SPRINGFIELD—Thousands of young adults descended on Springfield Jan. 29 for the 2011 YouthQuake. In its 17th year, the event, sponsored by Greene County Baptist Association, drew 2,200, with 30 salvations and 90 other decisions. Several students rededicated their lives to Christ; some answered the call to ministry.
Held in two sessions at the Remington Event Center, the Skit Guys used humor and fun to deliver the Gospel message. The Caleb Rowden Band from Columbia led in worship. Dan Updegrave, youth pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Republic, has played a large part in helping organize the event in past years and has brought his students for 12 years.
“Our students look forward to attending and serving at it each year,” Updegrave said.
“YouthQuake has been a huge event for our youth and sponsors. Almost every year we witness salvations and rededications within our student ministry while attending YouthQuake.
It greatly encourages our volunteers each year, especially when volunteers are used by God to pray with students who are responding to Christ’s call on their life.
“We know the hard work that is done in our local churches each week by faithful group and class leaders. That work is simply multiplied at a quality ministry event like YouthQuake, where we come together and God speaks through a guest speaker or worship band in a unique way, amplifying the message He’s been giving in our local churches.”
The speakers and the artists used contemporary Christian music and humor to bring home a hard-hitting message. Students heard the Gospel, as well as a message encouraging them to be the one to share Christ with their friends and family.
Bryton Hart, 14, said the Skit Guys’ message really impacted his heart and kept him laughing at the same time.
“The Skit Guys were hilarious,” Hart said. “I learned that you need to be outgoing and love people despite their differences.”
While the event is sponsored by the Baptist association, it has become a great outreach for many of the evangelical churches in the area.
Doug Watson, event coordinator and youth ministry consultant for the Greene County Baptist Association, has led the conference since 2005, and since then, attendance has grown to where it is held during two sessions. Part of the growth is due to Watson’s networking with the Springfield Area Youth Leaders Network, a regional interdenominational youth ministry organization. The organization started promoting the event and it has continued to grow since then.
He said the event has always been about presenting the Gospel to “pre-Christian” students and challenging Christian students to go deeper with Jesus.
The growth in attendance is “a testimony to the effectiveness of the goals of YouthQuake,” Watson said. “Testimonies from youth leaders year after year of decisions their students have made, and the effect it has had on their ministries as a whole, also reflect what’s happening. Estimates are that over 2,000 student decisions have been made in these years of the event, with more than 500 of those being first-time commitments to Christ. Follow-up materials given at the event to each student, and connecting them each with a youth group following, help to confirm these further.”
Watson said the effectiveness of a large gathering of believers to encourage one another and build excitement for their faith is still a reality.
“In this age of small group ministry, and many even putting aside corporate worship in exchange for only experiencing fellowship within a small group, the need for us occasionally to see the big picture of what God is still doing in our community with many other believers, is still valid,” he said.
“And, with many of the large churches in our communities believing they and their ministry need no one else to help provide their students with all they need to grow in their faith, this kind of event is a testimony to what cooperation can accomplish that no single church has the means or budget to really do effectively.”
DEREK GEAN / contributing writer