Monday, November 20, 2006

National Youth Workers Convention 2006

I've just returned from the National Youth Workers Convention sponsored by Youth Specialties. i attended the Cincinnati conference with a fellow youth guy from the Williamson County area. We drove up last Thursday and arrived back to Franklin this evening (Monday). Here are some of my thoughts:
  1. I was definitely in the minority as a mainline protestant, and especially as a Presbyterian. There were a lot of folks from community and Baptist churches. The evangelical lingo was prevelant in most of the workshop leaders.
  2. If most community churches worship like we did this weekend, I can tell you that I'd leave feeling empty, and not in that, "I emptied my soul before God" kind of way. You can only call Jesus beautiful and the best thing ever so many times. There was absolutely no spoken liturgy...NONE! We sang for half an hour, heard Scripture (most of the time) and then heard a sermon/keynote presentation. Then, we might sing another song and jump around a bit and then turn around and leave. So, yeah, I think I'd have a hard time worshipping in that way every week.
  3. A lot of people using the term, "my ministry." It's all about God, except I'm gonna talk like it's really about how I present God. I need to do some further reflection on why the term"my ministry" bothers me. Any help would be appreciated.
  4. I was introduced to the term "Christ Follower." Check out these vidoes Christian Vs. Christ Follower at youtube for a glimpse into the difference between a Christian and a Christ Follower. You can pretty much guarantee an entire post or series of posts that parse these videos, but for now, just know that there are some presenters who never used the word Christian or Disciple, and instead talked about being a Christ Follower. Like I said, more on that later.
  5. Rodger Nishioka was one of the keynote speakers/preachers. He was great, as usual. It was great to see a familiar face and have an opportunity to sit down and shoot the bull with him.
  6. I heard a speaker talking about worship who said that it's important that we bring our best to worship. He said something like If you're only bringing a 5 to worship as a leader, you can't expect those in the congregation to attain a 6 or a 7. Um, what? Interesting notion about our role in worship isn't it? I tend to believe that God uses our less than perfect gifts to bring about transformation and to bless the worship of the congregation. Isn't worship about what God has done, is doing, and will do, and less about what I bring. Is it important to bring our best? Yes. Does God's ability to transform lives depend on the level of my best? Absolutely not.
  7. Overall, I had a great time and feel enriched by this conference. I definitely came away with some good ideas and some good resources. I actually enjoy those times when I'm totally out of my element and forced to encounter thoughts and language that are different than my own.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Friday, November 10, 2006


So, I've been intentionally avoiding the blog for the past few days lest my emotions get the best of me and I were to write something overly incendiary. It was particularly providential that I didn't bring my computer home on Tuesday night, election night, because I saw some interviews with proponents of Amendment One (no gay marriage) that sent me through the roof. Anyway, here are some of my thoughts on the week.
  • First, I'm psyched that the democrats took control of both the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Along with that comes some major excitement that we're about to have a woman serve as Speaker of the House. I can't wait to see the next State of the Union address with her back there. I'm eager to see how the democrats address the war, the economy, and various other issues.
  • Second, I'm utterly disappointed in the 80% of Tennesseans who voted to introduce prejudice to our state's constitution. Yes, the amendment defining marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman passed overwhelmingly with an 80/20 majority. I'm still not sure that the semantics are entirely accurate. I mean, can only one man and one woman be married at any given time? What about all the other people who want to get married? All sarcastic academic semantic joking aside, I am deeply saddened by the injustice that's represented in such an amendment. Last night, a colleague pointed out that, with the exception of prohibition, all other amendments to the United States Constitution grant rights to people rather than taking rights away. Why is it that we're now using the constitution to limit the rights of citizens? What happened to equal protection under the law?
  • I heard this guy giving an interview about how he and the proponents of Amendment One respected families and wanted to protect them. What a bunch of horse manure. I'm feeling my blood boil just thinking about the audacious arrogance and unbelievable insensitivity it takes to stand there and say that his definition of "family" is somehow superior to those of us who would affirm the rights of homosexuals to join together in love and form families of their own. What a punk. I could have reached through the TV and slapped him around. I'm still waiting for someone to give me a rational, well reasoned argument as to how homosexual marriage adversely affects the family life or the marriage of anybody else. Seriously, I'm waiting.
  • Finally, i'm thankful to Tim Reynolds for his words last night at the Vanderbilt Presbyterian Student Fellowship worship service. He reminded us that we ought to be citizens, first, of the kingdom/city of God, and only secondarily citizens of America. He reminded us that the world will not be transformed by republicans, democrats, presidents, senators, representatives, or by the empire itself. Am I excited that we have a democrat controlled house and senate? Yes I am. Do I believe that this will bring about wide societal change and a peace that passes understanding? I do not! I place my faith in a Christ who came to break down barriers and who calls us to serve one another in peace and love. I believe that we Christians can best transform the world, not by amending the constitution of the empire, but by witnessing to the gospel of a crucified and risen savior...a gospel of reconciliation and love...a gospel of care for the poor, oppressed, and those who are case aside...a gospel that has transformed and continues to transform the world.