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Youths prepare for a puppet drama in a scene from a fundraising video for the Lads to Leaders ministry.
Video stills via www.Lads2Leaders.com

For Lads to Leaders, a year of gold and remembrance


The words of Jesus, spoken to his disciples at the Last Supper, recorded in the Gospel of Luke and carved into countless tables of fellowship around the world, were the theme of this year’s Lads to Leaders conventions.

More than 20,000 youths from Churches of Christ and their families gather annually for the conventions at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn., and other venues across the nation, from Florida to California. As they performed Bible lessons with puppets, read Scriptures and sang, the participants celebrated the program’s golden anniversary — and its humble beginnings.

Jack Zorn, far right, worships alongside Lads to Leaders participants.

Jack Zorn, far right, worships alongside Lads to Leaders participants.

Jack Zorn, the founder of Lads to Leaders known for his signature red blazer, was preaching for a Church of Christ in Warner Robins, Ga., when he launched a special Bible class for eight boys. He taught them to prepare sermons, and they gave their first public speeches on Sunday morning, Jan. 5, 1969. Zorn’s wife, Frances, helped train the first Leaderettes — participants in a version of the program for young women. The first Lads convention drew 74 participants to Alabama Christian College — now Faulkner University — in 1973.

Frances Zorn’s brother, Roy Johnson, was one of the first participants in the program and now serves as executive director of the Montgomery, Ala.-based ministry.

“The future of the church looks good,” Johnson said during a Sunday morning worship at the conclusion of the Nashville convention, during which young men from the program led singing and delivered sermons. “When you see men proclaiming God’s Word like this, young ladies learning to be like the woman of Proverbs 31, the future of the church looks good.”

Logan Richardson shares a message before the Lord's Supper as the Nashville Lads to Leaders convention closes.

Logan Richardson shares a message before the Lord’s Supper as the Nashville Lads to Leaders convention closes.

Logan Richardson, a high school junior from Florence, Ala., led a communion devotional. He shared the story of a meal Jesus shared with his disciples after the Lord’s Supper — when a newly resurrected Messiah joined them on the shores of the Sea of Galilee for a feast of miraculously caught fish, as recorded in John 21.

“Now, wait a minute, I thought these were the guys who fell asleep on the watch and who scattered when things got hard and who left Jesus,” Richardson said. “So then, why is Jesus eating with them? The answer is simple: He loves them. There is no complex, theological reason. It all boils down to his love.”

As they train to become leaders in the Lord’s church, Richardson urged the young believers to stay focused on Jesus’ words, “This do in remembrance of me.”

“The next time when you see those words etched onto the front of that large wooden table in front of the pulpit, remember that those words are not just there for decoration,” he said. “Those words are there to remind us of his love.”

WEBSITE: www.lads2leaders.com

Filed under: Jack Zorn Lads to Leaders Partners Top Stories

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