LIMA — The Converge Youth Conference will be coming to the UNOH Event Center March 28 and 29. Their mission statement, “One body, for one mission, serving one God,” is the centerpiece for the conference.
The idea for the Converge Youth Conference came about last year. Teens for Christ, a local youth ministry that has spread nationally and internationally, wanted to do something different.
“We wanted to see the body come together and sit under sound Biblical teaching, to really dig deep and grow their faith,” said Tyler Sutton, director of Converge and a fourth year Youth Ministry Institute student at Teens for Christ. “That’s where we got the name — converge together the body of Christ, all different churches and ministries.”
Over 50 different churches and ministries participated in the conference last year, and they had over 200 teenagers and 100 adults in attendance.
“This year,” said Sutton, “we are projecting 400 to 600 teens and about 150 adults. Our goal this year is to have over 100 churches participate. Most of those will be from the Lima area, but six to eight are coming from out of state, too.”
While Sutton said that the Gospel is always presented at any event Teens for Christ participates in, he said their target audience are teenagers who are believers. “The Gospel is always a central focus for us and last year we had 10 teens give their hearts to Christ,” he said, “Most of those that come will already have a personal relationship with Jesus. We want them to grow and deepen their faith. We’ll be doing inductive Bible study and really digging deep into the Word.”
To do this, Converge Youth Conference will feature three keynote speakers. Kevin Templeton has worked with young people through education and coaching for over 35 years at the high school and college level. His career has included winning the NCCAA National Title in 2003, along with numerous coaching awards. After retiring, he is now a character development coach and motivational speaker for high school and college aged young people.
The two other speakers are Billy Beacham, founder of “See You at the Pole,” and David Lawson who works at Precept Ministries, an organization whose main goal is to establish people in God’s Word. Lawson has co-written numerous Bible studies with Kay Arthur, the co-founder of Precept Ministries and well-known Christian author and speaker.
In addition to the three key note speakers, there will be over 20 different workshops attendees can choose from. These will be taught by area youth leaders, pastors and ministry workers.
Of course, the conference will also feature a wonderful worship band, The Digital Age, which features four of the six members of the now defunct David Crowder Band.
Conference tickets for an individual cost $50 and include lunch and dinner on Saturday. There are several different group packages also available.
The conference is not just about equipping area youth, but also giving them an opportunity to serve. “Last year, the biggest thing we did was Operation Love Lima,” said Sutton. “On the Saturday of Converge we went out in groups of eight kids and we went to different places.”
The groups paid for people’s groceries or tanks of gas as an avenue to present the Gospel. This year, the leadership plans to expand on this idea.
“This year we are going bigger,” explained Sutton. “We will be getting over 10,000 pounds of food from the West Ohio Food Bank, and we’ll be doing a food drive, too. We’ll be taking that food and going out to give it to those in need in the community. We hope to help hundreds of people in need.”
With an event this big, a lot of planning and hours have gone into the conference. Sutton said that 15 interns and six full time staff have been part of the planning team. He added that between 100 and 150 volunteers will be at the event itself.
“We began planning this year right after Converge last year,” he said. “There is a lot of administrative work, but the hardcore, labor intensive hours start about six months out. At first, it can be very overwhelming. You don’t see the fruit at first. Once the conference comes, God did amazing things in us and we saw the kids’ lives changed.”
Sutton hopes that this year’s conference builds on last year’s successes. “Last year, we had a youth group leave and they said that God brought revival in that group,” he said. “For us to see that — it’s very humbling. That God is using us — that is exciting to see. It continues to draw us to our knees. We need God to show up and come through. He did it last year; He’ll do it this year.”
Converge Youth Conference
Where: UNOH Event Center, 1450 N. Cable Road, Lima
When: 6 to 10:30 p.m. March 28; 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. March 29
Cost: Individual tickets are $50; special group rates are also available.
For details on the conference or to donate food for the food drive visit www.convergemovement.com or call 419-224-8336.