Youthquake: a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.
Oxford Dictionary released its Word of the Year 2017 in early December followed by an unexpected amount of backlash. The word “youthquake” denoted the impact of the young people in 2017, drawing attention to the growth of youthful participation in the political and social aspects of recent culture. Avid internet users criticized the word, citing it as a poor choice because no one actually uses it. Local Jacksonville non-profit YouthQuake Live heartily disagrees.
Originating over 20 years ago, YouthQuake Live commits itself to giving Jacksonville youth the opportunity to reach their own generation. One of its core messages speaks on this idea: “We are created by teens, for teens, to reach teens.”
The beginning of the organization sprung from a youth group’s desire to preserve their passion returning from a missions trip. Having seen the power of God in their own lives on the trip, they wanted a way to make that impact not only in other countries but in their own city. Their deeply set vision was encouraged by their youth pastor, Sean Yost, who would become the founder and president of the organization. Yost saw the influence those twenty young people could have and, following the direction and vision given by God, created what would become YouthQuake Live. That first event in February 1995, with its clip-on lights and exorbitant amounts of duct tape, hosted an audience of forty teenagers who held an equal desire to know Christ, and began the life-changing journey of YouthQuake Live.
With 23 seasons now under their belt, YouthQuake Live continues to make an impact with their free, monthly, live events. Each event is held at a different local church and incorporates drama skits, live worship, a dance performance, and a themed message into its 2-hour run time. The organization’s cast consists of 70+ 13-18 year old teenagers, contributing to all areas of the event, including drama groups, worship team, dance members, and even its behind the scenes tech members.
The clearest impact of a typical YouthQuake Live event can be seen at its altar calls, where affected teens can sit with YQL cast members and hear about the radical love of God from their peers. After standing on a stage wearing crazy costumes or praising God unashamedly, the altar calls give cast members the opportunity to meet face to face with the teenagers they want to impact. Both parties engage in a conversation about how God can and will change lives, or has already done so in themselves and in Jacksonville.
For all the hard work and dedication that goes into putting on a YouthQuake Live event, it all comes down to teenagers presenting the Gospel to their own generation in their own words. Every skit that YQL puts on is created by its cast members; every dance choreographed by the teens who contribute their Sunday afternoons to practi