Ok, I must admit that I slept in Tuesday AM. But..from what I heard it was a great morning!
There was a coffee and conversation time with Rollie Martinson followed by a lecture from Kendra Dean on the importance of youth work.
In the afternoon, Tony Jones lead another table talk time with Andy and Kenda focussing on Andy’s theological project and premise of hope in despair. Kenda’s discussion on passion was facilitated by Doug Pagitt.
There was plenty of group participation and collective brainstorming around these issues.
*Interesting note, that Tony specifically asked the audience of youth workers to give a concrete example of their theology in action, namely what is one particular thing that we do because of our theology?
No one raised a hand in response!
It seems we have moved so far away from programmatic youth ministry that we are afraid to admit if we still play games, do retreats, lead mission trips, etc…
As a side note, I personally believe that programs and traditional structure in youth ministry can still work, they just have to be contextualized and theologically thought through more than presently. We cannot, nor should not, base our programs from a book we read or simply because we used to do that while we were in youth group.
It is imperative that we critically ask the question, “Why are we doing this?” and what is this…. (insert name of activity or program) saying about our theology and what we believe the gospel to be?
The creators of First Third had a brilliant idea for dinner. They sent out 10 discussion groups to 10 different restaurant locations around the Twin Cities. Each group had a host (conversational facilitator) and a guided theme. The cost of the meal was included in the registration.
12 of us sat around a table with some great food and beverages discussing theological questions and concerns that have come up in our youth ministry, or our own personal journeys.
It was fascinating to hear the many different perspectives and views represented across the table. Not to mention that the Rooster burger was heavenly!
In no other conference would this mixture of youth workers gather together for community.
I ended the night with two other youth pastors at a cigar lounge where we discussed the future of youth ministry (what will the issues be ten years from now?, just how contextual does youth ministry need to be?, what will our roles in church be reformer or revolutionary?)
The last day began with (I suppose you could call it a presentation) on Spark house and their new innovative approach to rethinking confirmation.
I was very impressed with their vision, as well as resources and would recommend checking it out. Even if you do not teach a formal confirmation class, it is one of the better holistic, creative, sensory, and theological “disciplship” resources I have seen. You will want to check out Re:Form curriculum @ Re:Form
You will also want to check out some of their innovative teaching and discussion starter videos @ Sparkhouse videos
FirstThird attendees all then participated in chapel at Luther Seminary and I was blessed by the message from Kenda Dean, the worship, the hymns, and the holy Eucharist.
Kenda then presented Lecture #2 on the translating of our faith across generations. She offered some profound and inspirational thoughts on what it could mean to share our faith in both word and deed in the way that invited all to participate and receive.
Some rules for translation:
The best translators are people not programs
Translation works best in community
Translation can threaten those in charge
Through her talk, she both challenged and encouraged us to “Imagine the world as though the kingdom of God is at hand”, and to “Imagine the world is better than it is and live as though it were possible!”
Kenda posed the question, what if our job is not to convince young people that Jesus is alive but rather to live like it?
Unfortunately I had to leave shortly after our taco buffet lunch and missed the last discussion session, but I am sure that the Twitter feed and #1st3rd will fill me in.
I will write up a brief recap and final thoughts later.