“Thrive: The Next Level” was held from July 28-30, 2023. The three-day leadership intensive weekend brought together nearly 400 attendees united in their desire to connect with young adults, grow in their relationship with Jesus, and embrace their purpose and calling as disciples for Christ.
The convention’s vision was to create a space where young adults can flourish holistically to thrive in their personal walk with Jesus and fulfill their mission by impacting their circles of influence with their God-given gifts. Throughout the event, participants were immersed in engaging worship sessions, inspiring stories with practical applications from leadership experts, fostering personal, spiritual, and professional growth.
“This global gathering was an impactful blessing,” said AYP founder and president Tim Kosaka.
The convention kicked off on a high note with a vibrant worship led by Benbrook Worship, a dynamic worship collective that aims to create an atmospheric space of intimate and spiritual connection through music. Pastor Benjamin Lundquist, young adult director for the Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and host of the Rise & Lead podcast, set the tone for the rest of the event. He addressed how discovering our primal question in life gives us clarity on why we do what we do and how the past influences the present and future, including our relationship with Christ, each other, and leadership circles. He stated that our primal question is “the thing underneath the thing that controls everything,” whether we are aware of it or not. Having clarity on our primal question and developing self-awareness helps us understand how to heal and grow in order to thrive in our unique God-given purpose and calling.
Attendees were treated to a diverse range of enriching talks from our Sabbath school facilitators, dynamic keynote sessions and workshops, and networking opportunities. Workshop speakers included Ann Roda, VP for mission & spiritual care at Adventist HealthCare, who expanded on one’s purpose and calling; Michael Gibson, lead pastor at Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church, who navigated through holistic community in our local spheres; Shawn Johnson, author and generational consultant, who led a conversation about spiritual health; April Snyder, discipleship pastor at Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church, who explored our identity in Christ; and Stephen & Felicia Lee, co-founders of Compose Marketing, who shared meaningful and practical insights about relationships. In addition, sponsored breakout sessions by AdventHealth, ADRA International, and Kettering Health Network provided practical insights on thriving as leaders and disciple makers in all aspects of life.
These impactful breakout sessions were a highlight of the weekend for Ryan VandeVere, an education professional from Colorado. Ryan shared, “I appreciated Michael Gibson’s presentation on how prayer shapes community. It widened my perspective on how I pray and connect with others.”
Stephen and Felicia Lee presented their breakout session to a room overflowing with attendees who desired to learn how to have a healthy and Christ-centered marriage. The Lee’s presentation focused on building marriages with purpose, not just happiness. Stephen shared his response to the audience’s excitement, “regardless of background or profession these young adults are hungry for the word and are desiring truth to help build a healthy marriage and family. I’m thankful that AYP is creating spaces for these conversations in which we learn God’s desire for marriages built and sustained with divine purpose.”
This year, AYP launched its first pre-convention outreach projects as a way to bring together attendees from our local chapters to positively impact the local community with the love of Christ. Projects focused on refugee resettlement & meal prep for local residents in need, and were hosted in partnership with Reach the World Next Door, ADRA International, Tarrant County Samaritan Housing, and several local Seventh-day Adventist Churches.
“Participating as an exhibitor and outreach project partner at the AYP convention was a fantastic opportunity. I loved being able to share with young professionals about the humanitarian work we do around the globe and also be able to organize them to impact the local Dallas/Fort Worth unhoused community, shared Kenzie Hardy from ADRA International. “AYP’s commitment to fostering a Christ-centered culture of community, faith, and service is evident in the transformative experiences they provide and exhibiting at their convention was impactful and effective for our organization.
Exhibits and Networking
Beyond practical workshop sessions, dynamic immersive worship, and impactful outreach projects, the convention provided plenty of opportunities to meet fellow AYPers from across the country and discover relevant ministry and career opportunities from a diverse community of exhibitors.
Gary Livingston, a young professional from Texas, enjoyed learning about the many organizations in the exhibit hall. “There were so many different booths to checkout, so many ministries, some emphasizing spiritual development and others offering mission opportunities. I love talking to them and learning more about the ways I can serve others.”
The Season Ahead
With a global community of 7,500 young adults, AYP has witnessed tremendous growth over the past four years. The organization’s alternative approach to traditional evangelism, focusing on discipleship and fostering community and belonging, has resonated with individuals at all stages of their faith journey. Looking ahead, AYP’s leadership team is committed to intentional mission and outreach, aiming to create dynamic synergy, relevant content, and a diverse representation within their team.
Kosaka emphasized this commitment, stating, “We aim to establish relevant content that addresses the pressing topics of our generation, helping each AYPer cultivate their faith rooted in Christ. Our goal is to expand our collection of virtual groups to support and be led by individuals from different territories, reflecting our global diversity.”
AYP’s fourth annual convention, “Cultivate: Rhythms of Christ,” is scheduled to take place in Houston, Texas, from July 19-21, 2024. The event will explore the theme of cultivating lives guided by Colossians 2:6-7. To learn more about AYP and to register for the convention, visit AYP.me/Convention.
Thrive Convention Sponsors
Adventist Young Professionals appreciates the support of the following event sponsors. The partnership of these organizations and individuals made this year’s convention possible:
- Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Young Adult Ministries
- ADRA International
- Kettering Health Network
- Hope Channel International
- Tim Kosaka
- YG Church
- Hyve International
- Benbrook Worship
About Adventist Young Professionals
Adventist Young Professionals (AYP) is a global organization that fosters Christ-centered community through faith development, authentic connections, and ministry engagement. AYP globally unites and locally connects over 7,500 young professionals through a digital social network, virtual groups that foster intentional Christ-centered discussions, and local city-based chapters that collaborate with churches to facilitate spiritual gatherings, service activities, and social meetups. With an emphasis for missions, AYP seeks for all its programs to unite, engage, and inspire young people to glorify God. Beyond fostering intentional community, AYP educates young professionals for missional impact through an annual convention, mentorship, and inspirational devotional resources. For more information about Adventist Young Professionals, visit www.AYP.me/about.
Written by Gabriel Saldaña, Assistant to the AYP President for Programming and Jazzmine Antonio, AYP Convention Director