Dangerous Teaching - Fall Conference
Amy Nickerson | October 2017
A young, Slovenian leader passionate about the story of God, but not always confident she knows how to share the gospel well. A Christ-following dad with a platform to give parenting advice in his country of Latvia, which is full of broken families. Or a teenager making godly decisions in her Slovak high school when many of her peers are not.
If these three didn’t know that transformational teaching was dangerous before our Fall Conference, which took place at Josiah Venture’s Malenovice training center in the Czech Republic last week, they know it now.
In fact, Rob Trenckmann, JV team leader in Hungary and conference director, said as much in his closing talk. “Teaching for transformation isn’t just hard, or difficult, or scary, or something new to learn, it’s dangerous. If you’re a sane person, or a cautious person, or probably a wise person, you should just leave it alone…. Because it can turn cities upside down. It can cause riots. It can move hearts that love Jesus and other hearts that hate Jesus. When we teach like Jesus, people have to respond. It’s incredibly dangerous.”
The three above and the 380 or so other youth leaders from 15 countries in Central and Eastern Europe who came together for our annual event could easily back away from the opportunities God has given them to teach like Jesus out of fear of what could happen if they did.
Yet the conference wasn’t planned to discourage them from stepping out and speaking up about their faith. It was intentionally designed to do the opposite. Here are some of the ways people were challenged to become better teachers, in whatever capacity they teach, at conference this year.
First, conference was full of chances to hear inspiring stories about ordinary people, whether biblical or current-day, who were called by God to spread His message of hope in extraordinary ways.
Rob Trenckmann talked about Jesus’ disciple Peter who sometimes spoke up at the wrong times and didn’t always speak up at the right times. Vahur Kobin, team leader in Estonia, reminded us in his evening talk that King Josiah in the Old Testament, and who Josiah Venture is named after, was used by God to communicate truth and bring a whole nation back to spiritual health, in spite of having a wicked grandfather and father.
We also heard stories of teachers making an impact today. Dave Patty, JV president, brought nationals on stage during sessions to interview them on their lives and ministries. One of these teachers was Yulia Pasichni from Ukraine who discipled a girl, who discipled a girl, and so on to the fourth generation. We watched videos of others who have seen God work through their leadership and teaching and challenged us to keep going. We said goodbye to Märt Saar, who has worked with us in Estonia for a long time, and he perfectly captured what most of us feel, “I can’t give back what you gave to me, but I can give it further.”
Besides hearing stories, even more than at other JV conferences, attendees this past week got to see transformational teaching in action. These engaging examples were relatable and came in a wide variety of ways and with a bunch of different teachers involved. From morning workouts led by Edge sports coaches to cohort sessions where Dave Patty, Rob Trenckmann, and Steve Patty taught and many others facilitated discussion groups, there were plenty of opportunities to see how transformational teaching can work in people’s specific ministry settings, incorporating the unique gifts and interests people have.
In the area of music, we got to see Faith Child, a rapper who partners with us in our Exit Tour ministry, perform a concert. What Korban Miller, our worship leader, called “the United Nations band,” was made up of musicians from almost all of the countries represented at conference and they led us in worship throughout the week. Singing in multiple languages was a highlight that purposefully embodied transformational teaching through music.
On Thursday morning, we had Master Classes. Taught by 19 staff members on topics like using strong illustrations in your teaching, dialogue and asking the right questions, and teaching for the teenage brain, conference attendees got to choose four of these classes to attend. On top of these, optional sessions called “Creme Brulees” were offered during free-time which gave people even more chances to learn. Of course, there were also our formal evening sessions where we heard from four main teachers on teaching to transform, the call of the teacher, the heart of the teacher, and the soul of the teacher.
Maybe the most transformational aspect of conference though was simply getting time to meet and connect with others from across the region, who are not letting the fact that teaching like Jesus is dangerous stop them from doing brave and bold things for the sake of the gospel.
Through meals together, volleyball and soccer tournaments, sharing rooms and experiences, the young leaders who may sometimes feel alone and misunderstood in their countries of few Christians got to engage in dynamic community.
Now that they’re back at home and into the reality of fall ministry, we’re praying that they continue to remember Rob’s last words to us, “We are telling the greatest story the world has ever known. We have the most important message that anyone could ever hear. And we want it to spread. And we want it to transform. And we want it to turn the world upside down. It is incredibly dangerous, but it’s what everyone needs to hear.”