Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The YS Conference

This last weekend was the annual Youth Specialties C0nference, this year in San Diego. I've been going to the conference ever since I started youth ministry, so I guess this year's conference was the 8th one for me. Overall it's a great conference. I enjoy the general sessions (most of the time) and the seminars are good. The best part to me is simply being away with some of our volunteers and being able to just talk together, hang out, and deepen those relationships. The conference tends to repeat itself over the years. I found that the seminars this year weren't all that great for me. I was disappointed with the ones that I went to with a couple of exceptions. But the general sessions this year were great. Maybe the best ones we've had in years. I just found the worship times to be great, and the speakers were fantastic. Some of the highlights for me were :

  • Gary Haugen with International Justice Mission - I loved his stories of freedom, and how his organization has rescued hundreds from slavery in India. He challenged us that the church should be concerned with Justice, and that it is one of Jesus' primary message to all of us.
  • Doug Fields, Saddleback Church - His talk was great. He normally talks about youth worker stuff, how-to _____, etc. but this year he focused on a spiritual theme, which he called Ministry Envy. He talked about how most of the time when we put down other ministries it is because of envy. It was a real challenge to watch my tongue and to not allow envy to creep into my life.
  • Francis Chan - the highlight of the week for me. This guy always blows me away. He told us of his fear for his daughters as they begin to grow up. He has come to realize that he can't do anything to make his kids fall in love with Jesus, and that ultimately it is only God who can draw people to himself. I know for me that was a powerful and much needed reminder. I've watched so many students walk away from God and it just kills me. I want to tell them just the right thing that will change them, and yet ultimately it isn't up to me. He called us to be so passionately in love with Jesus ourselves that we can say "Follow my example while I follow Christ." He called us to be people of prayer. He told us about how he had struggled this last year with the Bible and with his church. He realized that he wasn't teaching the whole bible, and wasn't really believing it and acting on what he read. He asked the question "If all I had was the Bible, and it's all I had read, would I come up with the current model of church?" Wow. He told us about how he went back to his church and asked the elders to change some things, including giving away 50% of everything they take in. He had me in tears as he talked about ministers needing to be people who are madly in love with Jesus. He ended by having his daughter come up on stage. She jumped into his arms and wrapped herself around him. He said that this needs to be the picture of us in our relationship with Jesus.
All in all, it was a good conference. I got to connect with some friends from other churches and other ministries, which was really good. I got some new books, a few freebies, and had a good time. Musically, David Crowder Band was amazing, and Phil Wickham was unbelievable. Next year's conference is back to Sacramento, where I once shared a floor with the Sacramento Kings basketball team. One of the players hit on my wife, but that's another story for another time...


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