Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Youth Specialties Blogservations

The National Youth Workers Convention: Where the men's line is longer than the women's.

I just returned from the National Youth Specialties Conference in Pittsburgh. Wow! What an amazing experience. Here are some of the highlights:

*Doug Fields from Saddleback increased my newly acquired addiction to pre-packaged curriculum.

*If you are single and looking for a spouse, sign up for NYWC regardless of whether or not you're a youth pastor. People were looking. People were looking very openly. Once woman posted her personal information on a bulletin board. When checking out women, most guys try to slyly lower their eyes to check out a figure. Not Youth Specialty guys. Youth Specialty guys still look down, only they're checking out the all important finger.

*They give out AMAZING bags. Paul Kind told me about these bags. He specifically said, "Don't worry about bringing a bag, they give you really cool bags." At the time I thought he simply had some kind of bag fetish. But he was right. They were really cool. Sorry, Paul.

*If you go to a NYWC be sure to sign up for a free consulation with a youth group consultant. Wow. You get an hour with an expert who scrutinizes your youth group (I actually signed up twice to meet with two different guys, but don't tell anyone).

*If you ever get the chance to hear Tony Compolo speak on politics, take it. Even if you don't agree with him, he'll get you thinking. Compolo's lecture of politics somewhat summed up my political shaping at seminary. I picked up a few copies of this lecture if you want to borrow it...This was the highlight of my NYMC experience.

*I can tell who is from California just by looking at them. I'm serious. I can.

* I echo Paul Kind's suggestion to sign up for a small group. I met up with a handful of strangers and greatly enjoyed their company.

*Biggest take away thought from Doug Fields: "Jesus left people unhealed. He left questions unanswered."

*I lost count of how many illustrations were given where the youth pastor sweeps in as "the Jesus" of the story. I lost count how often I heard the rough equivalent of, "Jesus did it like 'X', therefore we should do it like 'X'." As someone who struggles with somewhat of a Messiah Complex (ie: I MUST do this...If I don't do this, no one else will...I must bring this person to faith, etc), I had to keep stepping back and say, "Yes, Jesus lives a sinless life. Yes, I want to live a sinless life. But I am not Jesus. I cannot die for people's sins. I cannot WWJD because I am not the Son of God." I'm still pondering this issue...where is the line? When does my trying to act like Jesus become idolic?

*I needed to get away for a few days to break my newly aquired "Alias" addiction brought on by our recent subscription to Netflix. I knew I was watching too much when I packed my luggage and asked myself if I "had all my intel."

*My main suggestion to NYWC: Have a funny woman on stage. Right now it seems like the men are funny and the women pray. (I also told them to put cookies in our dinner boxes, but I didn't think this suggestion was as important.)

*I had some conversations I wanted to pass on to you. Some unbelievably funny...others just unbelievable.

Conversation #1:
Person 1: So Amanda, where did you go to seminary?
Me: I went to Princeton Seminary.
(Long Pause)
Person 1: Oh. Um. Uh. I don't really like to think that much.

Conversation #2 (I wish I could say the below conversation only took place once):

Person 1: What do you do at your church?
Me: I'm a youth pastor.
Person 1: A volunteer?
Me: No, I'm a youth pastor.
Person 1: You mean you assist the youth pastor?
Me: No, I'm a youth pastor.
Person 1: So you're like a director.
Me: No, I'm a youth pastor.

The people I had the above conversation were not necessarily against women pastors, actually they were just suprised--they hadn't seen many. Most of them were women, who after they finally got it said, "Oh! Great! I want to do that too, someday." (By the way, I'm currently working on a women in ministry post that I hope to put up next week...stay tuned.)

Conversation #3:

Man 1: Are you married, Amanda?
Me: Yes, I've been married for 3 years.
Man 1: Do you have any kids?
Me: No.
Man 1: Oh. Are you waiting for your husband to be ready?"
Me: (Long pause) Uh, no. Not really. We're both fine where we're at right now.

*Another highlight for me was realizing how much I missed being at DUMC. I couldn't wait to get back to my job. I like what I do.

*Next year I'd like to coordinate all the Wesleyan Youth Pastors going to this event...let's talk...


Gwen said...

Thanks for all the inside info on the NYWC, down to the personal conversations! I'll pass your blog onto Nate and Brian as encouragement for next year.

I was especially interested in your Messiah Complex thoughts - I'll be emailing you some of my own thoughts on the idolic question in relationship to my own struggle with the spiritual disciplines.

You're one dedicated youth pastor! I'm glad you like your job.

pk said...

Great insights and reflections. I was eager to hear what you thought of the experience. The conversation snippets are classic! Thanks for throwing those in there.

Hey, what would go into me being able to "borrow" the Campolo talk? That sounds even better than I thought.

