Over the last few years the Youth Evangelism Conference (YEC) has been transformed into primarily a training and equipping event, though it is still an event for every kind of student. When asked what type of student should churches bring to YEC we say “ALL of them!”
Core students go deeper. Fringe students get encouraged to go all in. Evangelists find their happy place. Scaredy cats are in good company. Unsaved students hear the Gospel and have a chance to respond. Everyone leaves united around a common goal.
At YEC this year, Jan. 14-15, the theme was “Fearless.” If asked, the average student would say they were interested in extreme things such as skydiving, bungee jumping, rollercoasters and extreme sports. It is actually the love of fear that gets them cranked up to do those things.
If we could channel that “love of fear” into evangelism, it would be a better use of it for sure. Since evangelism causes students to risk their social status, it can be one of the most extreme things they can do.
YEC 2018 drew 1,900 total participants made up of 105 churches, with four general sessions and three breakout sessions. Students chose from 17 different breakouts, which provided something for everyone.
There was also a strategic planning session that allowed youth groups to write out their Gospel advancing goals. This strategic planning experience topped the list of most impactful components of the event according to the feedback we received from youth leaders.
The most important outcome we desire to see from YEC are stories of students actually putting to practice what they learned and have been motivated to do. We don’t want to just talk about evangelism; we want to be about evangelism.
During one of the general sessions, students were challenged to walk up to their youth leader and whisper the name of the person whom they are committing to share the Gospel within the 72 hours that followed. This moment was special for both the students and the youth leaders.
Youth leaders don’t get into ministry for the paycheck; they get into ministry for the payoff, and multiple students approaching them, committed to share the Gospel certainly was a payoff moment.
During the final session, students were challenged to start a Gospel conversation right then and there. The challenge was to identify a lost person from their phone contacts or social media list and send them a message that would open up a conversation about spiritual things.
Lights in Falls Creek’s Tabernacle were dimmed, and everyone was encouraged to turn on their cell phone flashlight after they sent the message. One by one, flashlights turned on all over the Tabernacle. In the end, a gleaming display of real evangelistic action and worship filled the room.
If your church is not involved in sending students to YEC we would certainly encourage you to do so. YEC 2019 is Jan. 20-21. Teenagers who share the Gospel consistently are much more likely to own their faith personally and take their faith seriously.
Churches not focused on evangelism will lack passion. Youth ministries will never be able 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. Whatever we do, let’s relentlessly pursue the mission of Jesus!