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NYWC IV

December 2, 2006 1 comment

So Day 1 of the NYWC if complete… here are some thoughts.

I spent the late afternoon in a seminar with Jim Burns that talked about conneting with parents.  This is something that I know is important – all the research shows that parents are still the single most important factor in the faith development of a person.  But what was helpful was that Jim gave us a concrete list of things and ways to try and be more family friendly.  It wasn’t a six week teaching program, it was an attitude.  From newsletter to attending social events, to involving parents, etc.  I left there with a good list of things to try depending on my own circumstances.

This evening’s keynote speaker was Tony Campolo.  I’ve heard Tony speak now three or four times (one at GA in 2001, once or twice at Grove City, and now here).  There are too many good quotes to list them all but here’s the one that really stood out to me:

“I am as conservative as the Word of God and as Liberal as the Love of God.”  I’ll leave it there.

Tony, in his own unique way, was able to take the role of prophet and doing it well.  Well does not mean making everyone happy – I am sure there were many who were unhappy.  I noticed a particularly dull clapping when he said the following:

“It’s always better to get your eschatology from Jesus than from Tim LaHaye”

I was clapping quite loudly – but otheres weren’t as impressed.  Anyway, I thought Tony did a fabulous job.  Part of the reason I was so excited about coming this year was the general session speakers as so far Kenda Dean and Tony Campolo have not dissapointed.

I think the biggest difference for me this year as comapred to last is that this year I am done looking for models.  Last year I came to the NYWC in a real state of transition and disarray because my own sense of call was unsure.  I was pretty sure I wanted to do youth ministry once I finished seminary but I wasn’t sure, and I wasn’t sure if this whole “emergent/emerging chuch” thing was something I could hang my hat on and get involved with or not.  Now, a year later my sense of call to youth ministry is as strong as ever, and my belief that emergent/emerging/whatever you want to call it is a valuable conversation/movement within church today.  It’s not the perfect fix, and I’m not sure I’d call it the next reformation, but there is good coming from it.  Personally, it has changed how I do ministry in some important ways.

The other thing is that this year I am beyond myself.  This was a tough process for me that begin at the end of my middler year of seminary and still continues – I do not need to listen to everyone and figure out if they’re right.  I can sit, listen, and glean and take what I can.  I’ve figured out that I can nuance every since person I ever listen to speak – but it’s a waste of my time.  Don’t get me wrong – I still listen carefully to people and am still quite confident in my own theological views, but I’ve learned to put them second and to listen first.  It’s not that theological differences don’t effect methodology, they absolutely do.  But, you can learn from everyone – and I often learn more from those who I have sharp disagreements with.  Last year I had a worse case of theological arrogance than I do this year (although compared to what I used to have, last year was a huge improvement).  I’m not saying I’m Mr theological humility now – I probably wouldn’t be writing this paragraph if I was that humble.

The other difference this year is that I’m not a first-timer.  The sheer mass of youth specialities, the options, the schedule, is daunting.  There is so much you can do and so many people you can listen to that you get lost in the midst of it.  This year there are great workshops I’m not going to – because I went to something like them last year or because I imagine I’d agree with what the speaker has to say.  Today Dan Kimball did a seminar on “The Importance of Theology for Youth Ministry”.  Sonds like my kind of session!  Except that, I already know it’s important – so while I might find myself affirmed, I’m not like to learn a whole lot more.  Tomorrow (or the day after) Tony Jones is doing “What is the Emerging Church and What Does it Mean for Me?”  Again, I’m sure it’ll be a great seminar, but I’m not going to it.  I would have never gone to “Partnering with Parents” last year – but I did this year and I am very glad I did.

I’ve also had a good time at the bookstore here.  I went through two rounds of purchases today but am not promising I won’t have another trip or two.  Probably the book I’m most looking forward to reading is Doug Pagitt’s “Preaching Re-Imagined”.

Okay, that’s enough for this post.   Off to call my dear wife and then to bed.

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