Hey!  My name is David Thompson and I am a youth pastor in Birmingham, Alabama.  I have written several blog posts for DYM in the past and also have a few products for sale.  Basically… I love DYM.  Recently, I spoke with Josh about sharing a series of posts while I am on an amazing journey in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics. That’s right! I am currently at the Olympics and, for the next 36 days, I am tasked with a unique job that I believe will push me to become a better youth minister for my students.

Let me explain how I got here and share more about my role.  From 2001 to 2011, I played this crazy sport called Team Handball for the US men’s national team.  Playing handball taught me so much about life, God and teamwork. I got to see and experience many different places as our team traveled around the world. For the majority of my playing career, I was also a full time youth minister in Alabama.  I began youth ministry at a small United Methodist Church and, for the last 11 years, I have served at a large UMC in Birmingham alongside six awesome youth ministry staff members.
My role for the 2016 Olympics is called Athlete Service Coordinator or ASC. Every Olympics, two former US athletes (from any sport) are selected to serve as non-competing athletes for Team USA.  Our primary role is to support our competing athletes from an athletic perspective.  Another one of our responsibilities is to set up a lounge for Team USA.  The lounge provides athletes with a place to relax, hangout, build camaraderie, get logistical information and eat awesome snacks.  Once the lounge is set up, my job is to be there with them – to encourage, support and inform our athletes so that the Olympics can be one of the greatest experiences of their lives.
My plan is to write every few days about an experience I have had here in Rio that I think will directly relate to your (and my) youth ministry.  I may also write about how my time in youth ministry has prepared me for this role.  As we move through the summer, I hope that these posts will help us grow together as youth pastors and inform our service of students and athletes alike.
I am so excited about this journey and I hope that you will join me in cheering on Team USA!