interlinc … How I Got Hooked
Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of 30 Stories that appeared in the 100th edition of Youth Leaders Only. Make sure you check out the other great stories from this special edition celebrating 30 years of YLO.
In the summer of 1985, in the thin air of Colorado, surrounded by big snow-covered mountains and enveloped by the smell of old wood in the chapel at YMCA Camp of the Rockies, I was introduced to interlínc. One year out of seminary, one year into an assignment as a youth pastor “planting” a youth ministry on the opposite coast of my upbringing, I brought a small group of youth to our national and denominational youth conference.
As a product of the small church, big events were not a part of my past profile. For the first time I saw a bigger world of youth ministry with new speakers, new musicians, new leaders, and new resources.
One evening, at our daily briefing with other youth leaders, we were introduced to guy with a southern accent and big smiling face. His name was Allen Weed, and he had just started a little ministry called interlínc. In those days, well before smartphones and social media, he was just trying to get the word out. He told us this service was started with the idea of building a bridge between the growing Contemporary Christian Music ministry and our youth groups. I became immediately interested. You see, in college I was on the leadership team of Agape Festival at Greenville College – and even sang in it – and had become very familiar with Christian music.
Moving on to seminary, I worked backstage with another large festival named “Ichthus” – and learned further about the strengths and weaknesses of this growing movement.
Allen Weed flashed a box of cassette tapes and I was hooked. What further attracted me, though, was interlínc’s offer to help us find bands that would be meaningful and effective in our settings.
In those days of phone calling and letter writing, a big youth event organizer had little resources to tap for finding a good fit or knowing if the price was fair. interlínc said they would help, and I believed them.
They delivered on a promise within two rounds of this denominational national youth conference. Our organizers had brought in a headliner band for opening night – and while the group sounded good, I later found out that their character and attitudes were anything but. interlínc called our organizers to get more details, and followed up with the band to encourage and challenge them back to their core purpose. interlínc showed integrity.
In the years to come I picked up the mantle of directing our national conferences. In addition to their steady resource-offering presence at these events, interlínc also helped us make healthy selections for our headliner band and helped set up a TalkBack session with the band. interlínc was living out their purpose.
On the home front, I became a member of Youth Leaders Only when they were boxes of 78RPM records. Okay, just kidding on that, but I did join when they were sending cassette tapes. You might remember those! Though the initial check we wrote from the youth budget seemed steep, the math and impact proved otherwise. Becoming a member gave me a discount on every album, stretched our youth ministry’s musical awareness, and offered us depth through Bible studies and articles written by other “front-liners” like me. When the box arrived in the mail it was like a wrapped present under the Christmas tree with my name in bold on the tag.
In the last several years I have had the privilege of writing for interlínc, peering more intently into the character and heart of this ministry. What I saw thirty years ago is what I see today: a ministry seeking God and using the today’s media to help youth leaders plant the seeds for transformation in the hearts and minds of youth.
Happy 30th, interlínc – let’s keep going!