Last week I was in Nashville TN for the International Youth Convention of the Church of God. Let me start by saying I had a great time! Loved hanging out with students, hearing great bands and speakers, and seeing lightning bugs for the very first time.
This convention is a semi-annual event and has become a regular thing for our church. This was my fifth IYC and the best one to date. There were many factors that made it great. I was honored to play a minor role in making it happen by teaching a breakout session, helping with many menial tasks, sold some books, had many great conversations, and it was so fun to talk with old friends and meet many new people.
Also at this IYC I was able to see a lot more “behind the scenes” than ever before, and I observed 5 reasons why every convention is better than the last and how it continues to be such an amazing event.
1. They have listened to suggestions and actually made changes
Every year they ask for opinions from group leaders on how they can do better next time, and they have listened to suggestions and actually made changes; really good changes.
2. They take prayer seriously
It is a two year process to make IYC happen, and prayer is taken seriously the entire time. Likely most big events do this, but not every big event prays for every preregistered person by name leading up to the convention, and not every big event has people on site who’s only role is to pray the entire time. Before every main session every chair is prayed over by staff and volunteers. The power of prayer is taken very seriously and God showed up!
3. They delegate to teams
There are several different teams of people that have assigned roles and tasks to pull everything together. A team of teenagers, a team of youth workers, a team of interns, a team of CHOG staff, and lots of volunteers; and every team is well organized with a clearly defined role.
4. They stay true to the vision and purpose
Church of God Youth has a great mission and strategy in place. But the specific vision for IYC is to create a moment for life change. Every detail is filtered through this phrase, and I can attest that the lives of our students have been changed by attending IYC. Once again this year many students at the convention received Christ as their savior, deepened their faith, and heard a call to vocational ministry or missions.
5. They understand the appropriate role of a big event
Throughout my many years as a local church youth worker I have not been a fan of the big event. Seeing things show up in our community or one close, do their thing, and move on with little or no follow up has been irritating. My biggest issue is they have provided minimal lasting impact if any for our students. The leadership of IYC understands that this event is not the end goal, but a launching pad for continued and lasting ministry. There are several ways this is done during and after IYC, and I appreciate the extra effort they put in.
If you want to learn more about IYC you can check out the website at iyc2014.org/