I have been calling our family the Berrytribe for over a decade now. I love them. All of them. I'm super blessed as a dad. This is my Berrytribe.
But I've been spending the last several days with another tribe I'm connected to. It's an amazing youth ministry tribe and as a community, they bless me beyond belief and fill my life in so many ways. It's a tribe that I have very intentionally invested in, been poured into by, and walked with for almost 17 years now. It's a tribe of friends and coworkers that spans the country, from all kinds and sizes of churches, and from a wide array of ages. We don't often meet face-to-face, but when we travel to conferences, events, and missions trips to meet up, there is a kindred spirit and good times that fill my soul.
The common thread we share is a dual-sided coin of a love for Jesus and a love for Students. This weekend I've been reminded how dearly I LOVE ministering with and to this tribe at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Chicago. I have been blessed by the chance to teach some workshops and to be taught. I have had countless conversations these last few days that have filled my heart and soul.
So to all those who love Jesus and Students, on behalf of our tribe, I want to say THANK YOU!!
- If you've ever spent ridiculous amounts of time and money to plan and run a conference to minister to youth workers, THANK YOU.
- If you've ever paid money and taken vacation and worked hard to get to a conference so you could grow in your ability to love God and love students, THANK YOU.
- If you've ever said no to your student ministry so that you could say yes to your primary ministry of your family, THANK YOU.
- If you've ever gotten out of bed and fell on your knees because your heart was so torn for a generation that you couldn't sleep and you had to pray for the students in your care, THANK YOU.
- If you've ever volunteered to lead a small group, a large group, drive a bus, bring some food, open your home, or just be present in the life of a teen, THANK YOU.
- If you've ever taken seriously the call of God on your life as a parent to raise a child into a God-honoring young adult, THANK YOU.
- If you've ever encouraged a student and looked into their eyes as you said "I believe in you and I believe God has got a great plan for you. I see God in you", then THANK YOU.
- If you've ever been so hurt and so wounded by your church or ministry that you wanted to just throw in the towel and quit, but somehow you are still in the game, THANK YOU.
- If you've ever taught a seminar, or led music, or acted out skits to encourage a youth worker's heart and inspire their own soul, THANK YOU.
- If you've ever seen the potential in today's generation of young adults and intentionally taken the time to mentor and invest in them to be all that God has made them to be, THANK YOU.