DAVIS—More than 1,600 students and sponsors gathered at Falls Creek Baptists Conference Center in Davis, March 13-14, to learn how to be more ‘fluent’ in talking about the Gospel with their friends, family and neighbors.

The Youth Evangelism Conference (YEC), an annual event that is sponsored by Oklahoma Baptists, was originally scheduled at Falls Creek in January but was rescheduled to March due to COVID precautions.

Brian Baldwin, left, illustrates Gospel conversations with Skit Guys, Eddie James and Tommy Woodard, right, as Todd Sanders, center, looks on.

The theme for the 2022 YEC event was “Arise” and was based on Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” The goal of the conference was to give students practical teaching in how to share the Gospel, as well as to help students who were not yet believers come to faith in Jesus Christ.

A conversation guide, which was distributed at YEC, explained the reason for the gathering,

“Why learn to share the Gospel?” The guidebook asked. “Because it’s literally the best news on the planet! Forgiveness of sin, Eternal life and a relationship with God are just a few reasons why the Gospel message is Good News.”

Students take notes in their YEC discussion guides.

“We had a great group here this year,” said Brian Baldwin, YEC director. “We were down a bit from what we expected this year just from having to reschedule to when people are doing things during Spring Break, but there was a great crowd at this year’s YEC.”

Baldwin, who is also the youth missions and evangelism ministry partner for Oklahoma Baptists, explained that the event included speakers and multiple breakouts with worship led by Craig Rigney, a worship leader, pastor and artist based in Chicago, Ill. Dillon Chase, a Texas-based rapper, gave a spoken word lyrical presentation, calling students to focus on the theme verse. Tommy Woodard and Eddie James, The Skit Guys, encouraged students with funny skits that helped illustrate both good ways and bad ways to share the faith.

“D.A. Horton talked about Gospel urgency, fluency and mobilization,” Baldwin explained. “Why we should have urgency with both sharing and receiving the Gospel. There were many people who indicated they put their faith in Jesus. Many also committed to the urgency of sharing the Gospel with their family and friends.”

Horton, who was the keynote speaker at the conference, and is associate pastor of Riverside, Calif., Grove Community, said he was surprised at the number of students at the conference.

“I did not realize that there would be as many students as there were,” he said. “I mean, not just because it’s post COVID and everything is open, but because these students came to the conference to be ingrained with the truth of the Gospel.”

Horton serves as the program director for intercultural studies and assistant professor at California Baptist University. He said there are both opportunities and challenges encountered by today’s youth that YEC helped students be better prepared to face.

“One of the advantages that students have these days is technology,” Horton noted. “When I was younger, I didn’t have proximity to the whole world in the palm of my hands, the way they do today. But that can also be dangerous if it’s not properly stewarded. Leveraging technology, students are more able to influence others with the Gospel with a broader reach.”

Horton said that the advent of technology such as streaming media has created opportunities to start conversations about the Gospel.

“Sometimes, I tell students the Gospel is like a Netflix series, four seasons, with 66 episodes,” Horton said. “And as you walk them through the four major plot movements of Scripture, then you can weave the Gospel through.”

Students were also introduced to a new piece of technology that was developed by Oklahoma Baptists—the GoodNews Coach App. The mobile phone application helps students learn more about sharing their faith, assists them as they track their own progress in starting Gospel conversations and allows them to select and interact with a coach who can encourage them as they advance the Gospel among their friends and family.

Baldwin encouraged students to download the app in order to continue with the training they received at YEC.

“We hope you will continue to use what you have learned here, to go on having Gospel conversations” Baldwin said to students. “The GoodNews Coach app helps you be accountable. Just like at school, you are more likely to do the work that is inspected by your teachers. The GoodNews app allows you to connect with a coach. It can be a Sunday School teacher or your youth pastor to allow them to see how you are doing in sharing your faith and keep you accountable.”

Plans are underway for the 2023 YEC which is expected to take place next January at Falls Creek.

To learn more about the GoodNews Coach App. visit goodnewscoach.com.