October of 2014 was the date of the first steering committee meeting to plan the 2017 convention—almost three years of planning for one week of activities. As a member of Holland young people’s society, I had a unique view of the 2017 convention and the hours of time and work that went into it. The immense amount of work put into planning clearly shows the importance of convention for the Protestant Reformed young people and the church as a whole.
The theme of this year’s convention was “Holding Forth the Word of Life” based on Philippians 2:15–16. “Holding Forth the Word of Life” was applied to witnessing in all three speeches. The first speech was “Being Bold in the Lord,” by Rev. Bruinsma. He spoke on how we must witness about our God without any fear, and that we should not have any fear because he is our Lord. Rev. Smit spoke in the second speech on “Walking in the Light.” He addressed our life specifically and how we must by our conduct show who our God is. Our final speech was given by Rev. Daniel Kleyn. He showed the young people that we must be very careful with our witness and not offend the person we are witnessing to. As members of God’s church we are required to be “all things to all men.” We must do this by understanding their life and culture, and he showed how this is especially important for a missionary in another country.
We had two discussion groups throughout the week. The first was on “Effective Personal Bible Study” and the second on “Praying in Harmony with God’s Will.” These were chosen in connection with the convention theme because one cannot effectively witness without thoroughly knowing the scriptures, something a believer achieves through personal devotions and diligent prayer. In the first topic we discussed the challenges of maintaining personal devotions and the proper way to overcome these challenges, and overall the discussion was meant to encourage the young people to in their personal spiritual battle. The second topic was directed specifically to prayer and went into depth on the struggles of what to pray for and how to pray to our Lord.
Everything talked about so far deals with strengthening our relationship with our God, but there is another very important part of a convention, and that is strengthening our relationships with fellow church members. Although the speeches and discussion groups are very important parts of the convention, they are not the only part. Throughout the week there are team games, tournament games, and hours of free time with various activities. Making new friends and strengthening old friendships in our churches is very important for young people. 1 Corinthians 12:12 speaks very clearly of the importance of knowing the other members of the church: “For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” We know from this passage that the church must act as one body and with no schism, caring for one another, as shown in verse 25. The convention is important so that members of the church from across the country and even from other countries can fellowship and form godly relationships, so that the church can work as one body.
The fact that the convention is effective is very evident in several different ways. There are life-time friendships that are formed through conventions, and even marriages that might never have happened without it. The smiles throughout the week, the constant conversations, the friendliness of chaperones and conventioneers alike, the competitiveness of the games, and the teamwork displayed throughout all the competition show that the convention is doing its job of bringing the young people of the church together. Finally, the effectiveness is also shown on the tears on many young peoples’ faces when they have to say goodbye and the hugs on Friday that show the very close friendships created. All of this and more meant that the many hours of hard work are more than worth the effort.
*Carter is a member of Holland protestant Reformed Church is Holland, MI.