Delegates Make the Choice At West Coast Youth Congress
Hundreds of delegates from the North Pacific and Pacific unions voiced their opinions on key youth issues and ministries as well as taking part in fellowship, worship and service activities at the 2008 West Coast Youth Congress in San Diego, Calif.
The congress ran from April 9–12 and was themed Decide, emphasizing both personal decisions for Christ, and the agenda-setting decisions made by the delegate body. It was a weekend highlighted by moving sermons from key youth leaders, workshops and community service projects as well as an inaugural series of sessions designed to identify the driving themes of leadership, ministry and service among Adventist youth.
Delegates worked in groups to draft official positions on a number of issues. They eagerly called for more opportunity to lead and learn from their churches.
“I think the best way to get young people involved in leadership would be by having a mentoring program where youth can shadow church leaders and learn how to lead in the future,” says Albert Bryant, a delegate from the Sharon Church in Portland, Ore., during one of the brainstorming sessions.
But the delegates recognized involvement in the church means being part of the church community. “We can have input on the local church by inviting church leaders to be part of our world,” comments Drechelle Larry, another Sharon delegate. The best positions were then debated and approved by the delegate body as a whole.
In addition to drafting positions, delegates attended a variety of workshops and seminars. Topics ranged from leadership training and incorporating praise into worship services to ministering to gang members and promoting sexual purity.
The weekend also provided a chance for community service in the San Diego area. Groups participated in projects at Balboa Park, St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store, the San Diego Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and Lutheran Social Services. During his closing challenge session, James Black, North American Division director of youth ministries, spoke to the groundbreaking nature of the Youth Congress, in terms of youth influencing leadership. “This is the first time I can remember our church involving youth in this way,” says Black, who presided over the delegate sessions. “A church that does not involve its young people is a church that is going to die.”
And for four days the young people were involved. They clearly identified the issues and ministries which matter to them. They called on their church leaders to empower and mentor them, and they challenged each other to make positive decisions for Christ.
Delegate Decisions from 2008 West Coast Youth Congress:
What are practical ways youth can be more involved in their local church?
Establishing a youth board/council in each local church.
How can youth have input on what happens in their local church?
Youth representation on the church board.
What are ways the church can develop young leaders for future responsibility?
Youth serving in every church department/ministry.
What is the toughest lifestyle challenge young people face today?
How should Adventist youth be different from other 21st century teens?
Their relationship with God should set them apart from their peers.
What five lifestyle commitments should Adventist youth make for the glory of God?
Be a prayerful group
Daily Bible study
Commit to respect their body
Commit to witness
What things can youth do to reach their friends for Christ?
Bring them to church
Share their testimony
Bring them to social events
What are three outreach projects youth can get involved in?
A neighborhood block party sponsored by church/youth department
A community picnic sponsored by church/youth department
A youth hospital/prison ministry