Saturday, March 19, 2011

Youth Ministry Artifacts

I was digging through some boxes the other day looking for something completely different when I came across this...

It's my admission ticket for the 1982 Wittenburg Door Banquet, which in those days was the "big finish" to the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention.    That Dallas convention changed my life and ministry in so many ways (you can read more here), but it was the Door banquet that just blew me away.  The speaker for the evening was Dick Gregory, a radical African-American activist and comedian.  His speech that evening was a bit controversial.  It was the the 1982 equivalent of Rob Bell reading from his new book and punctuating his theology with "F-Bombs."  In reality it probably wasn't that bad, but in my memory nearly half the audience got up and left- and this was an event we paid extra to be at!  I was a 23 year old radical Quaker youth pastor, so he was right up my alley.  But I will never forget how strange it felt to me to realize that even in a room full of people who were so much like me- youth pastors who loved Jesus and wanted to bring students into relationship with Him- that we had so many differences.  Nearly 30 years have passed, and the debates may have changed- but they still rage on.

So how do we get past all of the "mess" that sometimes accompanies ministry and focus on what we are here for- connecting students to each other, to caring adults and most importantly to Jesus?  A wise man once said that history wouldn't repeat itself so often if we would just listen the first time.  Though I am no longer an active youth pastor, I still have a great affinity for the great work so many of you are doing, and I want to help.  I hope that you will join me on Saturdays for the next few weeks as we dig into a little student ministry history, exploring some of the things that got us where are and seeing if we are learning from our past.  There is much to discover.  I look forward to looking back together.  :)

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous3/19/2011

    This is so cool. "Looking forward to looking back" with you! -Dave

  2. Anonymous3/19/2011

    Wow, Carl- you are even older than I thought! :D


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