What I'm taking home with me from this year's National Youth Worker's Convention:
Starfield song: Reign in Us
Starfield led worship for two days at the convention, and I was greatly blessed by a new song called Reign in Us. I had to buy their cd I Will Go at the convention, and have been playing it nonstop. Not only that, but Gary looked online and found lyrics and chords. So... we're learning to play it! Yay!
Oh great and mighty one, with one desire we come,
That you would reign, that you would reign in us,
We're offering up our lives, a living sacrifice,
That you would reign, that you would reign in us
Mark Yaconelli: Slow Club
During one of the general sessions, Mark talked about how his (four year old) son had invented, and was thereby president of, a 'slow club'. This club has two rules: No hurrying, and no running.
Though Mark was endlessly aggravated by the amount of time it took to get his son to pre-school in the morning, he was convicted when his son finally convinced him to join the slow club for a day. Mark was amazed at how much he was able to notice and respond to once he had slowed down his ingrained busyness.
Well, you don't need to twist my arm. I'm all about the slow club! And I often wonder what life would be like if our friends and family and neighbors joined the slow club too... I think we would be a lot less stressed out, and a lot friendlier. Any other slow clubbers out there?
Shane Claiborne: Are you a Christian?
I was blessed to have the opportunity to hear Shane speak twice over the weekend. Both times he challenged us with the passage of scripture where John the Baptist's disciples go to Jesus to ask if he is indeed the awaited Messiah. It would have been very easy for Jesus, at that time, to answer with a straightforward "Yup".
But, he didn't. He instructs them, rather, to go back to JtB and 'report what you have seen and heard'. Meaning, Jesus' actions were sufficient to define his identity.
Shane put the question to us then, "If someone asks if you are a Christian, are you able to turn the question back to them and say, 'tell me what you see'? Can we confidently say, 'Ask the poor if I'm a Christian. Ask my enemies.'"? Will our identity be confirmed by our actions? Ooh, this question gives me goosebumps.
Genesis Diez: Possible Mission Trip Opportunity
During my sojourn through the endless exhibit hall (I never made it all the way through), I encountered a friendly couple who live in Mexico and facilitate short-term teams to come work with needy kids. I've been keeping my eyes open for a good opportunity for the families in our church to serve together, and I found that this may be the perfect kind of project for us.
During the summer, the Genesis ranch in Ensenada invites orphanages to bring their kids for a one-week summer camp. Volunteers come in to help run the camp, and each volunteer is assigned one or two 'amigos' that they bond with over the course of the week. It sounds like a very relational ministry, with opportunities for all ages to participate. I hope that this, or something like this, will work out for our church for next summer.
Stone and Water: Releasing the Burden of Personal Responsibility
Probably the most important time for me during this convention was my stop in the prayer room. On the first day, I was making the mad dash to my session when I ended up in a quiet, darkened room full of prayer stations. I had the wrong room number in mind - I think God was just trying to get my attention before I went running into another session. So of course, I had to stop and pray before I moved on.
I went to a prayer station that involved a table covered with stones and a large bucket of water. The instructions stated to pick up a stone, and pray about a burden you've been carrying. When you're ready, release the stone into the water, and prayerfully release your burden unto the Lord.
Though I was feeling a significant amount of emotional weight, it took me quite a while to identify the burden that I was carrying. Finally, as I prayed, I began to see how much pressure I've been putting on myself. Pressure to do good, get it right, be a good example, save the world. I love the Lord so much, but serving Him should not bring this much stress!
I realized that I need to release the burden of my sense of personal responsibility. Not give up being responsible, but to relax and enjoy the freedom and joy available in this life. Ugh, that just feels so unspiritual to me! But being spiritual sometimes means trusting God to direct your steps. And perfect trust means no anxiety.
So, I took a breath, and let the stone slip from my hand. It sank quickly to the bottom of the water, and I stared at it for a few moments. Then, I turned around, and peacefully strolled out of the room with a smile on my face and lightness in my heart.