Tuesday, October 10, 2006

NYWC Back Home

I am home and very tired now. It's kind of hard to explain that good tired where you are physically in need of a lot of sleep, and yet you feel very refreshed. That's exactly what I'm going through right now. However, there's no time to take a nap as I have to hit the ground running with the new found fire I've recieved this week.

I have three bags full of exhibit hall junk, freebies, seminar notes, and things I bought from YS to sort through. I try to keep everything filed because I never know when I'm going to need that address for some company I heard about at the convention four years ago.

Today, I attended the funeral of the person I talked about earlier in the week. There are sometimes in my life as a pastor that I have no idea what to say, and sometimes that I just know that nothing I can say will work. This time was both of those at the same time.

Time to get to work...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

NYWC Day 4 Post 1

Well, we're coming down to the end of the convention. The funny thing is, right away I need to tell myself the exact same things that I would tell the students at the end of summer camp or a mission trip. Beware of the mountain top experience. God has been showing me some great things this week. Now it's time to avoid the same pitfall that every youth goes through, making sure that I live out the things I've learned and professed to this weekend.

Coming from a conservative Baptist perspective, the greatest thing for me this week was to immerse myself in the emergent worship items they had all week. So today, I worked up the nerve and took time to take care of my soul in the Labryinth. What a wonderful idea! It was such a great way to start out the day and remind me to eliminate the distractions in my life.

Focus. That's the name of the game. With three jobs, sometimes that is going to be difficult, but that's what I'm called to do. It's time to take the steps to manage myself, so that I can effectively be a great youth pastor while being a great taekwondo teacher at the same time. Just takes planning.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ that I met this week and have been hanging out with, thank you for taking time to get to know this shy and crazy youth guy from East Texas.

To Marko, thanks for the exposure, the affirmation that my perspective matters, a wonderful convention, and great slap upside the head (literally and figuratively). :) Words cannot begin to express my gratitude for all that I have learned this week.

NYWC Day 3

Ok, this has got to be a quick one as it's already very late.

The day started out with my first trip to the Starbucks across from the Center. Thank God for all his wonderful gifts like coffee!

I went to Jim Burns' session on Partnering with Parents in Ministry. All I can say is wow. The Youth Team is going to get bombarded when I get back with all this stuff. I definitely would like to shift into more of that family minister role.

Then we went to lunch to meet up with the YMX members. Nothing like a plan getting trumped out by an Independent Music promoter with a food giveaway and good music. We got our meals for free, then escaped to the Starbucks for quieter conversation.

So then, it was time for the Super Seminar time. Doug Fields hit it out of the park with his talk on Crafting Messages that Matter. It's about high time that the voice record feature on my Palm Zire gets used. Usually, I just keep things here and use them later, but the idea of keeping an audio journal with me at all times and collecting everything I can was a great one.

Went for dinner with three wonderful youth workers in the UMC after the seminar. I can't remember what the name of the Mexican place was, but outstanding! We had a great conversation sharing our struggles, laughing at our differences, and just enjoying being around people who understand.

Then, it was time for the session with Donald Miller. Wow. I may not agree with him all the time, but I love the way his mind works and the way he presents himself with authenticity. (A word I've used before this week.) When he laid it out there and said "Perfect ministry is a great commercial for the church business" I knew exactly what he meant. Sometimes ministry is messy. It's a hospital. Hospitals smell. Patients throw up. They bleed. They make messes. Ministry needs to be messy sometimes.

Then, it was time for the late night comedy club. My cheeks still hurt. Thor Ramsey, Ron Pearson, and of course, Taylor Mason. I've been a Taylor Mason fan since the last time I was at YS (2004 Dallas) when they gave out the free Bananas DVDs. Melissa is an even bigger fan. During the bit, Romeo not only lost his shoe, but his foot as well into the second row. We were rolling. Afterwards, I went up to Taylor and talked to him for bit. He's a wonderful man of God! He took a picture of him and Paco with me, then autographed my Bananas DVD to Melissa in Paco's name.

Tomorrow, I'm heading to Marko's Middle School seminar and Duffy Robbins' on understanding teenage spirituality. I'm not sure yet, but I may skip the 8am to take the labyrinth. I could use a time of prayer, and I've been eating light, so I can afford to buy one CD.

Sorry for the incoherent ramblings tonight. It's already 1:00. Later on, I'll talk about some of the things that God is revealing and what it will mean. Until then, keep your feet on!

