Please allow me to introduce...Bridges.
About six years ago, a couple of old guys were sitting in a coffee shop that was way too cool for them in a trendy Portland neighborhood. While neither one of them was likely to be cast in “Portlandia,” both of them were teaching youth ministry in PDX, and both had a deep desire to use their particular gifting and training to strengthen local youth ministries and build the kingdom of God.
Across the table from me was Dr. Ron Marrs from Western Seminary, who had the idea of bringing churches and Bible schools together for a city-wide day of youth ministry training. We didn't have a budget, building, staff or any other assets other than our good looks, our training and our connections to local churches. So Ron began to bring together a number of us from the area, and we hosted the first Bridges event in 2008 at Rolling Hills Church. Our heart for the event was that it would truly focus on the kingdom and not any one of our own organizations.
Three hundred area youth workers joined us for a terrific day of training and collegiality that first year. In the years that followed we held the event at several different locations: New Hope Church, Multnomah University and Imago Dei Community. The event has grown to hold as many as 400 to 600 youth workers.
In today's world there are lots of organizations that run expensive and slick training events. They typically front a large amount of money to bring in speakers with recognizable names and pay a lot of money into publicity to let everyone know how awesome the event will be. Then they charge a significant amount of money to the registrants to cover the costs and salaries involved.
This is not how Bridges works. Almost everyone involved is volunteering their time (except when we bring in speakers from the outside). We look around the city and find youth workers who are doing good work and have something to share with the rest of us. And we only charge a very low amount to cover our costs. If expenses exceed revenue for the event, the volunteers on the steering committee pull out their checkbooks. The event is truly a labor of love. It is locally grown and organic (excuse that tired word).
While there are great things to be learned from the main sessions and many workshop options, the significant value of the event is sitting around tables with other youth workers from the city and realizing that we are not alone in our task. The battle against the kingdom of darkness is too big for any one organization. We need the Lord, and we need each other.
I hope you'll join us for Bridges this year. While the event is primarily for youth workers and those working with teenagers, we have chosen the theme "The Gospel and Sexuality" this year to guide our discussion. There will be many interesting workshop options on a host of related topics.
This year Bridges will be held at Central Bible Church, located at 8815 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97220, from 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 9. Adult tickets are $15 and student tickets are $10.
Register for Bridges and learn more about this event by checking out our Facebook page.
Tags: bridges, Central Bible Church, imago dei community, leadership, ministry training, Multnomah University, new hope church, Portland, portland conference, portland event, portland youth workers, portland youth workers network, rob hildebrand, rolling hills church, the gospel and sexuality, youth group, youth group leaders, youth ministry, youth ministry leaders, youth pastors, youth workers, youth workers' conference