It's Monday morning. Amy and I are home from our 2016 National Youth Workers Convention (NYWC) experience. NYWC is our annual pilgrimage to join with thousands of youth workers for training, encouragement, resourcing, connecting, and rest! This being my 14th NYWC, I can honestly say, it's still my most favorite ministry week of the year!
This morning I wanted to simply share the 2 highlight videos from the weekend. My hope is to give you just a little snapshot of the weekend, and how important it is that youth workers attend NYWC! I'm sure I'll share more about the convention later in the weeks to come, but for now, enjoy the 2 videos.
Thursday & Friday Recap
It really was an amazing weekend, and I am so honored to be able to be a part of the YS/NYWC staff.
One of the great things about NYWC is the Exhibit Hall! Packed with over 150 vendors, it really is one of the best place to find great resources and tools! But the weekend is already flying by. I mean, it's already Saturday. So with time running out, here are three of my favorite exhibitors!
1. Youth Ministry 360 (YM360)
Youth Ministry 360 (YM360)...
Les and Andy, co-founders of YM360, have created an incredible line of resources for youth workers. What started as bible studies and curriculum has grown to include camps, conferences, missions, trainings, and much, much more. YM360 provides biblically solid materials that are easy to use and easy to teach. I've used their materials multiple times in different settings and found great success. Be sure to stop by their booth and check out the incredible selection of tools and resources.
2. Download Youth Ministry (DYM)
Download Youth Ministry...
At this point, I'm sure you've heard about Download Youth Ministry (DYM). Started but Doug Fields and Josh Griffin, DYM provides affordable resources that have been created by youth workers. Whether you need a game or a study or a series, DYM offers High Quality, Easy to Use, Inexpensive, Trench-tested. I've been using the DYM resources for about a year now, and I love that they are quick to access, download and use. I don't have to really worry about content, typos or formatting uses.
3. Youth Specialties Events Booth
The Youth Specialties Event Booth...
Did you know that NYWC is only one small part of the YS family of events? In fact, YS is part of a much large family. Real Resources, "a Christ-centered, multi-denominational 501(c)3 nonprofit. Founded upon the belief that teens are a vital part of the Church today, and God has uniquely equipped them to live out His love in the world" (as per the Real Resources website). Along with NYWC, YS sponsors Planet Wisdom, a student event designed to "empower students to become thinking, growing, authentic followers of Jesus Christ in today’s world." (as per the Planet Wisdom website). But there is also YS Team Training, the YS Coaching, YS Search, and the YS Job Bank. Stop by the YS Booth and discover just how big, and how helpful the YS tent is.
There you are, three of my favorites. Not the only three, but the three I have time to share. Hopefully after the convention I will be able to share a few more great resources with you. Till then, have a great convention!
Whether you are a rookie or a veteran, every visit to NYWC comes with questions. From finding a cheap, but delicious place to eat, to I've just had a really tough year where can I find some help, we're going to do our best to help you out!
In todays post, I want to take a quick minute to share 3 places where you can find help while at NYWC this weekend.
1. The HUB
Stop number one brings us to the HUB. Here is where you can ask just about any question. Mind you, the answer you get might not resemble the question, but at least it's an answer. Just kidding! My friends serving at the HUB are well versed in all things NYWC. Questions about seminars, Big Rooms, places to eat, and even logistical questions, the HUB can point you in the right direction!
The HUB is located on the first floor of the Duke Energy Convention Center at the main entrance. You almost can't miss them as they are almost the first thing you see when entering.
2. The Queen City Host Team
New to NYWC, the Queen City Host Team! This is a team of volunteers made up by local youth workers on the ground right here in Cincinnati! And these guys know there stuff! If you have questions about Cincinnati like, awesome local eateries, or I have about 5 hours to kill, what's something awesome I can do here in the city, they can definitely help you out! In fact, prior to the convention, these guys got together and made a short video with a list of great things to do while in Cincinnati this weekend! Check it out here just below.
You'll find the Queen City Host Team on the second floor of the Duke Energy Convention Center right above the HUB!
3. Get Some Coaching
Lastly we come to the YS Coaching area. What is coaching? Think of it as a sit down conversation with a good friend and a cup of coffee, but your friend is an experienced and training student ministry coach and they want to help you be awesome! Has it been a tough year? Are you feeling like you're not get anywhere? Is there a change in your future? Are you wondering if youth ministry is for you? I'm about to make a major programmatic change, what's the best way to do it? Hey, I'm not sure if the brown shoes goes with this black belt, what do you think?
The YS Coaches are here and are ready to meet with you! You can schedule a FREE, 40 minute session with them by going to their table and singing up for an opening. But be warned, coaching sessions fill up quick, so if you're thinking you might want to talk with someone, sign up sooner than later!
