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Monday, April 25, 2011

My Thoughts on Planet Wisdom Conference

This is from January after I took our youth to FL for the Planet Wisdom conference. I wrote my thoughts but then never posted them. Here they are in pretty raw form. I hope they help others as they consider youth conferences. -Darien


Worship music

A solid, little know band outside of FL called Dutton, made up of young guys who lead worship in their own churches, did a sound job. They played some Crowder and Tomlin but also some of their own stuff. Their own stuff was fine but not what I'm used to. Still, our teens seemed to like them.

Speaker

Mark Matlock did all of the sessions and apparently always does. He's the passion and force behind PlanetWisdom and his passion shows. 

He speaks kind of like I do now. My older daughter agreed when I made that observation later. How's that, you say? He gives you a lot of information, speaks long, not enough illustrations but good content. Could be more to the point and more visual but effective. Is not as polished as you'd expect at, say, a Student Life conference. (note: I've taken youth groups to 8 SL Tours so that's my point of reference for better or worse)

Drama

More like Skit time. The Skit Guys were hilarious! They also did some skits that were powerful and penetrating. At times they might even have been borderline for some but very good. They do all the drama for PW and you can see why they are a favorite.

Overall Production

Basic but sound. They had a giant screen behind the speaker (down low) for more general effects which I really liked. Then 2 other screens flanking that up high for words, vids, etc. Basic but effective. Crew seemed to be on track and this was only their 2nd of this tour. 

Incidentally, we helped them do take-down as they gave groups a chance to serve like Student Life did/does. It was fun to be able to incorporate service as a part of our weekend. They could have been more organized but it wasn't chaotic.

Missions

They did a great job of incorporating missions as a natural part of the weekend. They had a 19-yr old who started Loose Change for Loosing Chains or something like that to free slaves. He shared several times over the weekend and really connected. They gave the kids a chance to sponsor a compassion child too--but without the guilt trip.

They made international missions accessible to the teens in a sensitive way without the guilt trip. This impacted my older daughter the most. She is giving up her $20/month texting plan (which she pays for herself) to help pay to sponsor her first compassion child (now $38/mon) for example.

Theme

"A God You Can Know" was one of telling the overall story of God from Genesis thru Revelation. They gave students a notebook to use, as well, that had the scriptures, places to take notes, questions to answer, etc. Good theme and idea as far as the power of Story.

At times I felt like the book was more important than the Bible because he always spoke from his book instead of his Bible. That probably came from having to cover so much that he couldn't really teach a passage like I like to. Next year his theme will be teaching students how to use and understand their Bible. That could be very good.

Cost

Cost was higher than Student Life has been in the past. But then SL isn't doing conferences anymore (bring Tour back, SL!. Overall, still a decent price.

Overall Impact

While I would rate it lower than any SL Conf I've ever been to, God used it to impact my older daughter deeply. As a pastor of a church with few bells and whistles and a youth group with even less, I continue to grow more and more confident in a God who needs nothing to anything. So while I would rate this conference lower by conference standards, I rate it high as effective.

If I could choose today, I'd still go to SL in a heartbeat. But I am less concerned about the visual now. I felt led to take our group to a conference and that was the closest one that fit in our time frame. I have always wanted to try a different one so here was my chance. I'm glad we went.

Hope this helps,
Darien