This past week I was down in Atlanta participating in the final National Youth Workers Convention (NYWC) of 2009. It was actually my last and final grad class that took me to the convention in the first place. Huntington has a partnership with Youth Specialties and as such they hold a couple of classes in conjunction with the convention every year for the past several years.
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend NYWC a few other times in the past, but this year seemed especially unique given the recent “BIG” news to hit the youth ministry world; to which I’ll refrain from commenting further, as there is already plenty floating about the blogosphere.
I arrived in Atlanta mid-afternoon on Wednesday, two days prior to the start of the convention. This was necessary as my class required my attention bright and early Thursday morning. Class was good, very good in fact. The topic was centered around collaboration in ministry and was team taught by Dr. Dave Rahn and Dr. Rene Rochester. Prior to class, I had not met Dr. Rene, but what an amazing woman. Never have I known someone who could so easily converse Scripture into your life. Class concluded Friday afternoon and we were free to now fully engage the whole of the convention.
In a word I’d have to describe NYWC as different. This however, does not indicate a negative. The convention (what parts I engaged) were in fact quite good. Yet, it was different. Likely this had to do with several factors (i.e Mark Matlock as the primary host, or the cutting back of entertainment, the addition of open space, or the downsized expo hall to name but a few). I would on occasion bump into complete strangers who were also attending the convention and for whatever reason they felt compelled to share with me their take on this year’s convention. The common theme, “this year is different!” Fitting I think, given that the theme was Time, and with time comes the end of the old and the beginning of the new.
A few highlights for me: Francis Chan and Donald Miller both spoke on the main stage and were challenging and thought provoking. Andrew Root offered a seminar on the hyper-real generation and stirred my brain entirely. It was also nice to get to be with Huntington friends I only see once in a while as well as be able to spend a good deal of time with my friend and ministry colleague Jason and his friend Nate. The only real down side to the convention this time around for me, was I had to leave my two beautiful girls at home.
All in all, I’m glad to have been a part of NYWC 2009, and while I don’t know what the future holds for NYWC, YS, or even the world of youth ministry as I (we) know it; I do know that God continues to call me to serve teenagers. And for that I am blessed, excited, a bit nervous and grateful.