What I Learned at the National Youth Workers Convention

It was a great honor to be a part of The Youthworker Movement’s Seminars at NYWC in Nashville.  I appreciate the partnership with the good folks at Youth Specialties especially my friend Mark Matlock but most importantly Mindi Godfrey who made it possible to live out the vision of allowing us time and space to meet with our general membership.  If you were not a part of our time in 2013 I highly encourage you to attend and participate in 2014 at the NYWC!

The first thing I learned was how much I appreciate the core leadership team at YWM.  They did a great job in presentations as they cranked out several 7-minute seminars during our time together.  I also appreciate that one of the founders and architects of the Youthworker Movement; Rev. Terry Carty was present adding his support and wisdom.  It was also great fun to hang out with my UMC sisters and brothers for a free sack lunch across the street at the United Methodist Publishing House sponsored by those who lead Young People’s Ministries at the GBOD as well as UMPH.

No matter how long you’ve been in Youthwork, having people you can hang out with, be yourself with, and who also love you enough to hold you accountable for your walk with Jesus is ultimately the key to sustainability in this craft that we are called to.  I learned that people I only get to see once or twice a year could pick up the conversation right where we left it and push me to be who God is calling me to be.  I want to thank especially Tim Eldred and Andy Root whose work inspires me all year long and who encourage me when we cross paths through the year.

I heard from you all as members of The Youthworker Movement your sense of longing for greater connexion through the year and also more opportunities for leadership in the YWM.  In order to accomplish these goals we are adding some new things in 2014:

Erin Jackson, our National Director for Community and Care will be building some on-line care groups that meet weekly through Skype.  Kevin Alton, our Senior Editor will be working with curriculum writers to develop a resource co-op that can be utilized by our members.  We are also actively recruiting new bloggers for the YWM site as well as developing new speakers for www.speakersconnexion.org .  I will be working with a team through 2014 that will meet on-line to develop us as coaching resources in our geographic areas and to decide on the next formal steps to have a more systematic approach to coaching and mentoring with the YWM geographic networks.

If you are interested in any of these groups, feel free to send my an e-mail and we’ll Skype chat about it in the coming weeks.

One last thing I learned at NYWC.  I was reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit at the opening session in the Big Room.  Just to be fortunate enough to be in a room with 3,500 Youthworkers is a small taste of what I imagine eternity with our Creator is like.  There is just nothing like it.  It was especially powerful for me as I sat next to a young Youthworker, 26 years my junior, yet he has already worked for 3.5 years in the craft.  He serves a small UM church in Abilene, Texas.  He does what the pros call “single-digit youth ministry” and he loves every minute of it.  He turned to me and said “Wow!”  So, thank you Youth Specialties for giving us all a chance to be in that Big Room.  You have done such a wonderful thing for 4+ decades!  We need what you do now more than ever.  Thank you!

We need each other!

We are each other’s best resource for Youthwork!

We are better together!


Peace and Grace,


Charles W. Harrison

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