You may be surprised to learn that a few weeks ago at 365 Youth Convention, teenagers from all over the state of Indiana were encouraged to live on the wild side. Don’t fear, it was not an encouragement to live wild in the ways the world often advocates. Instead, Joseph Sojourner invited youth and adults alike to discover the wild ways of walking the narrow road with Jesus. In response, young people all around the room stood as a way of boldly committing to living every day with Jesus. Four were even baptized later that night in hotel bathtubs and pools, after a late night party celebrating how deeply we are loved by our God.
This is just a snapshot of a weekend full of opportunities for students and leaders to come together for the sake of inviting God to transform the way that we live every day. This year for the first time, our entire 365 community slept and worshipped under one roof at the Westin Indianapolis. Lamentations 3:21-23 served as the foundation of our time together. Through the main gatherings and student-driven breakout sessions, we were challenged to receive God’s hope by leaving behind the comparison game and recognizing Him at work in the midst of real-life struggles. Powerful stories were shared, both from the stage and in conversations all over the city. We were sent out with a challenge that the fight for is greater than the fight against, that we have the power to radically include and fight for those who are not a part of our circles yet.
From where I sit, I am overwhelmed by the ways God is stirring something new in the next generation and Church of God youth ministries across our state. As we pray together for the stories that have begun to unfold in the lives of our youth and their leaders, we also pray that God will shape each of us as church leaders to be increasingly sensitive to the work of His Spirit so that we may join Him to unleash the potential of the next generation in our own communities each day. I can’t wait until our next gathering again in just under a year, and look forward to all that God will do among us in the time until then.
Mark your calendars now to join us at the Westin next November 2-4, 2018!
Here are some resource links from the weekend, in case you are interested…
- Joseph Sojourner’s story
- Safety Plan & Suicide Breakout Session Notes
- Lamentations 3:21-23 Art Bumper Video
- Ann Smith Video (from Sunday morning gathering)