For the fifth time, the annual SOLA Conference for collegians will be taking place this spring, from April 28 to 29 at New Life Community Church in Artesia, CA.
The conference, which has drawn hundreds of college students each year, is unique in that it is hosted and organized through a partnership between several local churches in Southern California. This year, the conference is organized by pastors and leaders from nine churches, including All Nations Community Church, Bethel English Church, Christ Central of Southern California, Crossway Community Church, Good News Chapel, Good Stewards Church, Gospel Life Mission Church, New Life Vision Church, and Living Hope Community Church.
This year’s conference will be held under the theme, “Here We Stand: Always Reforming,” in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
“Our identity as a network and movement is shaped around the 5 SOLAs of the Reformation, and we didn’t want to miss this opportunity to explicitly champion these amazing doctrines,” said Michael Lee, the executive pastor of All Nations Community Church. “We don’t believe there is a better message to offer collegians than the call to live under the authority of scripture alone, to rely on Christ, grace, and faith alone, and to live for the glory of God alone.”
Different aspects of the ‘sola’ themes — grace alone, scripture alone, and glory to God alone — will be explored during the main sessions, which will feature speakers such as Joshua Harris, author and preacher; Ryan Kwon, the lead pastor of Resonate Church; and Steve Bang Lee, the college and teaching pastor at Living Hope Community Church.
While some seminars will touch upon the Reformation theme as well — such as one titled, “How the Protestant Reformation changed the world” — many will be on more specific topics such as struggling with shame as Asian American women; gender identity and the Christian response; choosing to be committed to a local church; and what evangelism and missional living may look like in a “post- Christian” society; among others.
Organizers expressed hopes that the conference would comfort, inspire, and challenge college students as they reflect on the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, what the Protestant Reformation meant at that time, and what it means for current day Christians.
“Personally, I would love our students know that though they may feel part of a marginalized faith as our world continues to change, they’re not alone. They’re standing on the shoulders of giants who have walked before them,” said Steve Bang Lee. “I pray that gives them a sense of strength and peace to know that they’re not part of some isolated religious movement, but they’re part of an unstoppable Kingdom that Jesus is moving forward.”
“I also would love for the students to walk away with a sense of inspired responsibility that in the blink of an eye, they will be the spiritual leaders of their generation, and that the things they sow in to in the here and now, will have a ripple effect in the then and there,” Lee added.
The SOLA Conference has grown in a number of ways over the years. For one, the number of churches involved in the organizing process has grown, from four churches in 2015, seven in 2016, and nine this year.
The conference has also grown to become an entity beyond the conference itself: the SOLA Network.
Led by a team of pastors from the nine local churches which organize the conference, the SOLA Network offers resources online through blog articles and videos through which Christian leaders offer their insights. The SOLA Network will also be hosting another conference in June specifically for young adults, called SOLA Nexus, for the first time this year.
And in its fifth year, the SOLA Conference has become a known, regular gathering that many college students now look forward to each year to reexamine and rejuvenate their faith, according to Stanley Ng, the executive and college pastor at Bethel English Church.
“The SOLA Conference has been bringing multiple groups of collegians from multiple parts of Southern California to worship at one place, all in One Name,” said Ng. “It can be easy for students to find themselves back into the general routine: the repeating aim for a decent grade, the part-time work hustle, the balance of fun and friends — all that eventually overwhelms us.”
“SOLA is the annual pitstop for collegians to engage with the gospel with other collegians,” he continued. “It’s an opportunity to connect, pray, and fellowship.”