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Youth Conferences

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  • Youth Conferences

    Hello everybody! Long time no see! My question is basically, what is your opinion on Youth conferences, does your church or denomination participate in them, that sort of thing. I would like to know how prevalent they are. Also, what sort of format etc. you've noticed is used.

    Mods, I believe this is the appropriate forum, because it's a general evangelical thing as far as I know, and is about neither theology nor ecclesiology. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
    Last edited by Pentecost; 12-01-2014, 02:03 PM.
    Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? -Galatians 3:5

  • #2
    Are these similar to retreats? I think I went to at least one or two growing up and I remember the term conference being used in that sort of context.

    The most memorable thing I remember was a really dynamic abstinence speaker.
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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    • #3
      Probably the same thing as retreats. For example in my district the Assemblies of God has a winter camp, summer camp, and a convention, but the generic term is conference. They are run by the A/G but I've seen non-denomination churches send students. What happens is at least four sessions across three days with worship, and a sermon every session, and additional opportunities for prayer, or workshop that's voluntary.

      Or are retreats more like a group going up to a cabin and having extended times for praise, independent bible study, and teaching? I have participated in those but they aren't as often from my experience.

      I know there is an annual men's retreat at my church but I have not yet participated in it, and I have non-Charismatic Evangelical friends who have mentioned retreats, but I never really asked for context and assumed we meant the same thing like when I say worship music and they say praise music.

      Edit: Hi KG! :)
      Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? -Galatians 3:5

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Pentecost View Post
        Hello everybody! Long time no see! My question is basically, what is your opinion on Youth conferences, does your church or denomination participate in them, that sort of thing. I would like to know how prevalent they are. Also, what sort of format etc. you've noticed is her.

        Mods, I believe this is the appropriate forum, because it's a general evangelical thing as far as I know, and is about neither theology nor ecclesiology. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
        Yeah, I think they are a good thing. I grew up non-denom and we had these sort of things (summer camp) - and I loved them.

        I also grew up going to Hume Lake in the Sequoias. Lot of different churches go there (and different denominations), and it's really quite a phenomenal place. I actually remember having Francis Chan as our speaker one year before he was a 'big deal'. (he used to teach there a lot)

        The format was usually two or three services a day, with a recreation time (organized competition) and a free time where you could do your own activities. So a typical day would look like:

        Breakfast
        Service
        Recreation
        Lunch
        Free Time
        Dinner
        Service
        Free Time (or additional / extended service)
        Bed

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        • #5
          Cool! I have been to Hume once, it's a really nice campus, thank you for your input!
          Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? -Galatians 3:5

          Comment


          • #6
            I attended a Southern Baptist church as a teen, and attended many youth conferences (especially during summer vacations), such as the Youth Evangelism Conference in Wichita Falls, TX.

            Most were set up around a central speaker and two or more bands to help lead worship, which allowed me the opportunity to see many of my favorite bands and artists (Skillet, Audio Adrenaline, Salvador, KJ-52, tobyMac, Out of Eden, etc.), as well as several great speakers, and be able to discuss what we heard each day that night in the hotel lobby with my fellows and our youth pastor.

            I enjoyed them, but in hindsight...
            They were built around a "high," an emotional experience of worship combined with a speaker who at least seemed much more energetic and engaging than the preacher back home (this may be due to said speaker being a celebrity, in addition to being someone DIFFERENT).

            There was very little if any emphasis on making any kind of lasting change in the kids who attended, aside from an altar call for the VERY FEW who hadn't already answered one at home, and in some cases it was implied (or stated outright) on the last day of the conference that the kids who had attended were "coming down from the mountain" back into the supposedly much darker "real world."

            Instead of giving us new ideas to work with and ponder and discuss with each other, or bringing us to a place of greater spiritual maturity or at least set on the road toward it when we left, we were instead brought into a temporary state of spiritual ecstasy, and then told on the last day that we couldn't experience it at home, but "that's no reason to despair".


            I also went to several youth summer camps.
            These had games during the morning and afternoon, and evening services after supper with supplementary discussions with my own youth group and youth pastor afterwards.
            Same deal, same enjoyment, same issue in hindsight.

            Of course, I now have a larger issue with them, that being that so much effort and money is poured into church youth groups to send them to such events in the hopes of growth, but the moment they graduate from high school the support seems to drop off entirely.
            You might have one or two events for college students (mostly for recruitment into the church), but those seem token compared to the slew of youth events.

