So, this coming Wednesday we head up to The Cities for a big youth event. It's an annual event put on by both synods for Confirmation aged youth. This will be my fourth time attending, and I'm always trying to decide whether it's worth the effort or not to go there.
You see, we are in one of the more remote churches included in the Minneapolis Synod. We are about as far southwest as you can get and still be in the boundaries. This event is held at 6:00pm, usually at an auditorium in St Paul. If you factor in traffic, that means we have to leave here by about 4:30 to get there on time. This also means that we have to figure out some way to feed the kids after school before we leave, which means we have to get the kids to come to church right after school. Last year we went with our normal meal of pizza, and asked the pizza place we work with to deliver the pizza earlier than normal. Except they forgot. So we scrambled and called them and they delivered it about 30 minutes late.
Three out of the four years we have gone we have also been assigned seats in the nosebleed section. The one year we weren't was because it was at a different (closer) venue and there weren't really assigned seats. So we end up going to all of this trouble, spending close to an hour and a half on the bus in traffic, so that we can sit way up in the balcony and watch performers and speakers that look about an inch tall to us.
Now, I know what you are saying: Get your registration in early. My response to that is that I have. The first year I went we sat in the nosebleeds so the second year I sent it back right away. Pretty much the day after I received the registration form in the mail. We still got put in the nosebleeds. I'm not quite sure how they figure that seating stuff out. Maybe they arrange the seats to resemble where we are geographically within the synod. That would make sense, then, that we would be put so far away from the stage.
I want to be a team player. I want to support synod-wide ministry because, to me, there really isn't a lot of that here. We are a big synod of big congregations that don't often play well with each other. So I want to be a part of the stuff that we DO do together (yes, I'm aware I said do do). But part of me wonders if it's worth the hassle. By the time we get there we have 40 junior highers who have been forced to sit in the same place for more than an hour, who are then expected to sit in the same place and listen to speakers and musicians for another hour or two, usually in a place so far away from the performers that it's hard for them to become engaged. Several of my returning adult volunteers have suggested we not do it. But I've said I think it's good, or I want to give it another try, or maybe this year it will be different. But it has yet to do or be those things.
This year we are going because one of my best friends in the entire world happens to be one of the speakers. I survived my first year of seminary because of him, I went to Disney World with him and his family, I lived with them in Duluth when I did my Clinical Pastoral Education at the hospital there, he preached at my ordination. I think he will be a good speaker and the kids will like him. Unfortunately he'll be an inch tall.
Last year it happened to be at a venue in Minneapolis, which was a lot closer than the normal auditorium. We got started late but ended up getting there at a decent time. We got decent seats close to the stage. The kids could actually see the people performing. They stood and clapped and had a good time. So I know the event can be worthwhile, which is why I keep giving it chances and keep going. Hopefully this year's event will be another good one.
I'll let you know.