There were heavy sighs resounding around me as we learned that once again, there had been a mistake with our hotel rooms. After a twenty-minute wait, we dragged our over-packed suitcases down the hall and flopped onto our beds, dropping our things into a heap on the floor. We were exhausted. But the next day we loaded up again, excited through the early morning grogginess. We were on the final stretch. This story, with maybe a few variations, is the experience for many youth groups across North America. For many of them, it’s a long trip. It’s tiring for sure, but it may be the highlight, of not only our summers, but our entire youth group experience. The pull is strong. And that’s good, because for teens in a secular world, YC is needed now more than ever.

A Few Reasons Why

It Proves Christians Can Have Fun Too: Having fun, of course, isn’t the biggest part of being a believer. In fact, being a Christian can be really difficult. But I believe it’s important for us to show we can have fun without all the things the world tells us will bring us happiness. Most teenagers, me included, tend to be really focused on having fun. The danger is when we look for it in the wrong places. YC17 shows us there’s a deeper God-given joy that won’t just fade when it’s a bad day.

We Don’t Feel Alone: I go to a public school, and I often feel as if I’m the only Christian there. I was fortunate enough to find some good friends there who are believers, but many students go through high school without having the support of other Christians. That makes it so easy to slip into living the way the world does. High school years are vital years in which you learn about yourself, and being united with other Christians makes living “in the world and not of the world” easier.

We’re Pushed Out of Our Comfort Zone: At points in my life I’ve settled into “easy Christianity.” I get to a point where I think I’m at a good place and my faith stops growing and I settle into this little box of being comfortable. But Jesus never said following him would be easy. YC is one of the experiences that pushes you both personally and spiritually. The sessions often zero-in on tough or uncomfortable topics. While you’re growing in your faith, you’re also learning about yourself.

God is at Work: There’s no question that God does amazing work at Youth Convention. Of course, God can work in people’s lives wherever they are, but there’s just something about being in a place where you can really see the effects of the Gospel.

At one point during the week, the speaker invited anyone struggling with an approval addiction to come to the front and he’d pray for them. The whole room moved. People flooded the aisles. Even if we don’t always admit it, our hearts long for a Savior. On top of that, we are all struggling to find our identity. YC is important because it points our hearts to Jesus. I know I need that reminder daily. Now we just have to take that reminder down from the mountaintop and into the world.

Olivia Nordlund is a high school student and member of Grace Lutheran Brethren Church in Bismarck, North Dakota.

YC17: Break Every Chain
YC17: Why We Do It