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Teens’ potential for revival noted at Southwestern’s Youth Ministry Lab

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–God may use today’s youth to bring revival to the nation and the world, speakers at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 34th annual Youth Ministry Lab said.

“I really believe that you as leaders are catalysts for revival,” featured speaker JR Vassar said in the opening session of the April 5-6 conference. He encouraged youth ministers and leaders to realize that God’s movement will not always be what they might expect.

“It’s not always sensational, but it is significant,” Vassar said. “Don’t overlook the significant because you’re just looking for the sensational.” Every individual is important, he said, and ministers should not overlook that.

Vassar stressed the importance of being in relationship with God and leading youth to strive for that as well. Every message should come from God, he said. “Don’t speak for him until you’ve heard from him,” he said.

This year’s theme, “FireFall,” was based on Isaiah 64:1: “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!”

Charlie Hall, best known for leading worship at national events such as Passion and OneDay, established the theme through the music at the conference. He also appeared in a special concert following the conference.

Richard Ross, professor of youth/student ministry at Southwestern, told youth that throughout history God has started major revivals through teenagers. Theirs could be the next generation used in such a way, he said.

Ross challenged the youth to raise their spiritual sails by keeping a daily appointment with God and memorizing Scripture. One must be in an intimate relationship with God in order to hear and follow his call, he said.

Ross also encouraged youth to pray together and separately for revival to come through their generation. God answers prayer, he said. “We can’t make the winds of revival blow but we can raise our sails.”

He also stressed the importance of accountability, telling youth to deal with secret sins. Christians must be pure before God, worshiping him intimately and completely for revival to come, he said.

Revival requires that God’s people obey him instantly and completely, Ross continued, encouraging youth to follow God even outside their comfort zone. Intimate worship is part of revival, and that means an actual personal encounter with God, he said.

“We believe that God is up to something huge with you,” Ross told the youth, “and we want you to catch what God intends to do through you.”

Although Ross and fellow Southwestern youth ministry professor Wes Black served as advisers for the conference, Youth Lab is entirely student-born and student-led. Sessions covered a wide range of topics such as evangelism, discipleship and purity.

Individual sessions were led by youth ministers, counselors, professors and representatives of such organizations as the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board and Student Discipleship Ministries.

The conference included tracks for four different groups: experienced youth ministers, volunteer leaders, spouses of youth ministers and youth. It is the only conference of its kind that accommodates all of those groups, said youth track chairman Shane Saunders, a Master of Arts student in Christian education at Southwestern.

This year’s Youth Lab also offered four specialized, simultaneous conferences for those planning to be involved with World Changers or international mission trips, coaching campus Christian clubs and youth who are contemplating a call to ministry.

Youth Lab 2002 had 630 participants. One hundred sixty participants were youth.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: REACHING HISPANIC YOUTH, VENDERS’ OFFERINGS, INTERCEDING, HALL’S HERE, and G’S BETTER THAN X.

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  • Tony Imms