SPEAK conference challenges students to share now, consider call to ministry

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The SPEAK conference has always had one thing at its core —the gospel. But this year, Scooter Kellum, youth ministry strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, wanted to add a new layer to the teaching.

After students heard the gospel and then were challenged to share it with their friends, they were encouraged to consider if they might be called to full-time vocational ministry.

More than 900 students and leaders attended the event July 16-17 at NorthPark Baptist Church in Trussville. The conference followed the theme SPEAK Now, and music was led by Iron City Worship throughout the weekend.

After a concert by Crowder kicked things off Friday night, Ed Newton — speaker, evangelist, and lead pastor of Community Bible Church — presented the gospel. Newton narrowed in on the idea that people shouldn’t come to Jesus because they’re scared of hell or because it’s what they “should” do, but because Jesus Himself is the prize.

The next morning, Shane Pruitt, National Next Gen Evangelism Director for the North American Mission Board, challenged students that the time to share the gospel is now.

He reminded students of the truth they heard the night before: “Hope has a name. Joy has a name. Peace has a name. Life has a name. And that name is Jesus!”

Pruitt then brought out a clock that had the word “now” where the numbers would typically be. He said as long as someone is alive, the time to believe is now. And equally as important, as long as others are alive, the time to share the gospel with them is now, because when the clock stops it’s too late.

He put an exclamation point on that topic later as he spoke to youth ministers and said that 95% of those who claim to be Christians now came to know the Lord before the age of 30. This adds urgency to ministry.

To end the conference, Larry Hyche, associate for men’s spiritual development in the SBOM global missions office, spent time talking through what a call to ministry might look like in a student’s life.

First, he told them to stand on the Scripture as they discern whether their call is the universal call of a believer to “go” or the call to vocational ministry.

Second, he asked them if their heart was being pulled by the Holy Spirit toward ministry. Hyche reminded students that the world needs more Christian professionals to use their jobs with gospel intentionality. That, he said, is equally as important to building the kingdom of God as vocational ministry.

But for those being called to full-time ministry, there is nothing else that feels right. Ministry is what makes that person’s heart sing.

Third, he told students to discern if they have a deep peace from God when doing gospel work.

“When you’re doing ministry, there’s a joy and peace that is indescribable,” Hyche said. “It charges you up. It excites you. It brings joy to your life and leaves you wanting more.”

To end the weekend, 30 students came forward to profess new faith in Christ, and 19 students and one adult responded that they felt a call to vocational ministry.

The SPEAK Conference is made possible by the gifts of Alabama Baptists through the Cooperative Program. For more information, visit speak.ymlink.org.

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