Prominent Event Changes to Reach Student Culture

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Willow Creek Association explores Cultural “Shift” at Student Ministries Leadership Conference.

Stop Telling Me About Jesus, and Show Me What He Looks Like.

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Student culture is changing. That’s the message being acknowledged among the ministers and leaders at Willow Creek Association (WCA), one of the most influential churches in the United States. Long known for a progressive, ground-breaking approach to ministry, the church has recently made it known that shifts in today’s youth culture — from teens’ rapid embrace of technology to their changing moral and spiritual values — have made it difficult for student ministers to keep up.

This admission is reflected in the theme for WCA’s 17th annual student ministry leadership conference, which takes place February 28 to March 2 at Willow Creek’s main campus in South Barrington. Titled “SHIFT,” the conference explores the challenges of student ministry in a rapidly evolving culture.

“It’s not often that we admit to being a little behind-the-times,” says (Bo Boshers, Executive Director of Student Ministries). “But student culture is changing so fast these days, it’s hard to stay on top of it. The SHIFT Conference is our attempt to get on top of some of these challenges, find ways to meet them, and continue to remain relevant to teenagers in 2007 and beyond.”

Speakers and session titles for the conference reflect this challenge. Donald Miller, a popular writer and speaker, will lead a session on outreach called “How to Share the Gospel Without Weirding People Out.” Seattle pastor Judah Smith will give a talk on technology entitled “Get Wired, Get Connected, and Other High-Tech Clichés.” Efrem Smith, who pastors an inner-city church in Minneapolis, will deliver a message called “Stop Telling Me About Jesus, and Show Me What He Looks Like.”

“Today’s youth are spiritually minded,” says (Bo Boshers, Executive Director of Student Ministries). “But they’re suspicious of programming and marketing-driven religion. Student ministry isn’t event-driven anymore. It’s more about relationships. That means a lot of churches’ thinking needs to change, and that idea is the seed of this conference.”

For more information about Willow Creek’s SHIFT Student Ministry Conference, please visit

Contact: Kelly Klein

Conference Marketing Manager

Willow Creek Association

P.O. Box 3188

Barrington, IL 60011-3188

224-512-1769 (P)

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