Laura Larsen is one of those 14 and below she tells you where you will find her during the convention.
On some level, I go to the National Youth Workers Convention because it gives me what I want. I want to connect with old friends and meet new ones. I want to hear great music, to flip through piles of great resources, to spend time praying in the Sanctuary and meeting with a spiritual director. I attend each year because I want to remember that even though I am the only youth worker at my church, I am not alone in youth ministry.
There are so many things I get from attending the NYWC, but there are also things I really need - and like in so much of life, the things that I want and the things I need aren’t always exactly the same. While I may want some easy answers, I don’t really need someone teaching me the hottest game. I could probably just ask my students to teach me their favorites when I get home. And I don’t really need someone else to tell me what worked at his church. You have 48 adults leading small groups and I am ministering to 9 young people – please, I struggle with comparison enough as it is.
What I do need, though, is to be asked hard questions. I need someone to force me out of the pragmatic grind of programs and plans and into wrestling with significant issues that I rarely confront. I need someone to peel back the layers of my ministry and poke at the assumptions that undergird it.
I need someone to ask me if I understand what it means to be human. Because my understanding of that humanity – the way it causes me to interact with the students in my group while we play Mafia and Toilet Tag – is what makes my job as youth pastor distinct from PE teacher.
I need someone to carve out 90 minutes in my schedule, sit my butt in a chair and ask me to think deeply about how I understand sin. Because while alliterated points are nice and knowing that a kids attention span generally correlates to their chronological age gives me a head start, the talk itself is worthless if I don’t have a robust hamartiology to begin with.
I need a panel of minds much sharper than my own to muse about the implications of Christian sexuality and identity, because if my students want to talk about anything, you better believe they want to talk about sex.
In a few days I’ll gladly travel down to Dallas. I’ll wander the exhibition hall and hopefully drink coffee with friends, old and new (You?! Holla at me – I’ll even buy! @thelauralarsen) I’ll pray and laugh and wonder. Mostly, though, I’ll be at the theology panels and theology cafe. They don’t always give me what I want - last year I left most of the theological panels with more questions than answers – but they offer me what I need.
I sure hope you’ll join me.