            And that's not even touching young college graduates, who spent their youth being treated as the congregation's most precious possession, but after college are apparently expected to fade into the crowd.

            At least, that's been my experience.
            Last edited by Buzzword; 01-18-2015, 08:25 PM.
            “In many ways the evidence of our faith is found in our ability to control our tongue (or our keyboard)."
            -Adam Hamilton, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White

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            • #7
              When I was a teenager I went to a lot of youth retreats and conferences with the Southern Baptist Church. They were a blast and I really enjoyed them. I had a lot of great experiences, met cool and interesting people, and heard many great sermons and bands.

              There were downsides such as the spiritual "high" that seemed to completely go away once everyone got back home that was mentioned earlier. I felt that some of the speakers pressured people too much to make a decision for Christ. I remember one guy used darkness and low red lighting when describing the fires of hell (which he said was quite literal; you would be in total darkness and burn alive for eternity). He also used BRIGHT glaring lights when describing the second coming and how all of our deeds that we do secretly will be brought to light.

              I also attended a United Methodist camp my senior year of high school. It was quite different from my experience any SBC youth camps but highly enjoyable. I really liked their traditional approach to things and how I could just get away from the world (no TV, phone, media, etc) and be quiet and reflect.

              Orthodox do have retreats but I've never been to any of them. I've heard they're great.
              "Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy."
              -Marcus Aurelius

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              • #8
                Yeah, the "mountaintop experience" is something I hear spoken of derisively by teenagers in my church, not because the experience of feeling so close to God is bad, but because maybe 60% of the time their decision to for example, stop masturbating works out well for only about a week. Real change is expected, but the difficulty is not.
                Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? -Galatians 3:5

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pentecost View Post
                  Yeah, the "mountaintop experience" is something I hear spoken of derisively by teenagers in my church, not because the experience of feeling so close to God is bad, but because maybe 60% of the time their decision to for example, stop masturbating works out well for only about a week. Real change is expected, but the difficulty is not.
                  It doesn't help that all of them I attended basically said the exact same things we'd been hearing in our home churches for years; they just took out the old people, gave it a flashy backdrop and louder music, and put a pastor in front of us wearing a t-shirt and jeans instead of a suit.

                  There were no new perspectives, no new practical applications, nothing from which we could build.

                  This became extremely apparent to me the summer before my senior year of high school, when I had hit a spiritual plateau and wasn't sure how to proceed.
                  I thought a youth conference would help show me where to go, but the plateau only seemed that much flatter after coming down from the mountain.

                  In a sense, too many conferences are just an elevator ride to an observation deck, not the struggle to higher ground that helps you stay there.
                  You ride up the elevator, say "ooh, ahh," and "I wish we could always have this kind of view!"
                  Then you get back in the elevator and have it described to you in one of a thousand misdirecting pseudo-explanations why you can't always have that kind of view (for example, "The Christian life has highs and lows, too, ya know!")
                  “In many ways the evidence of our faith is found in our ability to control our tongue (or our keyboard)."
                  -Adam Hamilton, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Buzzword View Post
                    It doesn't help that all of them I attended basically said the exact same things we'd been hearing in our home churches for years; they just took out the old people, gave it a flashy backdrop and louder music, and put a pastor in front of us wearing a t-shirt and jeans instead of a suit.

                    There were no new perspectives, no new practical applications, nothing from which we could build.

                    This became extremely apparent to me the summer before my senior year of high school, when I had hit a spiritual plateau and wasn't sure how to proceed.
                    I thought a youth conference would help show me where to go, but the plateau only seemed that much flatter after coming down from the mountain.

                    In a sense, too many conferences are just an elevator ride to an observation deck, not the struggle to higher ground that helps you stay there.
                    You ride up the elevator, say "ooh, ahh," and "I wish we could always have this kind of view!"
                    Then you get back in the elevator and have it described to you in one of a thousand misdirecting pseudo-explanations why you can't always have that kind of view (for example, "The Christian life has highs and lows, too, ya know!")
                    Uhg, that doesn't sound amazing. I can kind of imagine jaded church kids feeling that way, but I grew up outside the church and while I've sometimes felt the teachings were too shallow, there has always been good times for spiritual development in small group times at the events I've been to. But overall I've had positive experiences and was even saved at one.
                    Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? -Galatians 3:5

                    Comment

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