It's that time of year again. Another Leadership Training for Christ convention has arrived. It's always a highlight of the year for me.
The kids from Gallup Church of Christ and Manuelito Navajo Children's Home attend the LTC-Southwest convention in Chandler (Phoenix), Arizona. It will be my third year to attend the convention in Chandler, but my first with Gallup. I brought the youth group from Cortez, Colorado the past two years. In years past, I have attended LTC conventions at Tulsa, Oklahoma and Dallas-Ft. Worth. Each convention has its own charm, and aspects genuine to the place, but the overall program is basically the same, and the aim of bringing Christian youth together in an atmosphere where their talents and abilities are affirmed and encouraged is the same in each place.
I have spent most of my life close to youth ministry in Churches of Christ, beginning as a youth, myself, and continuing as an adult employed as both youth minister and preacher for a succession of congregations. Over the years, I have gone back and forth in my feelings regarding L. T. C. I have certain criticisms: namely, the monetary expense (and how that often capitalizes a lot of small church youth budgets), and the use of Easter weekend as a convention time (I understand the logic of using this time, but a lot of family activities are compromised in the process, and many families do not participate in L.T.C. as a result). But, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
I cannot think of another program in churches that involves the nuimber of children, youth, and adults as does L.T.C.; with all ages working together toward a common goal and purpose. I cannot think of another program that taps into the wide breadth of talents and abilities and interests as does L.T.C. L.T.C. excels at communicating to youth that all sorts of skills can be used to glorify God and edify the church. It used to be, that young people (and old, too) were told that serving God amounted to saying a public prayer or leading a song (activities that usually left out half our kids!), but L.T.C. enables kids to use all sorts of talents in Christian service. L.T.C. also brings hundreds and thousands of Christian youth together, creating a "strength in numbers" effect, telling kids, "Hey, I'm not alone in this church thing . . . there are lots of others just like me!" This benefit is especially truth with youth coming from small congregations.
I am looking forward to my time in Chandler, and I know the kids from Gallup are excited. An added bonus: my three girls are with me this week, and I will get to share the fun of L.T.C. with them.
The photo is from L.T.C. 2006 in Chandler. It is of the Cortez youth group (and my kids, too).