You'll find the YS Coaches next to the HUB on the first floor of the Duke Energy Convention Center.
Okay, there you have it, 3 places to find some quick help where here in Cincinnati!
And of course, when you're in a pinch, you can also ask anyone of the NYWC staff. You'll know us because we all wear the same color shirts that have STAFF printed on the back! We would love to help you in anyway we can!
Have a great day, here at NYWC, Cincinnati!!!
After a year of waiting, it’s finally here, the National Youth Workers Convention 2016 (NYWC)! It’s like Christmas, only without the wrapping paper, candy canes, Santa, reindeer, pine trees, and garland. Okay, so maybe it’s not like Christmas, but it’s still AWESOME!!
Tonight we kicked off the weekend with our first Big Room session and the grand opening party for the Exhibit Hall!! Here are just a few pictures from tonights party!
DJ Bobbito the Chef providing the musical backdrop!
Our friends from YS events, already getting a jump on next years convention!
The exhibit hall is loaded with over 150 different vendors. You can find just about anything, and everything ministry related. be sure to spend some time visiting with the exhibitors!
There's a lot to see. Don't make just one trip. Multiple trips through the exhibit hall will prove super helpful. They will allow you to take your time, talk with the various exhibitors, and feel less overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and size.
I know that we are only a few hours into the weekend, but it's already off to a great start.
I want to invite you to follow along with me this weekend as I highlight some of my favorite parts of the convention. From books and resources to seminars and exhibitors, I'll share what I love, who is helpful, and where you can make the most of your time at NYWC.
Follow me on social media as I share the convention as both a behind-the-scenes volunteer and a long-time attendee!
In my first countdown to NYWC post, I shared a video created by the NYWC staff and the host team, which shared a few fun things to do while in Cincinnati! [ CLICK HERE ] But today I'm here on site, in Cincinnati, as we get ready for this years national Youth Workers Convention!!
We arrived late in the afternoon of Tuesday, found our hotel, got settled, and then rushed off to join the rest of the volunteer team to begin our orientation. Since then, it has been a flurry of excitement as the team works to get the convention center ready to welcome and host the thousands of youth workers who will flood Cincinnati in just a matter of hours.
This is my 8th year returning as a volunteer to help the YS staff; 4th year as a member of the main stage team. All total, this year will be my 16th convention. I've been attending since 1999, and have been apart of the convention through it's many, recent transitions. I always get a little anxious when I hear about transition, simply because of how important YS and NWYC have become.
NYWC has been a significant staple throughout my ministry career. It has shaped how I think, practice and pass along youth ministry. The convention has served as a place for training, mixing practical tips with solid educational materials. NYWC has been the igniter switcher, keeping me fired up and excited about my ministry. It's a constant in my ministry.
And now here I am again.
I am very proud to say, we have a great weekend ahead. From the seminars to the Big Room general sessions, the exhibit hall to the book store, the HUB, sanctuary, prayer room, and the Idea Lab, we are ready! Ready to welcome, serve, care for, and celebrate YOU, the youth worker!
So please know that...
We are praying for you.
We are excited to meet you.
And we can't wait to see you!
NYWC 2016. Cincinnati. Arise!
Regardless of who you voted for and the outcome of election day, life still goes on. Despite how grim many projected the world would be, I woke up. I opened my eyes. I breathed in. I breathed out. My kids were getting ready for school. My wife was getting ready for her day. And in the background, the never ending commentary of analysts and talking heads droning on about their shock, surprise, and amazement of the last 12 hours. Here’s the reality, Trump won; though I guess now the proper phrasing would be, President Elect Trump has won.
It’s happened. What many said was impossible is now true. The system said to be “rigged” has been ripped open. I watched as state after state was shaded in red, sending more and more electoral votes to the republican canidate. All of this as Democrats stood, watching in unbelief.
Now, as the day begins, I wonder, What Do We Do Now?
What do we do now?
As a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ, a husband and father, a pastor and teacher, and one who people look to for advice and counsel, what do we do now? What do I say? How do I respond? How do I encourage those around me?
This morning I turned to the Gospel of John, chapters 13-17. I turned to these chapters because of what we see happening. Jesus is about to go to the cross then return to his Father. He was saying goodbye to his followers. Life was about to get all jacked up. The disciples really had no idea what was about to happen. And while they struggled with confusion, anxiety, fear, and the what happens now, he leaves them with some final words, words I think we should take heed to.
As followers of Christ, I believe, more than ever, we must return to simply instructions of Jesus.
