One of the 300 attendees reflect on a weekend of hearing about successful, innovative ministries and how to now take this information back to their local communities. | Photos by Samuel Girven
Zack Payne, Wisconsin Conference Youth Director, reflected on the weekend during the morning session. “I love this event, because yes, it gives you the opportunity to get [funding]. Yes, it gives you the opportunity to be heard. But one of my favorite parts about this…is the process. What we’re encouraging is for you to be involved in local ministry, to go through the process, and to learn how to speak to your local church leaders.”
Payne later asked others to reflect on the event as well. “I think that it’s a wake-up call. We need to start to learn to be more vulnerable, because ultimately, we don’t know what people need. We won’t know how to approach [issues] if we don’t step out of our comfort zone”, said Leslie, one of the participants. Stacy, another participant, had another take on the weekend. “What I’ve seen that is evident is that the Lake Union is a union that cares”, she said. “I see over 300 people who desire to do something in their community, to show the world that, ‘Hey, God is so much then just going to church.’”
Jose Cortes Jr.’s theme for the day was “plant.” He emphasized that baptism is not the end of the spiritual journey. In fact, it’s only the beginning! Spiritual “babies” and those who have just been baptized must be given the same attentive care that we give before baptism and conversion. “Don’t treat them as if they have been around forever…and even those who have been around forever have to be treated with a lot of love,” Cortes said. “But the babies, they need to be treated specially. And that’s how they get. . . stronger and mature, multiplying and [and making more] disciples.”
After Cortes morning message, he made an appeal: Are we willing to go into our neighborhoods, and willing to make a difference for Jesus? Are we willing to care for the “spiritual babies” of our church? Many young adults from various backgrounds responded to the appeal. Cortes and the conference youth directors offered a special prayer of concretion for the youth that responded to the appeal. After the morning session, Ron Whitehead, Lake Union director of Youth Ministries concluded the congress.
Over 300 youth from all backgrounds came to learn how they can make an impact in their communities in a wide range of ways. Some even came to the congress without any backing from their local church. They are willing to take bold steps and learn how they can impact their generation and community, even if it just starts with one person in their church. One such person was Kaila Walker from Illinois. “My church is getting a lot smaller,” she explained. “I think that puts more responsibility on the people that are left, and I’ve been feeling down about that. I wanted to come here to get some new ideas, and to get some encouragement. I felt like that would be helpful for my spirit,” she said. She’s hoping to implement some of the ideas she found during the “Table Talks” and seminars in her local church.
Ron Whitehead was ecstatic about the congress’s overall outlook. He’s hoping that people were able to glean a lot of resources and learn how they can start ministries that work for their churches. “My hope is that people were able to learn self-awareness of the calling of their life, and maybe even an understanding of what their evangelism assignment is,” he said. “Most importantly though, self-awareness that God loves them so much, that no matter what they do, they’re not alone.”
Michael Campos, Illinois Conference Youth director, has a similar take: “One thing that really resonated with me. . . was the power of one. I hope that people walk away with a sense that they can make a difference in their community. . . and you don’t need the biggest idea, or the biggest budget. I hope that people walk away with a sense that they, individually, can do something to expand God’s kingdom, and that they’re important and valuable to all the work.”
weekend review video produced by Jonathan Logan
Samuel Girven, Cadillac Church’s assistant Communication secretary, blogs for the Lake Union Communication department. You can read earlier blog posts about the GYC conference here: GYC Day 1, GYC Day 2, and GYC Day 3.