Three-day event draws thousands of teens closer to Christ
By Jessica Brodie
COLUMBIA—More than 2,000 youth from across the state. Hundreds of new commitments to Christ. Major outpouring of volunteer hours. Dozens considering a call to ministry.
In other words, organizers will tell you, Revolution 2015 was a “huge win,” a game-changer on so many levels.
“It was great, just huge!” said Chris Lynch, congregational specialist and youth ministry coordinator for the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, as he ticked off the numerous success stories of the youth spiritual weekend.
Held Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, the sixth annual Revolution brought together United Methodist teens from every district, inviting them to “be a game-changer” and “join the revolution for Christ.” Jonathan McKee, nationally renowned speaker and author of more than a dozen youth ministry books, was the main speaker, with the Grammy-award-nominated, high-energy pop-infused-rock band Royal Tailor leading worship. Youth had opportunity for mission times, prayer sojourns, pizza-party fellowship and more.
“We’re really thrilled—we just hit our sweet spot this year,” said the Rev. Mandy Young, chair of the Revolution design team, which worked for a full year organizing the event.
Young said the new venue was “perfect” for their needs. The Township Auditorium accommodates 3,000, so the feel was much more intimate for the 2,000 attendees, yet they still have room to grow for next year. She said the response to Royal Tailor was much like a New Kids on the Block Concert—the crowd went wild for the band and their Christ-centered music, which features a blend of guitar, drums, rap, soul and funk, all eclectically blended into one.
She also noted Revolution is becoming a “full-blown conference-wide weekend,” with so many conference groups pitching in to help. The United Methodist Men served hot chocolate on the front porch the first night; United Methodist Women provided a meal for the crew and design team and helped with registration; the Spiritual Formation Task Force sponsored a prayer room; districts provided pizza for small region-based groups on Saturday; and much more.
“A lot of ministries are plugged in and really helping,” Young said. “We’re excited to see what God’s going to do with this—we really hit our stride this year.”
Lynch said the energy level was different from years past: better, stronger and more encompassing than ever before. The energy is always high, he said, especially for the music and speaker, but attendees carried along the same energy for worship, mission opportunities, calls to Christ and more.
New this year were workshop opportunities. Youth got the chance to do prayer bead workshops on Saturday, plus hear from McKee in a workshop for youth and adults Saturday afternoon on sex and intimacy. Mission opportunities included everything from volunteering with older adults at Agape Senior; sorting donations at Lexington Interfaith Community Services and Harvest Hope Food Bank; working with homeless men and women at Christ Central Ministries; and more.
“It’s just been overwhelmingly positive,” Young said.
Lynch said the response from people who made a first-time commitment to Christ on Saturday night exceeded their expectations. The team had wanted to send these new believers home with something, so they’d purchased 300 devotional books called “New.”
“We gave out all 300 and I have to order another 200 still!” Lynch said, noting that’s what the event is all about: bringing people closer to Christ and helping them take the next step. “It’s a good thing.”
Now, organizers are hard at work again, planning next year’s Revolution lineup. The seventh annual event is set for Jan. 29-31, 2016, again at the Township Auditorium in Columbia.
Also, this fall, they are planning a small-scale event, Quest, at Asbury Hills in the Upstate, for youth who are feeling a call to enter the ministry. Limited to 50 people, Quest is designed for teens aged 13-18 and will be held Sept. 11-13.
For more information about next year’s Revolution, Quest or other conference youth ministries activities, visit www.scmyp.org.