LTC stands for Leadership Training for Christ and there are several conference locations. We attend the one in Houston (CTLTC--Central Texas LTC). There are multiple events that students can compete in ranging from team events such as Bible Bowl, Puppets, Live Drama, and Chorus to individual events such as Speaking, Photography, Sign Language, and Artwork. There are also events that are completed prior to the conference such as Service Challenge and Video Bible Drama. Members of the congregation take the roles as coaches for each event, guiding and leading practices for each event. This year we had a group of 40 people with us, supporting/coaching/feeding our kids!
Now, when I say compete, the thought of competing against other teams and people comes to mind. However, the great thing about LTC is that it sets criteria to follow, and that is what is competed against. So all of the teams who compete have the possibility of going home with a gold medal (ideally)! This allows the purpose to remain that students participate in and attend this conference to learn and better their own leadership qualities, giving God the glory in their lives.
Each year, a theme is chosen from the book of the Bible that the conference will center around and focus. This year was the book of Matthew with the theme, "The Extra Mile" (taken from Matthew 5:41--"If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles."). All of the songs, artwork, scripts--everything--are pulled from the context of that book and pointed toward that theme.
Something else to be explained before I get into anything else--there are age divisions for competition (3-6, 7-9, 10-12). The team must compete in the age group of the oldest member. So we had a 4th grader competing in a 7-9 level on puppets and 8th graders competing in 10-12 puppets; 4-9 graders competing on a 10-12 level on live drama; also, our chorus was made up of six 10-12 graders and six 4-9 graders. If we had more younger kids, we would have been allowed to compete as a mixed chorus, i.e. a lower grade division. However, being evenly split, they competed on a 10-12 grade level.
Our group has done outstanding every year we've been here. And it's obvious beyond the medals--we have a group full of leaders, full of active Christians, full of kids who don't settle for tradition but require explanation. These kids are incredible and the fact that the Lord placed Hunter and I here to work with them astounds us daily. They have and continue to bless us so!
This year was no different--our kids were great. They start studying the theme/Bible book in their Sunday morning class when school starts. Usually, Bible Bowl drilling also starts then on Wednesday nights (we did that a little differently this year by starting out with the quizzes on Sunday nights as a congregation and kept their Wednesday night class something non-LTC. Wednesday night Bible bowl kicked off in January). All of the other events start practicing pretty hard core in January and go that way until Easter, which is the weekend LTC always is.
When I say hard core practicing--there is always a practice for something(s) Sunday afternoon and something(s) after evening services. So depending on what all the kids participate in, they are easily and often at the church building for services and then practicing and studying all day long. I say this to try to explain how hard these kids work and how much they care. None of them are forced to compete in any event--they choose it all.
That being said, here are what we competed in this year and the awards they received:
- Sign Language--4 Intermediates (they had to translate a song and a scripture); 3 golds and 1 silver
- Sign Language--1 Interpretation (she was given the topic of Communion but had no idea what she would actually be signing)
- 2D Art--1 Gold
- Photography--1 Silver
- Scrapbook--1 Gold (team of 4)
- Bulletin Board--1 Gold (team of 3)
- Video Bible Drama--1 Gold (team of 13--they reenact a Bible story and relate it back to a modern skit. All of this is recorded and mailed in for judging pre-convention)
- Service Challenge--5 Golds (they must record service events that they have done throughout the year and explain how these events changed them and their Christian walk.)
- Puppets--2 Golds (7-9 team and 10-12 team)
- Bible Bowl--2 four-person teams ranging 7-12 grades, all judged and tested the same. All 8 boys received a Gold as an individual score, and both teams received a Gold for their team score! On top of that, both teams were the second highest scoring team in their age bracket (we had a 7-9 team and a 10-12 team)! SO proud.
Older guys (10-12 division--with an 8th grader) on the left; Younger guys (7-9 division--all 7th and 8th graders) on the right.
|All 8 Bible Bowl boys and their coach!|
- Live Modern Drama--1 Gold (team of 8)
|it's kind of hard to tell, but the fella on the far right is actually inside a rolling suitcase. hilarious! and an incredibly effective prop.|
- Chorus--1 Gold (team of 12) They sang: "Love the Lord", "Seek Ye First", "I Have Decided", "I Feel Good", and "I Will Follow"
Scholarships are also a big part of the convention each year. The big name Christian universities (Harding, Lubbock, Abilene, and Oklahoma) sponsor the event and give out a number of scholarships to students who participate in LTC and will be attending their school. There are also two scholarships given by the LTC board. Students must apply, compete in convention, and provide recommendation from their elders. Two years ago, two of our girls (our only two seniors and also cousins!) were granted those scholarships. This year, one of their younger brothers was our only senior--and since his sister had already received one year before last, we all kind of went in with the thought that they would probably honor someone else with it. However, Cale's light shone through (as it always does...incredible kid, he is) and he was one of the 2 recipients chosen out of the 9 who applied! I wish someone could have filmed our little group when our congregation name was announced...I don't think any of us stayed seated. With him being our only Senior, we knew immediately who it was and we just couldn't contain our joy or our pride. He's awesome.
All of this is to say...wow. Our kids get it. The practices are tiresome and can get annoying; but they trudge through anyway. They don't settle; they work. They don't expect anything; they give all they've got. They praise, they serve, they love. They get it.