What do you get when you cram over 900 students into one hotel for 5 days and 4 nights right after Christmas? Yes, utter chaos. Well, it’s not really that bad. In the Bible we see examples of Jesus ministering to both large groups and small groups and often mixing the two with a positive effect. He teaches the masses and then draws away with just his disciples to explain what he taught. He preaches or heals in public but then retreats to a house to have dinner with an individual. In the same way, our ministry seeks to advance the gospel using both attractional outlets like large events and conferences, as well as relational outlets like conversations and small group Bible studies. Our biggest attractional event of the year is the conference we host over the Christmas and New Year’s break. This year, we journeyed to Jacksonville, FL, with over 900 students and 150 staff from 30 campuses for 5 days of learning, worship, fellowship, and fun. Our biggest objective is to capitalize on where students are spiritually after the fall semester and help them continue that momentum into the spring semester. For some students, an attractional event can help reinforce what they have been learning through the Fall in their small group Bible studies. For others who have been investigating Jesus, it can call them to make a decision to follow him. And for still others, it provides an opportunity to invite friends and have conversations about Jesus or their faith. All in all, God always seems to help students take large steps forward in their relationships with Him at these conferences.
Pulling off an event like this obviously takes massive amounts of planning and execution. Our resource staff from 6 different regions spent the entirety of last year working to make this event a reality. There were days when I questioned if it was worth it all the work. But those doubts have been countered now as we begin to hear stories of students coming to faith or making huge strides in their relationships with the Lord at the conference. Even this week, reading one evaluation of a student coming to faith makes me excited to do it all over again for next year. In the meantime, we will rejoice not just in what God has done at the conference, but also in how He will use the small group Bible studies and conversations over the next semester to draw students into deeper relationships with Him.
~ Mike Meisenheimer, Resource Director
For a visual of the conference, watch the video below or visit jax2012.com for more audio and video resources.
[vimeo 56552647 500 281]