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642 youth accept Christ at evangelism conference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Nearly 12,500 youth, their leaders and volunteers crammed into Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium March 3-4 to be a part of the 2006 Youth Evangelism Conference.

At least 642 youth accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior during the commitment times at the Friday sessions.

“Revolution Now! Bringing a Generation Back to God” was the weekend’s theme.

Tennessee Baptist Convention youth evangelism specialist Kent Shingleton said the revolution can mean different things to people -— from living a revolutionary life sold out for Christ to praying for Jesus to bring His revolution.

Shingleton was inspired to develop the “Revolution” theme after hearing the song, “Jesus Bring Your Revolution,” which was written by a fellow church member of First Baptist Church of Smyrna.

“Revolution is a hot word in the youth culture,” he noted. “The entire process was a result of a creative team … of youth pastors to put the YEC together.”

Three key sub-themes flowed from the idea of revolution for the conference.

The first was to reach students who didn’t know Christ and teach them what it means to have a revolutionary relationship with Him, Shingleton said.

The second was for students who know Christ to be inspired so that they can have an inward relationship to meet God, to pray and read the Bible, which was explained in the teaching sessions March 4 at five area churches.

The third was for students to have a revolutionary life in the real world — to follow Him at home and school and to teach other young people, Shingleton said.

Darren Whitehead, director of Willow Creek Community Church’s Axis Ministry in suburban Chicago, was the guest speaker for the Friday sessions.

Whitehead is the former pastor of students and teaching pastor at The Peoples Church (First Baptist Church) in Franklin, Tenn. A native of Australia, Whitehead told tales of his youth ministry in the Outback, hearkening to the fictional movie character Crocodile Dundee.

Citing the biblical story of Josiah, who became king of Judah at age 8 and ruled as a teenager while creating a revolution, Whitehead said, “God has been raising up revolutions for years with young people….

“God shows Himself to people in a revolutionary way, and God has a plan for young people. God is using young people today, and young people today are at their greatest level of influence.”

Whitehead encouraged young people to do things to “blow people’s minds to show their love of Jesus to other people. God’s power is busting out all over the place in young people.

“Young people are giving all for Jesus and living on the edge,” he said. “It is now time to play offense on the campus. Thousands of teenagers need to jump into the revolution to use their lives to do something historic, and release your power in the school to represent Christ.”

The program included Casting Crowns, one of today’s top Christian groups known for “If We Are the Body” and other popular songs. Lead singer Mark Hall is a student minister at Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church near Atlanta. Some members of the group attend Eagle’s Landing, while others work in their churches as youth leaders.

Also on the program was “The Skit Guys”: Tommy Woodard, a teaching pastor from Oklahoma City, and Eddie James of Dallas, two friends from high school who communicate God’s Word in “performance comedy.” They presented vignettes with popular youth culture movie heroes and told of “Things You Never Want to See.”

On Saturday, the youth groups were shuttled to five different Launch Points at area churches. The sessions were created to equip students toward inward revolution with God and outward revolution that God desires to bring to all people and nations.
Marcia Knox is a writer for the Baptist and Reflector, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

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