Note: TECBC is a youth conference between a number of churches in the Greater New York area. I've been attending and serving at this conference for the last 9 years.
It's been a while since I've been back and I haven't had a chance to write down my thoughts on the memorial day weekend. TECBC this year was very refreshing. Maybe because I'm no longer chairing the conference (thanks Fran!) but I think it was more than that. I think the whole atmosphere at conference this year was very liberating.
Doubt is okay. When the youth (and some of the counselors) were sharing about their experience on the last day of conference, there were several reoccurring themes. One of them was the acceptance of doubt and what it meant for people to be able to be honest with their questions. Usually what happens at conferences is that people are challenged to "Live the Life" and be "100% for Jesus!" but I don't think that was unnaturally pushed.
Instead I think we were challenged just to be honest with ourselves. My friend, Peter, who was speaking at the conference shared with us that doubt is not the opposite of faith but having doubt means that you're taking faith seriously. Sometimes at conferences and retreats there would be an "alter call" of sorts where people are asked to come up if they want to re/commit their lives to Christ. Peter did something a little bit backwards and instead of asking people to stand up, he asked people to sit down if they don't think they can really be "100% for Jesus". I think it was very powerful for people that other people doubt too and not be pressured to put on the I'm-So-Super-Holy mask.
After a little over a week and still seeing a constant stream of facebook messages and wall posts, I'm encouraged by the fruit that's come out.
Leading a workshop again was tougher than I expected. I don't know if it's because chaired for two years and was out of practice but I found this year a bit more difficult to connect. I was pretty familiar w/ my material... I mean I've given this workshop (it was on Worship Ministry) before but it was still difficult. Perhaps I had too much info to go over. I think I really need to work on not taking so long to explain something or use a ridiculously long story/example to explain a very simple point. I mean I think I would appreciate the detail but most people are not robots like me. In any case I hope those that attended got something out of it. There were a few encouraging notes in the feedback forms. I hope they weren't just being nice.
This year's worship team was great. I wish scheduling worked out for me to meet up with them more but I think they took care of themselves well. Other than being musically tighter than I remember in past years, I liked that each of them didn't seem to give off the vibe that their instruments identified them. The weren't hopelessly connected to their guitars or to the drumset. They were real fun guys who were goofballs but knew when to be serious. In a lot of ways they reminded me of the JG guys who I still play with. They knew each other well and it didn't seem like some hodgepodge group that was thrown together. I hope they continue with what they do and grow in worship ministry despite constantly bothering me about how I don't like the song "One Way". No way to One Way!
It was refreshing to see the other staff again. There are some people that I see very rarely throughout the year but I could expect to see them at TECBC. Getting to see Peter for 4 days in a row and he doesn't cancel! haha. Chatting w/ Danielle again and hearing updates about her excitiong life. I also think I got to know Lilian better this year. I don't remember her being so funny. Mat (with ONE 'T') and his crazy antics yet at the same time seeing him grow. Abe I think looked younger this year than last year. Some of the college and post-college helpers I got to know a bit better. For example I think I've always seen Josh around but never really talked to him because he stands around a lot w/ a strange curious expression. Apparently we think alike! We got to talk about church and stuff and share a bit so that was cool. I'm just naming a few in this paragraph but there were a bunch more. Good people that remind me of the good things God continues to do in the Chinese church community in New York.
I'm not sure about next year. I think pretty soon I'll need to start pulling back from TECBC. It's a conference that I love but at some point I'll be far away and in school. Even this year I started pulling back and things continued to move along just fine (even if Fran was in a panic) and only needed a little bit of prodding. Well... I guess we'll see when next year comes.
All in all I was pretty happy and encouraged by how TECBC came out this year. God is good.