P.S. Now 1 1/2 Sea World bags full of exhibit hall and giveaway stuff.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Just to update from earlier. I'm here with a bit of a heavy heart as I have found out that the father of three of my taekwondo students was killed the day I arrived here. When I get back, I will be heading immediately to the viewing if I can make it time. Funeral is the next day. He leaves behind four kids, including the three we have at the school (all under 12). They're a great Christian family and it hurts to see them go through this.

Friday, October 06, 2006

NYWC Day 2 Post 3

Wow. What a day. It's been a long day, but a very good one. Here's what's been going on.

First off, I had a chance to meet Marko today. Very nice guy. There are just some people that when you meet them, you just know automatically that they are authentic about their faith. That's one of them. Just wish I could grow hair like that.

I knew that the theme of Reveal was going to be getting me all weekend, but I didn't know how quickly God was going to get a hold of me and tell me things. Authenticity is a big thing with me. I need to take steps to make sure that 1) I am living an authentic lifestyle of Christ-following and 2) I instill that same lifestyle into the youth that God has trusted me with.

If you are here at the convention, and you haven't done the One Life Experience yet, skip a seminar and go do it. Absolutely moving, powerful, and gut-wrenching. I won't ruin it for anyone, but let me say this. When I went for the hand stamp, I actually cried at the result. Especially when nobody from the other side came.

I think one of the greatest things about this convention is realizing that I'm not alone. Living and working in small towns, I sometimes get the feeling that I am the only one who cares that these students are hurting and need the love of Jesus. So I go out there and do all I can with the time that I have between taekwondo teaching, after school, all the office work, music work, starting my family, and caring for my wife. Then I wonder why I've been getting so tired.

I know that God has put me in ministry and continues to give me His strength each day to face the challenges. Today, I looked around at the crowd and realized that I am not the only one. There's 2500 or so other people here who love students like I do and want to see them grow up with an authentic life in Jesus. As we all prayed and lifted our hands while Mike Pilavachi asked us to clear ourselves of cynicism, I knew I'm not the only person here tired and worn out. I am not alone. We all share the same struggles. We understand each other.

Looking forward to the YMX meet tomorrow.

Bag count = 1 Sea World bag filled to the brim. It's now retired and all free stuff from exhibit hall now goes into bag #2

Tic Longhorn. I like it.

Only David Crowder can stop a worship song, crack a joke, and then keep himself and the congregation engaged with the Holy Spirit. You have to live in the Spirit for that to work.

Kudos to the Jesus Painter for playing through pain.

Jared Hall, great as always.

NYWC Day 2 Post 2

Greetings from the Digital Lounge! Just a quick couple of thoughts that I can get down right now.

Right away, let me say that Dan Kimball is a treasure of God. Before the convention "officially" started, my feet hurt, my calves hurt, and my backside hurts. (to steal a line from one of my church members. When he asked "are you a youth group leader or the leader of a group of youth missionaries" I was about out. Wow. What a question. I had never thought of that before. This is one of those NYWC moments where you just realize that you are in the right place, and that God has put you in that room to hear exactly what you needed to hear.

I realized this morning that I never really had a break between my last day in San Augustine and my first day in Cumby. I went straight from my last Sunday, to getting married, to honeymoon, to interviewing, to starting at a new church, to starting the taekwondo business, to getting programs off the ground with the new pastor. I am tired. I'm much more worn out that I thought. The great thing is, though, that's ok. God is revealing to me that it has all been incredibly worth it!

I want to make sure that these students are living the life of Christ because it's a wonderful thing to have and not because it's a set of rules. I want to do ministry because God is wonderful, not because I have to get the numbers up. This church is great and I believe they will help me to do that. I have to believe that God can do astonishing things in Cumby, even things He has never done before.

It's only the first full day and already I feel refreshed in a way that I cannot possibly describe. It's like they know what you need, the Spirit prompts you to hear it, and great things happen.

In a couple minutes, I'm about to head off dinner with some new friends from Missouri. During the first General Session, Tic made everyone who was travelling alone stand up. Even though I am rooming with a family from YMX, and we have the YMX meeting tomorrow, I am here by myself. So these guys from the great MO and I are about to meet up. Thanks, Tic, for a great idea.

That's about it for now. Pictures and maybe a video or two to come later.

