The Calgary Herald
December 31, 2006
More than 130 Christian youth leaders and teens from across
Western Canada will converge on Calgary next week for what
organizers hope will be a ground-breaking conference.
Engage 2007 is being hosted by the Calgary-based Billy Graham
Evangelistic Association of Canada, and is geared to helping
Christian youth thrive amid the pressures of an increasingly
Dion Collins, Canadian youth ministries manager for the Graham
association, said he hopes Engage develops a successful template
for future national conferences.
"We wanted to start fairly small, to get it right before we
expanded the numbers too quickly," Collins said of the four-day
"With that in mind, we contacted churches across a broad spectrum
of Christian denominational lines and asked them to send us the
cream of the crop this time - their kids with a real passion for
The conference opens Tuesday and runs for four days, based at the
Graham association's headquarters in northeast Calgary.
Participants will take Jan. 4 off for a day of skiing/snowboarding
in Banff, capped off by a concert by Canadian gospel music group
Thea von Kampen, who attends the Alliance Church in High River, is
looking forward to brainstorming with other teens who are active in
"I'm hoping it will make me a better leader, to see what ideas and
programs have worked in other churches," said von Kampen.
Collins said Christian youth are challenged in today's society
where their moral values often seem in conflict with the messages
bombarding them through both the mass media and their peers.
"Sometimes you can get a little down when you hear how much
destructive gossip goes on behind people's backs in school.
That's when your faith has to kick in, to encourage you to reach
out and help others," said von Kampen.
Collins said youth ministers often hear comments from teens that
they are feeling, "a sense of being lost."
"Part of our job, and the goal of this conference, is to help
reinforce in these kids who they are," said Collins.
"Like the larger society they're a part of, I really believe young
people today have a spiritual hunger," he said.
"We're convinced we can impact that through the gospel."
Collins said while a number of Christian churches have aging
congregations and can't sustain a viable youth ministry, others are
stepping up to the plate.
"You are seeing more co-operation between denominations in this
area, where they are sending their teens to vibrant, active youth
groups run by other churches," Collins said.
"When you talk to a lot of teens, they don't even think of
themselves as being part of any particular denominations anymore -
they're just Christians."
Collins said conference sessions will include evangelism's
changing face in the 21st century, the Gospel message in a school
environment and culturally connected messages that touch both
traditional Christian faith and modern youth culture.
More information on the conference is available at
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada