WASHINGTON Over 700 youth pastors, leaders and ministers representing 300 churches nationwide were challenged to answer the battle cry to rescue this generation of Christians at a leadership summit held near Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
The event, held at Hope Christian Church in Lanham, Md., was the third in a series of four leadership summits planned across the nation. The Leadership Summit effort is the first part of a larger 18-month Battle Cry initiative that includes massive stadium events, holiday outreaches, global mission trips, abstinence education, and practical bible-study curriculums.
Organizers say the main point of all Battle Cry events is to take back Americas future by changing the hearts and minds of todays young people.
As proof of why war is necessary, supporters cite statistics that show that only four percent of todays youth hold Biblical values and beliefs and that most people who come to Christ do so prior to the age of 21.
An evil enemy has launched a brutal attack. Its not in the Middle East. And terrorists are not the threat, a pamphlet from the leadership summit stated. Millions of souls are at risk. There is but one hope, and if we fail the youth of our nation could be lost forever.
According to Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church, the leadership summit is a critical first-step in this battle to rescue America's youth.
The first step is to train the leaders, said Jackson. You must train the leaders before you go to the young people or there is no net to gather them in for mentorship and development.
Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and one of five featured speakers at Saturdays event, agreed that training the youth leaders is a critical part of the equation to having a healthy church.
Just like a home, you need healthy youth leaders to have a healthy local church, said Haggard, senior pastor of the 11,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. If in a home, young men and women are wise in responding to their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, they can contribute to that home being a phenomenal home.
Thats the same thing in our generation with our churches, he explained. If the youth leaders, associate pastors, and young men and women are a blessing in the church and do wise things in the church, then it opens the doors for the church leadership to make increasingly better decisions.
At that light, Haggard, once the youth minister at New Life Church, gave five general tips to help youth ministers cultivate their strength and vision: be Godly, add value, be helpful, be aggressive, and remember your pastor wants to be proud of you.
Dont pass judgment, Haggard said. Live a life of wisdom, and informed life, and a life dominated by the wisdom of control.
If you know that, it will take you a long way, he said.
Ultimately, Haggard said some immediate steps youth ministers can take to stay on track is to relax, take things in stride, and to study those who are successful in accomplishing relevant goals.
Read and study the people who are doing what you want to do, but are better than what you are currently doing, said Haggard. Im not interested in reading a book from someone who says pastoral ministry is a hard duty. I want to learn from someone who is doing.
Dont take life too seriously, he concluded. Take heaven seriously take earth, and wear it loose.
The Washington D.C. event was the third in a series of four nationwide leadership summits organized by Teen Mania Ministries and Acquire the Fire ministries. The fourth Battle Cry event was held the same day in Philadelphia, Pa., and the first two were held in San Francisco, Calif., and Detroit, Michigan.
In addition to Haggard, other speakers featured at Saturdays event included: Ron Luce, president and founder of Teen Mania Ministries and author of the book, Battle Cry for a Generation; David Nasser, an Iranian immigrant and renown post-modern speaker; Tim Johnson, co-founder of the Good Samaritan Foundation, senior-associate pastor at the Bethel World Outreach Center, and former member of the Washington Redskins; and Darrell Green, a former seven-time All-Pro defensive back for the Washington Redskins where he played for 20 years.