Remembering our history

God Is Moving in the Next Generation

The Free Church Youth Fellowship conference, now Challenge, has always been a means for equipping EFCA youth.

Before Challenge was the Free Church Youth Fellowship (FCYF) conference, which began in 1937 as a dream of Hilding Ahlstrom.

The Johnson brothers playing at FCYF in Fullerton, California

For several decades from the ‘60s to ‘80s, the conferences sponsored talent contests and Bible quizzing tournaments for young people. Students would compete within their own youth groups; then against other churches; then against other districts; and the best teams would compete at the annual FCYF conference.

Top: Bible quizzers; bottom: the electronic seat pads for judging

Judging was made easier by electronic seat pads connected to the control box. The first young person off their pad got to answer the question. Thousands of EFCA young people came to know God’s Word in a new way while having great fellowship and fun through Bible quizzing.

Over the years many new events were added to the conference, including evangelism outreach, community projects and fundraising for missions. But the Bible quizzing competitions and talent contests generated tremendous interest and growth for the young people.

Eventually, the quizzing and contests became more of a district function. Today’s Challenge conference often draws thousands of youth, with an emphasis on training and outreach. Praise God for all the different ways He prepares the next generation for life and ministry!

Tom Cairns

Tom Cairns is the archivist for the EFCA. A physician who worked for 19 years in Congo, Tom later served as director of international ministries for the EFCA mission, now known as ReachGlobal. Since retirement, Tom enjoys sharing stories about the history of the EFCA, answering questions from our churches and helping the churches with their own stories. He also uploads our historical books, photos and documents to our archive website. Tom’s great desire is to bring glory to God as we celebrate the history we have in the EFCA.

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