ALEXANDRIA – The move Oct. 26 of this year’s Nov. 21-22 Youth Evangelism Celebration from the Cajundome in Lafayette back to the Rapides Coliseum in Alexandria has been accomplished with only minor issues.
“Only one or two churches had some minor difficulty changing their hotel reservations,” said Kevin Boles, Louisiana Baptist Convention youth ministry strategist.
LBC leadership along with legal counsel, due to contract issues, made the difficult decision to return the LBC’s largest event to its traditional site.
“We’ve been dealing with the Cajundome for 18 months, but we simply were not able to come to terms with the contract in a timely fashion,” Boles said. “They’re great people. Lafayette is a great city. It was a heartbreaking decision, but the Lord has given confirmation and affirmation in significant areas.”
Two of those “areas” includes the positive response of churches to the sudden change, less than a month before YEC was to take place, as well as the availability of the Rapides Coliseum itself, Boles said.
“The churches have responded very well to the change in venue,” the youth ministry strategist said. “They have shown a sweet spirit of cooperation. Immediate contact was made to any church that had issues or questions. After hearing our heartbeat, they understood. It’s a good day to be a Louisiana Baptist.”
As to the Rapides Coliseum itself, a positive sign was that the venue would be available, although the team has to work around another event before YEC begins. The YEC technical production team will begin set up on Thursday. Equipment will be “flown” up in the ceiling to avoid conflicting with a wrestling event that will take place Friday. YEC set up will continue Saturday, and the event begins Sunday, Nov. 21, with registration beginning at 2 p.m. and doors to the arena opening at 6 p.m.
“Kimberly Townley is the new director of the Coliseum,” Boles said. “She grew up going to YEC. We’re very encouraged by that relationship. Kimberly is working very hard to accommodate us this year.”
The YEC team – 23 youth leaders from across the state, plus the youth team at the state convention office – work all year long to produce the LBC’s largest evangelistic event.
This year’s YEC theme is “Let the good news roll” or, because this is Louisiana, “Laissez les bon nouvelle rouler,” undergirded scripturally by Judges 2:10 – And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.
“We want the Christian student to understand that there is a danger of a generation following behind you who will not know the Lord – unless you tell them,” Boles said. “This year’s YEC has a Great Commission focus: God has commanded us to share our faith.”
Each year the YEC team takes special care to match the program guests with the theme, as evidenced by involving Dove Award winner Mercy Me as part of the event.
“Daniel Martin, our show producer, grew up at First Baptist DeRidder,” Boles said. “He’s also a sound engineer with Mercy Me. When we [the YEC team] were matching artists with our theme, Martin encouraged the leadership team to consider Mercy Me because of their latest project, The Generous Mr. Lovewell. … The group lives in Dallas; routing schedules fit; budgets matched. So Mercy Me is a part of the focused event.
“Mercy Me will bring the entire event to culmination,” Boles continued. “They’re going to bring a message of challenge to encourage students to love well and share their story of faith.”
Other YEC headliners will include Ryan Fontenot of Keller, Texas, as speaker; (www.rageministries.com.); the Stephen Miller Band of St. Louis, Missouri, as worship leaders; Far From Ordinary of Dallas, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, performing drama comedy; and Joe Castillo of Mexico City as a sand artist. Admission to the conference is $40/person cost; $45 at the door.
“YEC is designed to be an evangelistic event,” Boles said. “Students are encouraged to bring lost friends. Adult sponsors are asked to plan plenty of time to debrief what’s been learned, celebrate the commitments made, and establish accountability prayer partners among their students before returning home.”
“Louisiana statistics show there are more than 360,000 teenagers in our state, but in 2009, only 2,014 of them were baptized. That’s less than 1 percent of the population; I think we can do better,” Boles said. “I am convinced that equipping teenagers to share their faith, and constantly programming with evangelism in mind, is the key. If we do not, I fear we will raise up a generation who does not know the Lord.”
Jesus called his followers to a way of life that led them to disciple others, Boles continued.
“Making disciples starts with introducing those in our circle of influence to the love and life-giving power of Jesus Christ,” the youth ministry strategist said. “We need to shift our focus from seeing evangelism as ‘something we do,’ to ‘something we are.’ I believe this year’s YEC will challenge Louisiana students to live the phrase, ‘I am evangelistic.’
“Every Christian teenager at YEC will realize they can have an amazing impact on this world,” Boles continued. “Sitting idly by is simply not acceptable!”