What happened in New Orleans DOESN'T stay in New Orleans

Like most of our disciplemaking adventures, this one started off with Chunky Monkey ice cream at Midway Airport.

After a five hour delay (and a lot more Chunky Monkey ice cream… and maybe some popcorn), we were finally on our way to New Orleans and the Evangelical Free Church of America's National Student Ministries Conference known as Challenge 2012!

Inside of the convention center, we found our Cadre ministry spot… where each day we encouraged and connected with pastors and youth leaders before and after main events and our training labs. It wasn't Eysals Coffee, but it got me through the week… barely :  )

Time with Pastor Larry from MN. (Our plane arrived in New Orleans about 1 AM because of the storms in IL. I didn't get to sleep until after 2 AM. I'm pretty sure my eyes aren't actually open in this picture.)

One of the main session gatherings with 5,400 students and youth leaders.

Cadre Ministries did 16 equipping lab training sessions. Yes, we were pooped.  But it was a good kind of pooped… and we loved every student and youth leader we got to interact with!

The students and youth leaders totally engaged our training labs on Jesus-like disciplemaking and disciplemaking as a way of life. Frankly, the students were leading the way!

And we may have had some fun and goofed off a little along the way. May have.

Love this youth leader! He's sitting in the front with students… not in the back of the room apart from students.

We may have gotten out once or twice for that famous New Orleans bread pudding.  May have.  I'm not one to put the words "bread" and "pudding" together, but that stuff was magical.

Each morning started with a youth leader's gathering. These youth leaders came from all over the USA for Challenge 2012… and some even came from out of the country! One of our dearest disciplemaking friends, Ron Kirkeen, leads the way for the Great Lakes youth leaders. And that fanny pack he's sporting… well… it's beyond words and makes him a hit with kids everywhere.

The feeding of the 5,000… literally. Here's where everyone got lunch everyday. Can you imagine putting on lunch for 5,400 students and youth leaders? It's like living at the Allison's.

Here's one of the equipping labs we did: Helping students and youth leaders create an environment for disciplemaking. One youth leader wrote on my Facebook: "So thankful for great your words this afternoon, my students and us leaders loved it!"

Did I mention that New Orleans has this magical stuff called bread pudding? Who knew, right?

EFCA National Student Ministries Director, Shane Stacey (second from the left), with some of those people who made Challenge 2012 happen so well.

Not only did I do equipping labs at Challenge, but I also volunteered to watch over the Oreos in the  youth leaders hospitality room. Someone's got to do it. I was happy to serve in this way.

In my opinion, this (below) was the most strategic gathering of the whole Challenge Conference. Toward the end of the conference, 1,200 youth leaders gathered together to be encouraged and equipped to come alongside of students AFTER the conference… to continue partnering with God in the good work he was doing in the students. The other name for this is DISCIPLEMAKING. I don't how to describe what God did in this room other than to say He did something VERY special and meaningful. I sensed we were all hearing from God in a personal and practical way. That's why were all gathered together to begin with!

We (Cadre) loved partnering with Jesus and the EFCA student ministries in New Orleans at Challenge 2012. Please say a prayer RIGHT NOW for all the parents and youth leaders as they come alongside of these students now that the conference is over. The conference is over… the Jesus-like disciplemaking as a way of life continues.


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