in fact, Karla's office will remain next to mine, so she can bug me anytime she pleases!). You'll be hearing from Karla in the days to come also.

We're pretty pumped about this whole thing because, at the end of the day, Zondervan will help us keep doing what we live for: loving youth workers and the kids they serve.

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