Month: July 2015

PENSA 2015 – The Good, The Bad & Suggestions

PENSA 2015This 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:

The Good:

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.

The Bad:

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.

2. Breakfast/Lunch

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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Joe Darko.

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
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Why You Should Not Worry About What To Wear for PENSA 2015!

PENSA Conference

PENSA Conference

The Church of Pentecost’s PENSA conference is underway. This weekend, I will be attending the conference in Philadelphia for the Washington and most of East region. Around this time of year, students, youths and young adults alike are preparing for the spirit filled weekend. They are scrambling to finish with last minute preparations and  are looking forward to an eventful weekend.

With the haywire of preparations, unfortunately, the spiritual aspect seems to be ignored. First off, I would like to commend the leaders and Pastors for doing their best to ensure that the focus of this event is on God and God only. I have been to a couple of pre-planning meetings and not once did I hear a leader or Pastor glorifying the need of students to show up in their best clothes, with that, I believe they subscribe to the train of thought of “Come as you are, but don’t come naked or ratchet”. This train of thought is something I support – so kudos to them.

On the contrary, it seems as though the students, youths and young adults sometimes lose focus of the task at hand. I have heard and seen lots of the young adults scrambling for “PENSA shopping” and ultimately worrying about what to wear and how to look. Now, hear me out, there is nothing wrong with looking nice and presentable for a conference, but once our focus is crowded with how we need to look, instead of how we need to fast, pray and worship, we miss the whole point of building a relationship with God. It’s great to look presentable and nice – we are humans at the end of the day and naturally, we have the tendencies of wanting to look nice at all important events, but we should not lose sight of the reason we meet and gather together from all regions in Worship.

A couple of things happen when we focus so much on “PENSA shopping” and extreme physical preparation instead of PENSA spiritual preparation:

1. We Do Not Come Spiritually Prepared

It is critical we get our minds tuned into the things of God as we prepare for these conferences. These conferences and conventions are not a social gathering for politics or speed dating, but rather a fellowship of believers meeting God for a spiritual encounter. This spiritual encounter needs spiritual preparation. A half day of fasting and about 20 minutes of prayer before you go will be beneficial to your overall spiritual development. But focusing on running to the mall and picking out some outfits only to look good, takes care of the physical needs while ignoring the spiritual. Yes, physically prepare! Go get your haircut, look through your wardrobe and grab something nice and presentable. Go to the mall and get something nice, but do not let that be your focus. If you don’t have money for a haircut or shopping at the mall, find something presentable, wash your hair or cut it yourself and show up for God.

2. We Do Not Give

Giving is important and not to be ignored. I do not oppose giving but I speak against how some of the leaders sometimes go about collecting or receiving these funds. I follow the Biblical principle of not being coerced or forced to give. Giving is more of a spiritual act than physical – especially giving to God. When we spend the little money we earn as young adults or youths to take care of our physical wants (not needs), we forget the needs of others and the needs of God. I often hear the Youth say “I don’t have enough money for offering” – yes you do, your priorities are just out of order – It’s not God first as you claim on your FB status or Instagram posts, but rather, it is YOU first. It’s not about your neighbor but about you. I have made similar mistakes in the past, but as I matured, I grew to understand Kingdom principles and I intertwined them with my faith. If you’re able to haggle your parents for new clothes for PENSA or dig deep into your accounts to look extra presentable, then I suggest you do the same when it comes to giving. I believe your parents will be proud that their young adult is focusing on giving to God. Giving to God is NOT compulsory – never let anyone force you to do so, but giving is a principle through out the whole Bible which need to be practiced. We should not give because we want to be blessed, we should give because WE ARE BLESSED.

3. It Becomes A Fashion Show Instead of God Showing Up

Once again, do not ignore the nuggets in my writing – it is not meant to attack or bash, but to bring to light a cycle we must break if we are going to focus on God at these conventions and these conferences and impact this generation and beyond. A fashion show is simply a show for people to showcase their outfits etc. Let me be real, GOD DOES NOT CARE ABOUT HOW GREAT YOU CAN DRESS AND HOW GOOD YOU LOOK, HE DOES NOT CARE – He already created you extremely and uniquely beautiful and no amount of accessories can disrespect that. As humans, we all like to look nice (it is great to look nice). But our focus on looking nice is also to please others and not God. Believe it or not, when people leave on Sunday to go home, they will go and face their own problems and issues and definitely forget about who looked  great and who did not – but God will remember who came for Him and who opened their hearts out to Worship, Praised and Prayed. Do not let this weekend be a fashion show. Dress well and nice, but not to please man/woman but pleasing God. Man/woman will forget and not care but God will always be God – He will love. Please Him.

Our focus at these Conferences/Conventions should be realigned and focused on God. God is more than enough. This weekend, forget about who, what and why and focus on God, God and God. Come as you are! Come prepared to Worship, come prepared to Praise. Come prepared to sing, come prepared to dance. Come prepared to have an encounter with God instead of an encounter with man/woman. Yes, you will see your long lost friends, you will get the time to mingle, take pictures, talk, etc. But do not lose sight and focus of what matters most: God! Jesus Christ.

Joe Darko.

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko