Last week I went to a Youthworks conference called The Revolution will NOT be Televised.  It was their annual Youth Ministry Conference.  I thought I'd use this blog as a chance to digest some of what I learnt and reflect some of the encouraging things I learnt and conversations I had.

The Conference was held at Moore College.  It was interesting on one level to compare just how different Moore and Ridley.  It clearly has a lot more students and money than Ridley does.  The lecture room actual felt more like a University Lecture theatre than a small classroom.

It was a 2 day conference...

Day 1
I preached on Proverbs the night before the conference so I had to get up to Sydney in the morning before the conference began.  This meant getting up at 4:20am and leaving my house at 4:40 to get to the Airport in time to take a 6am flight!  Thanks must go to Ellisa who on the day she was leaving for her tassie holiday got up really early to drive me in to the airport!

So I was a little tired but still had a great day at the conference.

The first session was by a guy called Brett Bovey.  He had just finished up his work as a Youth Minister somewhere in Newcastle (north of Sydney).  I wasn't really 100% sure what his point was, but he made some statements that I thought were dangerous.  He warned against encouraging out youth to read their bibles and pray, and told us off for trying to hold our youth accountable.  In his defence I think he might have been trying to warn us against being religious about these practices and forgetting that what actually matters is a relationship with Jesus... however, I don't think he expressed that well at all.

The next session was by a bloke called Archie Poulos who is a lecture at Moore College.  He was excellent.  He talked about the role of the church and therefore youth ministry and challenged the notion that the church exists purely to do mission.  The church is special and we should avoid throwing stones at it.  The church is made up of people who are gathered around Christ and are egar to be like Christ.  The church is the fruit of God's mission not nesecarily the agent.  It was challenging but he seemed to give good support from the Bible for his claims... My notes are doing me a dis-service here!

Then we had lunch and I was able to catch up with and talk to Tim Hawkins, who is probably Australia's most experienced youth minister as well as being a very humble and Godly man who has been a great help and encouragement to me through my reading of his books and also the few times I've now had the chance to meet and chat with him.  I was able to share with him some of my joys and frustrations about being a Youth Minister in Melbourne (the conversation continued at dinner time too).

Then we moved into a time of workshops.  The first one I went to was called Beyond Programs and was run by Jon Thorpe, who works for Youthworks.  It was essentially about thinking about how we can go beyond our programs in growing and developing relationships with young people and pointing them to Jesus.  It was a helpful reminder that youth ministry is about much more than programs.

The second elective/worship I went to was called Survivor by another long timer in Youth Ministry, Cameron Hyslop.  This was probably one of my favourite sessions at the conference.  He talked about the many challenges of youth ministry and how to balance things and stay fit for a long life in youth ministry (and probably ministry in general).  He talked about thinking about work that encourages you and work that drains you and making sure you do both!  But definitely don't only do draining work!  He also talked about the need to be nourished physically, spiritually and emotionally.

After these workshops and sessions we headed back for another session in the main lecture room.  Her a guy called Josh Apieczonek spoke about social justice and youth ministry.  This guy was funny and engaging.  And even better he said good things.  He encouraged us to make sure we compared down and not up... that is when thinking about our wealth compare ourselves to people below us and not above us... this will leave us in no doubt about how well off we are (especially here in upper-middle class Doncaster!).  I liked that he encouraged us to do evangelism, which sometimes gets missed in social justice talks.

The conference then had a little bit of a break before dinner.  Dinner was just a low-ley casual event where again I got the chance to chat with Tim Hawkins.  This again was very encouraging for me.  So thanks Tim!  One of the things we had to do was draw on a plate a face that expressed how we felt about our year.  I drew a confused face because I wasn't sure.  On the one hand, I've had a great year!  On the other hand I've found some things very difficult, adjusting to a new church in a new city in a new state, with new friends and colleagues.  God is gracious and good though and I think in the end I am satisfied with what has almost been my first year in Melbourne.

The night ended with a few beers at a local pub with some people in Youth Ministry from around Australia.  I got to catch up with a guy I know from Perth which was good.  He happened to have been asked (several times) earlier on that day whether or not he had any 'blow' which we found out was street talk for drugs of some description...

I got to my accomodation at about 11:30 and was absolutely wrecked!  A 19 hour day with lots and lots of brain work!  I slept very well!