Editor's note: AG News will offer daily on-site reports of the National Youth Convention online at ag.org, RSS feeds and through special Youth Convention email reports. Evening services will be streaming live starting at 6:25 p.m. EDT and run throughout the week at louisville12.ag.org.
Fine Arts Festival
For a first-time attendee, National Youth Convention can be quite an adventure. Today an estimated 12,000 students, leaders and parents will enter the Kentucky International Convention Center to gather their badges and T-shirts, flip through the schedule book to find performance times and practice for Fine Arts presentations which begin tomorrow. It's common to be dodging between human videos, dramas and worship dances while walking to exhibits, presentations and workshops. This moving symphony collides with voices and music that echoes through the halls.
Jeff Morea, pastor at Maranatha Assembly of God in Jena, Louisiana, brought three of his students to the convention for the very first time. Coming from a small church, the main benefit he wants for his students is to sharpen their skills as they participate in the larger Fine Arts community. "[I hope they receive] exposure to develop their potential and see it's bigger than just our community. They can do bigger things for God," he says.
An estimated 7,500 students will participate in 61 Fine Arts categories and 35 Kappa Tau categories. With the Speed the Light theme "Relentless: After the One" at the forefront, students will participate in three and a half days of presentations. Between performances, attendees and participants have the opportunity to go to workshops and view original student gallery art. Presentations take place throughout the week and will culminate with the Friday night Celebration Service where the top awarded students in the nation will perform center stage at the KFC Yum! Center.
Jessica Bakken, a recent high school graduate from Emmanuel Christian Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, attends Fine Arts every year since she became eligible to participate in sixth grade. This year marks the church's tenth year in attendance at the National Fine Arts Festival, making it a large focus of the church and Bakken's life. Her presentations include large and small vocal ensembles, songwriting and female vocal solo senior division.
Bakken reflects on what she would like to see unfold in her life this week: "I really want God to be glorified through all of this." She plans to attend Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas, this fall.
AIM Louisville 2012 Outreach
More than 450 students and leaders from across the country have traveled to Louisville focused solely on reaching the city through Ambassadors in Mission (AIM) outreaches, in partnership with the Kentucky Ministry Network and Indiana District.
According to Kentucky District Youth Director Brian Neugent, students and leaders will have the opportunity to help 11 churches in the Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana area.
"We hope they bring their heart and service to Louisville but also many students will be impacted by the week," Neugent says. "Of course, we would also love to see students come back to Kentucky one day to plant churches, be missionaries, pastors and youth pastors." He hopes that the area will be impacted through the creative efforts of building relationships and sharing the gospel at the 11 sites.
Rebecca Wagers, from Discover Life Church in Johnson City, Tennessee, hopes her teens see the focus of this trip is the missions work and Fine Arts becomes a bonus piece that they are allowed to use to further the ministry effort.
"Our goal is to go in this week and assist in the community with the other churches there that need help and in any way we can further the ministry they are already doing," Wagers says. "Our heart is really that the students have that foundation that Fine Arts is a piece of the missions work that we can take into the city with us and utilize. We are going to take our gifts that God has given us and utilize them in every possible way to further His Kingdom."
Matthew Robbins, a ninth grader from Discover Life Church, hopes to help people while participating in the Louisville AIM outreach.
"I thought it was fun last year getting to be with my
friends, helping other people and grow closer to God," Robbins says. He
says he also looks forward to participating in future AIM outreaches.
National Youth Convention evening services
Services combine dynamic speakers with powerful worship. Tonight, the opening service will feature worship from Worth Dying For and speaker Tim Ross will encourage students and leaders to grow a stronger relationship with God.
Tuesday night, Chet Caudill, national Speed the Light and student missions director, will deliver a missions focused message, a Speed the Light offering will be taken and the new Speed the Light theme will be announced.
Students and leaders will be able to watch the final rounds of Christian Band and Percussion, Unconventional as they perform center stage at the KFC Yum! Center Wednesday evening. Thursday night, Rich Wilkerson Jr. will inspire students to reach their peers as they prepare to begin a new school year.
Doors open at 6 each evening for pre-service activities and special performances.
Rod Whitlock, national student discipleship director, hopes students will see something bigger than themselves while they are in Louisville.
"I hope they have a genuine encounter with God in the services and throughout the week seeing ministry through Fine Arts and AIM," he says.