Thursday, September 20, 2012

NYWC Legends

The answer to yesterday's trivia game was tricky- I have only stayed at 7 Walt Disney World resort hotels, not 11 as stated.  No one got the answer without a lot of help, so we will try again soon to give away the prize!

It's the time of year when my mind starts to turn to how much I miss the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Conventions.  They were such an important part of my ministry through the years, and the people I encountered there changed the way I thought about and DID student ministry. Today I want to give a few shout outs to some of the people who made my 18 conventions so special.  Some were speakers, some musicians, some artists and some just people I came to know and love.  I miss them all!
  • Mike Yaconelli and Wayne Rice, the co-founders of YS, who had me hooked after attending my first NYWC in Dallas, 1982.
  • Tic Long, who never failed to greet me with a smile; who gave me my chance to lead a seminar; who waived my fee for the the 2005 Pittsburgh convention (since I had already paid for Sacramento); and whose work with YS makes him one of the true legends of youth ministry.
  • Dennis Benson, who in 1982 opened my eyes to using culture to teach, not to promote fear.  "In it, not of it, wasn't that what I said?" 
  • James Ward, who for so many years was the guy who got the convention singing, and whom I got to hang out with a few times over the years.  "Ain't no rock gonna' shout in my place..."
  • Tony Campolo.  Everything I ever heard him say moved me in some way, and I still listen to his talks and read his books on a regular basis.
  • Dan Kimball, who in a Critical Concerns Course helped me understand what it means to move outside old models and deal with a post-modern world.
  • Noel and Kyle Becchetti, who through their ministry with the Center for Student Missions provided great mission experiences for my groups from 3 different churches to 3 different cities.
  • The great people at Interlinc, who provided me with great music, great videos, and most recently a chance to write Bible studies for youth pastors.  Plus their booth in the exhibit hall was always the most fun!
  • Todd Temple, whom I first met in the late 1980's when he was leading events for YS (Anyone remember Grow For It?) and who later was the founder of MediaShout.  He never failed to greet me warmly and sit and chat, even if I did like to remind him that he used to look like Fabio...
  • Laurie Polich, who whose seminars on small groups were practical and awesome.  She literally wrote the book on the subject. 
  • General Session speaker Stephen Glenn, who in Chicago in 1988 taught me the 7 questions to ask if I never wanted students to tell me anything meaningful:  "Did ya? Can ya?  Will ya?  Won't ya?  Don't ya?  Can't ya?  Aren't ya?"  The only answers they can give are a hrumph, a grunt, a shrug or a whatever.  I never forgot the lesson.
  • Tiger McLuen, who taught me so much about how to train the Youth Ministry Teams that I worked with...
  • Louie Giglio, whose I AM NOT general session message (Phoenix, 2003- I think?) not only became a theme in my teaching, but inspired me to write a song of the same name.
  • Doug Fields, who as a seminar leader and a General Session helped us all understand what being purpose driven could mean to a student ministry.  The fact that Doug is now in leadership at YS is an encouraging sign.
  • Rich Bundschuh, Jim Hancock, Rich Van Pelt, Jay Delph, Duffy Robbins, Efrem Smith, Jim Burns, Mark Ostreicher and so many others who always made me feel like family year after year.
  • Debbie Morris, whose general session talk on Forgiving the Dead Man Walking showed me a deeper grace than anything I had ever seen from another human.  When my own life crashed, thinking of her words so often gave me hope that people (I already knew God would) might be able to forgive me too.
  • Andy Stanley, Phil Vischer, Will Willimon, Brennan Manning, Steve Taylor, Philip Yancey, Chris Hill and Mike Yaconelli- general session speakers who were so good that I bought the CD (well, mostly tapes actually.  I'm old...).
  • Curt Cloninger, Lost And Found, The Skit Guys, Ted & Lee, CPR and Geoff MooreNYWC performers who became my friends over the years.  With the exception of the The Skit Guys, I hosted all of them at my churches at least once.
  • Les Christie.  Despite the fact that he led the same 2 seminars-Incredibly Hot Games and Dealing With Obnoxious Students- at every NYWC I ever attended, I never once sat in on one of them.  It was comforting to know he was always there, and we had fun combining the 2 titles into How To Play Games With Incredibly Hot Obnoxious Students...
  • And finally- J. David Stone, without whom I might have never known that student ministry could be a life-long calling, and whose seminar on Creative Movement was the first one I ever attended.  "Do ya, do ya, do ya wanna dance..."  Thanks Dave!
I could go on and on and on. I know the NYWC has changed a great deal since my final one in Charlotte, 2006.  Leadership has changed and so has some of the focus. It is no longer the YS of Yac, Wayne, Marko and Tic.  But the impact continues to be strong. And the influence it had on my life will never be forgotten.  The students I served all of those years owe much to the wonderful folks at Youth Specialties.

Because of Jesus,


  1. I am blessed once again to get to attend YS this year in Dallas. YS teaches so much, but also always reminds me why I love to work with the youth. YS is also my own personal spiritual renewal.

    1. Tammy, regardless of how jealous I might be that you are still going, I also have to admit that you are my hero for all of the years you have given as a a volunteer. Even though your kids aged out YEARS ago! LOL Love you!

    2. Hey, watch those YEARS, buddy. I love the kids and every time I think I need to step down something happens that reminds me why I am still there. Our church just celebrated its 175th anniversary and several youth came back, one of who is a UM minister. Proud moments, but I know I just had a smidgen to do with what God has done in their lives. Wish you could be there with us, I will see what trouble I can get into at the Interlinc booth for you. I cannot believe that the Newsboys are going to be in concert all around Dallas while we are there and will not be at YS (boooooooooooooo)Give my love to all, Love you, Tammy

    3. It is so amazing to have students come back and you can actually SEE that you have made a difference. Sorry about the Newsboys, but I am sure the NYWC will rock your socks off anyway. :) And yes..any trouble you can cause Interlinc feel free to blame on me!


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