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pitts out

so i head home from another youth workers convention. this one was great, but it just wore me out. in the first half of my general session talk yesterday, i kept finding my mind wandering while my mouth was saying something else (especially when i was reading a quote or a passage). this is a terrifying thing — to be standing in front of 2000 or so people, giving a closing convention talk, and have your mind wandering. and then i started to think about the fact that my mind was wandering, and how annoying that was — all the while continuing to speak about identity and our calling to suffer. eventually, i was able to shut that down, somehow, after telling myself (in my mind — while still speaking): you have to get more sleep at the nashville convention. this is happening because you stayed up so late, stupid.

last night, a few of us ys staff went to church brew works for dinner, which is a surreal experience. it’s a beautiful old catholic church that’s been lovingly restored. and the center aisle and all kind of other interior stuff is still in place (to get to the restroom, i had to walk from our table up the center aisle — it felt like i was responding to an alter call!). but it’s also pretty weird seeing the micro-brew tanks up on the alter. after dinner, a good portion of the ys staff who are here gathered in my suite for a last hoorah; but none of us had much hoorah in us. we sat around in a big circle, expecting lively conversation to commence. but everyone was so completely exhausted, we had l-o-n-g conversation lulls constantly. eventually we got an ’embarrassing moments’ kind of thing going, and caught a bit of conversational steam for about 20 minutes, before feeling we could all say goodnight and crash.

i fly home today — can’t wait to see my kids (haven’t seen them since last monday morning when jeannie and i left for the dreaded snow-covered delay-inducing denver).

i’ve updated this list of bloggers from the convention. i’m sure some will have follow-up posts and thoughts.

pittsburgh sunday

what a great day. louie giglio hit it out of the park again this morning in the general session, talking about worship, challenging the consumerism we’ve brought to contemporary worship. he had a great word play (as he usually does), presenting the idea that, in worship, we’re supposed to be the consumee, not the consumer — we’re to be consumed.

i did my “rant from a runt about what’s wrong with the american church” today. great group of people. somehow i finished my stuff in an hour (i took the whole 90 minutes in sacramento), and we had a fantastic half-hour of questions and discussion. really enjoyed it. i think i’ll create a series of posts about this sometime in the future (after nashville).

then tonite, we had a wonderful surprise. chris tomlin was in the middle of his worship set, and brought matt redman on the stage (i’m sure other ys staff knew matt was here, but it somehow didn’t get on my radar). i was out in the crowd singing along when he brought matt up, so i experienced it from that place, rather than from backstage. the two of them co-lead a handful of songs together. i had a weird mind-blip during this: once i was in a comedy club in LA, in hollywood, and robin williams jumped out of the crowd onto the stage. a few minutes later, richard pryor stepped onto the stage (i don’t think robin williams even knew he was there). they put their heads together and whispered for a minute or so, and then ad-libbed a 20 minute fashion show. it was one of the most hilarious spontaneous things i’ve ever seen. i know it’s a weird comparison, but chris and matt co-leading worship had that vibe — not in a “wow, what a great show” way, but that the leading in worship was just that much more. for me, it actually took the attention off of a single worship leader and put the attention more squarely on god.

tonite, i’m joining a handful of ys staff to watch extreme makeover: home edition — for this very cool reason. we’ve been long friends of an amazing ministry called camp barnabas. it’s a camp for developmentally handicapped kids, and they use youth groups as the one-on-one guides for the campers every week. anyhow, camp barnabas is the focus of the tv show tonite — they’re doing an “extreme makeover” of the camp. should be a tear-jerker!

pittsburgh, so far, so good

the convention seems to be going great. have had so many meaningful conversations with wonderful people here — both private meetings and shorter hallway conversations. had my first primanti’s sandwich today — apparently a pittsburgh delicacy (a sort-of cheesesteak with fries and cole slaw in the sandwich). it tasted like a fun local thing made of bland filler and really thick wonder bread — but there was a certain “schtick” to the whole experience that was certainly fun.

