I have been at the Willow Creek Next Gen Leadership Conference. There are 2,400 youth workers here. I spoke Monday in a Pre-Conference Forum on the subject, "Moving from Behavioral Modification to Spiritual Transformation: Spiritual Practices for the Emerging Generation." Those who attended paid extra to attend the Pre-Conference Forums so it was a motivated group for the subject. I am so excited at the passion that youth workers have to re-think how youth ministry is done. The Holy Spirit is stirring the hearts of youth workers to stop doing things that haven't worked and go deeper with the Christian Formation of youth.
Today I led a Breakout, "Creating a New Kind of Youth Ministry of the Emerging Generation." I was really pumped about this session that was scheduled for 3:45 PM. About a half an hour before a lunch for all the conference speakers I started feeling sick. I got a lot of sympathy and some drugs from my friend Denise VanEck for what was becoming the worst headache I think I have ever had. I got pukish, started breaking out in sweats, chills, my head was about to explode and concluded there was no way I would be able to make it through the session. I practically crawled to the room, set-up my technology and tried one last vomit. I was sure the adrenaline of several hundred youth workers pouring into a state of the art teaching facility would kick in. Nope! I started with the announcement of my condition and that I couldn't be held responsible for what I might say under the influence of some drugs and on the verge of passing out. OK, this session was one of the hardest physical challenges I have ever endured. A couple of times I broke out in a sweat and thought I would pass out. But you know, in my weakness God came through. We had an amazing time of dialogue focusing on five issues - 1. Behavioral Modification vs. Spiritual Transformation. 2. Creating Environments for Transformation. 3. Spiritual Practices for the Emerging Generation. 4. A Re-imagined Youth Ministry. 5. A Re-imagined Youth Worker.
About ten minutes after I was done I actually started feeling a little better and engaged in conversations with those who had questions and wanted to talk for another hour and forty-five minutes. Crazy, but overall a great experience. I am really encouraged by much of the thoughtful conversations that have taken place here. Thanks, Bo for including me in this. It was also good to get some great hang time with Mark Matlock. I enjoy the deeper thinking he is doing about youth ministry.