This will be the eighth year for Ignition Conference. And since we typically host more than one each year, this is actually my 16th Ignition Weekend. And I’m grateful for the many people over the years who have been involved in it.
I know schedules in life are so full, no one would argue that kids need another thing to do. But I would argue that kids need to focus their lives and a retreat weekend is a great way. For whatever reason, the lives of middle school students have become as busy as the lives of high school students 10 years ago. It keeps trickling down. They all have cell phones. They all have calendars. And they all have to juggle the many things on their schedule.
And for this weekend, though it’s another thing on their plate, it’s an opportunity to focus on the eternal. To think about the things that really matter in life.
Here’s why I lead Ignition Middle School Conference:
1) It’s an opportunity for me to stay in touch with the next generation. I love to talk with kids. I love to hang around them and hear what they have to say. It’s a great opportunity to be engaged with them.
2) It’s a great, organic framework to involve the leadership of young adults and other ministry leaders in the church. This weekend, there will be about 22 leaders who will have a chance to serve in ministry. From speaking, to seminar leading, to worship music, to media, to small groups, to hospitality, to administration and the list goes on. I love this aspect of Harvest Ministry – it’s really the crux of the mission.
3) What the students learn is legit. Though that cultural idiom is not in my usual vocabulary, it’s true. Of all the things the students pick up on in life, where their soul stands is the most important. The elective seminars this weekend are titled Legit Faith, Legit Mission and Legit Confidence. Kids need to know that what they are learning through Scripture is true! That it will stand the test of time.
4) When students pull away from their regular life routine and hear from new people, they get a different view point. I’ve said before that even though I grew up in a Christian home and was involved in church, most all of my definable transforming moments have happened when I was at a camp, a retreat weekend or a mission trip. It’s a combination of anticipating more, expecting to hear from God and being away from the craziness of life. It gives us time to listen. Though daily Christian example is life forming, those special times are catalyst for hearing from the Lord and making commitments to follow in his steps.
5) Middle school life is one of turmoil. Choices matter so much. Friendships are so crucial. Attitudes and character are being developed. And life starts to get interesting. And one of my personal goals for middle school ministry is for each kid to at some point rub shoulders with the Harvest college students and other ministry leaders. I just want them to pick up on the Christ like attitudes. I want them to pick up on their smiles and their joy. I want them to get a picture of what it’s like when a 19 or 20 year old is sold out to Jesus in faith. I want them to think what the Harvest team says is funny and incorporate those words or phrases in their own life. And I want to them to have a bank of great memories – built with their groups, their ministry leaders and the Harvest Team.
When I get to heaven, I’m going to check on the possibility of making this announcement: “Everyone who attended The Light Kids Conference, Ignition Middle School Conference or Fire-Up Conference in Illinois – meet over here. Let’s tell stories of how our paths crossed and how that made a difference in the kingdom of God!”
Thanks to all who will be attending, helping with and taking part in Ignition 2012 in Troy, IL! Thanks to Troy UMC for hosting and leading the way for this great weekend.