The small group experience at National Youth Conference (NYC) felt similar to Sunday school for Aubrey, a youth participant from Maryland. Her small group was a setting that encouraged everyone to contribute to the discussions as they wished.
“I’ve had a lot of fun discussing with people various topics, even though we come from different places,” she said. “It has helped me get closer to my faith and broadened my views and perspectives.”
Small groups at NYC were designed to bring together people from different congregations to together build new friendships and become safe places for deeper discussions. Each of the 120 small groups combined attendees and advisors, and met for 45 minutes each day following the morning worship.
Aubrey’s group was led by Jake Glover of McGaheysville, Va. He and his wife are the youth leaders in their church and served as adult advisers to six youth at NYC. He agreed to lead a small group before coming to NYC. “I’m an exhorter and soul winner for Jesus,” he said. “I hope to encourage this group to embrace their faith.”
During Monday’s small group meeting, Jake invited the 11 youth and advisors to share something about the day before and the workshops they attended. Several youth noted ideas that were new and how they reacted to workshops. They discussed the morning sermon and chose which scriptures to study that day from the scriptures that had been noted in worship. Nearly all of the youth and advisors pulled out their Bibles or called up the scripture verses on their phones.
After reading through the scripture, Jake invited discussion. He asked the group to assume the perspective of one of the people in the Bible story. They shared ideas and explored what the story could mean, before they ended the session in prayer.
Evan, a youth participant from Virginia, said what he liked about the small group experience was “being able to talk about the sermon and about things that you can easily overlook with all the activities.”
Brennen from South Carolina appreciated how he could talk about anything in his small group. “Being part of a small group makes me feel like people really care. They make me feel like everyone has open arms and cares. Everything feels good.”
-- Mary Dulabaum contributed this report.
The NYC 2018 Press Team includes Laura Brown, Allie Dulabaum, Mary Dulabaum, Nevin Dulabaum, Eddie Edmonds, Russ Otto, Frank Ramirez, Alane Riegel, Glenn Riegel, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.