Whether you are a Youth and Family Minister, lay church volunteer, solo pastor or even a senior pastor who rarely works with youth, the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza has something to offer to inspire, uplift, recharge your ministry and come up with new ideas.
This year’s theme was “Finding Forward.”
Most of the speakers addressed the fact that often what keeps us from going forward is getting stuck in the past, or stuck in disappointment that our present is not the future we anticipated.
The Sourcing Innovation Lecturing Fellow at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Marlon Hall encouraged listeners to nurture their creativity with challenging quotes like:
“I want to antagonize anything that inhibits creativity.”
“Comfort is the enemy of creativity. Creativity eats comfort for dinner”
“Never despise chaotic beginnings. God can use your present situation to fertilize your future.”
The Rev. Mike Rinehart, Bishop of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, preached on the disappointment of the disciples as they walked to Emmaus.
How do you explore forward when you’re stuck facing backward? How do you recover after you’ve seen a crucifixion? ”
The very thing that you think is broken in your life, God will use as good news.
The only prerequisite to being resurrected is being dead first. Let the Risen Christ take your heartburn and turn it into a heart filled with faith, hope, and love.
Jamie Bruesehoff shared the story of her family’s journey to embracing their eldest transgender daughter and the importance of making the church a safe place for transgender youth.
“Our children have made us better parents and better people. Our kids are okay, they’re just fine, it’s everybody else that we’re worried about.
Trans-persons are whole and holy, created in the image of God. The Church is whole and holy when ALL are able to live out who they were created to be.”
Emcee Joe Davis is currently the Artist-in-Residence at Luther Seminary. His poetry and wordplay challenged us in new ways.
“There is no grace period. Just grace. Period.”
“We may not be all-powerful. But we are ALL powerful.”
There were 90 workshops offered including everything from leadership and administration, Ministry tools, Children’s Ministry, Social Media, Diversity, Wellness and more. Some were offered by experts in the field, most by peers who were happy to share their wisdom learned firsthand in the field.
There were worship and music opportunities for creative expressions. And time for networking and making connections.
I believe our best hopes for the ELCA can be found in the work that is being done by the ELCA Youth Ministry Network, and I’m willing to bet you will see that too when you go to next year’s Extravaganza.