Regional Youth Events
Valley Student Conference
Three years ago, a network of youth pastors from SBC of Virginia churches took the reins of the annual youth conference in the western part of the Commonwealth. In the last three years, the number of partnering churches and participants in the Valley Student Conference has steadily increased. Michael Hays, a high school senior who has attended the conference for the past two years, describes the impact the conferences have had on him:
Valley Student Conference has a special place in my heart because in 2017 I actually got saved and stopped “playing church” after 17 years. VSC will always remain one of my favorite and most impactful events I’ve been to.
Josh Griffin, a former high school pastor at Saddleback Community Church and director of Download Youth Ministry, brought the messages this year, and Liberty University’s Worship Collective led worship. Over 600 people from 24 churches were challenged, encouraged, and equipped to continue following Jesus. Attendance was up from 500 the year before. Of course, numbers aren’t everything—it’s the impact that’s most important…and an impact was made. Taylor Overstreet, a junior from Fincastle Baptist Church in Fincastle, VA, was significantly impacted by the conference:
Valley Student Conference will be marked in the history of this valley as a place where Jesus’ presence can be felt in every corridor, and its workers can only be described as God’s messengers.
The 2019 Valley Student Conference will be held March 22–23.
Danville Regional D-Now
Getting a regional event going takes time and partners. Roger Jones of North Main Baptist Church in Danville, VA started working toward creating a regional youth DiscipleNow weekend in his town three years ago and has seen exponential growth in the event as other churches have joined the partnership. In 2018, 10 churches (up from 6 the previous year) joined the event for a total of 275 participants. The theme was Abide, based on John 15:10. Students were challenged to live out their faith in obedience to Jesus’ commands. Evan Owens from The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN spoke, and the Nathan Unger Band led worship.
What impressed Jones about the event was “the cooperation between the churches—there was not a ‘me’ in the whole thing…it was about the team of churches…and the importance of teaching our kids how to abide in Christ in a very secular world. This event is the result of the ongoing network between churches—this is not a one and done.” The network of churches has expressed itself in other area efforts, and the potential for future partnership is even greater because of the humility of the churches and the trust they’ve built in the process of partnering.
The 2019 Danville Regional D-Now will be March 1–3 and will feature evangelist Algernon Tennyson. Additional churches have already indicated a desire to participate next year.
Buckingham Regional D-Now
This regional event has been revived by the renewed commitment of area pastors and youth pastors to work together to reach students. In 2018, 5 churches brought 65 participants to grow in their walk with Christ. The planning for this D-Now is shared among the churches, and each church has a particular responsibility. The Arise Band led in worship this year, and Shawn Ames, NextGen director for the SBC of Virginia, challenged the students from the theme, Noise: Tune Out, Tune In, and Transmit. “It was great to utilize some of our former camp curriculum and graphics in this weekend D-now format,” says Ames. “It was created with help from local youth pastors and the SBC of Virginia media team, and it just makes sense to save money by using it in this format.”
Pastor Westly Yoder of Mayesville Baptist Church in Buckingham, VA, commented on the value of a partnership between churches on events like this one. “It is extremely important for the unity among believers in the community. To see us doing things together encourages us. These kids go to different churches but go to the same school. Seeing each other at this event encourages them to continue to grow these relationships and to live out their faith. It is good for pastors as well…and together we can give the kids something better than what we could on our own.”
Concord Baptist Church in Farmville, VA will host the event in March 2019.
Details for all of these events will be shared on the SBC of Virginia NextGen page as they become available: sbcv.org/nextgen.