Wednesday, March 7, 2012

There Is No Place Like Home

I LOVE conferences and training events.  It is great to be able to get away from the daily grind of ministry life.  It is an opportunity to hear great speakers, check out new resources, and interact with others with a similar heart.  I have the utmost respect and admiration for organizations like Youth Specialties and Simply Youth that work hard to put on events.  I am thankful for single day trainings and the variety that is out there to "sharpen the saw".  I say all that, because I want it to be known that I am not bashing those events or honestly anyone.  I do however what to put something out there as a thought and encouragement.  There is no place like home.

As much as I love getting away and as much appreciation as I have for the many memories I have of the things I attend. It is not real life.  You can not live at a conference or an event.  I guess you could pack up and travel around in your church 15 passenger van like an "old dead head" from town to town? Follow Doug Field around and you could call yourself a "Doug-Head"??  Anyway...The reality is at some point we need to go home and love on students.  The problem is however much like Dorthy in Oz we get sucked in to the awe and wonder.  We see the 'great and mighty" and we stand in a smoke filled room and we think to ourselves I have made to the end of the path.  Maybe a better example, a Biblical example is Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration.  They stand in the presence of greatness and power.  They have this spiritual high moment and they want to "build temples" there and stay.  What does Jesus tell them?  "No sorry guys, we have to go back down the mountain back the multitude that need us" (*personal paraphrase)

I was recently was talking a youth worker that literally travels to an event, conference or training every few weeks, sometimes every week.  If they are not personally going to an event, they are taking their student or leader to an event, or if they can't the are having an event of their own.  To be far and transparent. I will turn the finger around. I personally, as a younger youth pastor, I would try to live from year to year spiritual high.  I would buy the cassettes (yes, cassettes I am that old) from the conference and then re-listen to them or not listen to them for a few months.  I would try to keep the hype going.  Just like any other high, eventually I would crash...hard.  The thing is the age we live in now we don't have even travel, we can download whole conferences and trainings or sign up for simulcasts.  The same problem in a different package.  We can't live in Oz or on the mountain top.

You and I are called to students and they need us fully present in their lives and in our ministries.  Choose one big longer event and find a 1 or 2 other shorter one day events spread through out the year.  Find just 1 or 2 highly recommended other trainings that you can order/download.  Take what you learn, hear, see, and let it settle in and soak in. Don't immediately change everything. Talk to your leaders or other around you and discuss.  Be a wise steward of your church's money and your time.  Use the things you do attend as opportunities to recharge and refresh, but then take that use in at "home" in your ministry.

Finally, realize that your students are already prone to "retreat/event highs".  They don't want to ever leave camp or that mission location.  They try to keep those emotional moments alive as long as they can.  One of the best things you can do, is to not model it either.  If are a Dorthy youth leader, you will create an Oz youth ministry, and eventually your house is going to fall down? So come on say it with me..."there is no place like home...there is no place like home".... Now wake up go find that crazy looking 8th grade guy, that looks like a scarecrow give him a big hug and tell him "you missed him most of all?