I'm just back from the Urban Youth Workers Institute at Azusa Pacific University, one of my favorite conferences of the year. People come from all over the country to consider how youth ministry functions in the urban context, which is important, since most major publications related to youth ministry is produced out of a worldview that is largely ignorant of urban life. The environment of UYWI is casual, relational--almost like a reunion--but simultaneously very serious and no-nonsense.
I managed to supply some nonsense. I was selling books and meeting with authors and other culture-shapers along with my friend and coworker Andrew. We had a good time commenting on all the quirks of Azusa, California, particularly its aversion to hotels and sit-down restaurants. I got to present a book contract to a relatively new friend and his wife, and I had conversations with a number of complete strangers about what they'd like to read or write.
Andrew and I were joined for a good chunk of the silliness by Chris Heuertz, a good friend and author of the soon-to-be-released Simple Spirituality, and Andrew Marin, a good friend and author of the 2009 release Love Is an Orientation.
We had hoped to have copies of Simple Spirituality available to sell, but no such luck; the book is still at the printer for a couple of weeks. I had hoped to have copies of Deliver Us from Me-Ville to give to my friends and save myself some postage, but that too didn't quite make the deadline. Bummer. I drowned my sorrows in Cap'n Crunch Shakes from Carl Jr's and consoled myself in the company of very goofy friends. We danced on the edge of making a waitresses night and getting ourselves kicked out of a Thai restaurant--the best food within walking distance of the campus of APU, even though we didn't walk. I watched two of my friends/authors get to know one another and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
I have no new insights coming out of UYWI--oddly enough, between selling books and meeting with people I caught only about fifteen minutes of the conference itself--other than the insights I gained over coffee or saki or Cap'n Crunch shakes or leaning against a post talking to a complete stranger. All in all, I'd saythe conference was a success.