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Younger Leaders Summit set for Nashville’s Global Café

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–On one hand, a year’s worth of work culminates June 19 when James T. Draper Jr. hosts “Young Leaders’ Summit 2005” prior to the Southern Baptist Convention.

On the other hand, the work will be just beginning.

“I’m very excited about the way the program has come together,” Draper, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, said. “We’ve invested a lot of effort over the past 12 months raising the awareness of our convention to make a place at the denominational table for younger leaders. I’ve encouraged younger leaders to get involved and bring to bear their energy and creativity.

“I believe that what we have scheduled for the 19th is a strong step toward getting us to where we’d like to go,” he said, “and that is ultimately toward being a denomination that uses various creative methods to reach all people with the Gospel.”

The summit begins at 2 p.m. at the Global Café in downtown Nashville at the corner of Broadway and Fourth and is expected to last slightly more than an hour and a half.

Singer/songwriter Russ Lee, former lead vocalist for Newsong, will lead worship. Confirmed speakers are Chris Seay, pastor of Ecclesia in Houston; Kevin Shrum, pastor of Inglewood Baptist Church in Nashville; Adam Greenway, new LifeWay trustee and pastor of the Church at Andover in Lexington, Ky.; Robby Partain, director of missions for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention; Ed Stetzer, director of research for the North American Mission Board; and Jeff Harris, pastor of Grace Point Church in San Antonio.

At last year’s SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis, Draper voiced concern over younger leaders’ lack of involvement in the convention. He then produced three columns that addressed the need for the denomination to involve those leaders. And he has held several face-to-face dialogue sessions with younger leaders in several states.

Draper called the sessions “a great experience” in helping his understanding of younger leaders.

“I went with no agenda other than to listen. Too often I think we older folks do too much talking at them, but my intention was to find out what was on their hearts and minds. I learned a lot,” Draper said.

“One thing I knew –- and had reinforced –- is that these younger people have a willingness to engage the culture regardless of how challenging that might be.”

Draper said the dialogue sessions have had a direct impact on LifeWay, adding that he will announce on June 19 several commitments LifeWay will make as a result of what he heard.

“One of our goals as a ministry partner is to provide individuals and churches with the resources they need to spiritually impact the culture around them,” he said. “We have already begun to implement some of what we heard and we are making a commitment to younger leaders that we will continue listening to them and find ways to involve them. One of those commitments is that we will continue to encourage all SBC entities to build bridges, as well. Many are doing that –- and were actually doing that before I brought it up.

“It is a two-way street, however. I can push a door open, but we need younger leaders to accept the challenge to be involved with the SBC,” he added.

Draper said registration information updates and his continued commentary can be found at LifeWay’s younger leaders website and on his personal weblog, both located at lifeway.com/youngerleaders website.