April 29th, 2011 at 1:08 pm
WACO – In this age, youth often are attracted to conferences because of famous worship bands, high-tech endeavors and the most sought-after speakers. But at Congreso, the Texas Baptists Hispanic youth evangelism conference, students were challenged to put away the fancy worship conditions and just get to the heart of worship – worshiping God through the Spirit and truth.
“My goal was to get the students to go back to the heart of worship,” said Frank Palos, Texas Baptists Hispanic evangelism director and Congreso coordinator. “We think that if we don‘t have a big praise team and the lights and the PowerPoint, we can’t worship.
“The purpose of this year’s theme of ‘Born to Worship’ is to call us to the purpose of Christ. Too many of us love a song and to sing that song, but we need to love the Lord. It’s not the song. It’s the Savior. It’s not the lyrics. It’s not the PowerPoint, but the Spirit.”
As more than 7,000 students and leaders from more than 160 Texas Baptists Hispanic churches gathered at Baylor University Easter weekend, they were led by men and women who had stood in their shoes as Congreso participants just years before.
The worship band, Sweet 180 from San Antonio, as well as each speaker focused on brining students before the throne of God, helping them realize and release the barriers holding them back from living a life that exudes worship to God each day.
As Tiny Dominguez, Congreso speaker and pastor at Journey of Community Heights in Lubbock, walked onto the stage the first night of the conference, he declared that the reason why Christ-followers pull away from worshiping the Lord is because they don’t trust Him or trust that He is a good God. How can people worship and adore someone they don’t trust, he asked.
“When we struggle in trusting Him and giving things to Him, we struggle with worship because we are afraid that God is going to fail us. We are scared,” Dominguez said. “…Worship is loving God. When you love God with all your heart and know that God loves you, you cannot help but have trust in Him and know that hope will come because God will bring it.”
And for true worship to take place, seeking after faith, hope and love through God have to be included, Dominguez said as he shared the last verses 1 Corinthians 13.
“We are people who struggle in worship,” he said. “We struggle in lifting our hands, in singing the songs because we don’t mean what they say. We struggle in living the life He has called us to live. We struggle in trusting in God, and we struggle because we don’t worship. And we don’t worship because we don’t have the ingredients of faith, hope and love.”
After hearing this message, Luis Jimenez, youth pastor at Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor, said the Spirit moved and four of his students made decisions to place their trust in Jesus.
“It’s this idea that they have been putting other things before God,” Jimenez said. “With Tiny’s message of taking a leap of faith and trusting in God, it has helped the students do that. One of my younger youth made a commitment to Christ so to see him grasp this at such a young age was pretty cool.”
Sammy Lopez, another Congreso speaker from San Antonio, said students also struggle to live a life of worship because their hearts are calloused to the intense sacrifice that Jesus made so that they can have a relationship with Him.
“You know why we are calloused?” Lopez said. “It’s because we know the story but we have never been touched and transformed by the story, by the Messiah. … Let me remind you why you were created, why you are here and alive. It’s because there has to be praise coming out of you.”
When John, one of the disciples, ran to the tomb at the resurrection of Jesus, he would not go in but only glanced inside, Lopez said. He was not ready to completely go inside, and some students are like John, not ready to jump in and completely worship.
“There are many things in your life right now that you are not ready to give up,” Lopez said. “And when it comes to Christianity and worship, we go to the tomb and glance in, but we will not completely worship. We just aren’t ready to give up the things that hold us back.”
Many students are looking for fulfillment and purpose from other places than in the living water of Jesus Christ and worshiping Him, said Jesse Rincones, pastor at Alliance Church in Lubbock. He shared how the woman at the well was drawing the wrong water from the wrong spiritual well and with the wrong jar, trying to fulfill her soul. Often, this happens to students as they are trying to figure out life.
“Not only are we going to the wrong well, we are looking for the wrong water,” Rincones said. “We are trying to find something that will satisfy our thirst. And we think maybe fame will do it, maybe power, acceptance, a relationship. And you know everyone of us has these.”
Students will continue to seek to fill their jars with things besides Christ until they let the Spirit overflow with living water in them and show them how to worship, Rincones said.
“I’m going to ask you to leave your jar here today,” Rincones said. “For many of us, the well we have been coming to is Congreso. We get all filled up and get back home… Congreso is not the well. Camp, evangelism conferences and Disciple Now is not the well. Jesus Christ is the well. And His Spirit is inside of you…. When the Spirit overflows, the thing that over flows from your heart is worship and praise and the declarations of how great and wonderful your God is.”
More than 2,000 decision were made during the weekend. More than 1,000 of these decisions were first-time decisions to follow Christ, while the others were for rededications or calls to ministry.
Students also had an opportunity to let their worship of the Lord overflow as more than 300 students from 21 congregations ventured to volunteer with Mission Waco, an inner city ministry focused on sharing hope and help with the homeless, prostitutes and people caught in poverty. While there, the students learned about the ministries of Mission Waco and the problem of global poverty and then engaged those caught in poverty through hosting a block party that afternoon at a local park.
“My goal with the students was to help them be reminded of God’s call to the poor globally and then here around their churches,” said Jimmy Dorrell, director of Mission Waco. “… Many of these students grew up in church and we just wanted to remind them of the seriousness of the call to care for broken people and those in poverty.”
Jimenez also said that the afternoon of missions let his students see that they are ministering with a larger group than just their small church. Through the family of God, they are ministering beside thousands of other students.
“The idea is to come out here and talk to the homeless people and minister to them,” Jimenez said. “I think most of the year these students are just involved with our church. And this is a great opportunity to work toward the same purpose and be in the same mind even thought they don’t know all the other students here they are serving with. It shows that [the Christian life] is not just about our tiny group.”
On Friday morning while the students attended seminars that encouraged them to dig deeper into issues that may hold them back from completely following Christ in their daily lives, Baptist University of the Americas hosted a reception and leadership question time for the youth ministers and leadership attending Congreso.
This year, the students gave a record $9,382 to the Congreso offering. The money raised will go into a scholarship fund to help Congreso students attend college.