Nov 18, 2007

nywc: atlanta - day four, part 1

First, an observation...

Like, slowly but fer-surely, the convention center has been emptied of the other weekend convention attenders who have been sharing space with us - the pre-teen cheerleading competition. While it was fun to count how many variations of sparkly eyelash and glitter lipstick one might see on the way up or down an escalator, I found it ironic that at a youth worker's conference the place was infested with students. A couple of years ago I was in St Louis for NYWC convention and the other side of the building was hosting a transvestite beauty pagent. I'm not sure why I'm sharing that bit of information, except to say that opportunity to extend ourselves is always around... sometimes in obvious ways, and other times on the way up an escaltor.

Now, an overview:
  • Taylor Mason (comedy): Usually this act breaks me up. The couple of times Taylor used his "dummy" to rip on members of the crowd, though, left me frustrated. Anytime you pick on an audience member for a laugh it seems a bit more like the comedy I expect to see on Comedy Central than in a "Christian" atmosphere. (Whatever a "Christian" atmosphere is, I don't know... but having lived in West Michigan for a bit it seemed natural to say this.)

  • Zach Hunter (teenage author and abolitinist): I had the chance to hang out with Zach a bit the night before in a special gathering over dessert. I share that only to say that in that environment and this one the kid seemed authentic, passionate about his ministry and yet still a kid. His words were from a deep place for one so young. If you haven't seen his story, check it out here.

  • Doug Fields (speaker): Fields got up to speak about ministry envy (which, of course, I could have done a better job at, and yes that is a joke, thanks for playing along). Of course, the real issue here is that he no longer has facial hair which makes me wonder if he is aging backward again (much like Michael W Smith and Amy Grant). In any event, I really did enjoy and take many notes on his message that surveyed Joseph's part of God's Story and the multi-colored coat that represented why his brothers had it in for him. One day, though, we will all be dressed in white robes (see Revelation 3) - which begs the question, terry cloth or silk?

    Seriously, I know how poisonous ministry envy can be and it was so cool to hear a message on it. Often it shows up in criticism, theological belittlement, and so forth. It's easy to target the Joel Osteens, Rick Warrens, Bill Hybels, Doug Pagitts, and so forth... and maybe we feel like we have a good reason. Then again, what if envy was unconsiously the driving force? Worth asking.

    • "When you have ministry envy, you scream out how immature you are."

    • It's embarassing how quickly envy can enter into a place of networking. When envy sticks it creates rivals out of co-laborers... you create distance, criticize, and decide that nothing that person says is anything you will learn from.

    • "Joel Osteen is an easy target, but when we criticize him we don't connect it to envy but disguise it as dislike." We "know" that they don't "teach the word of God" as faithfully as you... and we feel like it's our job to police their faithfulness.

    • In the Christian community we're aghast when everyone is not like us.

    • Envy gives you less love. When you put others down you lose the value of that person Jesus died for.

    • "At the heart of envy is the lie that God owes you."

    • Joseph's brothers create a quarrel with their brother when their real insecurity is their relationship with the father. They think that if they get rid of Joseph Jacob will come around... instead, his heart is broken over it and he never quite recovers. This is the case with envy - we think if we can be someone's superior we win. When we make someone lose, though, we lose, too.

    • A remedy: Celebrate others, even when you don't feel like it, so that one day you will feel like it.

  • David Crowder Band (lead worship): Gotta dig the instant connection David forms with any crowd, mainly because he just has fun. I mean, who else can combine a tune about the everlasting joy of being in God's love forever, and ever, and ever... with the Super Mario Brothers theme song? Yet this was (unfortunately) the only session Crowder and his band led worship in. In past conventions when he does it longer it's usually around day two that the crowd and the band become soulmates... today, though, it was just a party (although a good one at that). Funny how some songs (like Remedy) take on new life when done live... although the theme from Fox's NFL seemed a bit out of place when the band was on its way off stage. I could have used a shot of something else off the new CD, but who am I to complain?

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