I love being part of the CLB Youth Convention. The first day might be my favorite as everyone starts to ascend upon Estes Park, Colorado. Leaders come in and register their students. Group by group, student by student, the chairs start to fill up in the auditorium. You can hear them all talking… and at the same time you can’t understand any of it because there is so much going on. So much excitement and anticipation for all that is about to happen: emcees, speakers, seminars, comedians, concerts, worship sets, messages, games and more.

But in the middle of all the hoopla there is something so much more important going on. Each chair is filled with a student. That student represents a set of issues and struggles that is real and difficult. Next to that student is another student who has a whole different list of struggles, some of them are known and some of them are hidden away. Thankfully, we have Jesus who says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It doesn’t matter what the sin is, it doesn’t matter the size of the burden—Jesus is there for us. Jesus overcame that sin on the cross and gave us the victory in his resurrection.

YC17 was all about Jesus’ ability to break every chain that burdens us. The theme, Break Every Chain, relates to each of us because we live in a broken world that is full of the effects of that brokenness. From those seats, our students heard the message for the week that came from Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Over and over again, Pastor Dave Foss and Pastor Chris Priestaf drove home that liberating message… and the hearts, minds and souls of those sitting in the seats were freed. Chains lost their hold, death’s sting was taken away, and Christ’s victory was on full display as if we were looking into the empty tomb.

It was clear to see Christ’s work in the students’ lives at YC17 and I hope you hear all about it from the students who were there.

It is also important to hear about something new that happened at YC17. North American Mission gave YC17 a substantial gift to educate our youth leaders. Over 100 youth leaders, youth volunteers, parents, youth pastors and pastors were blessed by six training sessions. The topics covered were: Law/Gospel Youth Ministry, A Long Lasting Youth Ministry, From Youth Ministry to Youth and Family, Strategic Planning, Developing Youth Leaders, and Talking to Youth on Difficult Subjects. Every leader was also given nine books to help equip them as they continue their ministry to our youth.

Youth Ministry is so crucial. We felt the Lord placed it on our hearts to bless and further equip those who serve in this ministry. It was wonderful to watch youth leaders from all over America and Canada pray with each other, be taught together and be sent out together.

Youth Convention has grown and changed over the years, and it is our prayer that your local church body would consider joining us at Estes Park in 2019. We would love to minister to your students and help equip your leaders.

Rev. Brandon Pangman has been the Youth Convention Director since 2010. He has led four conventions and is working on plans for his fifth, YC19. He is currently transitioning from lead pastor at Rock of Ages Lutheran Brethren Church in Seattle, Washington to associate pastor at Emmaus Road Church in DeWitt, Iowa.

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