Reflecting Him in their world

12 Jun, 2017 | International
TeenStreet communications
“Je-sus! Je-sus! Jesus!” The main hall erupts as 2,500 teenagers chant the Lord’s name in rhythm. Worship echoes in the ceiling panels and vibrates through the floor. When you close your eyes, you can almost imagine the angels joining in overhead.

Welcome to Throne Room, the evening worship sessions at TeenStreet (TS) Europe, where about 4,000 people from over 20 countries gather for one week every year in Germany to worship the Lord and grow in relationship with Him and each other. 

The TS event, in its 23rd year in 2016, offers teenagers opportunities to meet the Lord in new ways and spend time with other Christian teenagers. Each element is designed to give opportunities to encounter God, whether in the Art Zone, during an outreach into the city, at a seminar or workshop, on the sports field or during Shhh-time, a 30-minute period of silence across the site.

When the teenagers come to TS, “some have a relationship with Jesus, some know about Him but don’t have a relationship with Him, some are somewhere in between,” says Ger van Veen, director of TeenStreet Europe. “Our desire is that by the time TeenStreet ends, each person has a living and true relationship with Jesus and reflects Him in the world—that’s the vision statement of TeenStreet.”

A street to travel upon

TeenStreet began in the minds of four people in a pizza restaurant in the Netherlands in 1992, who dreamt about an international conference for teenagers. Founders Dan and Suzie Potter explained, “We gave it the name ‘TeenStreet’ because the whole purpose was to give teens a street to travel upon—a way to go or live.”

After prayer and planning, the first TeenStreet took place in 1993 when 56 people gathered in Offenburg, Germany. The theme was ‘Living in an upside down world’.

Ali van Oosten, the daughter of OM workers, participated when she was 15 and recalls, “I was touched when hearing stories of people not much older than myself and how God was using them. It was a turning point in my relationship with God and my decision to live more fully for Him.”

As a movement, TeenStreet works with churches and youth groups to support their year-round ministry to teenagers. The focus of TeenStreet is less on the event itself and more on discipleship that happens afterward, says Ger. “There is no point in creating a one-week ‘retreat’ for teens without a positive community to be part of throughout the year,” he says. “We are especially concerned with smaller, under-resourced churches and youth groups that will benefit from the training, resourcing and connecting that happens at TeenStreet. It’s not just for teens but also for their leaders, equipping them to serve their teens well after the event has finished.”

Every day during the event, the teens gather in small groups with five other teens of the same gender, age and language, and one adult, to pray and discuss what they learn. The purpose, says Ger, is to give the teenagers a safe community to be open with one another.

“Many young people leave the church when they leave school,” he says. “One key reason is that they do not have a faith of their own; in fact, many young people have been carrying someone else’s relationship with Jesus. They have been told that ‘this’ is how to live and ‘that’ is what Christ means to you. We seek to create an environment and communicate with teens in such a way as to help them make decisions based on convictions they have reached themselves.”

From teen to student to pastor

Ruwen Braun, from Germany, attended TeenStreet for the fifth time in 2016. The first time, he was just another teenager looking for adventure with his peers. He didn’t know that this path would transform his life.

After his first TS experience, Ruwen attended twice more before participating in OM training in South Africa. Once again, he went just looking for adventure in Africa. However, what was planted in Ruwen’s heart at TS continued to resonate, so much so that he sought a new direction previously unthinkable.

“I didn’t always want to be a pastor, but being at TeenStreet changed my life,” he recalls. “I was later exposed to theology at the OM disciple training in South Africa, [and] I decided to study further.”

Now a youth pastor at his church and a coach at TS, Ruwen remembered the event that brought a turning point to his life. In 2015, he encouraged 10 teenagers from his youth group to attend TS. In 2016, Ruwen brought 16 teens.

“I strongly believe that TeenStreet is an inspiring community where teens, in a small-group setting with a coach, are discipled, not just into faith, but also into the mission or cause that God has for each of them,” concludes Ger.

Since the first TeenStreet in 1993, OM has hosted TeenStreet events around the world, including in Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, Nepal, Malaysia, India and Australia.

Credit: TeenStreet communications · © 2017 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

OM exists to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached.

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