Thousands of pastors, church officials and youth group leaders across the nation were urged to equip and mobilize 20- and 30-somethings for mission this past weekend.
The LeadNow national conference, held Nov. 5-7, drew 2,000 people to Dallas and many more watched via live simulcast from more than 100 churches nationwide. The conference emphasized that the mission of the church matters and urged church leaders to call the next generation to "radical obedience."
To ignite a movement of Christ followers who put their faith into action, the conference prescribed three actions: creating a culture of service, launching small groups to action, and connecting people to those in needs.
For creating a culture of service, senior pastors, young adult pastors, youth pastors, and people who play a role in shaping the vision of a church were called to resist the consumerism mindset and instead teach and preach in a way that mobilizes a lifestyle of service.
Meanwhile, small group pastors were urged to use their church's small groups as a "launching pad" for people to be sent out into the community and the world.
And missions, outreach and evangelism pastors were called to challenge their church culture so that congregants use their God-given skills to serve others. The conference offered to connect churches to actual opportunities so that congregants can find mission opportunities through their church.
"Right now you are seeing this burgeoning movement of young people across the planet connecting with humanitarian movement, finding ways to make a difference in the world whether it is dealing with the sex trade in one part of the world or AIDS orphans in other parts of the world," commented Erwin McManus, innovative church thinker and pastor of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, in a video posted on the LeadNow Web site.
"Now it is almost in vogue. It's almost if you're not a part of it you're wearing the wrong fashion," McManus said.
But he noted that the event organizer, the RightNow Campaign, had started calling young people to service back when mission was not "sexy" but just "sacrifice."
The campaign's roots trace back to before mission work was fashionable and will allow it to last when it is out of fashion, he said.
The RightNow Campaign is a movement of 20- and 30-somethings that seeks to connect their generation to putting their faith in Christ into action. Specifically, it seeks to mobilize the younger generation to understand their role in bringing hope to the world; to coach the generation to use their skills, passions and desires to make a difference; and to connect the generation to specific opportunities to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ.
The RightNow campaign connects young people to one or more of the 75 ministries it partners with, including Adventures in Missions, e3 Partners Ministry, Livada Orphan Care, The Voice of the Martyrs, and Camp China.
In 2007, the RightNow campaign launched the LeadNow conference to build future leaders from the 20- and 30-something generation. The event is aimed at helping the leaders from the young generation learn how to mobilize people for Christian service.
Speakers at this year's LeadNow event included George Barna, founder of the Barna Research Group; Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in California; Kay Warren, co-founder of Saddleback Church in California; Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz; and Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C.
"I can honestly say I have never been more exciting about ministry because I feel like this generation is discontent with the way that church has been," said Chan, who is the author of the recent book CrazyLove, in a video on the LeadNow '09 Web page. "A lot them are going, 'I read the Bible and I'm looking at church and I'm going something doesn't match up.' These are feelings I had my whole life and this is the generation that is going, 'Yep, I'm thinking that too,' and they're ready for a change."