so far, the general session talks have been mark yaconelli, doug fields and denise van eck — all of whom did a great job. interesting, all three of them brought what i would consider a challenge, rather than a message of encouragement (they were all encouraging, but their primary messages were more prophetic): mark talked about decreasing, and about really “seeing” our kids in the way that jesus saw people; doug talked about saying no to things (just kick my butt all over pittsburgh); and denise talked about “owning our stuff” as opposed to pushing it under the surface and hoping it will go away (comparing david and saul).

crowder’s been as fantastic as always. jars of clay did a short set — i love these guys because they are one of the few bands we have who truly understand who the audience is (youth workers) and love of them in a brilliantly unpretentious way. and there was a band i’d never heard of (i can’t remember their name!) who were just a kick — i laughed through much of their set, but not “at” them as much as because of them. the skit guys have absolutely nailed it this year.

the one life experience (an interactive “museum piece” experience of AIDS in africa, featuring the real-life stories of four children) is truly amazing, and has long lines of people wanting to go through it.

one tiny fun thing: i forgot my name badge one day when i went to the convention center. and i need one to get around in the back hallways. so i asked our reg queen to make me a new one. she made me an all access pass that just has “EL DORKO” for my name. it creates interesting conversations in the elevators and healthy laughs from the convention center staff.

drive-by farting

first, let me state for the record: i am a junior high guy. always have been. always will be. one of the reasons i love working with middle schoolers is that my own sense of humor has remained there — gross food, farting, all that stuff. the other day, a friend of mine referred to my blog as “marko’s theology and fart story blog”, and i took this as a great compliment; because where else can you find that?

anyhow, thanks to john mitchem, for this startling and hilarious news clip.

wait, what season is this? i forget. [updated]

jeannie and i are in the denver airport right now, trying to get to the emergent gathering in santa fe, new mexico; but there’s a major snow storm here, and our flight is delayed over three hours. i’m looking out the window of the red carpet club, and there are dozens of planes sitting in rows, waiting to go somewhere, anywhere. we’ve been here 20 minutes, and not one of them have moved an inch (well, if i’m fully honest, i wouldn’t know if one of them had moved an inch — but none of them have significantly moved).

i hope it’s not like this in santa fe — i didn’t even bring a coat!

it was in the mid-80’s in san diego yesterday.

[[update: our flight to santa fe just got cancelled. they can’t get us there ’til tomorrow evening, and we were scheduled to leave early wednesday morning to fly to pittburgh. so, it makes no sense to go to santa fe. we’re now scheduled to fly, later tonite, on to pittsburgh. i’m so bummed that i don’t get to hang with friends, and we’re paying for a babysitter to be with our kids, and we’re not with our kids, and all that. at least we get to sleep in tomorrow morning in pittsburgh and order eggs benedict for breakfast in bed — assuming we actually get there.]]

[[update #2: our flight to pittsburgh got cancelled. we spent the night in denver, in an airport hotel. the bar at the outback restaurant next door was our friend. today, we theoretically fly to pitts. the glamour of travel, huh?]]

[[final update: made it to pitts, after another long delay. slept in the a Westin “heavenly bed” last night. all things are now put back into alignment.]]

sac out

the sacramento national youth workers convention is over. most of the attendees are gone, the boxes are packed and getting loaded on trucks bound for pittsburgh (next convention starts in a week and a half!), and my family just left to fly home. i fly home tomorrrow.

my general session talk today seemed to go just fine. i got a good amount of positive feedback. it’s always difficult to know if it went really well, or just pretty good. at least i have the sense that it didn’t totally suck! karla said some beautiful and amazing things in her introduction of me, and even started crying. that wasn’t fair!

i’m really pleased with how the convention went. we had no total dog speakers in a general session, no bands that ended up being high-maintenance prima-donnas, and no major hitches. there was a great theme of encouragement through the whole thing.

i’m dog-tired, and really looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning!