Friday, November 21, 2008

NYWC Nashville - Day 1

Day one started with General Session 1 at 1:00.
First up - Mercy Me.
I don't really care about them all that much.
The highlight of their show was when Bart Millard said, "I know we're kind of known as the make you cry, funeral song guys, with I Can Only Imagine and Homesick. But what we'd really like to do is write a really upbeat song for a birth, or a graduation or something!"

Next up - Francis Chan.
I had never heard Francis Chan before.
Tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm going to initiate something here. A new little scale I'm going to call "The Bell Curve". Last time I came to Nashville for NYWC was the first time I ever heard Rob Bell speak. It was a life-altering experience. Literally. So, using Rob's NYWC rookie appearance as the standard (the 100%, if you will), I will grade General Session speakers accordingly.
That being said, Francis Chan gets an 88%. He was phenomenal. Worth the price of admission. He was so good, you wondered why they didn't save him for later in the week, when everybody has worn themselves out and decide they've seen enough General Session speakers, and that they'd be better served by playing Rock Band in the Exhibit Hall.
I am buying the DVD of Francis Chan, and showing it to everybody I can get to sit still for 30 minutes.

After that (if you can believe it) - Crowder.
What can you say about the David Crowder Band (DCB)? They're brilliant. Turntables, keytar, banjo, and that awesome Guitar Hero controller they rigged to play actual music. Not only are they a great band, but they put on the best stage show I think I've ever seen live. U2 is the best stage show on earth, but I've never seen them live - only live on video or at the movies.
I can't seem to get enough of the DCB. The Bell Curve isn't really intended for bands, but if it was, the DCB would get a 95%.
I shot a video of them on my camera singing Hank Williams Sr.'s I Saw The Light...

It was such a long day, I don't remember what Seminar I went to next, or if I even did. Plus who cares what seminar you went to when General Session 2 was next and it had not 1;
not 2;
but 3 speakers,

DCB was brilliant AGAIN, and the speakers for Gen. Sess. 2 were:
Shane Claiborne, who talked about the need to live simply and have new eyes to see the poor, marginalized, and oppressed in our world.
Dude is a freak, looks like a cross between Shaggy, Rob Bell, and Predator, and cackles like somebody dropped a house on his sister.

Andrew Marin, a straight white dude who is living incarnationally in the Chicago neighborhood of Boys Town. He did a wonderful (if not a little self-serving) job convincing us of the need to reach out in love to the gay and lesbian community, and gave some compelling examples of redemptive work in the gay community that did not include trying to make gay people straight.
He also taught us that the word "homosexual" is offensive to gay and lesbian folks because basically it's too accurate a description of what they do, and that we should drop the word from our vocabularies.

and finally....
Tony Campolo - everybodys favorite crazy grandpa who happens to be a preacher/professor. Tony Campolo - who was tragically separated at birth from Lewis Black, who is clearly his twin.
It's funny that on Campolo's website, he's identified as "the positive prophet of red-letter Christianity", when his message to us was to go back and re-read Revelation 18 and 19, in light of the fact that America is Babylon the great. In fact, all dominant societies are Babylon, and are doomed to fall. He challenged us to decide to be, and to shape our students to be the type of people who are prepared to live not in Babylon, which is falling as we speak, but in the Kingdom of Heaven. Not the most positive message, but certainly very poignant, and thought provoking. Usually I shy away from those messages that compare America (or anything, really) to something in Revelation. But just YOU try it, and see what you think when you remember what's going on with our economy, and the economies of the world.

The official convention artist paints throughout the course of each General Session.
During today's Sessions, he painted the following paintings that are freaking brilliant:

That's enough for Day 1.
More on Francis Chan later... I'm still processing his talk, but I am certain I will have thoughts to discuss.
Next up, Day 3 - the laziest day so far.

NYWC Nashville - Prologue

Last time I went to National YouthWorker Convention - in Austin 2 years ago - I said I was going to be blogging from the convention. I lied. I posted once about seeing the David Crowder Band for the first time, and that was it. So here comes attempt #2 at blogging from the NYWC.

Abby and I are here in Nashville at the Millenium Maxwell House Hotel. It's currently 32 degrees outside (at about 11:00 a.m.), and last night it snowed while we were waiting for the shuttle back to the hotel. Yeah- it's freakin' cold. Jedidiah is going to make a fortune this week on beanie hats. I should open a little chap-stick (or lip-chap, if you prefer) stand and make a fortune.

At registration we got our complimentary Youth Specialties bags, which are very cool this year.

This Freeset Bag tells a story of one woman's journey to freedom. She used to stand with 6,000 other prostitutes in a small but well-known area of North Calcutta. She didn't choose her profession; it chose her. Poverty does that. It robs people of their dignity and children of their innocence.

She still lives in the same area, but instead of selling her body, she makes Freeset Bags. Now she has choices - the choice to work decent hours for decent pay, to reestablish her dignity in her community, and to learn to read and write. Now her daughter won't have to stand in the street selling her body like she did. Freedom has been passed on to the next generation.

It feels like it's made out of hemp or something, and they come in two colors, army green and khaki.

Some other shwag we picked up along our journey through the YS store...

There was a 40% off Bible sale going on yesterday only, and we picked up these sweet pocket sized NIV Thinlines, along with some other stuff.

Today we make our first real pass through the big scary Exhibit Hall, where I will register to win about a gazillion iPods, Wii's, free t-shirts and vacations. Also- I'll be handed a bunch of useless crap like that foam finger up there, which will likely end up in the garbage, and is probably not easily bio-degradable. C'est la vie.

The theme for this year is
Seriously Ridiculous.
The opening General Session is at 1:00 p.m. today. Francis Chan is speaking, David Crowder Band is leading worship and Mercy Me is performing. I'm really looking forward to this week.
More updates to follow.