For the past year I’ve been blessed to be one of the members of the national YOUTH 2011 Design Team. We have been putting in place the details for an amazing ministry for youth and youth leaders this summer. For those who may not know, YOUTH 2011 is the quadrennial gathering of thousands of youth from across the country and around the world for five fantastic days of worship, learning, service and fellowship. This year there are two sites, July 13-17 at Purdue University here in Indiana at West Lafayette, and July 27-31 in Sacramento, California.

I know our churches have a lot of choices for your Summer 2011 ministries, and I know that committing to an event like YOUTH 2011 may require a move away from a traditional mission trip or other church commitments. I truly understand the challenges in those decisions, as a former congregational youth pastor. With that in mind, I share why I am so excited, and why I believe the commitment to volunteering that week at Purdue or bringing your youth to this ministry is worth the investment.

Here are my reasons:

  1. From the very inception of the idea of the format for YOUTH 2011, youth have been involved in every facet of planning. This isn’t an event put on by youth leaders for youth, it is a ministry of youth and youth leaders together, with a huge commitment to youth leadership. As two examples, the youth praise band from Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City (Rezlife) will be the house band, and youth will be featured as speakers on stage.
  2. With the input of the youth, this ministry event is focused on “more than” a singular experience. Everything in the event is being designed with intentionality about giving young people and their leaders the tools they need to grow in their faith and in leadership once they return to their home churches.
  3. Does anyone remember the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, where you could choose which direction to take the story? I’m really excited that YOUTH 2011 includes a sense of that “choose your own path” for groups attending. Need time with your youth group everyday, there is room for that. Do you desire workshops for those youth who really want to dive into discipleship and leadership. They are available. Looking for mission knowing that this is taking the place of a mission trip for some of the youth, you’ll find several offerings.

Add to this list the opportunity for youth to experience Christian fellowship with thousands of other youth; artists and speakers that include Kristian Stanfill (who toured last fall with Chris Tomlin), illusionist Jared Hall, youth abolitionist Zach Hunter, artist Scott Erickson, and Bible Study leader Olu Brown; and a chance to offer our best in Hoosier hospitality to all who attend. I truly believe this will be a transformational event for young people, their leaders and volunteers who wish to be a part of a life-changing ministry. I hope you can join us.

For more information and registration, visit www.youth2011.org.

Brian Durand serves as Associate Director of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries. He is based at the Indiana Conference Center in Indianapolis. E-mail him at brian.durand@inumc.org or call 317-924-1321.