Youth-Led General Council Service Marks New Day for Fellowship
More than 18,000 people gathered at the Pepsi Center on Friday night to celebrate the Fellowship’s youth, their achievements and more importantly their Lord and Savior.
“The whole night is about one life, one chance,” said Jay Mooney, national youth director, before the service began. “The night will engage the adults and the students. We’re going to tell the youth that God has a mantle for their lives.”
From the outset of the Friday night gathering it was evident that intense worship and a challenge to take a bold step for Jesus would be hallmarks.
When the Jeff Deyo Band opened their set singing, Bless the Lord, oh my soul, bless the Lord, adults and teens stood side by side worshiping with arms extended, singing as one body united by the most important thing they have in common: Jesus.
The service was entirely youth-led. Besides giving adults a glimpse of what their teens experienced this week during the National Youth Convention, having the last service of General Council led by the youth also sent a bold message.
“Letting the youth lead the service let’s them know that they’re part of the family,” said Dave Goerzen, pastor of Parker Christian Center — which is 20 minutes from downtown Denver. “It also sends them a message that the General Council values and respects them.”
During the service the altar area was packed with hundreds of students who sang along with Deyo and crew worshiping the Lord as they have done all week long at the Colorado Convention Center.
Thomas E. Trask, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, took the stage to welcome attendees and thank the behind-the-scene workers who made General Council possible. Then he thanked the parents of the students. “We have the finest mothers and dads in the world,” he said, before introducing the evening’s speaker Bryan Jarrett, 31, pastor of First Assembly of God in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
“I stand here a product of the Assemblies of God youth ministry,” Jarrett said. “I owe a great debt to this Fellowship and its youth ministry.”
Jarrett’s goal was to bridge the gap between the young and the old.
“On the one hand we have the elder generation,” he said. “Many of them have given their lives as missionaries, pastors, and hard working lay people to guard and further the full gospel message. Tonight, they long for someone in whom they can deposit their faith. However, they are very reluctant to make that deposit for fear that their faith, their church, the Trust will be diluted, altered, or even forsaken.
“On the other hand we have the younger generation,” he continued, noting that they are as passionate as the pioneers of this Pentecostal church. “[But] they have become confused with our shifting convictions that change with the cultural tides.”
“Some say youth are rebellious, I say they’re revolutionary,” said Jarett to a roar of applause.
He then went on to say the Assemblies of God should work hard to maintain its distinctiveness and not try to go mainstream. “God forbid that, as we become more accepted in church culture, we make less room for the demonstration of the Spirit’s power. God forbid we lose our distinctiveness."
Youth, he added, wanted to belong to something greater than themselves and they wanted to experience the power of God.
“Church, don’t you realize that the DNA of this youth culture matches the DNA of this Fellowship?” he asked. “All we have to be is what God called us to be 91 years ago, a church of the Spirit.”
He agreed that both the older and the younger generations must take a risk to trust one another. “If the blessing is withheld, the blessing will die with the older generation in the next 20 or 30 years, and the Assemblies of God will never be what it was before,” he said. “These young people are going to reform our Movement, or they are going to leave it and start another one like our forefathers did four generations ago.”
At the close of his sermon, Jarrett asked everyone to stand. He asked the older generation to make a covenant in which they prayed blessings and offered support to the younger generation.
“This is a big deal,” he said, before asking the younger generation to accept a covenant with the older generation to be unashamedly Pentecostal. Then he had them shout, “I will guard the trust.”
And they started to.