Saturday, November 17

Youth Specialties - Saturday morning update

So after the votes were all in for "Send Tim to a Seminar," you decided to send me to "Jack Bauer's Youth Ministry." Honestly, that was probably my first choice, so I'm glad that that was how the vote went. Although I should say that I didn't cast a vote.

In a lot of ways, the seminar demonstrated both the best of Youth Specialties as well as its biggest potential danger.

The seminar was good. The first half, in particular, was excellent. It provided some very good ideas about ways to use popular culture in ministry. Probably more importantly, it talked about why it was a good idea. Being able to use popular culture allows more opportunities to connect with the people around us, and provides us chances to engage in spiritual discussions that would not otherwise exist.

Mark Helsel
also talked about something that I had not really thought about. I have either heard or personally used the story of Paul talking about the Altar to the Unknown God as an example of using culture as an opening to talk about Jesus. He took it one step further than I've heard before. He pointed out that Paul was a Pharisee. In fact, he was a Pharisee's Pharisee. That means that he would have spent his life before meeting Jesus as someone who would have avoided Gentiles at all cost. Then, not only does God send him as a missionary to the Gentiles, Paul even begins using elements of Gentile culture as openings to talk about Jesus. He even quoted Greek poets when it would do him some good. This was really good insight that I hadn't really thought about before. Those kinds of insights are part of what makes this convention great.

The second half of the seminar was good, but it didn't apply to me. Mark talked lots about how to put together series and create worlds for students to enter. These discussions focused primarily on traditional youth group settings. For example, he talked about how his church did a series pulling spiritual idea out of the movie Mean Girls. One of the things they did was to recreated a high school cafeteria in their meeting space, so that the people coming to the youth group would enter into the world they were creating.

While that has the potential to work very well in a youth group, it wouldn't work in the context of Quest. We meet in our living room specifically because we want to create a family atmosphere where everyone always feels welcome, and where we can comfortably discuss and even debate ideas. Creating the kind of world he was talking about would not really work with the atmosphere and community we are trying to create. Andy went so far as to say that it would actively disrupt part of what we are trying to do.

This points to one of the big potential dangers of Youth Specialties. There are lots of seminars and things said by speakers that I find either I don't completely agree with or that just don't apply to me and Quest. When that happens, it would be very easy to dismiss or ignore the rest of what the speaker had to say. If I focused solely on the 2nd half of "Jack Bauer," which didn't apply to me, it would be really easy to ignore the great points that the speaker made.

I think one of the most important things to remember when you come to the National Youth Worker's Convention is to always take away the things that speakers say that do apply to you, and not to let those points get lost in points that you don't completely agree with or that simply don't apply to you.

Lots of other good stuff this morning, but I'll save that for later. Check out my Twitter for quick versions of some of those thoughts.

Oh yeah, Andy is blogging this weekend, too. You can find his blog here and his Twitter here.

1 comment:

Mark Helsel & Brock Morgan said...

This is Mark Helsel, thanks for your comments about my seminar it was great to hear your opinions, I am glad you liked it, at least what applied to you. Take Care