Last Friday, close to 900 youth gathered in churches and living rooms for the Onward conference livestream, and to hear how the Gospel of Christ challenges ‘Cancel Culture’ in the West. Youth groups tuned in from across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, with the largest groups represented by Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, One Family Church Granville, North Side Chinese Alliance Church and Wild Street Anglican.
Despite being livestreamed due to COVID-19, the Onward team worked hard to recreate a physical conference experience by providing an interactive Q&A panel, worship in song by Whitefield band, and encouraging camaraderie within youth groups with a Dress Up challenge.
Hosted by Katoomba Christian Convention, Onward is a convention that seeks to prepare Christian youth to see their place in the wider world. By combining short TED-style talks, personal testimonies, singing and a live Q&A, the Onward program equips and encourages youth to engage with society and culture, with a biblical worldview.
With the world becoming increasingly divided into tribes of thought, the theme for Onward 2020 was ‘Finding Your Crowd: Living in a World of Difference & Exclusion’. The official program kicked off with guest speaker, Sam Chan preaching from Matthew 15:21-28, to share what the Bible says about tribalism and the universal human desire for belonging.
Blending biblical references, news headlines and personal stories, Chan humorously highlighted both the benefits and dangers of tribalism. He then explored the development of ‘Cancel Culture’ in the West and how we are now only “one tweet away” from being shunned, shamed or expelled from even our own tribe. Furthermore, offenders of ‘Cancel Culture’ no longer bother with apologies, because there is no offer of forgiveness.
The realities of 'Cancel Culture' were further highlighted with personal testimonies sharing experiences with tribalism on social media, in high school and the workplace. These stories highlighted the extent of the problem in every sphere of life and left us wondering how Christians can engage with others in a more loving and inclusive way.
Sam Chan then offered five ways in which the Gospel challenges ‘Cancel Culture’ and reminded youth of the unity that’s possible in diversity, if our identity comes from Christ. By highlighting God’s unconditional love for sinners, Chan reminded youth that all humans are broken, and yet Jesus “cancels” no one. Therefore, the Gospel should empower Christians to create inclusive communities marked by love, prayer, blessing and forgiveness for all people – even our enemies.
“Campsie Youth had a great time and were super excited that we received the first shout out! Sam Chan shares his gift of sharing God’s Word so well, and we love how laid back and Aussie Asian he is.”
The night ended with a live Q&A panel led by Sam Chan and Onward Chair, Sam Wan. Together, they helped viewers to consider the practicalities around virtue signalling, love for enemies, demonising others, and whether Christians should be involved in social justice marches such as “Black Lives Matter”.
Although KCC has had to put a pause on physical events this year, we thank God for the gift of technology, and the ways in which it has enabled his word to be preached far and wide, so that hearts can continue being impacted and transformed for God’s glory. It is our hope and prayer that youth will walk away from Onward 2020, committed to challenging 'Cancel Culture' with the Gospel and to show a divided world the unity and reconciliation that’s possible in Christ alone.
“The work and passion that KCC puts into Onward and KYCK is really evident! I really enjoy and look forward to these events every year, and I know that they've played a big role in the Christian journeys of me and others." – Onward 2020 delegate
Missed Out on Onward?
You can still purchase tickets and view the event on-demand until 2 August 2020. Get tickets HERE.
Get 15% off Evangelism Books!
Our list of recommended reads on evangelism and apologetics are 15% off for Onward delegates. If you registered for the conference, make sure to pick up one of our recommended books from the Wandering Bookseller using the discount code that’s available in your conference booklet!
Save the Date for Onward 2021!