Youth ministry expert headlines YeTI event at Pfeiffer

Published 12:33 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2023

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Mark “Marko” Oestreicher, an expert in the field of church youth ministry, will speak at “Youth Worker Training and Appreciation,” presented by Pfeiffer University’s Youth Theological Institute (YeTI) on March 18 in Misenheimer.

The free event on Pfeiffer’s campus runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes lunch. Youth leaders at area churches are encouraged to attend; please register here.

Oestreicher’s presentation at Pfeiffer will focus on two topics. One area of discussion will be “Changes in Youth Culture,” specifically the rise of belonging as the primary need for today’s teenagers. The second will be “How Prayer Makes You a Better Leader,” which will look at neuroscience discoveries about the role of prayer in shaping one’s experience of God and ability to exercise compassion.

Oestreicher, who lives in San Diego, is a founding partner for The Youth Cartel, which provides resources, training, and coaching for church youth workers. He has also written several books, including “Youth Ministry 3.0, “Hopecasting” and “What’s Right About Youth Ministry.”

He has been involved in church ministry for 40 years, particularly with teenagers and youth workers. He has had broad experience working in churches in roles ranging from Junior High Pastor to Executive Pastor. For 11 years, he worked at Youth Specialties in San Diego, which trains and equips church youth workers, serving as the organization’s President for eight years.

“We are thrilled to engage Marko as a guest speaker,” said Rev. Maegan Daigle Habich, Pfeiffer University’s chaplain and director of church relations. “He centers his training around youth belonging and identity and how we as youth leaders and youth workers can help youth find their identity and discover their purpose as children of God.”

Vera Smith, assistant director of YeTI and the interim women’s swimming coach at Pfeiffer, has participated in training provided by The Youth Cartel. As the result of training, “you dig deeper into how you’re doing ministry,” she said. “You also do a lot of self-discovery about your strengths as a leader and how to cultivate that in challenging settings. I am an introvert, and I learned much about how that can be a tremendous strength.”

Two other workshops will take place as a part of “Youth Worker Training and Appreciation”: Rethinking Youth Ministry with Rev. Shannon LeMaster-Smith, the youth ministry strategist for the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, and “Teen Mental Health” with Dr. Natalie Atwell of Natalie Atwell Counseling in Concord.

Habich and Smith stressed that they want the participants in “Youth Worker Training and Appreciation” to network, feel appreciated and grow in their ministries.

Smith said she would also use the March 18 event to introduce the popular YeTI summer program (June 18-24). Primarily, YeTI is a residential experience on the Misenheimer campus for high school students to explore how their faith intersects with vocational call. Next summer’s program will also include “a track for youth workers to gain skills,” she said.