Originally published on the front page Taylor University’s newspaper, The Echo, on April 19, 2013.
When sophomore Katy Spence attended Youth Conference in high school, she didn’t anticipate how much it would impact her. That weekend, God changed her views on what it meant to be a Christian.
“It was strategic planning on God’s part,” Spence said.
Now, as co-director of the YC Cabinet, she and the rest of the cabinet are hoping to make the same impact this weekend.
At least 200 high school students are expected to attend Youth Conference, which begins tonight with a session in Rediger at 8:30. Activities will be run by the emcees, seniors Annessa Mosier and Chris Hecox, and speaker Jesse Kahler will give a message.
“Usually the emcees are just the goofy ones,” Mosier said, “but this year Jesse has actually asked us to do skits that are goofy and funny but then those skits will tie into his messages.”
Kahler, a 2006 TU graduate, will speak on the theme of “Abide,” taken from John 15. Kahler is senior pastor of Archbold Evangelical Church in Ohio and served as senior YC co-director Eric Rupp’s youth pastor before he came to Taylor.
“He’ll be talking about life with God and the importance of discipleship,” Rupp said.
Kahler will speak twice Saturday and wrap up the conference Sunday morning. Topics include abiding in Christ as part of the vine, bearing fruit, and pruning areas of life that do not bear fruit.
“Our hope every year is that their [the students’] hearts become closer to God’s heart and that their relationship with Him grows in a deeper way,” Mosier said. “With the theme being “Abide,” [it’s about] knowing how to abide in His presence and knowing how to allow the time that they spend with Him…to transform their lives and to produce fruit.”
Even when working behind the scenes, Spence has been challenged by the theme, particularly by spending time with God.
“The theme is abiding in Christ and as I get more and more busy, it’s easy to gloss over it,” she said.
In addition to Kahler’s messages, Youth Conference will host a Phil Wickham concert Saturday.
“I contacted about 15 artists and record labels over the summer and he was the only one who emailed us back with the possibility of coming,” Spence said. “He’s pretty easy to work with.”
Wickham will perform an acoustic show after artist Joe Paulson, a 2009 TU graduate, opens the evening. Rupp and Spence are hoping to sell 500 tickets for $10 each and recommend reserving them at the Youth Conference website, YC.Taylor.edu. Tickets will also be sold at the door 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday.
Aside from the concert, sessions are free to Taylor students and the community.
“[Kahler’s] stories are memorable and his style is very dynamic and engaging. We think TU students will really enjoy his messages,” Rupp said. “They don’t apply only to high school students.”
The full schedule and details are available on the Youth Conference website, YC.Taylor.edu.