This week I had the pleasure of attending Jeanne Mayo’s National Youth Leader’s Coach conference. (NYLC) I connected with Jeanne over 7 years ago through The Cadre, which is a mentoring program for youth pastors. To say it has had a impact on my personal life and ministry would be an understatement. If you are in youth ministry you really need to check it out. It has been an honor to stay connected over the years with the other men and women who are also in the trenches of youth ministry.
NYLC has traditionally been held every 3 years. This is the second one I was able to attend. This year it was in Dallas, Texas. The warm southern Spring weather was a delight to visit. I was able to bring one of our adult leaders from RSM and two students who are upperclassmen in high school. Our local school system was on Spring break this week and it hindered many of our other leaders from being able to attend. I am thankful for the opportunity to connect with with our group, we had more than a few laughs. It is also a huge win to invest into the lives of those who are continually giving themselves away.
There are so many takeaways from this years conference. I could probably write a few more posts on each of the sessions and break outs. This year the main session speakers were Jeanne Mayo, Mark Batterson, Christine Caine, Heath Adamson, and Craig Groeschel. Each of them had so much to bring to the table. I was most impressed with their hearts for Jesus. It is great in such a self centered culture to hear those who are all in with their pursuit of God. While each had very different speaking styles and topics in the end they all pointed towards Christ. I am thankful to each of them for their investment and that they take the time to speak to a room full of youth leaders.
The theme this year was “Anthem”. We were reminded of the multiplying impact of our faithfulness and obedience. One of my favorite quotes was “Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.” It really brought into focus the eternal implications of what we are doing here with our time on earth. What made this particular quote even more powerful was who said it. Jeanne brought her very own volunteer youth leaders from the 1960’s, Dick & Barbara Williams (pictured below). They were now in their late 70’s. They both shared memories of Jeanne as a teen. They also recounted their story as volunteer youth leaders at a small local church in Indianapolis. They shared how blessed they were to see the fruit of the small seed they planted so many years ago. Getting to attend a conference with thousands of youth leaders and recognizing that their willingness to serve played a part. It was an incredibly powerful image and they were about the sweetest couple you have ever seen.
As I head home on the plane my heart and head are full. So many practical ideas and steps to take, and with so much inspiration for what is next. I am thankful that after all these years I am still in the game. There have been many times where the exit ramp was strongly calling my name. It is amazing how being reminded of what we already know can make such a big impact. I tell our leaders that will never fully know the impact we will have on this side of eternity. It is stunning how one moment, act, or conversation can have such a profound impact. I am thankful to be reminded of that this week.
If you are ever looking for a great student ministry conference I would highly recommend it. I have friends who are no longer in youth ministry and they still attend because it is just that good. I am thankful to the many who contributed to create an event to invest in the lives of youth leaders. It goes to show that people still love Jesus, and love teenagers. My heart is full seeing leaders from all over the country gather to invest in themselves and become better at what they do. I am also continually thankful for the friendship and impact Jeanne has had on my life. One day it will truly be amazing to see just how many apples came from that one small seed.