We are 10 days or so removed from the convention in Dallas. In my experience it's important to drive some markers to remember all that God taught and inspired me to do and be as a result of this incredible time.
Sometimes experiences are very personal. That's my take on the National Youth Workers's Convention, God had some themes especially for me.
As I've had some time and space to reflect here are 3 thoughts that linger.
1. Being at the convention is almost like coming home
I love being around hundreds of people who get who I am and what I do.
Youthworkers are the coolest people on the face of the planet. Simply put, there were 2600 or so people in Dallas who love Jesus and love students. Just to walk around the convention center and see so many people who work with students is amazing. And by the way, it feels we (youth workers) are becoming more and more diverse.
With simply an eye test it seems there are just as many women as men. There are older people (am I one of them?) and younger. I'm a part of a diverse family of people who long to see the greatness of God declared to the next generation. That's really encouraging to me. It's always helpful to know we're not alone.
2. I'm blessed to have deep friendships with great people.
One of the highlights for me was connecting with youth pastors, ministry leaders and others from around the country. Over the years God has blessed me with connections with people who are smarter and more passionate than I.
Walking away better equipped and challenged to serve my church and youth ministry more effectively is one of biggest advantages of attending conferences. Seminars and the big room are great, but for me equipping happens most in the context of a lunch or late night discussions with people I love and respect.
I'm a better pastor, ministry leader, husband and visionary because God has allowed me to experience deep relationships with people around the country. I'm so thankful for these friends I get to see once or twice a year.
I need / want to pursue the people God has graciously brought in my path. I am blessed.
3. I'm thankfully called to student ministry.
Tony Campolo was awarded the lifetime achievement award from YS. Mark asked why he was intentional about protecting time to speak into the lives of youthworkers when given so many other opportunities to speak to others. His response was brilliant.
He referred to his role as a sociologist and understanding that the major decisions in life are made between the ages of 13 and 23. This is when their future is shaped.
As a 45 year old youth worker I wonder about my future calling. For now it's clear God wants me to invest significant time in the next generation. For now I know I'm called to the next generation, it's in the fiber of who I am.
Thank you Tony for reminding us why what we do as youth workers is so important and strategic.
As I get older and more experienced I long to see life and ministry with a sense of WONDER and TEACHABILITY. Thank you Youth Specialties for caring about the next generation and those who serve.