SLS16, the Student Leadership Summit put on by FOCUS, was a extremely well put together and inspiring event. Not only was each keynote speaker powerful and dynamic, but all the training was perfectly put together culminating in the commissioning to go forth and make disciples of all nations. (Matt 28:19)
To draw upon the age-old adage, it was like drinking water from a fire hose. Each day was power packed and, quite honestly, close to overwhelming as there were three different topics offered in the first “session” time period (each session taught by three different instructors for a total of nine possible options). Since I have not yet been graced with the ability to trans-locate, it would seem that only a small portion of the information and training FOCUS was offering could be attended let alone digested. However, FOCUS overcame my trans-locational deficit by making use of 2 Tim 2:2 “and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” To use FOCUS’s terminology – teaching teachers to teach.
“How?” one might ask. Simply by uniting a small group of disciples, sending 1/3 to each topic and then bringing them together for an afternoon “power” session where those who attended a topic taught it to those who didn’t and likewise learned from their peers about those topics they didn’t personally attend. Not only did this allow much more information to be covered, it cemented in the topics further since attendees had to teach and dialogue with their group. And, as a further benefit, it drew the small groups closely together where each person could significantly invest in those within their group and become one in their mission to proclaim Jesus Christ crucified.
The three topic sessions were Prayer, Evangelization & Discipleship, and How to Lead a Small Group. Each day was different, the next step so to speak underneath that general topic. Though different, all were directed towards the united goal of fostering discipleship by being able to lead small Bible studies, prayer like Lectio Divina or Ignatian meditation, and bringing others to Christ.
The training each day was complimented by the keynote speakers each night who walked us through an organic process leading ultimately to a commissioning on the final evening of the conference where thousands of students and others like myself committed to being disciples of Jesus Christ and proclaiming His message to the world especially through intimate relationships here on earth. Though I was far to ancient and tired to attend (being close to a decade older than most of the attendees), there were events even later than the keynote (which itself had ended around 9:30 – 10:00pm). The only one I did attend was the beautifully done adoration hour held on Sunday night where thousands of young men and women knelt before God incarnate.
This late night opportunity to adore our Lord was, however, not the only chance to do so as there was an adoration chapel accessible throughout the entire conference and each day started with communal adoration (8:30-9:30am) followed directly by mass. And, being a small town man myself who is blessed to have a reverent and beautiful liturgy in my parish, I was deeply grateful for how well-done the mass was. The Trinity Ballroom which extended hundreds of feet, had AV screens and an exposed industrial ceiling, was transformed into heaven on earth. The music was beautiful, uplifting us to join the angelic chorus; the use of the AV screens made the liturgy intimately accessible to even those in the last row; and a great reverence permeated that which was just moments before a secular ballroom in an extremely decadent and worldy hotel.
During the conference, I was fortunate to meet many disciples on fire for Christ and spend a few minutes talking about their story. Over the next few weeks, these interviews will be made available on our site and I hope you take the time to read through them. I have no doubt that God is working through FOCUS and is using them to share His message with all nations. You can learn more about FOCUS from their site and I encourage you to do so!