This year’s Youth Workers Connection is like no other. We will be meeting in the world-class city of downtown Chicago. Our worship times will be in a variety of venues from the University of Chicago to the Cultural Arts Center to North Park University. We will be encouraged and challenged to reflect on our faith journey and hear stories of how God has been faithfully walking beside our speakers and breakout leaders in their spiritual journey. We are excited to see what God has in store for this year’s Connection.
Want to know more about our Worship Speakers?
Chris Folmsbee is an author, speaker, youth worker, youth ministry consultant, and the director of Barefoot Ministries, a nonprofit youth ministry training and publishing company. Chris is the author of several books and dozens of article, most recently Story, Signs and Sacred Rhythms: A Narrative Approach to Youth Ministry. He is currently working on a free digital book called God Is Loud, designed to help middle-school and high-school students engage the mission of God in new and challenging ways. Chris is a volunteer youth worker at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas where he serves as a high-school small group leader. He lives in Overland Park, Kansas, with his wife, Gina, and their three children.
Mark Oestreicher has been involved in church ministry his whole life, particularly with teenagers and youth workers. He was the president of Youth Specialties for many years. These days, he speaks, writes, consults with churches and ministries, and runs the Youth Ministry Coaching Program. He has authored or contributed to more than 50 books, including Youth Ministry 3.0, and his most recent, Middle School Ministry. Mark lives in San Diego with his wife, Jeannie, and their two teenage children.
Laurie Polich-Short is a speaker and youth ministry author. She currently serves as pastor of small groups and discipleship at Ocean Hills Covenant Church in Santa Barbara, California. She speaks at youth conferences, women’s conferences, colleges, and churches around the country. She also speaks frequently for Compassion International. Laurie is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and the author of Help! I’m a Small Group Leader, Small Group Strategies, and Studies on the Go series in John and Romans. She and her husband live in Chicago, and have one child.
Efrem Smith is a leader who uses motivational speaking, comedy, and preaching to equip people for a life of transformation. He also consults on issues of multiethnicity, leadership, and community development for churches, educational institutions, and other organizations. Efrem is the new superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference. He is the author of Raising Up Young Heroes, The Hip-Hop Church, and Jump into a Life of Further and Higher. Efrem lives in the outer East Bay area specifically known as Brentwood, California, with his wife, Donecia, and their two daughters.