After a long, lonely two years of pandemic isolation, churches across the Greater New Jersey,
Eastern Pennsylvania, Upper New York and New York annual conferences came together for a much-needed weekend of building community at the IGNITE 2022 Youth Conference.
Middle and high school students participated in musical worship, received wisdom from powerful speakers, engaged with one another in interactive workshops, danced and sang during high energy concerts and grew relationships through small groups. The theme of IGNITE 2022 was “Limitless,” and for the year after quarantine, it was a relevant and powerful one.
‘This is the best weekend of my life!’
“This is the best weekend of my life!” a middle school student exclaimed to an IGNITE Squad young adult in between workshop sessions. This was his first overnight youth-group trip finally, after waiting in anticipation for years to attend IGNITE. He had heard his older siblings talk about the conference.
Many other expressions of enjoyment, fun, celebration and excitement could be heard throughout the halls of the Wildwood Convention Center last October by students in grades six through twelve. In the months since, youth leaders have shared celebratory testimonies that no doubt were inspired by the Holy Spirit’s movement at the IGNITE Conference.
One of those stories comes from a youth director of middle and high school programs:
“I had a high school freshman who was not a regular attender of youth programs. Their attendance at IGNITE was kind of a surprise to our leadership team. But we knew that the Lord would move, and we were ready for it. This student really resonated with Aqueelah’s sessions, and we chatted during the entire trip home about Aqueelah’s energy, passion and messages about being limitless when you pursue Jesus and the family of God.
Flash forward a few weeks after IGNITE, and this student approached me about joining the worship team for our church on Sunday mornings. I can say, with true faith and celebration, that the Holy Spirit has moved deeply in this student’s life. They are now a regular attendee of not only our youth programs but also our Sunday morning worship services. This student has transitioned from a worship team member, to now become the worship team leader for our church.
Our youth leadership team has been humbled and encouraged by the growth that we have seen in this student. I am constantly receiving messages from others in our church community about the impact that this student’s testimony is having on others. Rest assured that our youth group has already registered for IGNITE 2023; and that we all, including this student, of course, absolutely cannot wait to be together in Wildwood with our IGNITE family again!”
Impacting the faith and lives of young people
The IGNITE team has continued to hear stories and powerful testimonies from middle school students, high school students, IGNITE Squad young adult volunteers, clergy and youth leaders. They talk about the limitless impact that IGNITE 2022 has had on the faith and lives of young people, the ministries of local churches and the work of ministry leaders across a variety of churches and conferences.
Since IGNITE 2022, we have continually been celebrating the power and movement of the Holy Spirit through a diverse array of musicians, main stage speakers, workshop leaders, small-group conversations and missional initiatives. We have recounted moments of healing, celebration, mourning, joy, processing, worship, prayer, critical thinking and faith exploration.
One lay leader declared on their wayout the door, “I came here for a personal worship experience this weekend, but I am leaving with a calling to start a youth ministry at my church.”
Looking back at IGNITE 2022, we are overwhelmed by our limitless God. Our limitless Holy Spirit. Our limitless Jesus Christ. Our limitless worship. Our limitless community. Our limitless diversity.
Our limitless mindset of openness and growth. Our limitless family of God. We are overwhelmed of the limitless impact that continues to come from IGNITE 2022. We cannot wait to come together again to celebrate the limitless potential of this past year and to step into our 2023 theme, “Belong”.
*Mecan Payne is GNJ’s Next Gen Program Specialist