DAVIS—On Jan. 15-16, Oklahoma Baptists held its largest training event of the year, the Youth Evangelism Conference (YEC), at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center. There were about 2,300 participants from more than 140 churches. YEC is an easy and practical way for churches to prioritize evangelism in their student ministries. It isn’t about rock concerts, entertainment and goofing off with friends, with an occasional Bible study. It is a focused two-day event filled with the Holy Spirit, worship, prayer, evangelism training and team building.

Here are five key takeaways:

  1. Students love breakouts

Students enjoy picking and attending smaller and more specific breakout sessions about topics that interest them and allow them to ask questions. There were 23 to choose from, but students could only attend three for the sake of time. Breakouts are recorded and available on our YEC Virtual Center for further training when they get home.

  1. Motivated students are the status quo

We tell youth leaders to bring all types of students, but the norm is those who are eager to be inspired and equipped. Breakout leaders are continually impressed on how students lean into what they are teaching.  YEC switched from an outreach event to an equipping event because the best way to reach teenagers is with teenagers.

  1. Youth leaders are empowered

There is a high number of youth ministers and pastors leading the event. They don’t just attend; they have a job to do! We involve them in breakouts, general sessions, strategic planning sessions, consultations and more. Instead of a few stage personalities leading the masses, there is an army of empowered leaders advancing the Gospel together. It’s beautiful!

  1. Core teaching elements are clear

General sessions are top-notch and highly strategic. Our main speaker, Shane Pruitt, is the top motivator in the U.S. for next-gen evangelism. He did a great job challenging the students in our core teaching elements: Gospel Urgency, Fluency, Strategy and Mobilization. Inspiring and equipping are of paramount importance but never complete without activation. Each general session ended with a call to immediate obedience in a way that allows youth leaders to follow up.

  1. Strategic action plans are made

Near the end of YEC, church groups met to develop plans to help them accomplish “Gospel-advancing goals” throughout the year. With the help of their youth leaders, students helped plan specific ways to reach their friends, classmates and communities with the Gospel.  When you involve students in building the mission blueprint, you don’t have to convince them to invest in it. The action plan provides tangible marching orders for when they get home.

We would love for you to join us next year, Jan. 14-15, 2024! Teenagers who share the Gospel consistently are much more likely to own their faith personally. Churches not focused on evangelism will lack passion. Youth ministries will never be able to draw in students by out-entertaining the world, but we can challenge them to be a part of the greatest mission the world has ever seen!

Visit oklahomabaptists.org/yec for information.