So Ryan and I just spent four days in Atlanta, GA with hundreds of other youth workers. We made it back last night and are still reeling from all the amazing stuff we learned and got to participate in!
First off, the obvious, we got to do worship with David Crowder–A-mazing!! Then we got to hear from three kids that are changing the world: one pair of shoes, one canister of loose change, and one mosquito net at-a-time. We also got to hear from Jeff Foxworthy, who, wouldn’t you know, volunteers for his local Wyldlife Club! We went to "labs" on imaginative prayer using poetry, prayer stations, even popcorn, along with great talks about serving, deep justice for the world, and what kids want us to know about divorce-all of this was amazing and stirred our hearts to want more of Jesus.
One of the most striking moments for me though was when Francis Chan, head pastor of a huge, Jesus seeking church, walked out on stage and called all of us a bunch of liars. Whoa, what??? But we’re out in the trenches, going to kid’s games, eating at McDonalds, teaching them the Word, walking beside them through life’s junk–why liars? Because how much of our time is spent "doing" vs. "being" with God–letting him speak to us, teach us, guide us, live in us and through us. How authentic is our prayer life? How deep is our desire to wake up every day saying, "God, take this day and make it yours, not mine"? He asked really hard questions that were really convicting and challenging. It was awesome–it stunk really, but it’s what I needed to hear to be refreshed and renewed with the vision of what ministry is. I can’t pour into kids if I’m not abiding in Christ. My flesh can do work for the kingdom, but without vision and alignment with what God wants to do, my work is in vain. After walking more than 20 years with the Lord, the past few months I got cocky and didn’t know what to do about my lack of reliance on God for every breath, every work-day, every conversation with a kid–a kick in the pants from Francis who was obeying God’s call on his life to be frank was just what I needed.