Some Thoughts About Why Vertical Youth Conference Was a Success
If you’re a friend of mine on FB, you may have seen the video I posted. I attached another on to this. From the time I walked into Foothills Community Chapel, in Columbus, NC, there was an air of expectancy that I didn’t expect. When Nelson and Greta Painter asked me to come for the prayer meeting, Ruthie and I trekked from PA to NC a day early so we could be a part of the praying for the conference.
I expected a group of five to sit around and ask for good stuff from God for the conference. Instead, I saw a bustling group of about 30 young and old setting up decor, arranging furniture, and chatting a mile a minute. Nelson gathered the group and sent them off individually to pray around the church grounds for 45 minutes, then we would gather back as a group to pray. I was impacted by the life and excitement of the group and found out that this conference had been bathed in prayer for months.
Sessions began Thursday night. Ruthie and I had all six slots. Youth and young adults came from as far as Oregon, Holmes County, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, and as close as neighboring towns and churches. A bus driver from my home church in Lancaster, PA, drove a busload of 50 youth from a church in Hinkletown, PA. With all the youth, including some visiting adults from Foothills Church, I figured there were close to 300 in attendance.
Worship Began the Conference
The worship team, put together with people, who lived hundreds of miles apart, was off-the-scale excellent. I turned to Ruthie and said, “Wow!” But I did not say “Wow” to the response from the crowd—typical first night—nobody knows each other yet—shy.
My topic for the whole weekend was our identity in Christ. The first thing I did when I got up to speak is to teach on halal, one of the Hebrew words for praise that means exuberant celebration. I asked them to engage in halal worship, get out of their seats if they were willing, and then played (a YouTube Video) a theme song on my topic, one that we played all weekend. You may have heard it—it’s been out a while. I learned it in the Caribbean, but they had never heard it: I Know Who I Am—Sinach. The song is nothing short of great and was the absolute perfect song for this crowd of young people. I encouraged them to dance, if they were so inclined, and taught a bit on the power of the “shout.”
All I Did Was Open a Door
Then, after a host of the young people came up front, we continued to worship. That’s all I had to do. The way was prepared. God was in. Life was in. It lasted through Sunday services. The worship prepared the way for prayer, repentance—the altars were always filled—and the prophetic flowed. The worship team opened the door for the presence of God, and Ruthie and I were privileged to steward it in our teaching.
Skillions of the youth gave testimonies—publicly, and personally to Ruthie and me—how their whole outlook on God, themselves, and life had been altered—now, I Know Who I Am—was more than a song—it
was a declaration of truth.
Oh, There’s More!
I can only find one word to describe my feelings about the infrastructure of the conference—I was impressed. I think half the church contributed time, money, food, and life to make this conference simply amazing. Nine meals, a T-shirt, a backpack, tickets for their gourmet coffee bar, registration, and free lodging for many—all for $25. How’s that?
Ruthie and I were given our own rooms, so we could chill and prepare between sessions while the youth were playing ridiculous games that would have sent old people like us on the way to the grave. Our welcome basket was full of plush goodies. We were so humbled to have been honored by everyone all weekend.
It’s been a week since we left Foothills. No way to describe to friends all that God did. But from my standpoint—and Ruthie’s—it was one of the most enjoyable and fruitful events we have ever been privileged to be a part of. Thank you again to all those of you who made this event significant!
Bruce and Ruthie