I'm sitting in Willow Creek's auditorium as hundreds of youth leaders and students slowly make their way in. In a few minutes Shift 2008, Willow's student ministries 3-day conference, will begin. As previously mentioned, for the next few days Out of Ur will be hosting the online component of this conference. We'll do our best to summarize the ideas and questions raised by each speaker. Our hope is that those of you attending the conference will chime in with your comments about what you are experiencing during these three days. And for those of you watching from a distance, hopefully these posts will give you a taste of what is happening here in Barrington, Illinois.
UPDATE. Here are some video highlights from this session.
This morning's first speaker, Brian McLaren, just walked in and Charlie Hall is beginning to lead worship so I'll sign off for now. Check back in a couple of hours for a summary of the first session. Later today we'll be adding video highlights so keep checking in.
UPDATE. Read on for a summary of the first session...
The main session began with a video called Did You Know? that can be seen on YouTube. The video creatively demonstrates the major and rapid changes going on all around the world. Though he didn't reference the video, it was a great set-up for Brian McLaren's presentation, Everything Must Change.
Not long into his presentation, Brian told a story of his time as a volunteer youth leader in the 1970's. He asked his youth group to brainstorm a list of things that were major issues in their churches. This list included things like speaking in tongues and contemporary worship music. The group then came up with a list of those things that were important to the group and their friends. This second list reflected the global concerns of the 70's: nuclear war, communism, famine, and overpopulation. In Brian's words, "there was nothing in common with those two lists."
Brian obviously believes that youth leaders have a role in shaping their students to be involved with that second list.
Every kid that I lead to Christ and commitment to the church is going to increase his or her commitment to the first list and will have less time to devote to the second list. Which list is God more interested in?
What do you think? What types of major issues are your students most concerned with? Does your church regularly address those issues? Should our youth ministries spend time equipping students for global issues or, as Brian put it, is our role mainly to "get people into heaven"?
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