Guest Blog: Lessons From Lifest
By Mark Shaner • National Network Of Youth Ministries • Vero Beach, Florida
A Time And A Place For Networking, Connecting, And Expanding the Kingdom
“From the moment John stepped on the scene until now, the realm of heaven’s kingdom is bursting forth, and passionate people have taken hold of its power.“Matthew 11:12 (The Passion Translation)
Words are so inadequate to express the excitement and passion when you see the Body of Christ come together on a single mission! I had the privilege of spending five days and four nights right outside of Nashville, Tennessee on Johnny Cash’s 107-acre Hideaway Farm for the first year of Lifest Music City with some 5,000 plus persons.
But more than that, I watched six different groups work hand in hand to accomplish so much more than what any one of these groups could have ever done alone. I witnessed Lifest Promotions, interlínc, Campus Alliance, First Priority, Nashville’s Big Backyard, and National Network of Youth Ministries work and serve in unison.
“A divided world needs a united church.”Pastor Craig Groeschel – Global Leadership Summit 2021
Youth Pastors connected, campus ministries were encouraged, and schools were adopted for Prayer – Care – Share. I had a front-row seat to see the Church used to not only sell tickets to an event, but an event used to expand the reach of the Church and a community. We were promoting each other’s mission, as we shared booths and encouraged one another! I saw God’s Church unite.
Lifest Promotions brought Matthew West, Lecrae, Newsboys, Colton Dixon, Sidewalk Prophets, Danny Gokey, Michael W. Smith, Skillet, Ledger, Mandisa, and over 50 different music groups to a place where Cash spent 30 years of his life; the place he called “the center of his universe.” On July 28-31, 2021 it was a place to gather and unite the body of Christ!
Youth Leaders Only, in its 37th year, helps youthworkers in thousands of churches be aware of the music their students are listening to, use all forms of music in their ministries, and equip their students to make wise choices about the music & media they have in their earbuds 9 hours every day. A membership costs less than the price of a pizza each month!
In this place, over 36 states and 3 countries were represented, 47 people adopted 57 different schools to pray for, and what happened at Lifest is just the beginning! We collectively led five different sessions for youth leaders and students and shared a single vision with the many people we met at our shared booth. We even provided a Saturday night BBQ for all of the youthworkers and their families that we had connected with through the event.
I can easily say that as a result of Lifest and this commitment to unity there are hundreds of schools throughout the country that will have a concerted focus of prayer for this up and coming 2021-22 school year. What we can do together is so much greater than what we could ever do alone in our towns, our cities, our counties, our states, our regions, and across this country. It’s time to live out Jesus’ prayer that we might be one, so the world will know that we are His disciples.
Who do you need to take a moment today and reach out to? Is it the church down the street? Is it a parachurch ministry? Do you need to start a local network to connect the ministries in your area? You were designed for so much more. You were never meant to do life alone!
What you just read about started with a conversation between two people on a Friday in May of 2021. As a result, leaders gathered from as far West as Dallas, San Diego, and Seattle and as far East as Pennsylvania and Florida. We worked together, served together, and advanced God’s Kingdom- TOGETHER. What could happen in you, for you, and for your community if you just started the conversation?
We are called to go outside the ordinary because we are focused on a much bigger mission… it takes ALL of us to make the best US.
Thanks to Bob, John, Julie, Maddie, Lucas, and the Lifest Team for hosting the party that brought us all together with a unified purpose!