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New Morris/Benson Youth For Christ chapter organizing, seeks positive alternatives for youth

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

Many kids are constantly complaining about not having something to do. Local Youth For Christ organizers are intent on not only finding something, but something substantive.

YFC is sponsoring an informational meeting from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 25, at the Morris Area High School cafeteria.

Bob Poe, Director of West Central Youth For Christ, will be at the meeting to present opportunities, including various Christian events, concerts and YFC Campus Life meetings.

The new Morris/Benson chapter of YFC will give area youth the opportunity to cooperate with YFC chapters established in other regional chapters in scheduling events and programs, said chapter organizers Bart Graves.

"Collectively, we'll be able to bring programming to Morris and Benson that normally people would have to go to Alexandria, Willmar or the Twin Cities to attend," Graves said.

Adults and students are needed to form Leadership Teams in the new Morris/Benson YFC chapter, and those seeking more responsibility can get involved in boards, promotions and coordination activities, training and fundraising. Funds raised in each community will be governed by the local boards.

The goal is to present youth with more positive options, and to encourage church participation, regardless of denomination, Graves said.

"Statistics on kids and church show that the younger generations are dropping out of church in their older teens and early 20s," Graves said. "We're losing out on some of our most optimistic and energetic contributors. If we can keep them involved in church and in families, that's a positive."

In addition to the organizational meeting, here are some of the YFC activities planned in the region:

• YFC Campus Life Kickoff - Friday, Feb. 29, 7:30 a.m. at a place to be determined. The weekly meetings will include a continental breakfast, YFC planning and announcements, and Bible study.

• Kutless Concert - Saturday, March 8, 7 p.m., in Alexandria. This is a YFC sponsored event of a quality Christian Rock Band -- "you can understand the lyrics," Graves said with a laugh. Ticket and transportation packages to this event are being worked out, and adult chaperones are needed.

• Xtreme Event - Thursday, April 17, at the MAHS Gym. This free event will begin after school and will continue into the evening. Includes huge inflatable games, a concert by Silverline and speaker Tom Burton of YFC.

• Sonshine Music Festival - July 16-19. Not officially a YFC event but a huge festival including Christian Music, Extreme sports, kid events. The event was attended by over 20,000 last year.

Graves said the Tina Marie event earlier this year was unfortunate in that her message exceeded the bounds of what's generally acceptable in a school setting. However, local administrators noted after her appearance that they still have positive overall experiences with YFC speakers and events and would be open to sponsoring more in the future.

Graves said that attitude helps in getting the Morris/Benson chapter heading in the right direction.

"You can have all the events, but (YFC) is still all about our faith," Graves said. "There's a lot of competition for kids' attention these days. We try to encourage kids to be active in their faith and in their churches."