Category Archives: Youth Ministries

Renewed into the New Year: NIYC Gives Believers Wintertime Boost

Worship at the NIYC.

By Carl Stagner

In the Church of God, the summer months are known for conventions and camp meetings. A variety of retreats and conferences often take place in the spring and the fall. But as the chill of winter sets in across much of the country, few spiritual retreats and getaways are available. In the wake of the commonly exhausting Christmas season, in view of the blues caused by all the grays outside, and in response to cabin fever, perhaps winter is when retreat is most vital! Thankfully, the Church of God has an answer—the National Inspirational Youth Convention (NIYC). Between Christmas and the end of the year, believers spanning generations and racial lines come together for an annual experience of worship, community, and renewal as the New Year dawns. Continue reading

Youth Pastors, Regions Unite to Prepare Students for Christ-Centered Leadership

Students worshiping the Lord at 3SLI.

By Carl Stagner

IYC and state youth conventions do a tremendous job inspiring students to come to Christ, to rededicate their lives to the Lord, and to accept the unique call God has placed on their lives. Most of the students leave these mountain-top experiences having experienced life change to one degree or another, but some also leave recognizing God has called them to lead. Just after the turn of the new century, several youth pastors from the Midwest came together to identify the best way to prepare such students for lifelong Christ-centered leadership. In 2003, 3SLI (then the Tri-State Student Leadership Institute, now Tri-Level) was launched to serve students in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. When West Virginia was added, the name 3SLI didn’t change—and neither did its resolve to come alongside emerging leaders. Continue reading

Students Exemplify Unity Amid Diversity at ONE Event

ONE Event 2018 scenes (credit: Handel Smith).

June 20 and 21, 2018, marked another historic event for youth ministry in the Church of God. The ONE Event was designed to celebrate unity among students, and was sponsored by a leadership team that included representation from the Hispanic Council (Concilio Hispano), IYC, and NIYC. Continue reading

IYC2018 Puts Students On Track for Life

Zealand leading students in worship at IYC2018.

By Carl Stagner

For the first time since 1980, Indianapolis, Indiana, was home to the International Youth Convention of the Church of God. Reflecting the local racing culture, the 51st pinnacle of youth ministry experiences capitalized on its proximity to the iconic motor speedway, with four days designed to put students on track for the race of a lifetime. Inspiring worship, top-notch speakers, dozens of breakout sessions, a 5K to support the fight against trafficking, and a day devoted to community service combined to create moments of lasting life change. Those moments may have passed, but eternity—brighter than ever before—lies ahead. The life change continues as four thousand students and youth leaders, who embraced life at IYC2018, return home to give life to their families, schools, churches, and across their communities. Continue reading

IYC2018 On Track to Change Countless Lives for Christ

Zealand leading worship at IYC2018 (courtesy Justin McKinley).

By Carl Stagner

It was the moment everyone was waiting for. The car washes, rummage sales, bake sales, and numerous other fundraisers led up to this single point in time. Students were giddy with excitement as adult leaders breathed a sigh of relief: “We’ve made it—finally!” As the doors were opened into the main hall at the Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, students from across the country and around the world took their seats only briefly before rising to their feet in enthusiastic participation. High-octane worship, engaging emcees, captivating exchanges, and an in-your-face speaker put IYC2018 on track to change countless lives for Christ. And so, it quickly became clear that this wasn’t the culmination of two years of preparation—this was only the beginning of what God has in store. Continue reading

Church of God Gathers for Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio

By Carl Stagner

With outside temperatures high and the A/C cranked high in the sanctuary at First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, this year’s third Church of God Regional Convention is up and running. Anticipation has also been high for this gathering, in particular, as it takes place in the Midwest (only a few hours from Anderson), and during the traditional “Camp Meeting” week. But the location and time of year aside, a quick glance at the schedule for those gathered for #LifeColumbus indicates two days of life-giving, life-transforming experiences ahead. Continue reading

God is On the Move in Egypt

Jim Lyon speaks to leaders in Egypt.

By Ken Oldham

The birth of the Protestant Reformation is attributed to Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church (Germany) on October 31, 1517. All across the region, this 500th anniversary has been remembered, and the evangelical churches in Egypt began planning months ago to have a special event of their own, encouraging each church group to seek international guests to join the celebration. The Church of God in Egypt was delighted to have Global Strategy regional coordinator Patrick Nachtigall, U.S.-Canada general director Jim Lyon, and Pastor Marcus Archer of Crosspoint Church (Natchez, Mississippi) accept their invitation to join the celebration, November 17–19, in Cairo. Continue reading

Students Experience Cross-cultural Community, Ministry at A.One.8

The A.One.8 group of students and leaders!

