“Ignite: to set afire, to render luminous by heat; to heat up: EXCITE; to set in motion…”
Last week, close to 100 students, youth pastors and volunteer leaders gathered at Camp Cotubic in Bellefontaine, OH for Ignite Camp. Ignite began with a dream among a few North Central Ohio Charis Fellowship youth pastors to see middle school students in their district experience a powerful conference within a camp setting. This inaugural year comprised of 4 youth groups, all from the Central Ohio area: Grace Polaris Church, Marysville Grace, Bellefontaine Grace, and Movement Church. What transpired that week went beyond the dreams of those youth pastors.
Nick Mazza, youth pastor at Bellefontaine Grace, was the driving force behind the launch of Ignite Camp. He credits his love of the Charis Fellowship and experiences like Momentum Youth Conference as the motivating factor to create an event geared toward middle school students. He wanted to connect his students to other students within their district as well as get them excited for Fellowship ministry opportunities down the road. Nick said, “I felt like I wanted to do something specifically for middle school students. I’ve always had a heart for middle schoolers; always enjoyed them. How great would it be to have a ‘mini-Momentum’ that would feed these students into Momentum Youth Conference!” He added, “Right now middle school students are getting things thrown at them all the time—sex, drugs, alcohol, partying, homosexuality and identity issues. They have a lot of things going on. I want to fight for them. A big reason I wanted to do this camp was to provide a space to have something special for just them and to learn about Christ in their own special way.” Nick brought the idea to Marysville Grace youth pastor, Tyler Kramer, who immediately said, “Let’s do it!”
Tyler had connections with Camp Cotubic in Bellefontaine, OH and got the ball rolling. They decided they wanted to “keep it in the family” by reaching out to other Charis Fellowship churches withing close proximity and inviting them. An invitation was also extended to Momentum Ministry Partner’s Director of Ministry, Eric Miller, and the Grace College chapel band to spend the week at camp. Nick said, “I want to train up young leaders and keep them in the [Charis] Fellowship for years to come. When asked about his invitation to Momentum and Grace College, Nick added, “We understand the value Momentum Ministry Partners provides in terms of ministry training. Same with Grace College. As our program continues to grow, we want students to think back to camp and remember the Grace College band and Momentum.”
Based on the definition of Ignite, the youth pastors decided it was a powerful description of what they wanted to accomplish in the lives of these middle schoolers. They invited Joel Trainer, Pastor of Three Creeks Church in Gahanna, OH to speak. He expounded on the theme of “Ignite” and used that as the anchor through his sessions. When asked about Joel, Nick replied, “He did a fantastic job! He spoke at their level and about things middle schoolers would enjoy. He used great visuals, illustrations and stories and made it interesting for them without losing the importance of his subject matter.”
The Grace College chapel band was also phenomenal and engaged with the students throughout the week. “If you think middle schoolers aren’t ready to engage in worship, have deep spiritual discussions, and make life-changing decisions, you’d be greatly mistaken,” said Pastor Dave Nicodemus from Grace Polaris. “Despite all the fun, these were the things I heard most from my students as their highlights of the week.” Nick echoed that statement and noted two of his students shared on Sunday that the worship time was their favorite part of camp—even with ziplines and giant waterslides thrown in the mix!
Eric Miller spent the week at Ignite Camp connecting with youth pastors and sharing with students the heart behind Momentum Ministry Partners and all the ways they can get involved. When asked to recap his week at Ignite, Eric shared, “I seriously loved every minute of getting to partner with these local churches and their youth leaders. It was an honor to be invited to share about what God is doing in and through Momentum at each morning session and to get to know all of these amazing students. I’m confident that this is a partnership that will continue for the coming years that will bless those churches who don’t wish to bring their middle school students to Momentum Youth Conference. It was a joy to see God moving among these students. I loved getting to see the leaders love for these students and their desire for them to take next steps in their relationship with Jesus.”