While I'm Out Part One: My Favorite Summer Event.

Note: I'm at the Alive Festival all this week (June 16th-20th), and big fields are not known for their wifi connections. So I've set up a series of timed posts related to the new book to keep you all entertained. Enjoy!

Right now (unless there were delays, and there probably were) I'm on the bus on the way to the Alive Festival. It's the official kick off of our summer programming. It's the event that we've been looking forward to for months. When we were down and depressed about what might have been going on around us during the school year, Ed and I would remind each other that Alive was coming. This is what we live for. This is what we're all about. When Saturday comes, and I wake up on the cold hard ground in a big field in Ohio, a tear will form in my eye as I begin the countdown until the next Alive trip.

We've been going on this trip since we were in school ourselves. Just yesterday, my wife pulled out pictures of Ed and I at Alive in 2001. We were not very old. We were babies. We had the time of our lives. I bet if you told us then that we'd be leading our own youth ministry trips to the festival in just 8 short years, we probably would have laughed in your face. We just loved being there. We still do.

We have this trip down to a science. We know how food is going to be prepared. We know how our tents are set up. We know how to arrange transportation. We know where to find the best bands, and how to get a free smoothy from the best smoothy stands. We have played frisbee on an island in the middle of the lake with The OC Supertones. We spent time with Switchfoot. Third Day signed my yearbook. This festival is the bomb.

One of my favorite parts of the trip are the nightly times of worship. Some of the biggest names in contemporary worship will be there to lead us. Folks like David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, Paul Baloche, Lincoln Brewster, and a bunch more have set the standard for worship music at Alive. It's huge too! Big lights, big sound systems, fog machines. Heck, they even had a disco ball once.

But I wonder about the youth leaders who are at this festival and desperately want to provide worship experiences for their youth. I wonder if they become a bit frustrated by the fact that they completely lack the skills or resources or know how to put together worship on this grand scale? Their fears are probably not soothed when they walk back to their camp sites hearing the kids say things like "That was the coolest!" and "Why can't we do stuff like that?" All of a sudden, our friendly imaginary youth pastor is scared to death of leading worship.

Fear not little flock. There are ways for worship to be even bigger than the Alive festival using even less "stuff". Your kids can experience worship in ways they never thought possible before. There are people out there who want to help you accomplish that.

More to come!