Sometimes you get to be part of a moment—a special event that feels like it’s suspended in time because God is clearly at work. The ancient Greeks called this Kairos, meaning “a critical or opportune time, a space between time.” This past April 20–22 was one such moment at the Château in St. Albain, France. The CHOOSE JESUS conference for youth age 15–25 was the combined effort of the entire Charis Alliance movement in France, and it became an opportunity for many French youths to do serious business with God.
The Château, part of Encompass’ Transformation Works Network, serves as a conference center throughout the year and also engages with the community through outreach events. Though they often host events for kids age 14 and under, this was their first youth conference targeting young people aged 15–25.
All hands were on deck to serve a packed house of 70 conference participants. Every bed was full, and they even brought in overflow housing and extra mattresses to meet the demand.
Conference registration was already maxed by February—a sure sign that this conference met an important need in the community.
Through large-group teaching times and smaller workshops, participants studied topics as diverse as knowing your gifts, other religions, the theory of evolution, knowing God’s will, addiction, and sexuality. Teaching and worship times were led by youth workers from partnering churches across the Charis Alliance. And, of course, there was free time when attendees could play games, fellowship, talk, and relax.
Château staff made sure everyone at the conference was fed, lodged, and loved. A team from one of the Charis Fellowship, USA Churches in Akron, Ohio (Grace Church Medina East Campus), who had come to observe and learn best practices from the conference, assisted with everything from weeding flower beds to washing dishes.
Château staff members John and Shari Jones and Claire Martin agreed that the highlight of the weekend was seeing French young people fully engaged in worship and spiritual conversation. One worker summed up the energy and excitement of the weekend by saying, “the Château has come alive!” Youth workers not only served as speakers and worship leaders, but also engaged in one-on-one conversation and prayer with young people who were grappling with significant life issues.
Conference participants said they enjoyed being with so many Christian young people in the same place—a rarity in post-Christian France. The beautiful surroundings of the Château were an ideal backdrop for relaxed spiritual conversation.
Equally important was the way Charis Alliance churches came together to host the event. Now that these youth leaders have gotten better acquainted, they can network and partner on future events to reach the youth of France.
The success of the CHOOSE JESUS conference will serve as a catalyst for future youth events at the Château. Conference organizers plan to hold the conference bi-annually. In the meantime, Château staff hope to target events toward this age group to keep the momentum going. Many students were greatly impacted and helped by the CHOOSE JESUS conference, and for that we praise God!
But this is just the beginning. Evangelical churches are starting to make their mark on the map of predominantly Catholic France. The culture is shifting as youth are becoming more open and curious than previous generations. This is an important time—a Kairos moment for the young people of France. Pray that youth-centered outreaches would multiply and reach this new generation of searchers.