Wade Morris, author and founder of expository Bible study The Journey was the keynote speaker for the March 26-27 conference at First Baptist Church in Orlando. The event, previously held in August, but switched to March to accommodate students’ spring break schedules, was sponsored by the Florida Baptist Convention’s Personal Evangelism Department and underwritten by Florida Baptist gifts through the Cooperative Program.
“If you are going to activate your faith, you must learn to recognize who Jesus is,” Morris said. “You have to learn to love Him and be willing to follow Him.”
Citing John 21:15-17, Morris challenged the students to love Jesus with an “agape” love as did Peter, even if it meant a painful journey and horrible death.
“What you say is not what you believe. What you do is what you believe,” Morris added. “You can say you love Him, but to be in love with Him is different. It is not just a statement, but actions."
Morris’ second session focused on Acts 4:29-31 and encouraged the students to be bold about their faith. Imitate the disciples Peter and John, he said, who asked God to “enable your servants to speak your Word with great boldness.”
“Peter and John started a revival that lasted so long [and] 2,000 years later, you got saved,” Morris yelled.
“They activated their faith. To get what they had, we must ask for a holy boldness and we must act on it.”
Morris urged the students to share the Gospel passionately with others. “It isn’t okay to come to church and sit and do nothing,” he said. “You have got to activate your faith.”
In the final session, Morris addressed how Christian believers must receive, react and respond to God’s Word, referencing James 1:18-27. “To be a doer, we must receive the Word, allow God to deal with ourselves and to humbly accept it,” added Morris.
Morris urged the students to walk away from sin by knowing the Bible. “We should plant Scripture in our hearts. When we read God’s Word we should just do what it says.”
Contemporary Christian artist Charlie Hall led worship for the two-day conference. While singing his most popular song “Marvelous Light,” Hall called students to the Gospel meaning.
“The words say, ‘sin has lost its power, death has lost its sting, from the grave you’ve risen victoriously,’” Hall added. “Your hearts have been lit up by God. Share this news with people as you experience God.”
During the conference, 46 students and leaders made professions of faith.
Breakout sessions led by Florida Baptist youth leaders Saturday featured “Sharing with Your Skeptical Friends,” “Sharing Christ by Memory,” and “This Generation Leadership for Guys Only.”
Sixteen-year old Jacob Lane of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Inverness, said he needed to take a more active role in sharing his faith. After attending the “guys only” session he said, “I learned that women take a lead-role in sharing their faith and they are looking for guys to be the leader.”
Sierra Harrison, 14, of Circle Hill Baptist Church in Sneeds, said she was leaving with “a better relationship with God, a better understanding on how to develop my relationship with Him, and how to pick better friends.”
Chase Sykes, 14, from Cornerstone Church plans to activate his faith. “You have to activate your faith at some point in your life,” he said. “Why not activate it now?” Sykes added that he learned that the Bible wasn’t written for us to lose, but to win.
Conferences were also held concurrently for youth leaders.
John Sanders, youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Tampa and a former seminary professor, encouraged youth workers to view their ministry “as a calling, no matter if you work in the café or drive a van.”
“We need to let teens and youth know who they are in Christ, which means as a youth worker, you need to know who you are in Christ,” Sanders said.
Noting that there are more teens today than any other time in history, Sanders urged youth workers to be aware of the “amazing shifts” taking place in culture, technology, information and music.
An effective youth ministry must be a “strategic partnership” between parents and student ministers, said Jeff Pratt, director of Student Ministry Training at LifeWay Christian Resources.
In the Biblical model, he said, the primary responsibility for the spiritual development of a child is the parent. Yet, too often youth workers want to “usurp” that role from the parents, he said, offering suggestions of how youth workers can help parents to provide an environment for spiritual development.
At the conclusion of the conference, students put what they learned into action through a project called “Love Orlando.”
More than 100 students participated in the project to distribute bags of groceries to 120 families in a nearby community. The bags were packed by the youth of First Baptist Church in Orlando.
“This is a government housing community that the students of First Orlando have been continually building a relationship with for the past three years,” said Chad Reeves, middle school pastor of First Baptist Orlando. “We love blessing them and their children.”
Jeff Hessinger, director of the Convention’s Personal Evangelism department, said the conference creates an opportunity to gather Florida Baptist students to celebrate Christ and to challenge them to focus on the task at hand, sharing Christ with others.
“We spent a lot of time helping them get their hearts right with God, challenging them to live a life of obedience and equipping them to serve,” he added. “I want to see a generation rise up and call God Holy and share Christ with anything that moves. When young people are focused and challenged to a task, especially one that matters, there is no stopping them.”
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