By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor
[img_assist|nid=7714|title=Packed Out|desc=Students at last year’s record-setting Youth Evangelism Celebration at the Rapides Parish Coliseum join together for a time of prayer.|link=none|align=right|width=640|height=427]ALEXANDRIA – More than 6,000 junior and senior high school students are anticipated to participate in the 2011 Youth Evangelism Celebration.
The annual event is to take place Nov. 20-21 at the Rapides Parish Coliseum, 5600 Coliseum Blvd. in Alexandria.
“We set a record last year with 7,024 in attendance,” said Kevin Boles, youth ministry strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. “Our crowd will be large.”
About 40 students from Airline Baptist Church in Bossier City are among the thousands and youth and their leaders making plans to travel to YEC.
“It is an annual tradition for us,” said Lee Myers, Airline’s minister of youth. “It’s gotten bigger every year. Word of mouth is the best publicity. Kids come back raving about it.
“I think it’s important they get exposed to the messages that are preached and the atmosphere of worship,” Myers continued. “It’s just a good event to help energize them and push them spiritually at that time of year.”
Two Airline students made professions of faith at YEC last year, and four committed their lives to Christian ministry, Myers said.
They were among the record number of 361 professions of faith and 182 calls to vocational ministry that were recorded last year. Boles credits the movement of the Holy Spirit through on-stage personalities.
“YEC is an evangelistic and equipping event designed to lead young people to Christ and challenge believers to greater accomplishments in Christ,” the youth ministry strategist said. “Complete with high-energy, inspirational youth speakers, top Christian vocalists and musicians, life-changing youth testimonies and sensational multi-media presentations, YEC each year erupts with the powerful message of salvation and the dynamic journey of discipleship.”
This year’s high-energy line-up:
n Clayton King is the guest speaker. He’s the campus pastor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and teaching pastor at NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C.
n The Brett Younker Band will lead worship. They’re from Atlanta, GA. He’s also a songwriter.
n Daves Highway is a group of young teens – two sisters and a brother – from Brandon, Miss., who recently opened for Chris Tomlin. They have an amazing harmonic sound. Check them out on YouTube.com.
n Harris III is an illusionist.
n Bob Smiley is a comedian.
n Tenth Avenue North is to perform in concert Monday evening, Nov. 21.
All the artists’ websites are linked to www.lbc.org/yec.
The Youth Evangelism Celebration is possibly – probably – the most culturally-relevant and vivid “front door” for bringing teenagers in direct contact with Jesus Christ, whether for their eternal salvation or for their growing in Christ-likeness, Boles said.
“YEC is a terrific mid-year shot in the arm, so to speak, for student ministries,” Boles said. “Our hope is that YEC will enhance what is already taking place in the local church through Sunday School, DiscipleNow weekends, retreats, and camp.
“Leaders bring students to YEC to expose them to something that’s bigger than they are, to help them see that they are part of a vast ‘army’ of Christian students, and to give students who are without Christ the opportunity to begin a personal relationship with Him.”
Theme for this year’s high-energy event: RENEW, with Romans 12:1-2 HCSB as the scriptural underpinning: … present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.
“YEC will serve as a continuation of a year-long emphasis throughout the Louisiana Baptist Convention called ‘Awakening,’” Boles said. “It’s a call to revival, a call to repentance, and from the vantage point of YEC, a call to RENEW! So, YEC is a beginning, a chance to renew.
“YEC will be the start of a yearlong emphasis to bring revival to Louisiana among teenagers,” the youth ministry strategist continued. “YEC is an opportunity to be challenged to think differently about your life, your campus, and your friends. It’s also a chance to be a part of something big – really big!”
Youth ministers are invited again this year to a Monday suppertime event just for them. This time – 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 21 – in the Coliseum’s exhibit hall.
With other adults shepherding the youth at supper, the youth ministers will have the opportunity to network with other youth ministers from across Louisiana, hang out with the program personalities, grab snacks and get in on what Boles says are “great give-a-ways.”
YEC on-site registration opens at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Coliseum. Arena doors open at 5:30 p.m. Session 1 begins at 6:30 p.m.
On Monday, arena doors open at 8:30 a.m. and the second session starts at 9 a.m. With breaks for on-your-own lunch and supper, YEC is to conclude about 11 p.m. Monday.
Seats are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. No seats will be reserved for any church until all registration fees have been paid and are on file at LBC. Cost: $45 after Nov. 4.
More information is available at www.lbc.org/yec. The Cooperative Program provides the infrastructure costs for YEC.
The balance of the cost is defrayed by participant registration fees.