symc day 1- preconference stuff

atriumit was a great day.  a fun new experience with the preconference stuff.  Group guru Rick Lawrence said they were trying something new…and it all began on the steps in the atrium…rick said it was a “mars hill” kinda of presentation.  Youth ministry guru and sage Mark Devries stepped off on an understanding and challenge of what it meant to be  an “indispensable youth pastor”.  lots of wisdom in the 6 hour session with him and Jeff Dunn-Rankin.  on a personal note it was fun to meet a fellow Venture alumn, Nick who is the family pastor at a church Ft Collins.  Love how small the world is at this events.The PreConference session with Mark & Co. was invaluable.  Mark has incredible insight and offered much wisdom.  Reminding us in his opening remarks about the story of the men of Issachar from 1 Chron 12.  How these men understood the times and the responsibility that fell upon them to lead ancient Israel.  I moved into the session with Mark and was blessed and stretched by all that he and Jeff offered.  It was practical and real.    Many good take aways, but one that stands out was for those in ministry to “kiss the victim mindset goodbye“.  So many of us in our day to day journey let our circumstances dictate how we see our place in ministry.  Mark was pretty clear that we need to move beyond that.  Another element of the day was focused on a discussion about our emotional health.  It was sobering to give a deeper consideration to how important our spirtual health was and is to our journey as pastors to students.  A quote from Townsend and Cloud really resonated with me…

Its not my fault….its much better to embrace the pain of ownership and reap a better life”

seriously, Mark and Jeff challenged me and encouraged me in many good ways.

The opening session was a lot of fun. From the opening dj music and our mcs Jake Rutenbar and Kurt Johnston was a fun as ever.  The “shave the moustache” game was a lot of fun to watch.  And so too was the game of prizes (which my creative adults had us play a month ago).  it took 9 rolls of saran wrap around many prizes.  it was fun to see the energy expended.  youth workers take this stuff very seriously!



Tommy and Eddie, of the SkitGuys offered their own challenge to to understand that what youth pastors and youth workers do matters. Love their sense of humor and also their focus on the reality of what we are called to be a part of in the Kingdom.josaxton

Jo Saxton challenged us to think about the role we play as disciplers who make disciples who make disciples.  She leveraged her talk with the stories from two individuals that her story has impacted.   The general theme of the conference is stories of transformation.  Jo invited two friends to share their stories of faith discovery.  It was humbling and encouraging in the same breath.  One phrase she repeated several times as a challenge…

“May the ceiling of our lives serve as the floor to the next generation….

childhoodlostWe finished the night by watching the movie “Girls Rising“.  In partnership with World Vision and the Childhood Lost expereince. the movie was offered to help raise awareness.  It is an excellent film.  The Childhood Lost Experience is an opportunity to create a real life experience for teenagers to engage with each other, their churches, and their communities and tell the stories of children who have been forced to grow up as their innocence was stolen.  It looks incredible.  World Vision hosted a lab experience with attenders to offer a picture of what this curriculum would look like.  Jason Ostrander, symc director lead a group of youth workers, (including my ally Matt Flinner in this lab experience.  it drove the point home.   Having been part of the launch team for Gary Haugen’s new book, The Locust Effect, it only reinforced the role violence plays in the life of so many world wide.