Monday, June 7, 2010

NEXT

Over Memorial Day weekend, Martin and I volunteered (as ushers) at NEXT, a conference for college-age, 20- and 30-somethings, and really anyone else. The conference was at the Baltimore Conventional Center, which made it really easy for us, since we were able to stay just 15 minutes away at my parents' house!


Our responsibilities were pretty easy, and we ended up having a blast. There were around 20 ushers, and we were mainly in charge of checking to make sure everyone coming into the sessions had a wrist band or some other type of access pass. People were generally very cooperative, though I'm sure a few got annoyed when we made them go back and get their wrist band so they could use the bathroom!
We also had to monitor saving seats, which was by far the hardest part. Technically, people were only allowed to save 2 seats -- one for themselves, and one for a friend. Unfortunately, I don't think this rule was ever told to anyone, except by a friendly usher letting a solitary conference-goer know they could not save an entire row. Again, people worked pretty well with this, which can be chalked up to the high number of Christians I suppose. Our fearless leader did a great job reminding us that just because it was a Christian conference did not mean that everyone was a Christian...and even those who were Christians were still sinners just like us! He encouraged us to correct and instruct in a grace-filled way, and I believe this really helped how people responded as well.
We had to take shifts during the session checking wrist bands, but we were still able to participate in the singing and listen to all of the messages. All of the messages are available online for FREE on the NEXT site. Speakers included Josh Harris, Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung (twice), C.J. Mahaney, D.A. Carson, and Jeff Purswell. We also got personally thanked by Josh Harris at our first ushers meeting (and he really is really, really short...in fact, they had a podium for him to preach from that was a good 4-6 inches shorter than everyone else!).
It was a really great weekend for the 2 of us to spend together; it was really like a mini-vacation! Emma had fun with Omi and Pap Pap and we saw her for a few minutes every morning before we headed out. I really wanted to get a video of the mad rush of people sprinting to save seats when we opened the doors, but alas, I was too busy trying not to get trampled (and telling people about the 2 seat rule!). Perhaps next year!

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