Students challenged to flesh out identity through seminars
By Myra Holmes
Attendees of Named 2015 were challenged to flesh out their identity in Christ through Learning Ops or learning opportunities, held in two blocks Saturday morning. While the conference theme and general sessions aimed to help youth better understand their identity in Christ, the Learning Ops were designed to give further ideas for living out that identity.
“Because we are named, we get to partner with God,” explains planning team member Joanna Chapa. The hope for Learning Ops was that youth would take away concrete examples of what partnering with God looks like.
As they delved into their particular topics, workshop speakers were encouraged to share their personal stories of being “named” in Christ. The most well-attended Learning Ops addressed leadership, worship, doubt and mission.
Rick and Karen Bartlett led “Who me? A Leader?” A total of about 200 attended in two sessions. Rick Bartlett is director of theological education at Tabor College Wichita, the Wichita, Kan., campus of the MB-owned college in the Midwest. The Bartletts challenged youth to consider how their passions intersect with the needs around them and how they might take one small step toward leading in that area.
An estimated 200 also attended one session led by For All Seasons, the California-based band who led worship during the conference. During “Who We Are and Why We Worship,” band members told about their journey toward worship and took questions from students about how to use their gifts.
Michael Suderman, evangelist and apologist with Ravi Zacharias Ministries, addressed doubt in his workshop, “Is Christianity Really True?” This was another popular option, with well over 200 attendees in two sessions and a question-and-answer time that overflowed the allotted schedule.
Ricky Sanchez, regional mobilizer with MB Mission in Thailand, told stories of people whose lives were changed as they identified with Christ—like a pastor who was imprisoned for boldly preaching the gospel and an HIV-positive orphan who began to share her faith after accepting Christ. About 130 attended “Risk Taking Obedience.”
The NYC planning team assigned rooms based on registration information, but students were free to attend Learning Ops spontaneously. One topic that drew more participants than expected was “Violence, Jesus, Peace and Us: Can Christians Use Violence When Necessary?” led by Trent Voth, associate pastor at College Community Church MB, Clovis, Calif. About 125 attended in two standing-room-only sessions.
Two sessions on values also overflowed the assigned space, with a total of about 120 attending “The Impact Our Values Have in Knowing Ourselves and Understanding Our Purpose,” led by life coach Chandelle Claassen, Newton, Kan.
Silence Breakers, a student group from Tabor College, led a total of about 100 attendees in a session on sexual addictions, “Renamed: Breaking the Silence about Sexual Sin with Biblical Truth.”
Other Learning Ops addressed immigration, military service, finances, vocation, neighborhood outreach and evangelism. Speakers included Ed Boschman, former USMB executive director; Saulo Padilla, Titus Peachey and Benjamin Peters, from Mennonite Central Committee; Wendell Loewen, director of Ministry Quest; Jon Wiebe, president and CEO of MB Foundation; and Rhonda Dueck, director of Micah Project.
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