sack of potatoes...

Have you ever started to cross the street at a busy intersection? You are looking both ways, making sure no cars are coming and waiting in anticipation for the walk sign to turn to that little man that's not red, so we can cross "legally". After the light turns, you start to walk, and boom you faceplant on the ground in front of a lot of cars and the people walking beside you and now walking on you?

The reason for my visual of crossing the street and busting like a sack of potatoes is simple, in the ministry, we tend to be those people that walk all over the person who fell. However, this weekend, I was really inspired by a lot of great speakers at the National Youth Workers Convention presented by Youth Specialties. I got a chance to step outside of the box of my office, and step into a world where people were hurting just as I was, having troubles like me, and also going there to get a lot of free tshirts. My swag bag was so heavy this first day, I am pretty sure I lost 4lbs just by lugging it to the car.

At this conference, and at many conferences like this, a lot of people go into the conference with the mindset for the quick fix. A lot of people go in thinking that there has to be a new way, and a simpler way to do youth ministry. I went into the conference thinking that I was going to find THE ONE THING that will change my ministry around. During the whole experience I encountered three things that I will know for the rest of my life:
1. You have to have some sort of facial hair to be a youth pastor. I am pretty sure if you took all the facial hair from all the youth pastors at the convention, including some of the girls, then you could give the world a hairy belt.
2. Skinny jeans are apparently the new craze. I know one thing is for sure, if skinny jeans are the key to youth ministry, I will never live up to my potential.
3. The most important thing I learned was simply this, connect with the kids and be relational with them. It is that simple.

These are things I already knew, yet it meant a lot to hear it from the champions of youth ministry. Reggie Joyner spoke last night and stated that we need to check our systems for updating. If we come to the conference next year and nothing has changed, what did you do with what you learned?

This weekend, I was shown a light into my own ministry and my own life. I can not pour out into the lives of students, if God is not overflowing my cup. If I am to be the leader God needs me to be, I need to be more in Him and through that be more relational with my students. I need to meet my students where they are.

Jonathan Mckee put it best. He said that in order to understand the youth, I have to understand their culture. He gave the example that a family friend of his was going to move to China to be missionaries. They could not just move right away. Some things they did might be offensive, or just flat wrong. However, he said that this family studied the culture, language, and anything else they could for a year before they left. They wanted to have it down so that they could fit right in.

One of the things I gave to God this weekend was my own free time. I am going to do nothing but spend time in the world and Word of God as much as I can. However, with that I am going to dive my students down. I am going to raise up servant leaders that will change the world.

Get ready McDonough First United Methodist Church and c3 student ministries, there is a revolution of love, facial hair, and no skinny jeans coming. God has re-ignited my passion for youth ministry and I believe I now have a clear understanding of what and where God wants me to lead this group of students. Be prepared.

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