UNITE 2023 Recap


By Robby Criswell, NextGen Media Intern

This week NextGen Ministries hosted its first-ever UNITE event at Central Methodist University for sixth through 12th graders. Throughout the week, over 300 students gathered to explore their faith and deepen their relationships with God and each other. Here are five ways UNITE accomplished that:

The Speakers

UNITE brought together a lineup of incredible speakers, both from Missouri and elsewhere, who shared messages of testimony, wisdom and inspiring insights into faith. What they shared left lasting impressions, encouraging and motivating all who attended. They didn’t just stop at the surface level but instead dove into theological truths and practical application, creating a deeper understanding of God’s plan for each student’s life.

The Electives

Throughout UNITE students took the afternoons to participate in electives, including activities like basketball and dodgeball tournaments, presentations about biology and scripture, knitting and crocheting, and basic first aid. Not only were these electives engaging and diverse, but they provided valuable opportunities for students to get to know each other and build relationships while also developing practical skills. The range of electives offered at UNITE catered to many different passions, ensuring that each student could find something that resonated with them.

The Worship

High-energy worship by the team from Saint Paul’s UMC in Joplin provided students with an environment of heartfelt worship, adoration and togetherness. Worship provides believers with a time of intimacy with God, while also offering a sense of community. Through music and prayer participants found spiritual nourishment and time to reflect on their relationship with God. The worship sessions were transformative, leaving a lasting impact on those who participated.

The Fellowship

UNITE gave students the opportunity to meet and build connections with other believers who come from diverse backgrounds and foster unity among the larger United Methodist connection. It strengthened the existing bonds in local church youth groups through small group time and service projects.

The Spiritual Impact

Students left UNITE feeling refreshed and ready to go into the world and show the love of Jesus to those around them. Knowing that they have support from a like-minded, Jesus-focused community provides empowerment and encouragement. The impact that UNITE has extends beyond the event itself. As students go back into their homes, schools and communities, they will carry with them the lessons they learned and the relationships that they build during the event, which enables them to more effectively be a testament of God’s grace to those around them.

The United Methodist connection was alive and well at UNITE at CMU. NextGen Ministries already has plans for next year, so mark your calendars for July 22-26, 2024, at CMU.