pittsburgh nywc, monday afternoon

i have heard the occasional speaker say that god led them to chuck the talk they had worked so hard to prepare, and to say something else they’d just come up with. and, this has usually just ticked me off, because i’ve seen it be used as a manipulative trick to get an audience to think the speaker has some kind of direct connection to god that the audience doesn’t have — only to give a talk they’ve given a hundred times before, or give a sloppy, from the hip, pile of mush.

but, sunday afternoon, after working for weeks on my closing general session talk, i was attempting to take a short nap (unsuccessfully), and could not escape the distinct impression that i was supposed to drop-kick my well-honed outline and do something else. to be honest, it made me mad, because i like to be in control, and the notion of doing something else, in front of 2000 youth workers, on a few hours notice, was terrifying.

tic encouraged me to sleep on it, and see if i woke up feeling the same way, or if i forgot about it. i woke up about every 45 minutes all night long, with this impression in my mind.

so, monday morning, i sat, trembling, at my laptop, and tried to discern what god would have me do. i had noticed this amazing theme weaving through the general session speakers — a theme of how we dilute, distort, and disembowel the gospel in a variety of ways. and, how that ruins our opportunity to really experience the gospel embodied in the person of jesus. and, how we do the same for the teenagers we’re hoping to connect with the gospel.

god led me, i think, to a small collection of stories and thoughts, which i ended up sharing as my new closing general session talk monday mid-day. it was unnerving, until i started talking. then, i just had a sense that this was clearly what i was supposed to talk about.

i was very pleased to find, then, that — while it would have been enough if it were only a message for me — this new direction seemed to find a place hold in the lives of many who were listening.

it was an exhausting experience, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. and i don’t want to do this very often. but i have a sense of peace that i listened accurately to the disorderly, interrupting voice of god.

i’m off to the airport, to fly home. i expect to spend much of the flight sleeping.

(photo ht to billy hartz flikr)

20 thoughts on “pittsburgh nywc, monday afternoon”

  1. Marko, I was hoping you’d comment on this. Len’s tweet made me try to view the live blog recap…but alas I was unsuccessful. So I’ll be grabbing the mp3.

  2. I really appreciated your talk on Monday. It seemed to reaffirm everything that I had been learning throughout the weekend. Thank you for your honesty and openness to God’s leading.

  3. I’ve found that those experiences where God has spoken and rocked my world that clearly can be quite humbling and yet also…joyful (in a way). Monday will be a day you will remember all your life, I’d imagine.

  4. Marko:

    Glad to hear more about this than what you posted on FB. I’m also truly happy that it went so well, and was so spiritually motivated for you!

    Side comment: Are MP3s or Videos available somewhere for us poor souls who can’t make it to NYWC? :)

  5. That is so awesome! I just love it when God acts in surprising ways! I have learned its best to comply. I was so inspired by the last session in Sacramento…now I feel like I will need to hear Pittsburgh as well. Thanks for your passion and for your willingness to share with the rest of the world. YOU ROCK!

  6. What a manipulative trick to get the audience to think the speaker had some kind of direct connection to god that the audience didn’t have. Only kidding of course. Maybe the aforementioned judgement was a premature and a little harsh?

  7. Appreciated what you said Monday morning. The recap and your words that you changed at the line. It works for Peyton Manning (at least it used to), why not you?
    Seriously, I think youth workers in mid-size churches who are limited on volunteers, resources, facilities, talent, etc. like myself, need to hear someone (like yourself) deconstruct your proudest moment like your Back to School Bash and remind us that “We are the equipment. (not the youth room etc.) bc what we have is Christ the hope of glory – this is the gospel that we bring to our kids.”
    I’ve only been to the last 5 years of YS’s so take the comment for what it’s worth, but this General Session line-up in Pittsburgh was by far my favorite. Loved Phyllis and Tony especially. Loved what you shared, touched that you wrote a children’s book with your son. Can’t say enough good things here.
    For those inquiring about mp3’s, you can order

  8. Hey Marko, I picked up a copy of Youth Ministry 3.0 at the Pittsburgh Convetion this past weekend and I’m really enjoying it! Very good stuff. I’m still reading through, but I had a thought about your chart – I would add these “boxes”

    YM 1.0 – outside most local churches
    YM 2.0 – in most local churches
    YM 3.0 – between local churches

    As part of that affinity piece, students need to see they are part of something larger, first in their communities, then the world. Church youth ministries need to work together!

    The ministry I’m in came out of that YM 1.0 – we were a chapter of YFC years ago. In the late 90’s we stopped doing all our parachurch stuff and started helping church youth pastors connect with each other and see what they could do to build the Kingdom of God in their communities together. It’s been amazing to see students seeing their youth pastors working together.

    Anyway, thanks again for writing this great book!

  9. Thank you for following God’s voice and giving your talk on Monday. I was at the convention, and I felt that all the speakers really inspired me to think about God’s love and the Gospel in a deeper way. I have been frustrated again and again with churches who focus only on numbers and treat things like a business. I found reassurance at this conference that it IS really all about Jesus. This “seriously ridiculous” Savior who came and changed our lives in such a huge way. I was encouraged to live for him and love for him once again. I also just wanted to thank you so much for these conventions and all that you do for youth workers. I’ve been in ministry about 8 years and I have found YS to be nothing but encouraging! I look forward to your conventions every year. God always seems to show up in a new and unique way that encourages me and invigorates me once again for ministry. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

  10. Missed beging at YS this year. First year for not being at the convention in 17 or 18 years.

    Sounds like the Lord showed up, as normal, through the worship and leadership of all present.

  11. As a youth pastor’s wife, faithful NYWC attendee, and burnt out marriage and family therapist, Pittsburgh was a great convention! Your talk was spot on and it meant so much to me to hear, “You are the equipment.” I know that was from the Message – can you remind me of the scripture reference? For my ministry, for my husband’s ministry – Francis, Mike, and you all reminded me of why I originally wanted to reach out to people as a career. It was because I love that Christ uses even me and accomplishes mighty things.

  12. Marko all I have to say is how great to see you wearing an All Blacks jersey! Amen. See you in Nashville in 2 wks.

  13. thanks, rachael — here you go:
    Matthew 10:9-10
    Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start.
    You don’t need a lot of equipment.
    You are the equipment,
    and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day.
    Travel light.

  14. So… for the next convention do you plan on doing the planned talk you planned on or the unplanned talk you didn’t plan on… but ended up planning on explaining was unplanned, because you planned to be obedient to that unplanned plan?

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