This seems to be a week in need of some good news, as we grieve another fallen Christian leader and watch the incursion of negative campaign ads even into the usually civil political climate of Minnesota.
On Saturday night in Anaheim, after a couple splendid days with my son at Disneyland, I hosted a late night theology discussion at the National Youth Workers Convention. Shockingly, there were well over 100 in attendance. The conversation was civil (which it hasn’t always been) but robust. People talked theologically, they challenged each other, and I imagine that most everyone left thinking about something they hadn’t thought about before.
Talking to Marv Penner (another speaker) in the Santa Ana Airport, he said something with which I resonated. He, too, had a wonderful convention with many stimulating conversations. He said, “I think we can quit saying, ‘Youth ministry isn’t just about fun and games,’ because everyone now knows that it’s not.”
I don’t speak explictly about youth ministry at the conventions anymore, since I’m not currently a youth pastor — I think it would be disingenuous. Instead, I talk about more general things, like theology and the emergent church (which, of course, I hope have resonance with youth workers). In the six or seven years I’ve been at this, I can say that I’ve seen the conversation about youth ministry change qualitatively. Youth workers are more serious, more theological, more educated. It makes for great connections and friendships, that’s for sure.