Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ongoing Reflections at NYWC

I arrived at the convention this morning in time to hear Tim Eldredge speak about the importance of including youth in all areas of planning and implementing youth ministry. His message was nothing new or even that revolutionary, but it was a good reminder and a kick in my butt. Even though I’ve implemented a youth council at church, I’ve been reticent to give the youth responsibility for everything. Well, that’s not exactly true. I would love to give them more responsibility, but I worry that if they don’t follow through and things start falling through the cracks, I’ll have people in my face asking me how I could let things fall apart. For example, I’d love for the youth council to actually choose/write curriculum for Sunday nights, and for them to take that next step of sorting through the lessons and decide exactly what we’ll talk about on Sunday nights. I’d be more than willing to walk them through that process the first few times, but I have this feeling that they would lose focus and drop the ball as time went on. Maybe I don’t give them enough credit. In any case, I walked out of there feeling convicted to hand over more and more responsibility to the youth of Harpeth.

Props to Jeremy Camp for singing “our God” instead of “my God” in the songs he led this morning.

Tony Campolo spoke this morning as well. It was mostly his spiel about red-letter Christian replacing Evangelical as a term for those who seek to follow Jesus’ teachings and put them into practice. At one point he said that right-wing Republican Christians and left-wing Democrat Christians focus on the same problems, then listed some of those problems, and said that right-wing Republican Christians simply don’t believe the government should be involved in solving those problems. The only item on the list that I took issue with was war. First of all, I’m not sure that all right-wing Republican Christians are totally opposed to war, especially in “the real world.” Second, who has the power to end wars other than the governments who start, encourage, and continue funding for those wars? Finally, if so many right wing Republicans are opposed to war, why on earth would George W. Bush have been re-elected by those same people? In principle, I agree with Tony that there is more than unites Christians of various political stripes than divides them, but I don’t think we can simply dismiss the differences as being about government involvement.

Friday, November 19, 2010

National Youth Workers Convention-Nashville-2010 Day One

It's been a couple of years since I've attended the National Youth Workers Convention put on by Youth Specialties. I decided that since it was in Nashville this year, I didn't have much excuse for not going. I've just exited the opening session where David Crowder encouraged us to be loud, and that Sandman guy did amazing stuff with a backlit layer of sand. My first half day or so at conferences like these always seem to bring about the same observations:
  1. I may not be hip enough to be a "youth worker." There are lots of folks wearing trendy Christian band t-shirts, girl jeans, Castro-style ball caps, and a myriad of other hip clothes.
  2. Worship seems to be an interesting mixture of participating and observing. It doesn't seem like many people around me are singing, not that I would be able to tell, because the band is unbelievably loud. Now, I know that sounds like and old fart kind of thing to say, but I've seen bands that lead worship and do so in a way that invites participation so that their sound is joined by the worshiping voices.
  3. OK, this one might get me in trouble, but I'm going to throw it out there. It appears as if there are a large number of youth workers who are very overweight. While I understand that youth ministry can be a stressful profession, and there are plenty of opportunities for eating and drinking, I wonder what kind of example we set for our youth when we seemingly make unhealthy choices. Anyway, let the bashing commence.
  4. HAS NOBODY HERE EVER HEARD OF INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE???? I mean, seriously. You can't substitute God for the He pronoun every once in awhile. While David Crowder Band does a decent job using communal language, they fail miserably at using gender-inclusive language.
OK, that's all for now. We'll see how the rest of the convention goes.