Record number of students attend Boyce College Virtual D3 Youth Conference
Participating from 32 states and Canadian territories, more than 600 middle and high school students participated in Boyce College’s 2020 D3 conference, an annual event held this year as a virtual conference held June 22-25. The event gave students four days of focused, biblical teaching, encouraged a deepened relationship with Christ and community, and mobilized them for continued influence. For the last ten summers, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College have hosted the D3 Youth Conference as a major event for students in grades 6-12.
“D3 is a great event for students, and this year’s conference, in the midst of a pandemic, may have been even more important for young people,” said President R. Albert Mohler Jr. “I was honored once again to speak to them, to teach from God’s Word, and to do a special ‘Ask Anything’ event with the students. They asked some of the best questions I have ever been asked. I am a big believer in Christian young people and in this conference.”
This summer, unlike any previous, the event was held exclusively online as a virtual event. All 630 registrants watched talks by pastors, scholars, and authors. 260 of those registered also participated in virtual small groups and games.
“D3 has become one of the most anticipated events in the summer months, filling the campus with students and youth workers who are eager to grow as Christ’s disciples,” said Matthew J. Hall, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at the Seminary. “While the campus was quiet this summer, I am so grateful that this tremendous number of students were able to benefit from the outstanding biblical teaching from this year’s speakers and some wonderfully creative programming in an entirely online format. If you want to be encouraged about the future, just look at what God is doing among this young generation of believers.”
Jason Heath, Vice President of Campus Technology at Southern, noted how the changes in circumstances due to COVID-19 did not affect the Seminary’s desire to host a spiritually enriching conference. “Our world is different now, and we have to operate differently, but that does not mean we operate with less excellence than we did before,” said Heath. “I wanted everyone watching to see that Southern is not sacrificing any of the creativity and innovation that has always made Southern great, whether on campus or virtually.”
15 students took part in the course credit track, which allowed them to enroll in one of three courses, which could earn three college credits: Principles of Worldview, Principles of Christian Missions, or Principles of Christian Leadership. Where possible, many youth groups attended the virtual sessions together.
Stuart Hunt, Director of Southern Productions, said, “Our desire was to extend to conference attendees the same level of hospitality, engagement, and teaching that we offer during any other D3. Because of the importance of the conference theme, it was tremendously important that students were able to easily access the virtual offerings and were provided with a seamless experience. The strategically programmed blend of pre-recorded, live-streamed, and interactive content helped accomplish all of this.”
The conference theme was “worship.” But rather than focusing on a narrow understanding of worship as what Christians do together in a church gathering, the conference centered on how the apostle Paul describes the Christian life in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” The intention was to help students see how all of life is to be an act of worship.
“From the beginning our goal was to translate D3 into the virtual space such that the most essential elements were preserved,” Hunt said. “We wanted guests to truly feel 'present' with each other as much as possible. We wanted to ensure the content from all of the speakers was not encumbered by faulty technology, so that students could continue to grow as those whose lives are an act of worship to God.”
Several offices on campus–Admissions, Campus Technology, Events, and Southern Productions–collaborated to foster a robust experience amongst the participants. “It was a real team effort,” said Heath. The conference focused on providing biblically faithful content to students, while engaging students in small groups discussions led by a D3 staff member and providing activities and games. President R. Albert Mohler Jr. hosted an Ask Anything Live, in which conference attendees could participate in a wide-ranging discussion with Mohler.
D3 stands for discipleship in three key areas: Leadership, Worldview, and Missions. Speakers included Eric Bancroft, Jed Coppenger, Brian Davis, Bobby Jamieson, R. Albert Mohler Jr., Matt Smethurst. Timothy Paul Jones, Greg Gilbert, Courtney Moore, and J. Keith McKinley led track sessions in worldview, mens’ leadership, women’s leadership, and missions, respectively.
For more information about the conference or to purchase access to the videos, visit D3 Youth.