I just came back from Pittsburgh, PA where I attended Youth Specialties National Youth Worker’s Convention.
This was my 5th year in a row and I wouldn’t miss one for the world.(mostly because I am curious to see what kind of funky new hair style Marko will be wearing)
I met up with some old friends, colleagues,and mentors in youth ministry and made a bunch of new friends.
As always, an emphasis on ministering to hurting teens was evident as well as rethinking traditional ways and philosophies of youth ministry. There seemed to be an added emphasis on emergent theology and conversation, with the presence of Doug Paggit, Tony Jones, and Mark Scandette. Additionally, they added something called “Sanctuary” to provide another avenue and place participate in soul care.
Most things remain the same: good seminars, big name speakers, worship bands mixed with a heavy dose of entertainment and opportunities for quietness of mind, soul, and spirit.
Plenty of laughs, conversations, and meals are always the norm.
I noticed one thing that has changed over the years…me.
Each year I come with different thoughts, questions, needs, dreams, and fears. I have participated in the Labyrinth and Prayer Chapel each year and find that those opportunities are the best gage I have each year to see where I am at personally and spiritually from year to year.
It amazes me to vividly remember my prayer requests, fears, and burdens that I gave to God last year in the Labyrinth, and how he provided for me.
I can still remember my prayers on the Wailing Wall at the Prayer Station and moments of vision and inspiration from the Reflection station from last year.
I thank God for the NYWC, not only for the great training and resources, but for an opportunity each year to remember, reflect, pray, and celebrate what God is doing in and through my life and ministry. Each year I am reminded how far God has taken me and also how far I still have to go. The journey is long and sometimes the path difficult, but praise be to the Lord for his constant presence in the process.