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Oct/Nov 2006







the results speak for themselves

by Mark Price

To learn more about the National Youth Conference, visit

I HAD SEEN IT ALL BEFORE: cause and effect, action and reaction. As we listened to names called and recognition given, the excitement was building. The setting was NYC 2006 in Birmingham, Alabama. The awards ceremony had just begun, and in a room filled to capacity, a small assembly from our state had formed around us. As in previous years, we had created a group to applaud students from other Ohio churches for their accomplishments.

This year, the involvement from the youth of our church increased, and the investment (both in money as well as hard work) was greater. The time had come to witness a return on that investment. Don’t misunderstand me; I really value the kudos awarded during this ceremony. Seeing one of your students win Youth of the Year will make any pastor’s head swell! After serving on the Ohio State Youth Board, I see the impact that the Free Will Baptist competition program has on our young people. But, again, the tangible awards distributed during the reward ceremony are just the tip of the iceberg. The greater impact, largely unseen, lies deep beneath the surface of competitive activities, yet to be discovered and appreciated.

Let’s take a step beyond the award service, to the small, rural church I pastor. We run around 90 in Sunday School, with an additional 15 or 20 in the morning worship service. Our youth program is comprised of about 16 teens and includes students from five school districts. The real challenge in a church with such broad demographics is creating a sense of community. You may have your own formula to create this sense of community, but the Student and Children’s Ministry holds the key to assisting small churches, larger churches—any church—in doing this.


I had seen it before. We sat in awards ceremonies with the Westerville Free Will Baptist Church youth group in Louisville, Little Rock, and Charlotte. We saw a sense of community develop within a group of kids who came from different school districts and communities. We enjoyed the return on the diligence and investment of resources in awards ceremonies then. We see a larger return now. From that group of kids have come a youth pastor (serving the Westerville church), a school teacher (who is a model of Jesus’ love), two brothers–one a pastor in Virginia, the other a worship leader in a large church, a music/youth major active in leading worship, and a missionary, who along with his wife and children, serves in France. The list goes on. That is the larger return.

Is this always be the outcome? Maybe not. But after only a few years, we have seen our kids at Porter FWB Church step up to the plate, participating in E-TEAM, Truth and Peace, and the National Youth Evangelistic Team. Our kids have participated in Reach That Guy at the National, and the involvement doesn’t end there. When your students have participated in these programs, they will develop an addiction to serving others. By the time we had been home from Birmingham a couple weeks, our kids had already scheduled two service projects in our community. Our college group is planning a trip to Rochester, New York, to help home missionaries Dana and Betty Booth.

We are beginning to see the return on an investment being made in kids.

Next year, when we step back into that room for the awards ceremony, I trust I will see you there with your kids, cheering them on. 


About the Writer: Mark Price, pastor of the Porter Free Will Baptist Church in Sciotoville, OH, served on the Ohio Youth Conference board for more than 15 years. He and his wife Deanna have two children, Lacey and Hannah.




  • Emphasize there is something for everyone. NYC is more than competition. Reach That Guy service projects offer opportunities for real life ministry. Worship services challenge youth to strengthen their faith and commitment.

  • Consider events with less competition. Keyboard Solos numbered 34 this year; there were only seven Keyboard Ensembles (none in age group D). Famous Speech has one-fourth of the competition of Individual Drama.

  • Guide them to develop their strengths. Young people have a variety of talents and gifts. Choose an event in which the student demonstrates ability.

  • Make it affordable. Provide fundraising opportunities throughout the year. Keep individual records of participation and funds raised. Allow individuals to make deposits to a personal NYC account. Determine that those who raise their money get to go, even if they do not advance in competition.

  • Make it fun. Visit an attraction on the way back home.

  • Make it real. Don’t wait until Spring. Promote participation in church services all year long. Schedule regular opportunities for youth to demonstrate and develop their ministry gifts.

About the Writer: Danny Conn is the director of Student and Children’s Ministry at Randall House Publications. To learn more about the National Youth Conference, visit



©2007 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists