By: Katie Sobiech
Philemon 1:6 “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
Calling all teens! Middle and high school students won’t want to miss this year’s 3rd Annual Breakout Conference presented by the Akron Area Youth Worker’s Network (AAYWN). For the price of a CD, junior and senior high students can enjoy a time of worship, fellowship and fun with their peers.
“We offer great worship experiences, quality and relevant seminars, fun times, challenging speakers and more,” Craig Fullerton, AAYWN’s Network Coordinator said.
Fullerton, also the youth pastor at Arlington Memorial Baptist Church will be one of this year’s main session speakers, as well as Sam Schriever, youth pastor at CrossPoint Alliance Church.
“The way Breakout came together,” Fullerton explained, “was that area youth pastors wanted to do something with all of our churches involved. Big youth conferences can get really expensive, so we looked around the table and said ‘We have the talent, we have the ability, resources, musicians – everything we need to do it inexpensively’.”
Teens will get two meals, a t-shirt and the entire conference experience all for the price of fifteen dollars.
“We don’t want the cost to prohibit any kid from coming,” Fullerton said.
Akron Area Youth Worker’s Network
The conference is sponsored by the Akron Area Youth Worker’s Network, a large group of area youth pastors that have met regularly for over 20 years at the Waterloo Restaurant in Akron. They now meet twice a month, with the goal of connecting, fellowshipping, communicating and networking.
“It started out as just a monthly breakfast for youth pastors to get together, share ideas, network, whine about why kids don’t like their games, and perhaps get together for events. It slowly grew into something where we wanted to do bigger and better things,” Fullerton said.
Tom Bernardo, once a youth pastor at the Chapel, began the endeavor with a couple of other youth pastors in the area. The group has now grown to 20 plus youth pastors that come together on a regular basis.
“It’s one thing to just hang out and talk and everything, but we wanted to start getting active and make something happen – do something,” Fullerton said.
The Breakout Conference and National Day of Prayer Youth Concert of Prayer are two big events on their itinerary.
They also participate in the local missions of Project Shine, a ministry that provides the opportunity for the youth to reach out to the local community through painting, house repairs, yard work and other types of handy jobs to help out the community.
“That’s the Jerusalem in the Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and uttermost parts of the earth that the Bible talks about,” Fullerton said.
“My kids love it and think it’s a blast,” he continued.
Collaborative Efforts of Youth Pastors
Twenty to twenty-five area youth pastors will be involved in this year’s Breakout Conference. There will be 5 main speakers, 7 elective seminars, and one of the largest worship teams ever seen.
“We really just divvy up the responsibilities,” Fullerton said. “One of the youth pastors is our Production Manager, another is in charge of the food, another in charge of registration and promotion… It eases the burden on everyone if everybody fulfills a role. We couldn’t do it if we didn’t do it that way. There’s no way one church or just a few churches could pull this off.”
What to Expect This Year
This year’s event will include three stages for each different segment and special lighting; designed to keep the kid’s attention.
“We will have the biggest worship band I think anybody’s ever seen,” Fullerton said, “Greg Walker from Word of Life Outreach Center who heads up the worship is taking musicians from all of our churches and putting them together in a worship band. It’s going to be the Tran Siberian Orchestra up there.”
Ryan Lawrence, a youth pastor from First Presbyterian Church is heading up all of the drama.
“You can expect to see funny drama skits and inspirational, moving drama skits – all of that stuff,” Fullerton said.
“Kids tend to zone out so there’s gonna be all of that; moving worship, challenging speakers, crowd breakers, games, prize giveaways, snacks…” Fullerton said, “We’ll have a big game time where we’ll get 200 kids playing at the same time which is pretty chaotic but funny to watch,” Fullerton continued.
This Year’s Theme
This year’s theme is ACTIVATE.
“The theme verse is Philemon 6 which is about activating your faith. ‘I pray that you will be active in your faith so that you will realize, understand and know every good thing that we have in Christ’,” Fullerton said. “We are going to tie activating your faith into understanding what you have in Christ.”
Overall, the theme for Breakout is “Helping teens live their faith outside of the walls of the church”.
Teens in Action
In past years, the conference has lit a fire in the hearts of teens to begin activating their faith before they even got home. “We have some kids that will just break out into evangelism. We’ll have kids who say ‘Hey I really just want to tell somebody about Christ’, so they’ll see someone at McDonalds on their lunch break, sit down and start talking to them. We’ve had that happen and we’re really excited when it does.”
One hundred kids and 30-40 adults attended the event last year. This year, 130 kids have registered; that is without some key churches having reported yet.
“We could double in size,” Fullerton said, “That’s what we’re hoping for.”
The event is free to leaders and donations will be accepted.
“We think youth leaders and volunteers should be appreciated and the best way we can appreciate them is to not charge them. We appreciate adult leaders,” Fullerton said.
To register, please contact Craig Fullerton at 330.990.7671. Walk in registrations are welcome, but options on t-shirt sizes may be limited.