1. Live as servants.
In the opening verses of John 13, Jesus does something unexpected and unbelievable, he washes the feet of his disciples. A humbling (and kinda’ gross thing) act of service, foot washing was the task of the lowest servant or the youngest child of the house. But here, Jesus humbles himself and takes up the work of a servant and washes feet. In verse 12, he asks the disciples if they understand what had just happened. Lost in shock and bewilderment, they’re without response. So Jesus says, “I have set [for] you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:15 NIV)
What was the example, that we should go around washing peoples feet? No. The example is that Jesus, chose to lower himself to serve others. In fact, when you look at Jesus’ earthly ministry, most of what he does he does as one who is serving.
As believers, we are called to do what Christ has done. He commands it, “do as I have done…” Serving is not a political position. It’s not republican or democrat, it’s biblical. To serve is to see the need of another, and help. It’s caring for another, regardless of gender, party line, or who they voted for. As the Church and as a country, it’s time for those who claim the name of Jesus to begin living as Christ.
2. Love one another
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (john 13:34-35 NIV)
There is a mark that rests on all believers that is seen by everyone and that is our love. Sadly when those outside the community of faith think about believers, love is one of the last things they think of. There is a lack of love among us. We hold to ideals and positions, opinions and politics, and too often we forget to love. Even in our churches, we fail doing the very thing Jesus has called us to do, love one another.
Loving another isn’t in finding those who share your opinions and ideals, beliefs and positions, thus making life easier and right. Love is love when you look past an opinion or a belief and see the work of the Creator. We are all made in the image and likeness of God ,and we are called to love everyone regardless of their political or religious position.
In Matthew 5, Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46-48 NIV) If we just love those like us, how are we really loving? But to step out and love everyone regardless of who they are, well, that’s the love Jesus is talking about.
We need this kind of love; in our churches and in our nation.
3. Remain in me.
In John 15, Jesus describes himself as the true vine. We in turn are the branches. He says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NIV)
How will we navigate the challenges to come? We abide in Christ.
You see, in order for us to accomplish the first two tasks, serving others and loving others, we must be connected to the source of love. Without this connection we will fail.
So what does that look like, to “remain in me?” I believe it’s a daily confession that we need Jesus. We need him working in our lives. We need him working in our churches. We need him working in our nation. For those who profess Christ, that means we are devoting ourselves to the the teachings of Jesus and we do what he has called us to do.
This is done in fervent and continuous prayer, a hunger to know God’s Word and apply your life to it, and relying on the knowledge that God is still sovereign. We trust in God first, live like Christ second. We don’t panic. We don’t hate. We don’t hold our opinions as fact. We don’t shot out the other side. We don’t think we know it all. Instead, we love. We value those around us. We care for those around us. We hope for a kingdom to come. And we remain rooted with the Vine.
4. We pray.
In the closing verses of John, chapter 17, Jesus prays. He prays first for himself, then his followers, and then for the followers to come, us. He prays for their protection. He prays for their unity. He prays that they boldness to be and do who and what God has called them to do.
Likewise, we need to pray. We need to pray for our elected candidates. We need to pray for their safety. We need to pray for unity among the parties and across this nation. We need to pray that our leadership submit surrender to God and allow His hand to lead them as they serve the office and the nation. We need to pray that instead of focusing on what separates and divides, we begin to focus on what can bring us together, peace, love and reconciliation.
And we need to pray that what Jesus prayed for comes to be, “all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23 NIV)
Serve. Love. Remain. Pray.
Republican. Democrat. Believer. Non-believer. What matters most is how we live.
For me, though I may live here, my home is elsewhere. But while I am here, I want to live as Christ has called me to live; serving those in need, loving all who surround me, rooting myself in the truths of God’s Word, and bending my knees towards the Creator of Life itself.
So in some small way, the election outcome really doesn’t matter. Sure there may be some issues that we might lean toward in one direction or the other. But that is one of the freedoms that come with living in our nation. I can believe what I believe, and you can believe what you believe. You can choose to have your opinions, and I can choose to have my opinions. It doesn’t make us wrong, just individuals. But what makes us both right is when we can respect each other and still work together to make life better for someone else.
Church, let’s be the Church. Let’s do our part to heal the nation. Let’s pursue Christ as we serve and love others. Let’s rely on the eternal blood of Jesus and not on the temporary practices of man. And let’s join together on bended knee as we seek the wisdom that comes from God alone.
Jay Higham is a veteran youth worker of over 28 years; having worked with students in the local church and Christian camping settings. Jay is currently serving as the director of family ministry at a church, located in West Virginia. Jay has been married to Amy for over 23 years. Together, they are raising 5 kids, (4 boys and 1 girl). Jay is an aspiring author, blogger, speaker, vlogger, and social media junkie. He is passionate about student ministry, family ministry, and training youth workers to love and serve their students with passion and excellence.