This past weekend I was in Chilliwack attending the History Maker youth conference with a gang from Duncan. It was a rare opportunity for me to spend gobs of time with some of the youth in the church. There’s really nothing like hours on busses and ferries and midnight pizzas and candy to bring people closer together. The conference was good, I would say it accomplished it’s goals of bringing some kids to Christ, bringing others closer to him, getting them excited about the gospel and sharing it with others, all while letting the kids have a real good time. It was entered on the theme “real” by which they meant a real God for real people with a real message of love.
What most struck me about the conference was the display it was for Christianity. We often think of ourselves as not all that capable, as requiring experts and people from somewhere else to come to us and lead the way. We often fail to trust our own sense of worth and dignity, and we think our abilities too small for the tasks at hand. I am among those who think that there is much to be gained from listening to the “stars” of the faith, the historical ones (the Augustines, Luthers, Calvins, Lewises) and the current ones (the Kellers, the Claibornes, the Tchividjians) I listen to them, read them, and ponder their ideas on a weekly basis. I have no doubt that people can get better preaching online than in the vast majority of community churches, mine included.
So what struck me most about this conference is that this year History Maker bucked the trend, a trend I am told they were a part of. Instead of bringing in expensive preachers with names people know from churches and organizations people look up to, they saved everyone money (making the conference more widely available to poorer groups like ours) by bringing in some relative unknowns from some relatively unimpressive churches and organizations, not unimportant, but unimpressive, like St. Andrew’s Duncan. These speakers lit the place up. They knew their audience and they engaged them where they are, using iphones and high school memories for illustrations, talking about the gospel as it speaks into the sorts of situations teens regularly face, and just telling their own stories, witnessing to the transforming work of Jesus in their own lives.
These preachers did an amazing job (and believe me like many a preacher I am a hard person to please when it comes to preaching) and I am sure some of them became heroes this weekend, people the kids will quote to others and be shocked the people around them have never heard of them. They are among the nameless mass of Christians who are highly talented and working away for the Gospel. They are among the servant-hearted who simply want the name of Jesus to be known, not their own. They left the kids (and probably some of the pastorsJ) thinking, “if they can do it, if God can us them so powerfully, then maybe He really can use me.” That is a powerful thought to put in the mind of a teenager or a youth pastor!
It was wonderful and inspiring to see people pouring themselves into the teens, giving up their time and energy, sharing intimate stories of their lives, all for the sake of Jesus and the teens involved!
Our God is great who so well equips His church! What are you called to be doing?