There’s a conference that happens every year called ICOM (International Conference on Missions). It used to be called the National Missionary Convention, but they changed the name a couple years ago, I think to more accurately reflect who comes & to be a little more clear about who else could come. I’ve taken students to the conference one other time (there’s a separate student convention alongside everything else), but we don’t get to go very often because it’s never close enough to get to during the school year. This year, though, Kansas City is close enough, so we’ll load up a couple vans and hit the road tomorrow! (ICOM planners… How ’bout Denver sometime?)
So, the next 4 days will see me covering over 1000 miles with a van load of teens to attend a couple days of a convention, and it’s been brought to my attention that this is not normal behavior for those of us in the graying temples phase of life. Most of my peers (do youth ministers really have those?) think I must be getting punished for something. So, why am I so excited for this particular trip?
Here are a few reasons.
- The Speaker: A few years ago, our students were introduced to Mark Moore at CIY Move. They responded to his challenge, engaged in his messages, and have looked forward to any chance they get to hear him preach. I know it sounds like a lie, but this was the clincher for several of my kids. I can’t wait to process through the messages with them, as they always come away challenged to implement some change in their lives and our ministry together.
- The Worship: Another favorite of our WestWay kids has been Jordan Howerton. We brought out his band a couple years ago for a spring event we hosted and immediately connected with his heart for worship and ministry. For me, no matter who is leading, it’s always exciting to be a part of a high energy, high volume group of young people who are pouring out their hearts in prayer (LOUD, bass-thumping prayer) to our Maker!
- The Concept: I love the work projects that ICOM has set up to feed people and build walls for buildings with Crossroads Missions. Even more, I love how students are challenged to think of life as their mission field. Whether they ever fly to another country or not, they are being sent into their world on the mission of Christ. I’ve always tried to get my students to think of themselves as missionaries to whatever part of the world they happen to be in, whether they ever fit into the traditional go-to-the-other-side-of-the-planet missionary frame or not. We are ambassadors to the whole world, not just the other parts of it. I love how ICOM gathers people from all over the world to share what God is doing globally. It helps my students realize how they can serve right where we live and everywhere else, too.
- The Connection: I have friends, former students, and classmates who do serve ‘everywhere else’ and it’s always a great opportunity to spend some time together. It’s also exciting to meet new people from places I know nothing about who can teach me a little more about the world than I knew before. The relationships that can be sparked are enriching both me personally and the church as a whole.
So what are you looking forward to this weekend? Why?