Do you remember the first time you chose to follow Christ? Or a time when your faith became very real, or very personal?
These are what we'd call landmark events—moments in our faith that are so significant that we remember them forever. For some they occurred at GEMS or Cadets, or in a church service, youth retreat, or at a summer camp. For many, they happened at the All Ontario Youth Convention.
Dr. David Haskell, Associate Professor of Religion and Culture at Wilfred Laurier University, met with the All Ontario Youth Convention (AOYC) team a few years ago to share some research. He said that youth conferences, where teens are given the chance to "experience the living Jesus" in ways that are different than their regular week-to-week church experience, very often become the space in which God creates these landmark events. He also shared that, according to his research, teens who have these kind of experiences are more likely to still be actively following Christ in their adult years.
This confirmed what we already had seen to be true—when a teen (or a whole youth group) comes to the AOYC, God shows up and does incredible things.
This is why we do what we do at the AOYC. The team of 100+ volunteers who spend their long weekend pouring in to the lives of teens come back year after year because we see these landmark events happening and we know how valuable it is in the lives of teens and in their communities as they go home.