In response to the growing need for teen discipleship, senior Bible majors Caleb Phelps and Michael Conn are organizing (with the help of the University) the first “Rooted and Grounded” conference on Saturday, Sept. 22, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The organizers welcome young men from high schools across the Midwest to spend a day at the Conn family’s farm in Jeffersonville, Ohio. Additional logistics are available on the university website under “Youth Events” on the “Events” page.
“If 100 come, we’d be very pleased,” said Dr. Bruce McAllister, director of ministerial training and outreach.
Only 20 percent of spiritually involved students at Christian high schools in the United States maintain that involvement after graduation, according to Already Gone, a book recently published by Answers in Genesis.
The situation has progressed beyond being a problem, Caleb Phelps, ministerial class president, said. “It’s a crisis.”
Caleb said he hopes more students realize they can initiate outreach programs of their own. “[Students] say, ‘I wish I could do more,’” he said. “Then go ahead and do more.”
“We have an outstanding senior ministerial class,” Dr. McAllister said. “This was totally their own initiative. I hope that’s just representative of the attitude across the student body.”
Dr. McAllister said Caleb, Ben Hicks and Aaron Berry (all senior Bible majors) will each preach 20-minute sermons, along with Dr. Dan Olinger and Mr. Nathan Crockett of the Bible faculty. Dr. McAllister, Dr. Royce Short and Mr. Kerry McGonigal will also attend as part of a forum.
Twenty students will go along to help run the event, but Michael said he hopes the entire student body will support the conference with their prayers. And Dr. McAllister hopes students from the region will help spread the word about the event to their youth groups back home.
Unlike Farm Fest, the annual outreach run locally by the University, “Rooted and Grounded” will focus more on discipleship than evangelism.
And while a basketball tournament and a few other activities are planned for the conference, worship will have a heavier emphasis than at Farm Fest as well.
Michael said there are two goals they hope to accomplish through the conference: instill an attitude of Christlikeness in future church leaders and encourage those considering ministry as their life’s work.
“I think it’s going to be great, especially for the ministerial students,” Dr. McAllister said. “They get to preach and be used of God.”
“Rooted and Grounded” comes from Ephesians 3:17-19, the theme passage for the event. Paul tells the Ephesians that he prays “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye [be] rooted and grounded in love.”
The name works well with the event being held on a farm, Michael said. “Just like when my dad plants in the springtime, harvest time will come.”