Friday, November 16

Youth Specialties - Friday Recap

Sorry it took so long to get my first post up. It took us awhile to get to a wireless hotspot.

What an awesome day. I don't really know where to begin. In a lot of ways, I'm still processing, and it may take awhile for everything to sink in, and for me to really understand and apply all of the thoughts that are going through my head.

The conference started at 1:00 p.m. local time in Atlanta (noon in Chicago). By that time I had gotten up (4:00 a.m.), said goodbye to my wife, bought coffee, picked up Andy, driven to Midway, changed our seat assignments (more exciting than was really necessary), flown to Atlanta, walked more than half a mile to the baggage claim (3,000 ft. We walked because the trams were stopped), taken a cab to the hotel, checked in (they actually had a room for us at 10:45 a.m.), dropped off our luggage, walked six blocks to the convention center, found check-in, registered for the convention, signed up for the labyrinth, and made a cursory walk through the exhibit hall. Whew!

The first session was fantastic. Worship in music, led by Desperation Band, was amazing. I feel like I really heard some things from God during that time. (More about that in another post I'm sure). Andy Stanley was great. He talked about the story of Jesus washing his disciples' feet. He focused on the question of what you do when you are the most powerful person in the room. At the beginning of that story, it says that Jesus new that he had all power. What does he do when he knows he has all power? He takes off his robe, which was the indication of his special status as a rabbi, and he washed the feet of his disciples. The answer to the question, what do you do when you find yourself the most powerful person in the room? Leverage that power for the benefit of the other people in the room. Think about the implications of that for a minute.

After the first session, Andy and I went to a seminar called "Seniors Speak Out: What your students wish you knew about your ministry." This was a great thing for us to go to together. It talked about lots of things that affect high school students in the second half of high school and as they start college. Lots of interesting information. For example, a recent study of high school seniors has showed that the #1 reason that they attend youth group is because they like their youth pastor. This can help explain why many students struggle when they get to college, because their youth pastor isn't with them. It also tells me that, working with a college age ministry, that I need to become more involved in the high school ministry. If the high school students don't know me, they can't like me, and it is less likely that they will bridge into Quest.

At tonight's general session, Shane Claiborne was the speaker. He grabbed everybody's attention by breathing fire, then doing a standing backflip. Then he told us that he was going to share the greatest sermon ever preached. He proceeded to read the Sermon on the Mount in its entirety. Then he said "This was the greatest sermon ever preached. May God grant us the courage to put it into practice." Then he walked off the stage.

There are about 5,500 people attending the conference. They didn't know what to do. You could tell that a lot of people were uncomfortable. All Shane did was read the Bible, and they were uncomfortable - in a group of people that really shouldn't be uncomfortable because of the scripture.

It made me think a couple of things. Why do we always feel like we have to explain or unpack scripture? Certainly drawing out particular points can be useful, and can help people to see things that they hadn't necessarily thought about before. However, the scripture can speak for itself. It has power without having to have someone explain what it means.

Also, just reading scripture allows God to use different parts of the story to affect different people. When speakers draw specific points out of something like the Sermon on the Mount, if the points that they discuss don't directly apply to what is going on in your life, the message may not connect with you. On the other hand, if you just use the Bible, God may make different points to different people, because different parts of the Sermon on the Mount to apply to what is going on in different people's lives.

Today was awesome. I could go home right now, and the entire trip would be worth it. And I've still got 2 1/2 more days to go. I can't wait.


Joshua Johnson said...

It is great to here how people are processing Shane's bible reading.

Tony Myles said...

I love that feeling of "this was already worth it" on the first day or two.

The_BGRT said...

WOW...That is all I can say. Both to the Andy Stanley and to the Shane statements. They really do make you think. Power and Scripture, nothing more...Wow!