Churches come together to present free event for youth

While attending one of the local unity services, Mike Lyon was glad to see churches coming together.

Being a pastor at First Baptist Church in Seymour who works with children and young adults, he thought it would be great to offer something similar for youth so they could experience unity.

He reached out to other youth pastors in Seymour and received positive responses.

That’s how Collide, a free youth event, came to be.

Set for 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Seymour High School, Collide will feature food trucks, inflatables, giveaways, a three-on-three basketball tournament and live music by Hannah Schaefer of Nashville, Tennessee. It’s geared toward students in grades 6 through 12.

In his year and a half in Seymour, Lyon said he has gained an understanding of local students’ overwhelming need to have a sense of purpose and hope in their life.

“Not one church in the community could reach out to all of these students as big as the schools are in Seymour, so what can we do if we come together collectively, set aside our doctoral differences and those types of things and just say, ‘You know what? We all are youth pastors, youth ministers, youth workers for a reason: Because we care and love teens here in Seymour,’” he said.

One way to make an impact on their lives and let them know they have meaning, there is hope and they are cared for is through Collide, Lyon said.

Keia Blair, a youth pastor at Seymour Christian Church, said the youth pastors have been meeting once a month since January to organize the event. The other youth pastors are Rachel Nay from First United Methodist Church, Kyle Kaminski from Calvary Baptist Church and Jessica Acton from Cornerstone Community Church.

“Youth pastors in general need a community of support and encouragement and just a place where they can learn and grow with one another, but then just being able to bring the youth students together to worship and just experience fun, I think that was kind of our heart behind that,” Blair said.

When he briefly explained Collide to the other youth pastors, Lyon said they immediately jumped on board.

“When I said youth, they were like, ‘Yeah, we want in. We don’t know what it means, we don’t know where we’re going to or how we’re going to get there, but we want in’ because we all have that same goal in mind — to reach the students of Seymour,” he said.

“With that being the goal, we were all willing to say, ‘You know what? We come from different denominational backgrounds, we know we come from different theological backgrounds, but none of that matters because we all believe in Jesus, we all believe that he loves everybody, we all believe that the students of Seymour need to know that and let’s combine efforts, resources and creativity and see what we can do together,’” he said.

During the planning process, the pastors brought youth from each church together for lunch to get their perspectives on what they wanted at the event.

The pastors then told the youth to spread the word and encourage others to check out the Facebook and Instagram pages for Collide.

Carlee Persinger, who attends Seymour Christian Church, said she was in Africa on a mission trip when Blair sent her a request to join the Facebook group.

She was intrigued by an event that’s free, offers food and draws her peers together.

“That was really cool to see that ‘Hey, we’re a community full of youth, and it’s going to be something to draw us together,’” Persinger said.

She’s looking forward to meeting youth from other churches.

“I know that’s a big thing for youth is you only know a certain amount of people, but at a big thing like this, you can meet so many different people and experience so much different stuff and have a bigger support system to lean on,” Persinger said.

Lyon said the goal is to have 300 students attend, and there will be nearly 50 adults volunteering their time.

“It’s not really an event, but a movement,” he said. “We hope that this generates just a shift in the culture of the students here in Seymour, Indiana.”

The plan is to do another event in the fall after the launch of the new school year. Lyon said that will be more geared toward Christian students who want to make a difference in their schools.

“Adults can talk until they are blue in the face, but for the most part, students listen to students, and if they can convince them that there’s a bigger purpose out there, that’s going to be awesome,” he said. “Our hope in the fall is to bring all of these students together. It’s also a commissioning to send them into their ministry area, which is school, to make a difference.”

The group then wants Collide to keep going.

“It will continue, whether it’s another month or another four months,” Lyon said. “I think these two events will tell us what the next event will look like, but we hope to have a presence where Collide is a movement and encouragement of students of all backgrounds. That’s the focus.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

What: Collide, a free youth event

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Seymour High School, 1350 W. Second St., Seymour

Who: Students in grades 6 through 12

Details: Food trucks, inflatables, giveaways, a three-on-three basketball tournament and live music by Hannah Schaefer of Nashville, Tennessee

[sc:pullout-text-end]