Dr. Crocker, DS Rev. Phil Rhoades, District NYI Council, Convention Delegates, colleagues, family, and friends, welcome to this 61st NYI Convention of the Joplin District Church of the Nazarene.

Please allow me a moment to acknowledge and thank my wife, Angie, and my kids, Mackie and Cameron, for allowing me to serve in this capacity.

It continues to be an honor and privilege for me to serve with each of you as we seek to join with the local NYI in equipping every youth for a life of discipleship and service for Jesus Christ.

It has been a joy to serve alongside each one of you this year. Joplin is the greatest district in the USA/Canada Region, if not the world.

I bring you greetings on behalf of the North Central Field Council as Chairman.

I bring you greetings on behalf of the USA/Canada Council chaired by Shawn Evans under the direction of Justin Pickard, USA/Canada NYI regional director.

I bring you greetings from MNU and Dr. Spittal, President.

I also bring you greetings on behalf of Cameron Batkin, our sister Region Field Youth Coordinator form the Australia/New Zealand Field. He is so humbled by the relationships and generosity that the Joplin District NYI has shown to him and his fellow NYI members. We will be taking a team of 14 June 29-July 17th to be with him in Brisbane and Hervey Bay.

I would also like to recognize and thank our District NYI Council for their heart and commitment to our teens, they are to be commended. It is because of their leadership that we are recognized around the world. Sarah Fash, Vice President. Kevin Plain, Secretary. Kurt Schmitt, Treasurer. Tyler Allen, Empower Sports Director. Morgan Freeman, Empower Liberal Arts Director. John Prichard, CC Director. Cody Swearengin, Pk Director. Erica Euler, Quizzing Director. Rick Pearson, Camp Director. Shawn Elwood, Encounter Director. Ralph Meredith, Missions Director. Jeff Gulley, Marla Schmitt, Max Co directors. Terrin Garber, Age Daughtery, Matt Fewell, Clayton Cottle, Missional Area Directors. Wiley Hendrix, Selena Freeman, parent Reps. Kaden Freeman, Rachel Harris. Sr. High Reps. Trenton Peck, Lia Meredith, Jr. High Reps. Bethany freeman, MNU College Rep. Paige Moles, Non-MNU College Rep. and Gordie Wetmore our MNU Admissions Counselor. Thank You for all you do.

Today, for my report/challenge to I would like to talk to you a little about a thing called Priority – One.

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost." -Luke 19:10(Amplified)

"I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me." -John 20:21(CEV)

A youth group should be a group of people who know Jesus Christ and committed to making Him known to others.

Elton Trueblood, a Quaker scholar, once compared evangelism to fire. Evangelism occurs, he said, when Christians are so ignited by their contact with Christ that they in turn set other fires. It is easy to determine when something is aflame. It ignites other material. Any fire that does not spread will eventually go out. A youth group without evangelism is a contradiction in terms, just as fire that does not burn is a contradiction.

Three parables: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the lost son are examples of Priority – One.

While each of these stories tell us about those who are lost, they are really designed to help us understand more about our heavenly Father.

1. That which is on the Father’s heart

Verse 4: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

Verse 8: Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

Verse 20: When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.

That which is on the Father’s heart is the desire to see those who are lost become those who are found.

In the parable of the lost sheep, God is portrayed as a caring shepherd, and those who are lost are portrayed as sheep who have wandered astray.

"All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way." -Isaiah 53:6(NASB)

In the parable of the lost coin, God is portrayed as a woman who diligently cleans her house from top to bottom in the effort to find one of here ten silver coins that she has lost. Those who are lost are therefore portrayed as ones who God treasures.

In the parable of the lost son, God is portrayed as a loving Father who is grieved over the ruptured relationship between himself and his son. Those who are lost are portrayed as children who the Father wants to restore to a place of blessing.

Each of these parables teach us that that which is on the Father’s heart is not just that the lost be brought into a personal relationship with Him, but that He might be able to enjoy a personal relationship with them.

"Evangelism is nothing more than the Christian’s honest response by testimony and actions to the forgiving love of God known and experienced through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is, first, an expression of joy, gratitude, and praise. Its subject matter and sole focus is God’s gracious, saving, healing, revelatory activity." - Anonymous

2. That which brings the Father hurt

Verses 25-32: Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So, he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So, his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat, so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

That which brings the Father hurt, as exemplified by the elder brother in the last parable, the parable of the lost son, is when his children become so self-centered and self-absorbed, that they have no concern about those who are lost and find no joy is seeing them saved.

"A youth group should make decisions based on the needs of people who are not yet members." - Anonymous

Let us not bring the Father hurt by our self-centeredness and our "us four and no more" attitude. Is that our mentality?

3. That which makes the Father happy

Verses 5-7: And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Verses 9-10: And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Verses 22-24: But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So, they began to celebrate.

That which makes the Father happy is seeing an individual repent and be saved, and His joy is made even greater, when His children share in His happiness!

These parables each emphasize the importance of one. It is one sheep that is lost, one coin that is lost, one son who is lost. This teaches us about God’s concern about individuals and about His passion for seeing them saved.

I have been asked by many why I am so passionate and determined to get 2300 teens to camp and as many teens to our district events. The answer is easy, our pastors record every year that there are 2300 teens that attend our churches. But we see very little of that number at the district events. When we become Christian’s one of the best things we can do is surround ourselves with a Christian circle so that iron can sharpen iron for what the world has in store for us. And if we truly believe that teen camp is one of our best opportunities to see lives changed, as what has been vocalized by our district NYI council, then why would we not want to see all 2300 teens at camp where lives can be changed, and iron sharpens iron.

In 2017 I shared a link with our Camp director about a Teen camp in Peru, ages 12-17, cost was almost a year’s wages for some parents, some traveled by foot farther than most our churches drive. The Camp theme was “Roots” and over 3000 came. With over half receiving Christ at the Lord and Savior that week. Number one reason they came, was because they were invited by a friend.

You see, this just tells me there is still one more lost soul out there. And we should always make room for one more at the table, which is what we as a council plan to do. How about you?

If there is one person who is yet to come to Christ, we cannot rest, we cannot relax, we cannot be satisfied, until they come to Christ. WE must always seek to reach more people. That’s why we must never stop growing. That’s why we cannot ever say, "We’re big enough."

Join us, pray with us, work with us, help us with the cultivation so there can be a harvest.

Respectively submitted,

Fred Toomey, your NYI President.

Works cites from Sermon Central God's Priority Contributed byDave Mcfaddenon Aug 3, 2005