Note: Double click any picture below to enlarge and get a much better view (again, I show my age by my fading eyesight).
True Confessions: When someone invites me to speak to and train over 400 volunteers who work in youth ministry, it's an encouragement and equipping temptation I can't resist! Throw in the added bonuses of partnering with the Peoria area Youth for Christ team—whom I deeply love and respect—and an additional 30 volunteer youth workers from the Peoria area—and having my 15-year-old son and a friend of his along... and it was a no brainer.And the Blue Men showed up too! They were a LOT of fun and huge hit with everyone the entire weekend. They didn't say much, but they communicated clearly.
We (the Peoria group) stayed in a monastery (at least that's what they told me). There were rumors of a ghost that roamed the halls at night, but it turned out to be band members who were seeking to frighten 15-year-old boys. It worked. They screamed like little girls.
Speaking of the band...
The worship band (all from the Peoria area) did a GREAT job of leading us to the throne of God—where we promptly opened our hearts to encounter God! I loved working closely with these guys because of their love for God and people. They could be Peoria's best kept ministry secret.Meanwhile, back the monastery, we had a blast enjoying community, connection, and comedy (needed a third "c" there). We played all kinds of games, ate way more junk food than we should have, and stayed up way too late laughing. But I think we'd all do it again in a heartbeat. (In the picture above, my son Bill wins in a round of Spoons. In later rounds he actually dove onto the floor for the spoon.)I did two breakout training sessions at the conference. One was just for YFC staff on How to Shepherd Volunteers and the other was just for YFC volunteers on Your First and Most Important Job as a Volunteer Youth Leader. In the picture above, over a hundred volunteers work on creating their very own personal growth plan!Pictured above: Some of the Peoria area Youth for Christ volunteers and staff. In my opinion, a conference is an excuse to do extended time with others! Yeah, I think God was active during the music, fun, and speaking. That was obvious to all there. But what is often less obvious is this: God was just as active during the ride to and from. He was at work just as much as we laughed, prayed, and played together—outside of the conference program. What do I mean? Well let me say it this way: I love God more and people more as a direct result of spending last weekend with these people... conference or no conference.