This last week I had the privilege of spending six days with young leaders from all across America at Lead THE Cause University. The 258 youth leaders and teen leaders get the moniker "Alpha X" once they graduate. But before they even get there they have to be pre-qualified by their youth leaders to attend. Last Spring we trained 28,000 teenagers through our weekend Dare 2 Share conferences and we were able to recruit the top one percent to attend this week long intensive leadership training.
LTCU is for those who have a burning passion for Christ and His cause. LTCU is for those who want to, not just live THE Cause, but to lead it in their communities and at their schools. For those who aren't familiar with the term "THE Cause" it is the last and lasting mandate of Jesus to "go and make disciples of all nations" in Matthew 28:19. Our vision for THE Cause is to mobilize youth groups in every community to mobilize teenagers on every campus to make disciples who make disciples until every teenager hears the gospel from the context of a relationship.
Although Jason Petty (aka "Propaganda"), Zane Black and myself spent plenty of time training them they trained us as well. Here's what I learned from these young leaders this week.
1. Worship prepares the heart to fight the good fight.
As I watched these young leaders praise God with unbridled passion this week I was reminded of the importance of worship when training young leaders. Like David who strummed his harp and wrote his songs before strapping on his sword to fight, this is a generation of warrior/worshippers who long to love God and then wage war with Satan for the souls of their friends.
2. Teenagers are hungry for theology.
We dove deep into theology this week and the teens were eating it up. We even did a session on exegesis and systematic theology and teenagers were fully engaged. Teens want to grow deep as they go wide so that, like a tree with deep roots and sweet fruit, they can sustain THE Cause over the long haul.
3. Youth leaders need a strategic community.
As I watched youth leaders connect, brainstorm, share best practices and exchange information I learned that the best strategic relationship for a youth leader is other youth leaders who are getting the job done! I saw former LTCU alumni youth leaders (Andy, Mario, Pete, Jason, Mr. Bill, Tony and others) pour into other youth leaders relationally and strategically. They gladly opened up their own personal ministry toolbox of best strategies and gave them away!
Youth leaders who are passionate about reaching teenagers need a strategic community of youth leaders who are actually reaching teenagers. When these kinds of youth leaders get together it's like mixing nitrogen and glycerin (in all the right ways!)
4. Leaders want to lead and accomplish a cause worth dying for.
As I watched 258 teens and youth leaders from across the nation sign their names to THE Cause Covenant I was once again reminded of the potential of young people to change the world. I was reminded of a teen girl named Esther who saved a nation. I was reminded of four teenagers (Daniel and friends) who reached two world emperors for God. I was reminded of Jesus and a group of mostly teenaged disciples who changed the world through the good news.
Teens are longing to live for a Cause worth dying for...and so are most youth leaders who are worth their salt.
LTCU blew me away. If you were there this last week (or at last years for that matter) what did you learn about leadership?