This is the first year I have ever attended the Winterfest conference in Gatlinburg, TN. Previously I attended the Challenge Youth Conference (CYC) which was held in Gatlinburg as well (now in Pigeon Forge). Both are conferences geared toward teenagers and both are events lead by those in the churches of Christ. Winterfest (1988) is a lot older than CYC (Not sure of its inception) but both conferences are identical in their focus to unite Christians to the central message of Jesus.
I am probably unique in the sense that all I experienced was CYC and this was my first year to attend Winterfest. What I wanted to do is offer some objective statements of similarities and differences and then allow those who read share their comments as well. Too long I have heard that Winterfest was the “liberal coC” event and CYC was the more “conservative coC” event. You know my distaste for those terms (read here) so I wanted to be a bit more objective.
- Both have acapella singing.
- Both have speakers solely from the churches of Christ.
- Both have vendors from Christian universities.
- Both use drama and videos to aide in the lesson or theme in some capacity.
- Both take collections to help with missionaries, non-profits or camps.
- Both have speakers who use a plethora of scriptures to support their lessons.
- Both have concessions available during the lessons that drive me insane.
- Both take the Lord’s Supper on Sunday.
- Both equip youth ministers with a weekend that will challenge their teenagers.
- Both have students rededicate their lives and some are even baptized.
- Winterfest utilizes a praise team with one man leading the team whereas CYC just has a song leader.
- Winterfest will have some lifting hands and clapping in worship whereas CYC does not (corrections?).
- Winterfest equips the youth minister with weekend devotionals and additional material whereas CYC did not (they may now…anyone know?).
- Winterfest did not extend the invitation but CYC does (or did).
That’s it unless I missed something. The whole weekend at Winterfest my wife and I kept thinking it would be some envelope-pushing-liberal-crazy-fiasco weekend. It wasn’t. They were very similar and I left feeling uplifted and challenges just like I would if I attended CYC.
Both can benefit your group depending on the anatomy of your church. I think we need to look past the “clapping, holy hands” issues and just ask the question, “Which event will bless our group more?” It should not be a CYC vs Winterfest argument because both give glory to God. Can we not just celebrate where God is presented and lives are changed removed from comparison? If the majority of your church has a problem with clapping and praise teams then it would be wise for you to attend CYC. One is not better than the other and we should leave space at the table for varying opinions.I think anywhere our God is praised and his name is lifted up is a sacred place to me. Click To Tweet
So whether you are hearing Lonnie Jones make an amazing illustration from a SWAT team or Jeff Walling expounding on a nuance in Scripture, God is praised. Whether you are singing “Clap Your Hands” or “Create in Me a Clean Heart,” our God is getting the victory.
What are your thoughts?