this last week, i asked the ys exec team to help me get a handle on my travel schedule, which has been killing me, and deeply frustrating everyone in my life (my wife, my kids, my co-workers). i’ll post more at length about this in the coming week. but one of the things we decided together, which much reluctance on my part, is that i need to say no to all student speaking engagements that aren’t national events.
this decision happened to fall just days before the only student speaking event i have on my calendar right now, as i was already in the midst of a one-year sabbatical from outside (non-ys) speaking engagements. i’d kept this one event because it was near my grandma’s home, and i got to take my daughter (who’s never been to my grandma’s home). as it turned out, my grandma was really sick and had to cancel.
but the speaking engagement was wonderful. i spoke for “meltdown“, a gathering of 1500 teenagers in panama city beach, florida. the event is unique in that it’s been going for over 20 years, and doesn’t have a primary host church or ministry. it’s put on by a rotating collection of youth pastors from this region. they meet throughout the year, divide up responsibilities for the event, and open it up to dozens of small churches that could never pull something like this off on their own. they’re an amazing group of youth workers, and i totally enjoyed getting to know them all.
i spoke five times to the students, and steve fee was the worship leader. ys friends (who help with our conventions) “big stuf productions” did the main stage production, and it was fun to be with them. the event was at a beach hotel complex, but the weather was horribly cold and rainy. but that didn’t really seem to matter too much.
the highlight of the weekend for me was an hour-long Q&A time i did with about 100 youth workers saturday afternoon. great people, with wonderful questions.
it was a bitter-sweet weekend for me. having liesl with me was wonderful (my niece, who is liesl’s age and one of her best friends, but lives in detroit, was with us also. we had a great time playing together sunday afternoon.). the students were great and i really enjoyed speaking to them. but it was hard knowing i won’t be doing this much anymore. luckily, the new junior high pastor at my church has asked me to step up my occasional teaching on sunday morning, and i’m scheduled twice in the next two months. getting to speak to the kids in my own church is probably better for me in the long run anyhow.