just getting this post up monday morning, but wrote most of it sunday afternoon…
i’m wiped. in a good way. i love our conventions. i love being in the midst of the pain and longing and joy of our collective tribe of youth workers. on that note, mark yaconelli, in his stunning talk (which i sat through for a second time today – heard it in sacramento also – and loved just as much as the first time) made a side comment that joy is always connected to suffering. joy comes out of suffering. youth workers, i’m convinced, have such a great opportunity to experience real, deep joy, because we have such a great opportunity to experience such real, deep suffering with teenagers.
so, saturday: i got a nap, and it made a huge difference. the rest of the day was a perfect and wonderful whirlwind of hosting, speaking, conversations, listening, and experiencing. an early awkward moment was when i entered the main session hall in the morning, and a funny comedian was on the stage. he has a korean and irish heritage, and many of his jokes were about that. but, after soong-chan rah’s talk the night before, the characterizations of asian americans felt so out of place. i felt a little bad for the guy, because he had no idea, and must have wondered why jokes that had worked for him other places were getting such a nervous, flat response. francis chan was about to take the stage; and francis has been known to do hilarious riffs on his chinese father. we asked him to stay away from that (he was great about it, and hadn’t planned on doing that anyhow). francis rocked it. i loved this visual illustration when he was talking about good salt and salt that has lost its flavor: he poured a tiny bit of salt in a pile on his bible, and said we should imagine it as good, flavorful salt. then he opened a paper coffee cup, and said, “this is what we do.” he poured a big pile of salt on top of the “good salt” and said, “look how big my pile of salt is! isn’t it amazing? isn’t that a fantastic pile of salt?” in reference to jesus’ words that salt that’s lost its flavor isn’t even good for the manure pile, he commented that our flavorless salt (positioning, ego-centered ministry, obsession with big, manipulation) is so bad it would ruin crap. funny, but really convicting.
my boss (the ceo of zondervan) was in town for a bit of the convention, so i had breakfast and lunch with her, and it was really good. she’s an amazing supporter of what we do and who we are.
i loved, loved, loved the evening session. my hero phyllis tickle returned with the talk she’d given in atlanta last year (we asked her to do the same talk), based on her book, the great emergence. such powerful stuff. and matt maher joined us, leading worship saturday evening and sunday morning. matt leads by getting out of the way. so good, and yet so not a show.
as i do at these things, i stayed up ’til 2am talking with friends. but the time change gave me an hour back, which was nice.
sunday morning, i hosted a breakfast in my suite for a dozen youth workers who were considered “loyal ys customers” for one reason or another. we went around the table and shared our stories of how we got into youth ministry. i was blown away by the common thread. almost all of them stumbled into youth ministry in one way or another, then fell in love with it after they’d been on the job.
the morning session, with mark yaconelli speaking, skit guys allowing us to laugh our heads off, and matt maher expertly guiding us to get the focus off of ourselves, was gorgeous. i could sit through that exact session multiple times and be blessed, challenged, engaged and filled with hope.
in the early afternoon, i lead a collaborative seminar on developing middle school curriculum. not a huge crowd, but the people who were there seemed really engaged in what we were doing. i still need to tweak this seminar a bit for nashville, as it just got too rushed at the end.
now i’m getting a little break in my room before i go to dinner with my sister and her family, who are attending the convention. my brother-in-law has been a middle school ministry volunteer for about 25 years, i think, and my nephew is a rookie youth pastor. so fun to have them here. tonite, my good friend tony jones will speak. i’m sure some people won’t have any idea who tony is, but many others will come in with loads of pre-conceived ideas. i’m praying that god will speak to and through tony, and that people will be open to what god wants to do in their lives tonite. oh, and crowder’s here tonite! yippee!