NYWC Day 2 Post 1

It's morning of day 1 and I'm about to get ready for the day of seminars. Since I'm not in a CCC, I have until 10am before my first one. Time to test out the power of the internet. I'll be at Dan Kimball's seminar at 10. I still haven't made up my mind for the 4:00 seminar series. I'm torn between three of them right now.

It'll be great to see Jared Hall again at the general sessions. Last summer, he was at the camp I took my students to. This guy is awesome. He's definitely one of the best illusionists I've ever seen. Then, of course, there's the worship with David Crowder. I wonder how long the "Crowder" is now.

Well, anyway, it's time to get ready and get going.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

National Youth Workers Convention Thursday

Well, I'm here at the National Youth Worker's Convention! From the first impressions, it seems to be even bigger than it's ever been before. I'm having a hard time deciding what seminars I'm going to take tomorrow. I may even be deciding right up until I actually walk in the door. I have an entire bag full of brochures from everything from coffee sales to mission trips. Plus, I'm on the list for about 10 Ipods. If I don't win one this year, fate is against me. :)

Here's video of the exhibition hall area.

Now it's time to relax and enjoy, but my heart is heavy with some very sad news from back home. I can't go into it for confidentiality reasons, but a family I know is really hurting over the loss of their father. It's one of those situations that make it difficult to understand why. If you read this pray for them, God knows who you mean.

On My Way

I'm out the door and on the way to the National Youth Workers Convention in Austin! It's only about a four hour drive or so. I'll be there in plenty of time to check out all the booths and vendors. YMX members, I'll be putting the signs out tonight for us all to be gathering at Stubbs. (mmmmmmmmm). The only thing I haven't figured out yet is where is the nearst Starbucks to the Convention Center. I must know. 8am seminars make this a must!

I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

In the Year 2056

I used to watch Conan O'Brien a lot while in college. One of my favorite sketches was "In the Year 2000" where the trombone player would sing in a falsetto, then Conan and a guest would predict the future. Of course, now that it's 2006, the joke is gone, yet they still do the sketch.

Predicting the future is a scary thought, but also a little bit fun. Well, Mark Oestreicher from Youth Specialties blogged on his site about this article in Christianity Today about youth ministry in the next 50 years.

When I first saw it, I thought, "How can we predict the church in the next 50 years?" I mean, I have enough of a hard time figuring out how my youth group will be next year after my seniors graduate.

But it's put some interesting thoughts in my head. Here, from my humble little corner of North Texas, is what I think will be happening.

1) As more colleges and seminaries add youth ministry as a major, the church will begin to realize that not every youth pastor is a senior pastor waiting for a job to open up. As the culture continues to challenge everything that the church stands for to our youth, churches will begin to realize that youth ministry is an important position that must be filled by someone absolutely committed to them. Because of this shift, the church will find more and more youth pastors still working with youth well into their 50s and beyond. The first string of youth pastors who never senior pastored a church will begin to retire by the 2030's.

2) As more churches begin to reintegrate their youth into the workings of the church, we will see the beginnings of the end of the "youth are the church of the future" doctrine. Churches and youth pastors will realize that youth need to see how the church works and be part of the bigger Church. More churches will realize that their baptized youth are voting church members and allow them on committees, service teams, and small group leaderships.

I think that what needs to happen is a renewed commitment to service, not only to the world, but the town in which we live. Students need to know that they can make a difference, even while they are young. This knowledge will then permeate throughout their entire lives and even into the ministries they are involved in as they mature.

A very much agree with Chap Clark's comment that we need to create "'a theology of intergenerational community' that helps a whole church to feel responsible for its youth." Along with that, however, I feel that it is our responsibility as Youth Pastors to create the same theology in which the youth feel responsible for the older members of the church. Every Sunday morning, we are all there together whether we are 5 or 85.

So, in the next 50 years, will the Church look very different? That is very hard to say. But using the foundation that the older generation have laid for us, and putting our own spin on to for the future, I feel very secure in how this generation will take it. As long as we keep in prayer, follow God's will, and let the Holy Spirit guide all of our decisions, the Church will be more than fine. I believe that the next great revival is coming.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Days away

Only a few days left until I leave for the National Youth Workers Convention in Austin! It's going to be a great time for me to learn a lot about what I do, and have some fun while doing it. I sure hope the internet works where I can log in and do this once in a while.