Super Summer Takes LEAD in On-campus Evangelical Activities at Mississippi College
As a ninth-grade student in Kosciusko, Lakelynn Fancher had never heard of Super Summer – or Mississippi College – when the youth minister at her church suggested she attend the leadership, evangelism, apologetics, and discipleship training conference sponsored by the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.
Fancher had been identified as a leader in her youth group, so she agreed to attend. The week she spent interacting with other students of faith from across the state and learning basic leadership skills turned into a transformative experience.
“That was the turning point God used in my life to not only turn it around, but call me towards the ministry,” she said. “After Super Summer, I rededicated my life. That’s when I knew I had fully accepted salvation and had been saved by God.
“As a leader, people are always watching you. Super Summer taught me how to handle that position in a God-honoring way.”
Now a rising junior marketing major at MC, Fancher continues to lead through service, volunteering at Fuge and Super Summer at MC and sharing her story with others. She spent most of a hectic first day at Super Summer helping to register more than 1,000 attendees from Baptist churches throughout Mississippi – an enormous gathering, but typical for the annual conference.
“Super Summer gave me so much, I wanted to be able to give back in some capacity,” Fancher said. “It’s cool to be ‘behind the scenes’ at the conference, to be a part of what makes the camp operate, and to see how the Lord pulls people from so many regions together.
“There’s something different about Super Summer. It’s the energy. You can’t go outside at MC this week without seeing someone from Super Summer.”
Those who venture onto the Clinton campus will quickly notice the groups of youngsters attired in brightly colored hues joyously talking, laughing, and singing. According to Ken Gilliam, the MC director of continuing education who oversees the conference each summer, it’s a sight the Christian University has welcomed every year but two since its inception in 1987.
“We are proud to host and be the site of the Mississippi Baptist Convention-sponsored Super Summer week,” Gilliam said. “It is a time that MC has youth from all the Baptist churches of Mississippi on our campus. It is our biggest group of the summer, and they are the only group on campus during that week.
“These are some of the best and brightest, and our potential students. They attend to build their faith and leadership skills.”
Participants are required to meet certain requirements to register for the conference, according to Ken Hall, student ministry consultant for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.
“It is for students that Mississippi Baptist churches have identified as emerging leaders within their churches,” said Hall, who is in his 15th year as Super Summer director. “Our goal is to train students in the four areas of leadership, evangelism, apologetics, and discipleship, so that they can help share Christ in their communities, their homes, and their schools.
“We want them to have a passion to disciple others, to be strong in their faith, and to know what they believe.”
He said church leaders throughout Mississippi consider it a worthwhile investment. This year, 90 different Baptist congregations are represented at Super Summer.
“That’s a lot of churches that see the value of Super Summer,” Hall said. “They have anywhere from one to 30 students here. We even have a couple of out-of-state churches represented, because their youth pastors used to be a part of the conference and the state they’re from doesn’t have a Super Summer.”
Super Summer provides qualitative spiritual growth while helping develop youth leaders for Baptist churches in Mississippi and surrounding communities. The conference employs a progressive learning system that challenges students and ensures they are growing each year they attend.
Super Summer students are divided into “schools,” referred to by colors, based on the number of years they have attended and their age. Students spend the majority of their time in these schools, which are led by servant staff consisting of student ministers and other church leaders selected by the Super Summer Planning Team. There are a total of 14 Super Summer schools at MC.
This year, 118 youth pastors from across the state compose the Super Summer staff. They are joined by college-age student volunteers, like Fancher, who serve as team leaders.
The heart of Super Summer is what happens in family groups, led by the team leaders within each school.
“Kids spend most of their days in their school in teaching sessions on the four LEAD areas,” Hall said. “It’s a pretty intense time of teaching. They will get about 10 teaching sessions while they’re here. This year, we will also have two afternoon breakout groups they can choose to attend, based on their interest.
“We also have a worship service at the end of each evening, where everybody comes together.”
This year, Erik Reed, founder and lead pastor of the Journey Church in Lebanon, Tennessee, is leading the service. Reed is also founding minister of Knowing Jesus Ministries, a nonprofit organization that provides resources for Christians to grow in their daily walk with Jesus.
Kara (Young) Fincher is providing music for the worship services. Fincher was a student participant in Super Summer for five years. The singer, songwriter, and worship leader from Birmingham, Alabama, is an associate minister to college students at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood, Alabama, where she leads worship weekly for college gatherings and disciples students.
As a former youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Columbus, Hall saw firsthand the impact Super Summer can have on youth.
“I brought students here for 13 years, and it was the most significant event we did for youth at our church,” he said. “Because the kids that came to Super Summer wanted to be here and met the requirements to be here, our church saw the growth potential and saw how they were rising above your normal teenager. They truly became leaders.
“Super Summer helped give them a solid foundation for when they left high school to go off to college. Many of these kids are serving as pastors, missionaries, ministers, and youth ministers today because of Super Summer.”
The conference also proved to be a bonding experience for Fancher.
“You really do form lifelong friendships,” she said. “Super Summer at MC is such a memorable place. People are coming for the right reasons and because they are leaders, so everybody is on the same level. It’s nice to be able to talk freely about your faith with other people here who are like-minded.
“I like to share my personal experience with Super Summer with others. I tell them it led me into a deeper relationship with the Lord.”
She said the conference provides an opportunity for high school students to learn more about Mississippi College.
“It’s a great recruitment tool,” Fancher said. “I don’t know if I would have come to MC if I hadn’t come to Super Summer. It gives students a feeling of what it’s like to be a student here, and it also helps us carry out our mission statement as a college, especially as a Christian University.”
Hall said Super Summer is available for students at Baptist churches of any size.
“It’s an investment in the lives of teenagers who are already Christ followers,” he said. “In the past, there has been a misconception that Super Summer was only for large churches. It’s for any church that has teenagers.”
To learn more about Super Summer, or to view an evening worship service from a past conference, visit mssupersummer.com.