A Review of 2016 Winter Bible Talk
As we gathered in the Institute library, we took a moment to introduce ourselves--a room of strangers, spanning from a first year youth pastor, to parents and grandparents of high school and college students attending our weekend bible conference, to myself and my co-teacher, Brandon Galford.
Two testimonies in particular touched me.
One man told us that he was moved by the work God was doing in the lives of the youth at his church, and felt compelled to get more involved and learn more about God’s Word himself. He was not their parent, uncle or grandparent. It was not his job. But the testimony his youth group had shared after a mission trip triggered a desire to come and see for himself, and he took it.
Another woman, the eldest in the room, told us, “I’m here because my granddaughter invited me. How could I say no to my granddaughter, asking me to spend a weekend studying the Bible with her?” We all nodded our heads along with her--indeed, that’s not an invitation you turn down.
Our Bible Talk conference was sectioned off by age and experience: high schoolers in one group, college in another, and the final group, the one I taught: adults. Everyone, regardless of age, came to Bible Talk in humility, admitting that despite their age, they were far from done learning, particularly when it came to God’s Word. One participant laughed as she told me, “If I was done learning, I’d be a Pharisee!”
When such a pure motive guides your weekend, it is no surprise that God will show up. He did. Beginning with worship, then introductions, then delving into the Scriptures, friendships were formed and hearts were ignited as people found the goodness of God expressed in his Word.
Ashley Moore, who taught the high school group alongside Ty Mathews, wrote:
“Working with high schoolers is always rewarding. These students came with a desire to go deeper into God’s word. With intentions like that it’s hard not to walk away blessed. Every time I taught, one particular student would soak in every single word. Her eyes would light up and I could tell her mind was turning, thinking about how she could be a little more like Jesus with every Scripture read. She told me that she’d never really studied the Bible like this before. She described it as “eye opening,” or in biblical terms, a revelation. She said that this weekend was giving her steps to the next few years of high school and the ways that she could be a follower of Jesus at school, home and church. These are the moments that count towards eternity.”
In the adult group we discussed the responsibility they hold to give biblically-sound counsel. This guidance can’t be hypocritical, it must come from a position of humility, and should bring with it an opportunity to not just weed out “the bad,” but to be filled with “the good.” As we discussed, it was clear that participants felt re-invigorated, that they did have something to give, that they shouldn’t be quieted by the insecurity of lacking relevance to a new generation. God’s Word is always relevant!
If there was a theme from the weekend, that was it for me. That God’s Word has the ability to unite the generations. On Saturday night, after what we called a “stand-up sermon” by Derek Bargatze that had the entire room laughing at the way human beings skirt the truth, everyone filled Nyumba Cafe, and it wasn’t awkward. High schoolers, their youth pastors, their parents and grandparents--and a shortage of uncomfortability. Somehow, everyone just enjoyed life side-by-side, a beautiful picture of what God’s Word is able to do: make life meaningful for everyone.
If you have a chance next year, you should join us. Just don’t forget, your grandmother may want to join you.