NYWC Friday – Part 1

The first general session has come and gone. A few thoughts:

The theme of the conference is Reveal and we spent the opening part of the session considering that God has so much more in mind for us, for his creation, than we could ever comprehend.

Habakkuk 1:5 “Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

The keynote speaker was Kenda Kreasy-Dean, author of one of my favorite books for youth workers The Godbearing Life. I’ve never heard her in person before, and I think I expected something different. She spoke, in a nutshell, about the essential need we have for each other in order to see Jesus. She called it sideways theology. That part I really liked, and the core of it will probably stick with me, as will some funny illustrations about missing the point in looking for Jesus in grilled cheese and cheetos.

The scripture passage she based her message upon was the calling of Samuel, almost a proof text in some circles for the need for youth ministry. And that was her basis too, but I’m having some, uh, discomfort I guess is the word, with her unpacking of the role of Eli. She spoke about how difficult it is to hear God without all of us, with which I agree wholeheartedly. Then, however, she made a case that we adults in the church have become unable to hear God (like adults who can’t hear the mosquito ring tone), but that, like Samuel, youth can hear God clearly. Her ultimate point is that just as Eli did for Samuel, the youth worker’s role is to tell the young people to listen and respond in attentive listening to God and share what he says to us.

I’m struggling with the illustration. I don’t think that she meant to say that adults are unable to hear God, or that youth are the only ones who can. But the mosquito ring tone illustration took us there. And, I think she said it pretty much that way. I agree that we need each other to see/hear/know/understand/serve Jesus. I just didn’t think it was much of an encouragement to hear that we’re old, straying and disconnected like Eli, and that our job was to “send the kids back to bed with instructions.” I’m going to think about it more, and the message may settle better than it hit initially.

The music by Leeland (who got moved to the main stage to replace the absent Hawk Nelson) was met with a great response, as was entertainment by street illusionist Jared Hall. Worship leadership by Starfield who were much improved over my recollection of them from the Atlanta NYWC. After the session I interviewed Tim, John and Gordie from Starfield for the YMX podcast.

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