How can we find new and effective ways to reach the youth of America from seventh to twelfth grade? The approach of First Baptist Chinese Church in Los Angeles with their conference "U-turn," was to change their old program and "evolve" it in order to open the door for all different types of youth to enter.
This year, under the direction of John Ng, Minister of Communication for young people, the community of youth were "challenged" to take a U-turn in their lives.
Mr. Ng said that there are two ways of looking at this year's theme. One is to take a U-turn and go back or make a change towards God and the other is a challenge.
The challenge is, "you have to turn." God is going to challenge the youth and their "status quo," and by going forth with the challenge of "turning back," one can deepen their faith, said Mr. Ng.
"We have to continue to speak in their lives and increase the possibility of transformation. These type of conferences set up an opportunity where God can come and speak."
On the first day, the conference brought an average of 60 youth from seventh to twelfth grade from different areas of the community.
"We have the suburban church kids, who grew up in church; we have the urban Chinatown kids, who are non-Christian; we have the Chinese speaking kids, whose culture differentiates them from the other youth, although they’re fluent in English," Mr. Ng listed.
The program is similar to a Friday Night Fellowship, which provides small group exercises, messages, worship, games, and dinner.
Mr. Ng said that they wanted to keep it as "simplistic" as possible, and by "breaking the bubble" they can get the message across that "there is more to church," and more can attend because the atmosphere is comfortable.
At the end of the conference, the youth can keep complimentary T-shirts with the theme of the conference.
"We try to make the shirts look good so that they can wear them," and they can talk to others who ask what the shirt means. This can be a way for them to share about the conference Mr. Ng said, and "It’s free advertisement."