Just got back from Christ in Youth conference at Chapman University in Orange, CA. Spend a day on the beach, several days on the campus, got to meet a ton of people, and saw some pretty cool stories emerge from people’s lives.

My brain’s been going a thousand miles an hour… it requires a lot of thinking on the fly to make decisions for 400 people. There’s something about that that I live for though… the thrill of making the call, right or wrong, and seeing what happens. I’m excited for a lot of the students that had experiences this week that caused them to rethink their lives, and for some of them even started them on a new journey.

Transportation was the biggest headache. We ferried everyone back and forth from the beach twice, and throughout the whole week, we only left four students behind.

What’s interesting is that ALL FOUR of those students were in my family group… and I’m supposed to set the example??!! I’m not even an intern anymore so I can’t use that excuse. Other than that, problems were minimal… or at least no one got caught.

My favorite story of the week was when a girl from our student ministry who was a graduating senior got up at our youth group time with a friend of hers that she had been trying to get to come to church for 3 years, praying for her, inviting her to everything, but no matter what she did, nothing stuck. For the first time in her life, this girl made a decision to follow Christ, all because of the persistant influence of one of her friend.

Wow. Talk about “influence.”

I’ve also, under the coaching and wisdom of youth ministry legend, Dennis Bloodworth, come to begin to understand the role of the pastor as the “shepherd” of teenagers. The shepherd serves the sheep… and has to watch out for them. The shepherd always has to be watching to see the things that no one else sees that are going on in the lives of students, and also “wolves” and “lions” that might be potentially harmful to the sheep.

There was a guy that was making several comments to some of our girls that made them uncomfortable and touching them in inappropriate ways. We dealt with the guy immediately, but I was reminded of the importance of taking that role as the “shepherd” of other people. I once heard someone say that “leadership is a serious meddling in the lives of others.” Shepherds have to take seriously what is going on in the lives of those around them, and I feel a new and real burden to fulfil that role.

I’m excited for the rest of this year… I”m excited for students to get involved in Cylinders, to go through our SEALS program, to gear up for our Mexico trip, and to be awakened to lives that they never dreamed of living. I’m excited to help them to find purpose… lives that don’t just try and stay away from bad things, but actively pursue good things… things that cause the heart of God to beat. Thank God for a great week of conference.

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