I guess I missed the memo regarding finding a spouse at the convention. Ah well, there's always next year ;-)

Still enjoying my bag,

Amanda said...

Gwen: Yes, let's talk. Keith's article on faith being a GIFT was also helpful for me in this area...I'm not the one giving the gifts.

Paul: Sure! Just send me your address...

Erik said...

Sweet Conversations! Thank you for sharing! I had a good laugh to start the day!

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Now that is funny. But I must have been missing something at the youth conferences I went to. Or maybe I was actually there to learn about youth ministry.

Samuel Bills said...

As a Californian (sort of) I resent the oppression of your stereotype.
Sounds like a great experience you youth pastor you.

Samuel Bills said...

As a Californian (sort of) I resent the oppression of your stereotype.
Sounds like a great experience you youth pastor you.

Dibs said...

I'm trying to stay away from the visual...but these student ministry-type guys are busy looking down at the finger(s)?
It reminded me of your effort to "make me normal" by giving me a couple of fake fingernails!
Good to see you today!

Keith.Drury said...

Amanda, you have a wonderful gift of letting us "come along with you" when you attend and report on events... I chuckled and LOL several times... bags, finger-scanning, praying-women-funny-men, but the conversations were the best--you always remember what people say so well!

Amanda said...

Keith said:

"but the conversations were the best--you always remember what people say so well!"

I say:

Yeah, it's always easy to remember the conversations I make up.

just kidding. ;)


Josh said...

Seriously...that was brilliant. Only a kid named Thada can keep me that interested for so long. I wonder if NYWC would publish this for next year's drive to take over e-harmony?

Anonymous said...

I'll always remember the immortal words of Paul Kind: "I guess I missed the memo regarding finding a spouse... Still enjoying my bag..."

Tony Myles said...

Interesting spin... I've been blogging about the conference, too, but I think from a different angle. In any event, sounds like you have some reflections solely from the woman's perspective (not to mention just being an attending youth pastor)... I appreciate you sharing them.

Amanda said...


I just checked out your blog...WOW! That was an amazing description of the conference.

For anyone wanting a more detailed look at this conference, check out Tony's blog:



Tony Myles said...

Thanks for the link! (Hope you feel better!)

Amanda said...

In addition to declaring Tony's site on the conference absolutely amazing, let me also say that as a five-year-old, his wife was my favorite babysitter.

Say hi to Katie for me.

marko said...

amanda/mandy -- great stuff! YES to women youth pastors. did you know that more than 50% of the attendees were female, starting last year? i feel like i run into SO many more female youth pastors these days.

i just read your comment about funny men and praying women really loud to karla yaconelli (who's in the adjoining office to mine), and we both cracked up (and made a mental note).

Amanda said...


Thanks for pointing that out...My post didn't do justice to the 50% women there.

I came away with some great contacts--I had been feeling rather lonely as a woman in youth ministry and it was so encouraging to meet with other women doing similar things.

Can't wait till next year!


P.S. Okay, I gotta confess, I had a complete 7th-grade-girl moment when I saw I had a comment from THE Marko. Seriously.

Tony Myles said...



That just blew up my concept of the internet. I must now go and figure out more calculations of probablity as it relates to running into the guy who gave me an extra Taco Bell Taco Supreme back in 11th grade and said, "It's on the house, bro."

What's your maiden name (so that I can properly try to explain something mad like this)?

Amanda said...


My maiden name is Hontz, and if we're talking about the same Katie from Holland, Mich. then I have very fond memories of her bringing me colorful plastic bracelets. :)

Does that help?


Tony Myles said...

Whoah... connecting more dots. Gotcha. Yep - I know your older sister a bit from our wedding and from a friendship when she was at IWU. In any event, my wife says hi and also said to say she has lots of fun memories of watching you and your sisters. Of course, there's the usual, "It's hard to believe you're all grown up and married now" deal, but I'm sure you get that a lot.

What a weird world blogging can be. Cool!


Nate Kingsbury said...

I was also impacted by your Messiah complex. I sometimes feel like I have to be the one to save them or go help them, but it's funny, but once I learned that I cannot do it all it was a huge lesson. I needed to find people to complete some of my hopes of reaching other.

I laughed a ton about the women youth pastor stuff. Plain and simple Mandy you are awesome, I just told Dave D the other day that any church that got you as a youth pastor is so blessed. You are a gifted leader, you are super creative, you are smart, and a great communicator. I am excited about more women youth pastor coming to the forefront. I hope some where down the line you will make it back to the Wesleyan Church because we need more women youth pastor to help us guys do this whole thing better.

I enjoy reading your blog - I pray for you and John often. You guys rock!


Amanda said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Nate! John and I think so highly of you and the ministry that you are doing.

With John at Princeton, the Wesleyan church options in the area were sparse...hence my jump to the UMC. I'm still licensed with the Wesleyans and am unofficially considered "on loan." :)