Interface: Make the Connection
Review of the 2015 National Youth Conference...
#TRUTH in Grand Rapids
The 2015 National Youth Conference (NYC), held at DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 19-22, celebrated a historic milestone as the Church Training Service (CTS) celebrated 50 years of training Free Will Baptist students. More than 2,500 attendees registered for the conference, and students spent the week exploring the Truth of God’s Word.
Tennessee Pastor Corey Minter (pictured below) opened the teen service Sunday morning by challenging students to seek answers to their questions of faith. Sunday night, Dr. Charles Jackson, Hillsdale FWB College science professor, revealed that believers have science on their side and do not have to forfeit their intellect to be a Christian. Monday evening, Michigan pastor Joe Wilson challenged students to give up comforts and follow Christ to be truly free. Mark Mittelberg, co-author of Becoming a Contagious Christian, affirmed how the truths of history and science lead to confident faith on Tuesday night.
The week wasn’t all about teens, as Katie Greenwood, children’s editor at Randall House, led 75 of the youngest Free Will Baptists in crafts, games, and Bible lessons each night. Arkansas children’s pastor Johnny Miller taught 167 children (Grades 1-3) to “Give God a High Five” and coordinated a children’s choir, which kicked off the NYC Awards on Wednesday night. In Highway 456, Steve Greenwood (pictured below) and Josh Wooten, Tennessee children’s pastors, led an energetic worship time for 262, 4-6th grade students each night.
The CTS Ministry Expo (Bible and fine arts competition) is an important element of the conference. During the past 50 years, CTS has helped churches train generations of young people. This year, 821 students competed; but more importantly, they had an opportunity to explore and shape the talents God has given them.
An increasingly popular option has been the ENGAGE Leadership Network seminars. With more than 90 sessions on topics ranging from productivity to theology, students and parents took advantage of these informative and inspirational sessions, made even stronger by the involvement of International Missions, North American Ministries, WNAC, Welch College, and the Free Will Baptist Music Commission. On Monday night, ENGAGE hosted the annual panel discussion to address the pastor’s role in a local church.
Truth and Peace Student Leadership Conference served as staff yet again, as 120 students marked the largest group in the conference’s 32-year history. They came from 18 states to participate in an experience unlike any other, learning how God has gifted each of them uniquely to be part of His plan.
Under the leadership of Allen Pointer, the training culminated with an intense five days of setup, teardown, growth, and service at NYC. Truth and Peace is available to any Free Will Baptist high school student (grades 9-12). Apply online: www.verticalthree.com.
Another group that spent the week serving—the Youth Evangelistic Team (YET). They led worship (pictured below) in teen services after completing a six-church tour to mission churches in the Northeast. Leaders Kevin and Christy Skiles continue to excel in guiding the tour, and the 2016 YET will travel throughout the Midsouth (Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma).
Fewer volunteer opportunities were found in Grand Rapids than usual, but volunteers still participated in seven great Reach That Guy events, contributing 2,700 volunteer hours and donating 28 pints of blood to Michigan residents. During the Tuesday offering, more than $2,000 was collected to benefit Free Will Baptist missions. New banks are available at www.verticalthree.com, along with an online giving option.
GPS (Global Purpose Seekers) was well received in its return to NYC. Nearly 200 people made their way through seven missionary booths to talk about God’s call to take the gospel to unreached people groups. This experience gave students a global missions experience where they learned about God’s desire for the nations, and what Free Will Baptists are doing to spread the message of the gospel.
During the Wednesday evening Awards Ceremony, Ryan Akers (MO); First FWB Church Star City (AR); and Kylie Johnson (MI) were named Youth Worker of the Year, Youth Group of the Year, and Youth of the Year. In addition, Arkansas children's pastor Johnny Miller was presented the Jim Lauthern Legacy Award for exemplary service to his church and NYC.
If you missed this year’s meeting, make plans now to join the 2016 conference in Kansas City, Missouri, when NYC will address the theme “Transform.”
2015 National Youth Conference Overview
Registration Total: 2,586
Competitive Activity Entries: 821
ENGAGE Leader Network Seminars: 94
Reach That Guy:
Hours Worked: 2,700
Buck-A-Week Offering: $2,043.37
2016 ministries: Hawaii, Davenports; Uruguay, Steve and Lori Torrison
Truth & Peace Participants: 120
Brynn Jones (OK)
Madison Coker (SC)
Kaleisha Garrison (MO)
Tyler Burke (CO)
Caleb Brazzell (OH)
Raygan Sellers (TN)
Ryan Williams (GA)
Mason McClintock (GA)
Leah Williams (NY)
Tristin Flynn (OK)
Gabe Knight (AL)
Taylor Richter (GA)
Hailey Boyer (MO)
The 2016 YET will travel to: Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee