Wednesday, February 04, 2009

YLI, Team 2... the Birth of Me

A few years ago when I was still with the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), I went to a YLI "team 2" conference. We were supposed to meet in some cabin in Big Bear but it snowed so we had to meet in sunny San Diego. It was a small weekend retreat for YLI alumni where we separated into small groups and discussed a particular topic quite intensely (if you ever find a group of people with whom you could do just such a retreat... do it). My group was the "kingdom of God" group (which shortly after the conference inspired the title of my blog) and my leader/teacher was a brilliant woman named Angie. At "team 2" I was introduced for the first time to four authors which might all be on my top-ten list now and have all influenced me greatly. We read chapters from Dallas Willard, N.T. Wright, Brian McLaren, and Tony Campolo (I know, it's a freakin' all-star team) all having to do with the Kingdom of God, what it is, what it means for us, and how to live it. In those five or so years that I was with YLI I had more profound life-changing experiences than I have had in any other time of my life but, ironically, this small retreat in a hotel in Mission Valley tops the list.

After the conference, I was hungry for more. I started reading the rest of those books from which we read, I started ordering other books by the same authors, and a started keeping a blog. From all of this a monster was created. The roots of all my theological musings are in that little getaway and in the mystery of the kingdom of God. I was thrust forth into this ominous direction in which things are far more beautiful and difficult than I ever knew.

I was reminded of just how formative the Team 2 conference was when, three weeks ago, the Young Adult Bible Study group at our church began trudging through a little book called Adventures in Missing the Point, by Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo, in which years ago I read, for the first time, these words and this message:
"God wants this kingdom to become established on earth, now!... God's kingdom is a new society that Jesus wants to create in this world--within human history, not after the second coming or a future apocalypse or anything else. But right now."

After I suggested that we read this book and I started reading through it again, I remembered where I am and from where I have come. I remembered how incredible and awe inspiring these ideas were to me and how greatly they have shaped who I am. You never know just how influential a book or an event (or, in this case, both) can be in your life until years later when you look back at your life and see a glimpse of who you were and who you are now. I am thankful for the influence of YLI, for people like Angie and Robin Dugall, and for books like Adventures in Missing the Point, The Challenge of Jesus, and The Divine Conspiracy. And I am thankful that the dream called the Kingdom of God, Jesus' dream, has shaped my imagination as it has... because it could have been something else...

1 comment:

robin dugall said...

transformational times are hard to let go of...you and I want to go there as much as possible! i'm proud to be a part of your life!