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Step into God’s story, Giglio urges record crowd at Ministry Lab

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Louie Giglio encouraged an audience of 1,200-plus youth ministers, parents of youth and youth group leaders to step out of their life stories and into God’s story.

Giglio, leader of the national Passion movement among collegians, addressed the opening session of the April 8-9 Youth Ministry Lab, sponsored and hosted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, for 30 years.

“Paul could’ve been the guy who had it all if not for his radical meeting with God,” said Giglio, drawing from Philippians 3 for his message to the record crowd of participants from 300 churches. “He would’ve been the star of his own small story, but would not be known today.”

The Apostle Paul was instead radically “re-aimed and re-sized by God, and God invited Paul into His story,” Giglio, a graduate of Southwestern Seminary, said. “That invitation is still on the table today for you and me.”

Giglio recently returned from Great Britain where he said an amazing revival is taking place in the lives of men and women. “God is on the move in the world today. We are a part of the Kingdom of God and we are part of something big. God’s going to do something in student ministry in this country and he wants you to be a part of it.”

Too often Christians lose sight of the simplicity of Jesus’ call to lead, Giglio said. “But this generation needs young men and women who actively live out the reality that Jesus is relevant for today … who can lead them to the power that is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

He urged Youth Ministry Lab participants to leave their stories behind and join God’s story “because there is stuff He is doing in your town that you don’t even know about and it is huge. God is good and He is on the move.”

Among the lab participants, Robert and Sherry Tavares and their daughter, Amanda, drove from Gallup, N.M. — a 12-hour, 760-mile trip to Fort Worth.

Robert, youth minister at First Baptist Church in Gallup, enrolled in the conference for student ministers led by Wes Black, professor of student ministry at Southwestern. More than 250 student ministers attended the sessions in which Black shared the latest student ministry research on such topics as what makes an effective youth ministry and how teenagers view religion and spirituality.

“I really enjoyed all of the data shared about youth culture and I think it is going to help me focus my ministry on sharing God’s glory,” Tavares said.

Sherry, meanwhile, was reminded while attending a conference for ministers’ wives that her role in ministry is first to be her husband’s wife and then to support him and his ministry.

“It was very refreshing and encouraging to hear that other people share my same struggles,” she said. “Churches can be hard on the wives of ministers but we are reminded to live the biblical standards that will be an encouragement to our husbands and will help their ministries.”

Fourteen-year-old Amanda Tavares was new to Youth Ministry Lab. She attended a training conference for students preparing for international mission trips. Although the Tavares family served as missionaries abroad for a year, Amanda said she felt the conference would give her new insight into missions for future trips.

“I really enjoyed it and thought the conference was very well put together,” she said. “One important thing I learned is that the Bible didn’t say just once for people to go out into the world and disciple; it says it repeatedly … [underscoring how] missions is supposed to be done and needs to be done.”

Conferences also were available for parents, youth ministry volunteers, students and those interested in praise bands. Booths also were available with information on colleges, camps, publishers and short-term mission organizations.

“I think there was a lot of variety for everyone….” Robert Tavares said. “I would definitely encourage anyone involved in any aspect of youth ministry to attend.”

Richard Ross, one of the architects of the True Love Waits abstinence campaign and a professor of student ministry at Southwestern, said an intensive pre-conference prayer strategy by the lab’s student organizers was why nearly 500 teenagers and more than 700 adults were in attendance this year.

“Perhaps the largest conference attendance in Southwestern’s history is related to what may have been the most expansive conference prayer strategy in the seminary’s history,” Ross said.

“On two Friday nights the lab committees prayed from 10 p.m. until sunrise the next morning. Twice they prayerwalked the campus, praying over every room and in many cases every chair. For a semester, students have prayed weekly at 7 a.m. for God to come in power during the lab. Virtually everyone who attended was prayed over by those wearing prayer bracelets.”

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  • Melanie Lloyd