By Jalen P. Turner
Volume 67, No. 7
Since starting 34 years ago in 1987, Youth Explosion has been a popular and well-known conference in the area surrounding Malone. Youth Explosion is a youth ministry conference welcoming middle and high school students from all denominations. For the past 20+ years, Jim Davis, ’84, associate pastor of Willoughby Hills Friends Church, has been the director of Youth Explosion.
The well-known commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these,” Mark 12:31 (CSB), was the 2021 theme of this year’s Youth Explosion held at Malone. It was held November 12-13 primarily in the Johnson Center.
The weekend was filled with different events and activities, including performances by Christian music artists — such as KB, The Young Escape, and Jared Hall — sessions, group activities and motivational messages from Christian speaker Reggie Dabbs.
Tim Bryan, vice president of marketing and communications, played a huge role in the planning of Youth Explosion. Bryan, the planning committee chair, oversaw a group of 13 Malone students and staff who met up once a week for six months.
This experience was somewhat new to Bryan and his committee, as the institution played a bigger role in this event than what they did in the past.
“We hosted a virtual Youth Explosion last year due to COVID-19, so we were familiar with the publicity and scheduling but did not host visitors to campus last year,” Bryan said. “We had around 400 join us virtually, but we didn’t have a chance to welcome [them in person] or show hospitality to them. This year we did as we had approximately 520 participants who spent a day and a half at Malone.”
Although a new experience for Tim, he enjoyed the experience of planning Youth Explosion.
“Seeing more than 500 young people celebrating their faith together and doing it at Malone was one of my favorite things about Youth Explosion,” Bryan said. “We [as a campus] are the perfect site for this event, and I think we put our best foot forward with the way we took care of our visitors.”
Great things happened at Youth Explosion, including a session of testimonies from students.
“[The testimonies given] were powerful,” Bryan said. “You could have heard a pin drop in the Worship Center…it was great to hear how Malone has helped them on their faith journey. It was an emotional session for many people.”
Youth Explosion was a hit, but so were the students who worked behind the scenes.
“We had a great partnership with Marva Hoopes’ [MIN 424] Servant Leadership class and our student planning team members, Alexa Riemenschneider, Keith Deak and Destiny Tackett,” Bryan said. “They were instrumental in the success of the event.”
Destiny Tackett, junior youth and educational ministries major, was very involved in both planning and participating. Tackett was one of the students who led the fun-filled, hilarious karaoke activity during the conference. Aside from those roles, she also told her testimony and prayed over the youth on the altar.
“My favorite elements of Youth Explosion were the speakers, the variety of activities, the concert, and the testimonies,” Tackett said. “Everything was so good.”
“Reggie Dabbs was amazing,” Tackett said. “He spoke with a lot of power in his voice, wasn’t afraid to tell the truth, and had a huge impact on the youth. He was very personable.”
Being part of this event was a huge experience for Tackett. Helping plan the conference and being involved in and responsible for different roles was a learning experience, but Tackett made clear she wouldn’t trade it for anything.
With an enjoyable experience and great outcome, Youth Explosion continues to aim higher and higher each year, and this year was no exception. Congratulations to those involved on a wonderful event!