By Andrew Gale

On July 6, twelve students began their journey to Lake Wales, Florida, for the start of A.One.8 2017. The students came from nine different states from across the country. For some, it was their first-ever flight, beginning a journey of firsts. Continue reading

IYC High School Band Goes ‘On Tour’

Photo: Liberation sporting their IYC2016 T-shirts.

By Carl Stagner

Just a few weeks remained until the big event. Though it was the first time these seven high school students had met, the responsibility to lead worship for thousands of teenagers in San Antonio, Texas, was on their shoulders. Whether they liked it or not, they had to learn to work together quickly. But almost immediately, it was clear that these once-strangers would become forever friends. After fulfilling their second and final obligation this July—leading worship for Leadership Summit in Anderson—they knew it wasn’t the end. God was calling the IYC2016 High School Band to keep it going, under a new name. Liberation has created quite the spiritual stir, exemplifying the rise of young leadership in the Church of God, and catching the attention of churches and state youth conventions across the country. Continue reading

ONE Gives Students Glimpse of Heaven, Desire to Change the World Together

By Carl Stagner

Some had likely never worshiped in Spanish before. Others had probably never experienced firsthand the high-octane energy of urban gospel. History suggests that few had likely ever been in a setting where three cultures converged in the name of Christ. But that’s exactly what happened at the first-ever ONE event, which took place at Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 21 and 22. The result was a glimpse of heaven and a renewed desire to change the world together. Continue reading

Nearly 1,000 Gather for the National Inspirational Youth Convention

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Photo: Students write notes to commemorate their attendance at NIYC.

By Precious Earley

The National Inspirational Youth Convention (NIYC) recently concluded its annual conference, attracting nearly a thousand attendees. Speakers and delegates met in northern Kentucky at the end of December 2016, marking the first time the convention has been to Kentucky. Continue reading

Youth to Participate in Historic Unity Event this April

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By Carl Stagner

It’s at the core of who we are. We preach about it. We sing about it. We read books about it by pioneers of our movement. But we don’t have a flawless record of living it out. The perfect love which unites us all in Jesus must translate to how we function as individual churches and as a movement. A new generation is rising up in the Church of God less connected to “the way we’ve always done it.” They are challenging the status quo; they are daring to do things differently. They’re setting the example for the rest of us as they come together in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 21–22 to worship under one roof. No, it’s not the International Youth Convention. No, it’s not NIYC. And no, it’s also not a youth convention of the Concilio Hispano. It’s ONE gathering, hosted by all three groups, that your church’s youth group won’t want to miss. Continue reading

IYC Students Underwrite Christian Camp Costs for Muslim Refugees

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Photo: Refugee teen having a blast at camp.

By Carl Stagner

“You accepted us like family. Here we weren’t the foreigners—the refugees. We were part of the group. Thank you.” When the Church of God is willing to work together to advance the kingdom, people notice. Lives are touched. Hearts are softened. Seeds are planted. History tells us many of these seeds not only germinate, but bear fruit and spread more seeds. This summer, moved by the refugee crisis in our world today, Church of God leaders in Germany committed to invest in six refugees from Afghanistan. Each one separated from family and friends after fleeing dangerous living conditions, these refugee youth with a background in Islam would not only hear the gospel, but feel sincere love and grace from peers who humbly bear the name of Christ. IYC students helped make it all possible. Continue reading

IYC, NIYC and Concilio Hispano Youth to Hold Unity Event in 2017

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By Carl Stagner

Two of our partners in ministry celebrate vibrant youth ministry outside of involvement in the International Youth Convention, including the National Association’s NIYC (National Inspirational Youth Convention) and the student ministries of the Hispanic Council (Concilio Hispano). For many youth in the Church of God, IYC is not the pinnacle of their year; NIYC or the youth events of the Hispanic Council take that description. It is with great anticipation then, that in 2017, students of IYC, NIYC, and the Hispanic Council will come together for a groundbreaking unity event. ONE will gather youth across ethnic and cultural lines together under the banner of Christ to worship and serve together. When unity becomes more than just talk, incredible things begin to happen. Continue reading

Choose Church of God: College, Universities Band Together

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By Carl Stagner

Free time or another conference? If you were one of the approximately 725 students who acknowledged a call to ministry while in San Antonio for IYC2016, you chose the latter early in the afternoon on Monday. But it wasn’t just another conference. It was the huddle of a new team of emerging leaders ready to take on the world with the message of the gospel. Students were applauded for accepting their call to ministry, prayed for, and given practical tools and tips to get started on the path to Christ-centered leadership. One of the most powerful resources we have to equip and train such leaders is Church of God higher education. Long before thousands of students descended on San Antonio, Texas, for the fiftieth International Youth Convention, Anderson University, Mid-America Christian University, Warner Pacific College, and Warner University took practical steps to unite their efforts for the sake of leadership development. Continue reading