What would you say was the biggest event in the calendar of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland? Many will immediately think of the General Assembly, and it is easy to come to that conclusion due to the size and significance of what happens each year at the start of June. Others will think back to last August and the much more informal Special Assembly as being very significant in terms of ministry in congregations. Still others will highlight a particular event of significance to them such as the PW Annual Meeting or a Global Mission Rally. A case could also be made for something coming up this weekend as being the biggest event – MAD.
This will be the 19th time that MAD (Making A Difference) has taken place in the Ulster University at Coleraine, when almost 1,000 young people, leaders and staff will gather to have a lot of fun, hear God’s Word, and hopefully see lives changed eternally. When you hear so many stories of people who came to trust Jesus at MAD or took significant steps forward in their faith there, it is a compelling argument that this is our denomination’s biggest event.
And yet that is totally missing the point. It should never be about whether “my event is bigger than your event”; it is this kind of false competitive spirit that too often blights our churches. Instead we should celebrate the significance of all we do across this denomination and in our congregations, and join together to support one another as the Body of Christ. All of us should encourage the PW at their big events and programmes, pray with those involved in overseas mission and even take an interest in what really matters in Assembly week.
So absolutely, MAD has been significant for many young people and leaders and hopefully this weekend will be an extra special one. However, it should be special for the whole church, not just for some. Youth ministry is not the responsibility of a few but of us all. “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” (Psalm 78:4)
The organisers of MAD would love everyone in the denomination to stand with them this weekend – whether or not they find it easy to relate to teenagers. These are our young people and part of the covenant family that encompasses the whole of PCI (and much further). It would be so special to know that throughout this great church there are people in every corner praying for God to move in ways we cannot even imagine as He builds His church in young lives.
Praying for Encountering God
If you would like a few things to pray for as the young people consider the theme of Encountering God, please pray that they would:
Encounter God the Father as their Creator.
Encounter God the Son as their Saviour.
Encounter God the Holy Spirit working powerfully in their lives.
Encounter God’s transforming Word as brought to us by mainstage speakers, Rich Powney and Kathy Craig and the seminar speakers.
Encounter a fresh vision for their lives, as God uses them to help friends to Encounter Jesus.
Thank you for partnering in this work – please do not forget to let us know how we can support you when your event comes around.
MAD 2017 takes place in the Ulster University, Coleraine. Groups from dozens of Presbyterian churches from Kilkenny to Donegal will come together for teaching, activities and fun. This year’s theme is ENCOUNTER: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Graeme Thompson is the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Youth Development Officer.