I’ll bet it's been close to 20 years since I first read that article.
It was published by Group magazine, a magazine that was once the standard for youth ministry professionals. The one we were excited to receive every month that gave us ideas, games, and articles to help us do our jobs better. It was a fantastic resource!
One of the articles I read really stuck with me; it was an article that praised the value of big events and in my ten years of ministry, its thesis has resounded over and over again.
In a season where groups opted for processes over events, that writer asserted that even though big events like concerts, camps, and conferences can sometimes produce short-lived results, flashes in the pan if you will, teenagers often find these big discipleship events to be “booster-rockets“ for their faith, a burst of energy that propels them a little further in their relationship with Christ, and a little deeper into their knowledge of him and his purpose for their lives.
After 20 years of full-time student ministry, I can confidently agree that no youth ministry should be comprised solely of large events that hype up our students and send them home on a spiritual high, but then again, no youth ministry is complete without them, either.
And after attending almost 20 Accelerant events with teens from our church, I am still sold on the value of investing in our students’ trip to Gatlinburg every year. This year was no different.
Not only were our worship services inspiring, led by Rush of Fools, but Pastor Allen Griffin and Pastor Sharo brought solid messages about our worth before Christ and our responsibility to represent him wherever we are.
Pastor Alan Griffin was zany and funny but also anointed as he led a healing service at the close of his second message; many students testified to physical healing as a result of that altar call! I was also reminded of the intense battle for their souls as many students responded to altar calls for prayer over anxiety, depression, and even suicidality.
Pastor Sharo was definitely a fireball; also known virally on the internet as PreacherGirl, she brought powerful words about representing Christ and “raising a banner on a barren hill“ in school, at home, and on the court. Students responded to her message in droves, committing their lives to represent Christ, regardless of the personal cost.
The value of Accelerant is not solely found in its services. While those services are definitely life-changing, we also see value in the spiritual conversations that happen in the hotel rooms, on the way to eat, and as we do activities together. Many groups schedule fun outings and use downtime to build relationships with their teens. Those moments built community and shared memories that invite the students into a deeper relationship with Christ AND in their faith community, knowing they’re not alone on their journey.
I’m a big fan of Accelerant, Fine Arts, Youth Camp, and YouthQuest, and I believe God is using each one of those to grow this generation in the knowledge of his son. I hope all of us as leaders can commit to investing in our students through at least one or all of these “booster rocket” events. Let’s help repel our students' light years ahead!
Rev. Stephen Jones currently serves as the Pastor of Student Ministries at Whitnel Pentecostal Holiness Church in Lenoir, NC. In 2002, Stephen earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Christian Ministries from Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, GA. In 2008, he completed a Master’s of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. Since 2002, Stephen’s full-time ministry to teenagers has spanned two IPHC Conferences, three IPHC churches, and numerous IPHC summer camps. Stephen currently occupies the Leadership and Skill Development Portfolio under the Student Ministries Advisory Team. His areas of expertise and responsibilities include:
– Leading, teaching, structuring and programming for leadership and ministry-skill development.
– Advising the team about current developments, resources, and trends related to leadership and ministry-skill development, especially as they relate to youth leaders and youth ministry.
– Serving as a resource for other leaders, especially in the area of leadership and developing leaders.