Day three was amazing because the first thing that we had to be at (at least on our schedule preference) was at 10:00 am. This gave us a chance to recover from the jet lag and late night activities. The line this morning was much to long to wait in for coffee, so instead we got regular coffee at the arena, which surprisingly wasn't as bad as I was expecting!
During the first General Session yesterday morning we had the privilege of enjoying the skit guys. These two guys have been doing youth ministry skits for years now and have put out dvds as well as books. I really enjoy these two because they are entertaining, hilarious, and really seem to enjoy what they are doing. Then there was Shane and Shane. I have never seen these guys in concert before and don't think I can remember listening to more than one of their songs in the past. So when they got on stage I was a little skeptical (as I always am with most Christian Bands), however, these guys blew me away. They had raw lyrics that really made you think, they had amazing voices and vocal melodies that were original and breath taking. These guys truly crafted art in the direction to bring glory to God.
Starfield led worship as well, and to me are your normal U2 sounding worship band, but they were good and did a great job leading in worship music.
The speaker at this session was Mike Pilavachi. He is from the UK and is a veteran youth worker who really challeged everyone to make the ministry about everyone in it, allowing students to use their gifts or to develop gifts even before they might be good at them. He mentioned that we have to be okay with two things. 1) They might not lead something as well as we the leader might. and 2) That there is a chance that they could do it better than us. Both are hard things to except when one has the heart of a leader and feels the need to do everything on their own. He was also Matt Redman's Youth Pastor which put a neat twist on his stories about working with his first youth group. Very good, very inspiring.
As for seminar series sessions, the first one I went to (the one I was excited for all weekend) was the Developing Our Own Curriculum w/ Middle School focus. This was lead by YS Marko (president of Youth Specialties), and was very different from other sessions in great way. Instead of listening to a lecture for an hour and a half, Marko made this more of a work session where he gave background information and tools to craft a curriculum then the opportunity to break off into groups and start crafting one right there. The only problem is that this needed more time. It would have been a great Super Session like the ones yesterday that were 2 and a half hours long.
The second one I attending was the How to Communicate to Middle Schoolers lead by Scott Rubin. This was very helpful because lately I have really been focusing on restructuring how I speak to students at youth group. How I get the message of the cross and grace to them in a way that they can understand, and maybe even begin to embrace. Scott gave some practical ways to really connect with youth in a way to make this possible.
We had some BBQ pulled pork for lunch and the place was packed. Every seat was taken, that is until a nice guy from Texas invited us to share a table with him. It turns out he was at the same conference and had some stories to tell about his home and his experiences in Youth Ministry. You see my good friend Ty and I who are at this convention today made it a goal to really connect with other youth workers and network with them so that we could keep in touch with them over time and see how things are going with people doing the same thing as us over the nation. So this was the second person already that day that we met and he was very funny and very much from Texas!
For dinner we just did something we have had before, Panera Bread. I must say they really got a packed house through their lines very quickly and with great service. So I give them 2 thumbs up!
The evening general session also had the skit guys along with worship from Starfield. And the main speaker was Danielle Strickland. She challenged us to not just keep salvation and the gospel on the inside once we are saved, but to then take the gospel out unto the world, to be the light, to serve the poor, broken and lost. She works for the Salvation Army and is currently located in Austrailia but is from Vancouver, BC Canada. I loved her humor and transparency. She was one of our favorite speakers all weekend.
Then we had the joy of hearing great music from Kendall Payne and one of my personal favorites (still going after all these years) Jars of Clay.
After all was said and done Ty and I went down to BB King's Blues Club and listened to some live music then came back to the hotel in the 'bridge' which is their bar area and hung out and met more youth workers.
Tonight I realized that I am feeling sort of like the kid in youth group that does not want to go home from camp because they love it so much. It is almost as if this is my camp/retreat.
However, I miss my wife and am excited and encouraged to go back to my youth ministry. This morning we will have one more general session than call it good.
What a great weekend thus far!