The Imagine Conference is a Biennial conference which focusses on equipping, training, and engaging leaders that are involved in ministry to children, youth and young adults. This year, it was a privilege to be in Gander, at Evangel Church, during the weekend of March 29-31 with about 250 leaders from all across the province. The atmosphere throughout the weekend was electric and everyone seemed to be fully engaged with what was happening.

Throughout the weekend, leaders were treated to world-class teaching during the keynotes and in the breakout sessions. It was such an honor to have Dan Scott, Kathy Maietta, Rick Hiemstra and Dave Overholt with us as keynote speakers for the conference, not to mention our many breakout speakers. Not only were the teaching times practical and engaging, but there were also incredible moments of worship led by Brooke Nicholls and her team, where the presence of God was felt so strongly. I was amazed how everything flowed together from the beginning to the end.  The Spirit was connecting every moment.

Here are testimonials from some of the conference attendees:

Rob And Ruthann Higgs

“Imagine conference this year was one of, if not our favourite that we’ve attended. The entire line-up of amazing speakers, mixed with the inviting atmosphere at Evangel Church, Gander, made for a compelling weekend. We really enjoyed having everything under one roof, as it was easier to find where we needed to go.  In particular this made the workshops more accessible.

The general sessions and workshops brought a good balance of practical and visionary teaching. This was highlighted in Dave Overholt’s message about how everything in this world may be changing, but we need to stand firm on the primary teaching of who Jesus was and is. We feel we could sum up the main vision of the conference in the chorus of the song that Brooke Nichols prayerfully sang, “Build My Life”,

“Holy, there is no one like you, there is none beside you, open up my eyes in wonder. Show me who you are and fill me with your heart and lead me in your love to those around me.”

Taylore Anstey

The Imagine Conference was something I had been looking forward to for quite a while. It is my second time attending Imagine, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Imagine is hinged on the idea of leadership and the next generation. As a lead Pastor, a great deal of my time is focused toward people who are older adults, but I know that it is vital to reach the next generation. If we want to see the Kingdom grow, reaching the next generation is imperative.

The theme “Imagine” fits the conference so well! God gives us creativity, He enables us to be innovative and bold. It is so easy to be bogged down with the day-to-day tasks of ministry that we forget to dream; we forget to envision the future and strategize. Our minds are sometimes so preoccupied with the day-to-day, we don’t have time to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts about the trajectory of our ministries. This weekend was a great reminder to imagine!

It is so easy to be bogged down with the day-to-day tasks of ministry that we forget to dream

One of the greatest highlights for me was the opportunity to have conversations with some of the best Next Gen leaders this province has to offer. Imagine empowers leaders to grow. It is a piece of the puzzle that helps our province build great leaders. It is the encouragement, fellowship and laughter with these colleagues that I enjoy so much! The people on the stage come and go, but the people serving in our province stay here, in the day-to-day, in the mundane, and in the amazing–they are the best!

It is a great blessing to be able to attend a conference like Imagine. It was a weekend to experience God together, and to feel His guiding as He spoke into our lives through others, and by His Spirit.

Sharmaine Reid

I graduated with a Christian Education diploma in 1977 with a desire be a Children’s pastor. That door opened 38 years later when my husband and I moved to Twillingate. I now serve as a volunteer Children’s Pastor. I soon learned that children’s ministry has drastically changed over these decades. As soon as the Imagine Conference was announced, I knew I needed to attend.

Dave Overholt encouraged me as he spoke about living in an uncomfortable culture. Dave shared my heart when he said that fear kicks in and we question all that happens in our groups. His message from Acts 10 reminded me that even Peter was sent to an uncomfortable culture, yet, God sent Peter. Peter was prepared by the vision and obeyed in faith as he stepped across the threshold into the home of a Roman, breaking the regulations of his day. I was encouraged to know that the Holy Spirit gives wisdom and guidance in presenting the Gospel in the uncomfortable culture in which I work.

Another session led by Kathy Maietta challenged me to continue to invest valuable time in the lives of the children of our group. Statistics report that 83% of first-time commitments to Christ are made between the ages of 4 – 14 years of age. There’s a small window of opportunity in young lives, so time matters. A vivid illustration showed that people influence more than sermon titles, so my involvement matters. Then I was challenged even further as I was reminded that children imitate others in their lives. I must know more of Jesus intimately to truly reflect Him. It is only then that I can influence children to follow and imitate Jesus. My spiritual growth matters.

Children imitate others in their lives. I must know more of Jesus intimately to truly reflect Him.

This was the first Imagine Conference for both Alwin and myself. Both of us were enlightened in current Canadian Youth culture and how to more effectively minister to this generation. We left the Conference feeling inspired and challenged as we endeavor to build the kingdom of God in our community.”

Owen Roberts

I think that it’s safe to say that Imagine 2019 was a great success.  I believe that those who attended the Imagine Conference walked away with more passion, excitement, drive, and some practical tools for ministry to the Next Generation. I believe that God stirred and challenged the heart of our leaders and I’m excited to see what new initiatives will start and what dreams will come to fruition as a result of what God did. Listen to the words of Dan Scott during his open session, “When we lead with a sense of wonder, we see people as God sees them. We see the future, we see the potential that they have to be a success story, to be a part of what God is building in the kingdom. We lean in a little closer, love a little harder.” My prayer is that our leaders will love a little more, lean in a little closer, and work a little harder in order to impact the next generation.”

About the Author

Owen Roberts is the Assistant Director of Ministry Development and Strategic Initiatives (ADMDSI) at the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador (PAONL).  He lives in St. John’s with his wife Randelle and children Peyton and Noah.

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