YouthQuest 2017 was a great reminder of what it means to be a part of Christ’s Kingdom. Students and leaders from around the country joined together to celebrate Christ and the many talents He has given them!
The event kicked off on Friday, July 21st, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Students jumped right into Fine Arts & Bible Quiz competition that afternoon before heading to the YouthQuest Opening Ceremony. This year’s Opening Ceremony was a nod to the many Fine Arts’ categories that our students would be participating in over the entirety of the event. The creative components of the performance included live music, percussion solos, dance, creative movement, spoken word poetry, illustrated art, and an A Capella performance.
The capstone of the ceremony was a message from one of the SMAT (Student Ministries Advisory Team) members, Kaleigh Bishop. Bishop challenged the students and leaders to assess the motivations of their actions and to check their hearts to see if they were truly being obedient, “When we say we can’t, God says that He can. ‘Follow me and see what I can do with an obedient heart.’” Bishop followed her message with an interactive altar service. With giant chalkboards at the altar, reading, “All to Jesus, I surrender. All to Him, I freely give.” She invited the attendees to give God the areas of their lives where they want to be obedient.
Our students were ushered into Saturday morning’s service with worship by the YouthQuest House Band, featuring one of the SMAT members, Josh Lafferty. This year’s event focused around the IPHC’s Core Value of Christ’s Kingdom and the goal was for all the speakers to be from our own IPHC movement. So, YouthQuest was excited to host the IPHC leader of Turkey, Ismail Serinken. Serinken opened the first morning service with a word about purpose and destiny in God’s Kingdom, “God has prepared great things for you. You must step into the fullness of your destiny.”
Also, during the services were Interactive Prayer Cubes in the venue. The Prayer Cubes prompted attendees to write down their various needs and prayer requests. The WIN (World Intercessory Network) Prayer Ministry provided the two cubes for the event, and their dedicated team prayed over the hundreds of written requests that these acquired.
Following Saturday’s morning service, our students returned to the venues for more Fine Arts competition. Saturday’s competition consisted of Vocal Instrumental, Three Dimensional Art, Digital Photography, Short Sermon, Mime, Website Design, Creative Writing, Poetry, Children’s Short Story, Modern Dance, Human Video (designated song), and Creative Movement Small Group. Every day of competition, attendees also had the opportunity to walk through the Art Venue that featured the submissions from the various Art categories.
That evening, the YouthQuest House Band led another terrific worship set followed by a message from SMAT member, Brittany Galavin. Galavin’s message focused on The Kingdom of God and what it looks like to be Citizens of Heaven. She stated, “We are to invade earth with Heaven’s culture, not the other way around.” Her message ushered in a powerful altar service. Many students responded to the call, and the Holy Spirit was evident in that moment.
At the conclusion of this service, IPHC Student Ministries honored Galavin for her service with the SMAT team. Galavin has stepped down from this role to spend more time with her growing family. They recently added another member to their family, now making a family of five. So much love and support was shown to her family as the SMAT team honored her through a video montage and stories from her time on the team.
On Sunday morning, YouthQuest was treated to another part of the IPHC’s global efforts. Bishop Michael John, from India, brought a passionate message about the love of God. Using John 3:16 as part of his message, Bishop John said, “Every human heart desires that someone would ‘SO’ love them.” Throughout his message, he compelled the audience to believe that following Jesus is the way to experience this love.
At the end of the service, Bishop Tommy McGhee led the congregation in communion. He invited all to come to the Table. Bishop McGhee emphasized that the Table of Jesus is a place of invitation, revelation, and expectation. This moment challenged everyone participating in communion to truly pray these words, “Help us to become all – because you died – that we could become.”
Immediately following communion, attendees who had any interest in working in ministry were invited to stay for a special forum. The IPHC Presiding Bishop, Dr. Doug Beacham, led the forum, alongside Bishop Tommy McGhee and the SMAT members. The forum covered practical steps for following a calling into ministry. The opportunity to share in the wisdom of these leaders was an invaluable experience.
After the service and forum concluded, students once again competed in the Fine Arts competitions. Sunday’s competition consisted of Vocal Solo, Rap Solo, Fabricated Art, Traditional Photography, Wind, Strings Bowed, Strings Plucked, Puppetry & Ventriloquism, Human Video, and Drama Audible. Between visiting venues, attendees also had the opportunity to interact with the many great exhibitors that were present at the event.
After another full day of competition, SMAT member Josh Lafferty brought a word challenging the room to set aside distractions and pursue the fire of God. “The cross demands that we be willing to be completely consumed through a daily process of coming to the altar.” Lafferty’s challenge led to a powerful response. During the altar call, Lafferty also encouraged students and leaders to pray and ask to receive the Holy Spirit. Many at the altars responded to this call.
Immediately following the service, Stephen Jones, along with the other members of the SMAT team, met with Youth Leaders to encourage the need for community and relationship between the different churches – it was a call for unity among the IPHC youth leaders. Following the charge, Jones asked all the leaders to gather together in small groups to pray and encourage one another. It was a tremendous moment to witness the eager support for each other in their ministries.
The final day kicked off with worship led by the House Band. Then, Stephen Jones, team leader of SMAT, brought a powerful message to end the week’s services. Jones challenged the students to be hopeful in this troubled world and to wait in a posture of obedience looking towards Christ’s return. His message marshalled in an altar service where students and leaders responded in an attitude of reverence and consecration.
After the morning service, students headed to their last day of competition. The final Fine Arts categories to compete were Piano Solo, A Capella, and Audible Drama. With competition ending early in the afternoon, attendees had plenty of time to prepare for that evenings Black and White Knight Awards Show.
After a year of planning, YouthQuest 2017 was nearing its end. The event was concluded Monday evening with the Fifth Annual Fine Arts Festival Awards Show, which celebrated all the IPHC conferences in attendance. Students were encouraged to dress in black & white (and one even came dressed as a Knight) for the festivities.
The Awards Show honored the 2017 participants and winners of the Fine Arts and Bible Quiz competitions. The show featured live performances from award-winning participants and comedic live bits “selling” the highly sought after “Bishop Spinners – 4 for the price of 5!” The 2017 Fine Arts Festival Awards Show was a well-executed mixture of humor and admiration for our IPHC Bishops, the participants, and all the attendees of this year’s YouthQuest.
With another year in the books, the SMAT is already praying about and planning for YouthQuest 2018 in Covington, Kentucky. This upcoming YouthQuest will be emphasizing the IPHC’s Core Value of All Generations; it should prove to be an encouragement and a challenge to our IPHC students. Be looking for more information about YouthQuest 2018: “Raise Your Voice.”