This year’s Lead > Defend has come and gone, and it was a smash. More than 700 high schoolers, college students and young professionals gathered in Little Rock to learn practical tips to ground themselves and strengthen their faith in the face of a culture that is ever-changing. The incredible D.A. Horton kicked off the day with a spoken word performance and then brought a message and gospel presentation, before sending everyone out to learn for the day. There were 19 breakout session options, and they were all almost completely packed! There was also a great time of fellowship over lunch (provided by Arkansas Disaster Relief), and then D.A. Horton brought some truth again at the end of the day and wrapped everything up.
So that’s what happened…but what really happened? What was the good stuff, the meat of the sessions? Maybe you couldn’t attend, or maybe you did but were unable to hit all the breakouts you wanted. We’ve got you covered. Here are the top five takeaways from this year’s Lead > Defend:
1. Sharing your faith is key
Many of the sessions centered around sharing the gospel. In A Framework for the Gospel, Cole Penick from the University of Arkansas’s BCM discussed the importance of sharing and brought practical tools for how to do this in everyday life. Tarvoris Uzoigwe from the BCM at UofA Pine Bluff shared in his breakout session, called Evangelism: not a gift..but an act of obedience, that we all must be telling others about the Truth, not just the gifted speakers among us.
But sharing your faith is hard, right? Fortunately, there was also a session from Andy Jennings, the Millennial Pastor at Cross Church in Springdale, called Silence is not Golden that focused on how to stand up when your instincts are telling you not to, and another from Steven Smith from Immanuel Baptist Church called Courageous Conversations, all about how to have gospel-centered discussions with authority figures like teachers and bosses. There was a focus on a specific people-group too, with the ABSC’s Jamie Naramore leading a session on Sharing Jesus with Muslims. If a big part of being a Christian is making disciples, then Lead > Defend had us covered with lots of practical tips and great discussion.
2. College is a pivotal time for everyone, perhaps especially Christians
Lead > Defend is tailor-made for high schoolers, college students, and young professionals, and as such, several of the sessions were geared towards making transitions well. Thrive > Survive was led by Jonathan Freeman, the college pastor from Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro, and taught all about moving from high school to college and how to set yourself up for success, academically, socially, and especially spiritually.
Some sessions zeroed in on the importance of community during your college years. In Winning a Big War With a Small Army, Chris Roller, the student pastor from First Baptist Rogers, talked about the big job of reaching a whole campus with just a few people, and in another session, Immanuel staff member Matt Hubbard’s Right Place, Right Time, Right People, he gave practical tips about finding and connecting with fellow Christians on campus.
3. Leaving college is hard
But what about the people graduating from college? There were sessions for them too. In Adulting 101: Why not your best?, speaker and author Josh Burnette argued that Christians should be excellent workers and gave practical tips on entering the workforce. ABSC Associate Executive Director Greg Addison agreed, and in his hilariously titled session, Don’t be an idiot!, he talked all about the importance of learning professionalism for young people.
For those becoming parents or teaching children at work or at church, the ABSC’s Emily Smith gave a session called Teaching a Biblical Worldview to Children in a Shifting Culture that answered the questions: What exactly is a biblical worldview, and why is it important to teach it to children?
4. The next generation is more concerned than ever with ethics
Many of the sessions centered around specific ethical matters that affect everyone in 2019. How should Christians respond? The ABSC’s Neal Scoggins led an incredible talk and discussion in Race Matters that spoke to the importance of relationship when sharing the gospel with anyone, especially across cultural lines.
In Andy Jennings’ talk Gender Identity and God’s Image, he spoke about the purpose of gender and gave ideas about how to engage the culture around this hot-button issue. And for those considering marriage, Derek Brown, Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist Children Homes and Family Ministries, gave practical tips on romantic relationships and how to avoid becoming a statistic in today’s tragically large divorce rate. It seems every generation deals with unique cultural issues, and they were at the forefront of discussion at this year’s Lead > Defend.
5. Truth is still Truth
And speaking of culture, it seems like cultural perspectives change and shift year to year, generation to generation. Lead > Defend was here to say that Truth doesn’t change and to give some encouragement and reminders to attendees. Chris Kohlman from the ABSC taught a session called Aren’t all religions basically the same? in which he discussed the Bible and its uniqueness, its origin, and its place in contemporary Christianity. Meanwhile, Bill Newton, the youth pastor at FBC Hot Springs, got all scientific with us in his session, Faith, Science, & Evolution: What’s the Truth?, where he talked about science and faith coexisting peacefully, not being at odds.
Don’t Miss Next Year!
Lead > Defend 2019 may be a wrap, but don’t worry if you missed out. Not only is audio for many of the sessions going to be available soon but guess what? It’s coming back next year. Lead > Defend 2020 is going even bigger, as we’ll be joined by very special guess Ravi Zacharias. You will not want to miss this time of deep connection and learning, February 29, 2020. Mark your calendars!