Church vans piled in to the Gaylord Texan Resort the afternoon of July 5 for three days that would change lives forever. Nearly 2,000 students came together for the first session that evening, where Ryan Storey, Jordan Bowen, and Mckenna Marlow hyped up the youth and kicked off the conference. Afterward, the keynote speaker, Dustin Wisely, entered the stage to give the students a foreshadowing of the sessions to come: that all followers of Christ are called to ministry, no matter what. The evening was concluded with a worshipful set from We the Union, then students emptied out of the Texas Ballroom and filled the SOAR Village.
Thousands of students roamed the different stations in the Village, which included a bookstore, a café, a “Built to Build” station which helped students discover their natural ministry gifting, a VSM Experience and Prayer Walk, a blogging center where students shared their hearts, and many other stations from impactful ministries. The Village Stage featured music from Raquel, smooth acoustic tunes Tyler Sellers, and even Youth Pastor Karaoke, through which Dave Vandergriff emerged as victor.
The following sessions walked through Philippians 1 and 2, and Dustin Wisely explained how even though Paul was in prison when he wrote these letters, he was ecstatically joyful in Christ. Why is this? Because God was his true treasure, and his only desire was to make Christ known. Paul had full confidence that God was in complete control, and in life or death his circumstances would work out for his good and Christ’s glory.
Session three brought a panel of people who grew up going to SOAR, and who are now living a life that serves the Lord outside of vocational ministry. The panel included foster parents, an NFL football player, a businessman involved in training up godly men, and a short-term missionary. All of these people built upon and solidified the calling that all Christians must live a life of ministry, even if they don’t enter vocational ministry.
The final session drove home an essential point for students: faithful Christians should not be the exception. Followers of Christ should live a life of sacrificial, joyful ministry because they live for something greater than this world. They have the BEST news: the gospel. Wisely closed out with a challenge for SOAR students: how are you going to live a life of ministry when you leave SOAR? Because, as a follower of Christ, it’s what you’re called to do.
SOAR 2017 had several other opportunities to learn and grow, including five different SOAR Workshops, which were a smaller, more focused time of discipleship. SOAR Serves included three different mini mission trips, which served communities and BMA church plants in the area, reinforcing the concept of living a selfless lifestyle.
The results left in the wake of SOAR 2017 are salvations, commitments to ministry, and many lives impacted for Christ. DiscipleGuide is excited about the impact from this year, and is looking forward to SOAR 2018, when the theme will be “Local,” challenging students to get involved in their local church.