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Conference raises awareness of need to reach youth

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Fifty-one percent of the world is under the age of 25. Eighty-five percent of Christians are saved before the age of 18. More than 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States.

For Boyce College’s David Adams, these statistics signal a time of unprecedented opportunity for reaching the world’s youth for Christ.

“Nationally and internationally there’s never been a time like this one,” said Adams, associate dean of students and executive director of the National Center for Youth Ministry at Boyce College. “We’re living in a day when youth ministry is coming into its own.”

Casting a vision to address this urgency will be the focus of the National Center for Youth Ministry’s second annual Youth Ministry Emphasis Week on Boyce’s campus in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 23-29. Boyce College is the undergraduate program for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“What we are attempting to do with this Youth Emphasis Week is raise the awareness of the significance and the importance of youth ministry not only in the local church here in Louisville but also nationally and internationally,” Adams said.

The center, the first research unit at Boyce College, purposes to provide resources and to train ministers to meet the needs of modern-day youth.

“Our vision is to raise awareness of parts of youth ministry in the local church and then to recruit, train, place and network,” Adams said.

The main event of the emphasis week will be the first annual “Vision Conference” Sept. 23. The day-long event will feature 31 different topics and 11 different speakers. The conference costs $39.95 (includes materials and luncheon) and is open to everyone.

The overall theme is reaching young people for Christ, but the “Vision Conference” will explore this motif through seven individual themes: campus outreach, ministering to troubled youth, missions, youth evangelism, middle school ministry, high school ministry and college ministry. Each of these themes will highlight four topics relating to it, which will comprise the subjects of the breakout sessions.

Some of the presenters for the sessions include: Adams; Lindell Ormsbee, University of Kentucky professor and campus ministry expert; Randy Record, director of campus outreach for the Kentucky Baptist Convention; and Randy Smith, director of Youth Ministry International and assistant professor of missions at Boyce College.

“We think that anybody who loves, cares about or works with young people will find something at this conference,” Adams said. “I hope it will have an immediate impact on their local church.”

The week will also feature a consultation of youth leaders on Sept. 25. A group of 25-30 youth pastors, leaders and professionals will provide evaluation and feedback of the curriculum and programs of the youth ministry program at Boyce.

Members of this “brain trust” will discuss youth ministry issues in classes Sept. 26-29 (Tuesday-Friday, 1-2:15 p.m., and Thursday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.). These presentations are open to all.

Wednesday will present opportunities for the seminary community and conference attendees to worship, as well as to hear youth ministry guest speakers at partner churches — Highview Baptist Church and Little Flock Baptist Church — on Wednesday night.

“I live to see the day when we have this conference in September and we’ll have 55 or 60 churches that will be participating,” Adams said.

The Boyce Singers will sing at both the conference and the Wednesday chapel.

Through all the events, Adams and the other presenters hope to give a philosophy and strategy for local church youth ministry that will also reach the world.

The information, presentations and worship “could change your life,” Adams said. For more information or to register, call (502) 897-4207.

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  • Bryan Cribb