This year’s Eastern Region’s PENSA 2015 Conference was GREAT! Hence, a big shout-out to the Pastors, Planning Committee and various leaders! The conference was held from the 22nd to the 25th of July at the Radisson Hotel in Philadelphia. The place was filled with so many youths, young adults, students and working professionals from North Carolina, Atlanta, New York, Florida, etc. The place was also filled with lots of Worship, Praises, Dance and the Holy Spirit was definitely present.
On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 representing excellence) I will give the whole conference a rating of 7.5. This is great considering how far we have come. I would like to discuss some of the highlights (the Good & The Bad) of the conference. The “good” is what I believe went exceptionally well, the “bad” simply means opportunities for improvements – things that did not go well. We can’t attain perfection, hence, there is always room to improve.But we have to give credit where credit is due and once again, major kudos to the planning committee. The suggestions portion contains information on things we can quickly adjust to further a greater experience in 2017.
Before you read this article, please follow the link and complete this 2 minutes survey. It is a personal survey just to gather information to assist in preparation for PENSA 2017. Because I would like for it to certainly exceed this years PENSA. We should continue to grow in Glory and GRACE! Below is the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3QTRD6J
1. The Preaching/Spirituality
The messages were great! They were messages we can all relate to and we can’t downplay the importance of a good message or well delivered one.
I have worked in Youth & Young Adult ministry for about 6 to 9 years depending on how you view it. I have volunteered with other Churches as a youth leader. I have led youth groups and I have gone on mission trips with young adults and youths as well. One of the most difficult things in this area of ministry (which I have done lots of times) is speaking or preaching at a young adults or youth events. Relating your message to current events can be tricky but the speakers were great and their messages were all timely. God definitely spoke through them and God definitely worked through them.
The atmosphere was prepped to have an encounter with God. The spirituality of the this event was something which will continue to transform our lives.
2. The Music (Sound Quality)
The sound quality was amazing! Often at times, we invest less in sound quality at various events but this year’s PENSA got everything right in the music department. We had great vocalists leading us to throne room of God with Worship and Praise. The band was amazing and the instrumentation were all on point!
3. Freedom To Dance In The House of God
I love to dance! Not the kind of two-step slow dancing, because in the presence of God, there is fullness of joy. I wear my emotions on my sleeves, hence, I express my joy with dancing. We had more than enough time to dance! Which is a great thing to do. I would rather see youths and young adults dance in front of their Creator and Maker rather than see them in the club doing so. The freedom to dance in the House of God is something I will always appreciate. We are young and full of energy and we will remember our maker in our youthful days via dancing.
1. Much Needed Break
We needed a break! Wheeew! I was tired and my youths were as well. I believe we defeat the purpose of gathering by gathering for so long. A 2 hour break or so will give people the opportunity to grab a snack, take a nap, network, refresh and refocus. Focus is key or else we miss the point of gathering. I would like my youth to focus but I can’t get them to focus when they are mentally drained and physically exhausted. God needed rest after intense days of creation and actually admonishes us to do so as well. Yes, we want to get the best out of the few days we are together, but to get the best, we have to be at our best and breaks and rest gives us that opportunity.
As previously mentioned, I have worked with other youth and young adult groups at different Churches and I have gone to different conferences and retreats. I went to a retreat last fall and as a youth leader, our plans incorporated a 3 hour break during the day for “Free Time”. With this free time, some of the students and young adults took a nap, others read, others did Bible studies, some played sports, and others got the opportunity to just have regular discussions. After the break, we told them they won’t be able to use their phones through out the evening service – guess what? They loved it and didn’t care. They did not care for their phones because they had been refreshed and done whatever they wanted to do with their phones – check in with friends and family etc. So they came back to the morning and evening sessions Alert, Focused and Attentive. We later broke into smaller groups after Worship and the Word and the impact was amazing. The discussions were rich and lives were transformed.
As a leader, it was tough running around trying to get my youths back to the conference room this past weekend because I sympathized with them. I am not a leader to dictate but a leader to go through everything with them to meet the vision. So I knew they were tired and needed a break.
Fasting can’t be forced. When it comes to spiritually, it has to be from the core of our souls. God does not force us to pray or fast, and He does not force us to love. It’s tough to keep everyone engaged when they are tired and hungry. A good breakfast would have been great. We did not need to provide lunch because people could have gone back to their rooms and grabbed some snacks if we had breaks. A good breakfast and dinner would have sufficed.
As a leader, on Saturday evening, I left the hotel in hopes of buying some food for some of my youths. I couldn’t allow my students to step out but they were hungry and needed food and water. The water at the hotel was expensive and they needed something to eat for the following morning.
The idea of fasting is GREAT. But the idea of forcing a fast on young adults is not so great.
3. Extreme Emphasis on “Titles”
This topic can be tricky. It’s important for people to be recognized for their hard work in the academia, but at a Christian conference when we hail people above others and constantly rub in their titles, it defeats the purpose of us decreasing for God to increase. Paul said it best, “…I must decrease, so He will increase”. Yes, it is great to know the title of a leader and speaker, it helps build credibility, but when we excessively gush over titles, it places certain people on the mountain and leaves everyone else below them. This can create certain problems in a religious setting like a conference.
It’s great that our youth can aspire to be Doctors, etc. It is great to let them know that it is doable and attainable. It’s great to surround them with talent and have people they can look up to, but we should be careful how we overly hail individuals. Truth is, not everyone is or can be a doctor and in the eyes of God, they are equally important and have value. Titles don’t give you value, but rather, what God has placed in you; Believe it or not, God has placed something special in all of us. You are of value!
1. Break Out Sessions
The idea of having breakout sessions was great! Wish we would have had more break out sessions though. Having the opportunity to be in smaller groups to have discussions will be something we all appreciate. I understand it is a daunting task to break 1,000 people into different groups but with the right planning, it is doable.
Remember, more breakout sessions is just a suggestion.
2. Singles Seminar
This was also a great idea and it was a good event. I was not able to attend but from what I heard from my youth, it was “decent”. This should be great event. We have lots of young married couples who can come in and relate to the younger generation. It is great to see older married couples, but relationships have changed over the course of time and the youth won’t be able to relate totally with people on the extreme end of the spectrum. We tend to learn a lot more and better when we can relate. We need the wisdom of the elderly but we can’t ignore the wisdom of the young.
3. Bible Quiz Competition
One thing young people want to do is compete and what isn’t great about Bible Quiz competition on a Saturday night at PENSA 2017?
We are at a point in History whereby the Church has so much potential. PENSA organization is at a crucial focal point and it is make or break it season for us. We can’t continue to be the same or do the same, or else, we remain the same. PENSA conferences are great, but they should propel a much needed revival through out the Church and the nations.
We need fresh ideas and fresh minds. We should not go through the same cycles of Deacons/Deaconesses and Elders, we need fresh perspectives. We should allow people who do not have titles to lead. Yes, some people are “less spiritual” than others, but they have gift. We should at times ignore the titles and tap into the God given gifts He has endowed others with. We should be proactive instead of reactive. We should take charge and think ahead. We should charge forward. We need leadership guidance but we need leadership to trust us to lead to help transform this generation and beyond.
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