Last week, I led a group of high school students to the MOVE conference in Salisbury, MD. MOVE is put on by Christ in Youth, and aside from their domestic Engage trips (which are not happening at the moment), is the only event I’ve been to from CIY. But it is so impactful, and I was reminded yet again of why I partner with CIY. So as we’re in the midst of summer trip season in youth ministries across the country, I wanted to highlight a few of the reasons why CIY should be in your plans:
- They exist to amplify the call of Christ on students’ lives to be kingdom workers. This is not simply a mission statement in theory for CIY, but is lived out in everything they do. They highlight students who are serving God in various areas and encourage students to be kingdom workers, doing ministry, whether they are in vocational ministry or anywhere else.
- Every aspect of the programming at their MOVE conference is purposeful. From short videos that hit the points for the day (all produced by CIY) to small group cards that are engaging and open conversation, from phenomenal, Biblical speakers to the kingdom worker cards students receive, CIY doesn’t do anything “just because”. This is incredibly refreshing to know the organization you’re partnering with isn’t doing things because they’ve always done them or because they need to fill time.
- The topics, books, themes, and people they focus on are so good. This year, we studied the book of 1 John with the theme “contrast”. It was absolutely phenomenal. Next year we’ll be studying Elijah. They aren’t recycling themes, they put a lot of prayer and thought into them, and they balance the Old and New Testaments.
- CIY puts a lot of effort into their events not being “just a spiritual high”, but part of an ongoing discipleship. One of the things they do to this effect are the kingdom worker cards, which contain a challenge for students to do throughout the year. They also create a week where the sessions and small group times are geared to lasting change and the community of each group than simply seeking responses to an altar call. However, that doesn’t mean they ignore that piece…
- Every year, they have a unique way for students to visibly demonstrate a response to Christ. Whether it’s a first-time decision or a rededication, they have something visible and often audible for that. This year it was a few lamps, where students demonstrated “walking into the light.” In years past it’s been rocks clanging or a bell ringing. When our students have responded, these have been powerful reminders. And when other groups are responding, it provides a great way for everyone to celebrate along with them.
- The speakers and worship band are excellent. I can only speak to MOVE, because that’s what we’ve been attending, but I think it would be the same across the board. The speakers we’ve heard from have been engaging, passionate, Biblically strong and sound, and truly impactful in the lives of our students. The worship band has also met the high standards I’ve come to expect from CIY. (And although I don’t like the trend of picking up every new and hot song just because it’s popular, they pick great, theological, and solid songs 90% of the time)
- This is their 50thyear of ministry, and they don’t look like a ministry from 50 years ago. What I mean by that is that while CIY has a long-lasting ministry and a few foundational principles have remained over the years, they don’t hold on tightly to some programmatic element because it’s always how they’ve done things. They’re constantly seeking for ways to improve what they do, to do things differently, but most of all to evaluate their success through their purpose.
- They set you up for success before, during, and after the week. From the time I registered to when I showed up, I was not in want for any answers I needed. They make sure to fill you in on anything you might need to know if it’s your first time, and communicate with excellence. Each day, they devote time to a leader meeting and walking you through what will happen. I’ve been on other retreats where the director literally said to me, “Oh, you haven’t been here before?” And not in a good way.
- CIY cares about people – yes, the students, but especially the youth workers and volunteers. Every week at MOVE, there’s 1-2 campus pastors. People who are there to be pastors for the adults. While I haven’t spent any time 1 on 1 with them, to know that CIY devotes resources to that is tremendous. And it’s so awesome to come back a year later to MOVE and be greeted by name by the director (shoutout to Tom Nobis, who isn’t even on staff with CIY anymore but wanted to be at our week of MOVE). Especially when I’m not the networking, everyone-knows-my-name kind of person. CIY cares about you and prays for you.
- I fully trust CIY to do things better than I would myself. That’s a rare thing for me to say, because I pursue excellence in my ministry and expect others to do the same. (That is the tagline for this blog, right?) And so many retreats and conferences I’ve been to, while many of them have been good or decent, have missed the bar I set. But CIY has raised the bar several times to where I am implementing change in my ministry based on what they’ve done. They have my highest recommendation.
I know the post says 10 reasons, but doesn’t everyone love an encore? Here are a few more reasons, given by someone who is a different personality, style, leaning, etc. than me – who also chooses to partner with CIY (So you know it’s not just my style that lines up with theirs). In the wonderfully literary and much more creative words than mine of Art Pereira:
- They ACTUALLY believe in students like most Christians PRETEND to believe in students.They genuinely truly believe students can work for the kingdom.
- They ruthlessly step toward their vision for student ministry.
- They go crazy overboard with visuals because they know kids remember images and moments.
Seriously, CIY is excellent at what they do and I am overjoyed to have a partner in ministry like them. There’s a reason why we went back to MOVE this year less than a week before a mission trip to Guatemala. If you’re at all interested, I’d love to talk more about it and I highly encourage you to partner with them. However, if you’re looking to go to MOVE Maryland next summer, make sure you register as soon as it drops, because it sells out quick! Help us get another event in the Northeast, and check them out here!