By Abbie Craig
Your story is not finished. There is MORE that God has in store for you, for your people, for your community, for the Church of God. This is the hope that was spoken and experienced by the students and leaders from across the state of Indiana who gathered a few weeks ago for 365 Youth Convention. Through worship, student-led prayer experiences, small groups, crazy fun, and MORE, the Spirit was powerfully at work among us. One student shared with me, “My youth group showed up this weekend broken, and we are leaving healed.” We pray that the ripple effects are experienced all over the state as all who were involved continue to live out and share what God is showing them everyday.
This year was built upon the foundation of Ephesians 3:17-21: I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
It has been so striking to me that these words are NOT a description of Paul’s currently reality. Instead, this is a prayer for the future, founded in the hope of the Kingdom of God that is here and not yet. Every teenager needs to know that there is a future hope that is secure, and that they can be a part of God’s work in the world because they ARE the church. And I believe that every church, every leader, every person who has never been a part of 365, needs to know that when we gather together each year, God is revealing a picture of what is to come through this generation. I can’t WAIT to see how they will shape the church and shape the world. Let’s be people who are paying attention and empowering the next generation to lead now.
One way we want to help you do just that with your students is through a new 365 Offering Grant. Applications are now open for youth groups to apply to receive a portion of this year’s offering to fuel your youth groups impact in your larger community. The rest of our offering will be used to sponsor young men in the Young Men, Inc. summer program, led by Rev. Malachi Walker in Indianapolis.
Lastly, I want to share with you some of the imagery that Kylee Larson, our speaker, used throughout the weekend. I pray that God will use it to encourage you, too, regardless of what season of life you find yourself in….
- Imagine a seed in the ground. It is planted with care, but from a seed’s perspective, it is surrounded by darkness. Faith is trusting that even in the middle of your story, even if what looks like darkness all around you and feels like you’re all alone, you are HELD. You are SECURE. You are planted in faith, and by faith, Jesus himself is planted in your heart. And THAT, that is the beginning of EVERYTHING.
- Consider moments in your life when you have been uprooted. When we get UProoted, it’s often because God wants us to REroot in His love. Dark moments, failure moments, if we will allow them, are some of the biggest invitations we get to the MORE that God has for us.
- Think of a plant that is thriving. It can grow to its full potential because it is deeply rooted. If we are planted firmly in faith, if we are rooted in love, then we are free to reach up high and out wide, to reach out fully to those around us.
Here are some additional resource links from the weekend, in case you are interested…
- 2018 Highlight Video: https://vimeo.com/299484335
- 365 Grant Application: https://form.jotform.com/83046314736153
- Learn more about Young Men, Inc: https://fox59.com/2018/05/22/spots-still-open-for-young-men-inc-summer-empowerment-camp/
Mark your calendars now to join us at the Westin next November 8-10, 2019!*
*Dates have been updated.