In a few minutes I’m headed out the door and on my way to Tampa. Destination. . . The Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention. Hard to believe it’s in its 50th year! I’m looking forward, as always, to being with an enthusiastic and fun-loving group of people who are all about seeing the young come to/and grow in faith in Jesus Christ!
One of the blessings of being on the older end of the NYWC spectrum (ummmm. . . it happened fast!), is being able to look back at over three decades of conventions. I’m estimating that I’ve been to between 90 to 110 conventions. . . maybe more. (we used to have 3 and sometimes four each fall!). I’m incredibly grateful to YS for inviting CPYU into the fold so many years ago.
A NWYC first-timer I know asked me for some pointers on how to navigate the weekend. Here are five pushes and prods for first-timers and old-timers alike. . .
First, take 30 minutes. . . before engaging with anything else at NYWC19. . . to read Paul’s words to a young Timothy in Second Timothy. You’re never too old to do that. I read Paul’s words of instruction early this morning. Once you engage with/and ponder Second Timothy, you will have a perspective that will help you navigate the weekend in ways that will make you able to grow not only in your faith in Christ, but in your ministry to students.
Second, assume a learning posture that’s both teachable and discerning. None of us know it all. In fact, after all these years of training and being trained, I am dogged by the realization that I know far less than I thought I knew when I first started out in youth ministry. It’s true. . . the more you know the more you know how much you don’t yet know. So, assume a posture of teachability. But never sacrifice discernment on the altar of teachability. As I tell students regularly. . . put everything you hear from me and anyone else under the light of God’s Word. Theology matters. It’s implicit in every ministry strategy we encounter. Sometimes it’s easy to see. Sometimes it’s not. Be shrewd.
Third, encourage one another. You’ll be meeting loads of new people this weekend. I have made friends at NYWC who I would have never met if it wasn’t for our paths crossing at the convention. Many of those friendships are deep and enduring. Encourage one another. You have no idea what baggage, struggles, and issues your peers are showing up carrying. In our social media saturated world we all take care to look great on the outside (except, perhaps, for those of us, like me, who have very little to work with!). Take that extra time to grab a meal or coffee with a new friend. And, if you’re with a group of folks you already know, look for that attendee flying solo and include them in a meal.
Fourth, grab all the free stuff you can! Three decades ago the exhibit hall was a goldmine for stuff to bring home to my kids. Now, I’ve got grandkids. See you in the exhibit hall!
And fifth. . . and this is a big one that I share multiple times with attendees each and every year: We will all be spending several days engaged with folks in the service industry. They will be serving us as drivers, waitstaff, hotel staff, housekeepers, janitorial folks, etc. Don’t let their good work of service to us go unnoticed. Be sure to go out of your way to thank for them for what usually winds up being a thankless job. And because I have had waitstaff shed tears on a few occasions at these things due to the sum total of getting low or no tips, please be sure to tip well. Eat less if that’s the only way to tip them more. Let’s serve these folks well and appreciate them for their service!
If you’re an NYWC19, I invite you to pop in to the seminars I’ll be teaching. I’ve worked hard to root these in the Gospel and to provide you with practical insights on how to teach truth and be an instrument in the Lord’s hands in this rapidly changing youth culture. And, when you see me, I’ll have “Youth Culture Matters” podcast stickers. . . so, just ask!
If you’re interested. . . Friday at 3:30. . . .
Saturday at 3:30. . .