This is the tenth and last post..
On Monday morning I went to a seminar on Taize. For those of who don’t know Taize is an ecumenical monastic community in France that has gotten a lot of press in recent years. It attracts tons and tons of young people every year. The seminar was well done and very interesting. I do think the key challenge when it comes to learning from Taize is trying to import it into youth ministry.
Okay, summary comments.
Talk about a sterotype – At a lot of events I feel very much like an abnormality. This Thursday I’ll be joining Pittsburgh Presbytery where according to my calculation I’ll be the younger minister member of the Presbytery. However, at the NYWC I feel like the stereotype, well, because I am. The joke goes that everyone at NYWC is a white male 20 something with short hair, straight out of school, and has a goatee. Okay, so no goatee but other than that I fit the stereotype perfectly.
Talk about a show – On Saturday night at the Late Night Theology Discussion I met and talked with Natalie who was invited to attend the NYWC after she posted about why she stopped going to youth group. I asked Natalie what she though of things and she said something to the effort of, “I’m really enjoying it, but when I see all the lights and stuff I get a little weirded out. Think of how much they could have done with all the money they spend on all that.” (Again, that’s not a direct quote but it’s the general direction). I think Natalie has a point – the NYWC is a good show. The lights, multiple screens, massive control area, etc. all make the General Sessions what they are. However, in defense of Youth Specialities – I’ve learned that all that stuff isn’t just show. Given the size of the conventions you’ve got to be able to broadcast to a lot of people – so screens that let more people see the person closer up are really import for the overall quality and effectiveness of someone’s presentation. A quality sound system is also a must in order to have an effectice presentation. And all that lighting? Improper light, especially when combined with a room with poor lighting (as convention centers have) and a TV camera would make the images on the screens horrible. Once you’ve gotten to this point you might as well go all the way and add in the extra frills, because they probably don’t cost that much more anyway. So while I see what Natalie is saying, I think the reality of the settings dictate a lot of the technology needs as far as lighting, sound, and video.
Talk about a who’s who of Youth Ministry – In all the conferences I’ve come across there is none that compare to NYWC as far as the plethora and quality of speakers.
Talk about post-denominational – As I talked about in an earlier post, the NYWC attracts a ton of people from a ton of different backgrounds and generally things seem to stay pretty civil. The Late Night Theology Discussion can sometimes get a tad heated as a diversity of perspectives come together, but other than that it stays pretty calm. It is cool to see all these people from different perspectives come together for something like this however.
Talk about giveaways – Well, not so much. Compared to last year I came home with a lot less free stuff than I did last year. We got quite a few free books and things last year and that was definitely not the case this year. I’m not sure of the reason really – but it was a change. One nice benefit this year was now that Youth Specialties is owned by Zondervan there were more products in the bookstore that were discounted (including Zondervan bibles at 20% off)
The one thing that was really impressive this year was that there was not a single general session speaker who I didn’t think did a fantastic job and every seminar I picked was really really good. Last year I was more hit or miss, but this year I came away from every seminar with something really valuable.
As a “two-timer” @ the NYWC I highly recommend it to anyone in youth ministry, whether you’re staff or volunteer, in-charger or just a leader.
Okay, I think that finishes my blogging about the NYWC… next year it’s either Atlanta or St. Louis!