Our whole reason for YXL is:  We believe that the next generation is not just the future of the church, but they are the church today. Danny Mitchell — coordinator of Family and Youth Ministries, Christian Education and Publications (CEP)

For one week each summer, high school students from PCA churches across the country gather and are challenged to consider their roles within their local churches and in Christ’s kingdom. During the second week of July, CEP will host three regionally-based YXL (Youth eXcelling in Leadership) conferences — in Colorado, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. These conferences are designed to encourage students to discover how God has gifted them to live out their faith in their homes, schools, and churches.

Although each conference reflects the personality of its leadership team, and its particular location, the objective of each is the same. The purpose of YXL is to equip students to develop as servant leaders according to their unique design. “By virtue of being a Christian,” Mitchell said, “you’re called to servant leadership. Ephesians 2 teaches that God has prepared in advance good works for you to walk in. We want them to wrestle with that and go home and live that out in their context.”

To attend, YXL applicants must obtain a recommendation from their local pastor, youth pastor, or session member. Throughout the week, students receive substantive teaching in areas such as apologetics and worldview identification and formation. Participants engage in practical exercises to assist them in translating their learning into real-life application. Days begin with a time of personal guided devotions and end in corporate worship.

Adult staff members living in residence provide guidance in recognizing and applying spiritual gifts. The YXL learning experience incorporates opportunities for participants to challenge themselves physically, and a daylong white-water rafting trip is a highlight at each conference location.

As an adjunct faculty member at Covenant College, Mitchell said he is always encouraged when he meets students whose high school experiences have been shaped by YXL. Former leadership conference participants who enroll at Covenant are eligible for a $500 annual scholarship. Those who have attended YXL throughout high school are eligible to receive up to $2,000 for each of their four years at Covenant.

Mitchell said it can be difficult to gauge how the YXL experience translates to students’ lives after they return home, yet he has witnessed encouraging results. The availability of social media has allowed Mitchell to see students maintaining relationships formed during conference experiences. He has also received encouraging feedback from Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) ministers that YXL participants arrive on campus prepared to assume leadership roles.

YXL conferences serve as an investment in student lives for the purpose of building Christ’s kingdom. “God has gifted us all uniquely,” said Mitchell. “We want to open the gate and let students go out into their world as agents of change for the kingdom.”

Additional information about YXL is available via the CEP website: http://www.pcacep.org/yxl-2014/