The convention showed what 15,000 high school students, two youth organizations, and scores of churches have in common.

Amid much hoopla, more than 15,000 Christian high school students and youth leaders converged on Washington, D.C., hoping to “ignite our world.” The convention, called Youth Congress ’85, was cosponsored by the high school ministries of Youth for Christ (YFC) and Campus Crusade for Christ. It was intended to give kids a spiritual shot in the arm and a strategy for on-campus evangelism.

Testimonies were punctuated with resounding applause. Hard-driving musical praise brought delegates to their feet—stomping and clapping. Sermons triggered the kinetic response of an old-fashioned tent meeting.

But Youth Congress organizers had higher aims than merely sizzling student emotion. They wanted to fire up students and youth leaders to influence their world for Jesus Christ, with the goal of establishing a ministry to students in every high school in the country.

Seminars at the convention focused on practical areas of consistent Christian living, offering ideas and tools for personal evangelism. To put those ideas into action, students took to the streets to gain initial exposure to witnessing. Some 6,000 of the teenagers marched through downtown Washington, witnessing and feeding the poor. Others shared their faith in a park through music, drama, and personal evangelism. Some surveyed area residents on their religious beliefs, while others visited refugees in nearby Virginia.

It took two years to frame the logistics of the mass gathering, to hammer out themes, to agree on speakers, to secure top Christian music acts, and to write a new edition of “The Four Spiritual Laws” evangelism ...

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