Daniel Houseman, Nevada Baptist Church

DEARBORN, Mich.—What does it mean to “serve the Lord?” For some Talents For Christ national competitors, it could mean anything from hard labor, to singing, to Bible teaching. At least that’s what the teens from Nevada Baptist Church, Iowa, have been doing the last two weeks.

The group of 11 is almost done with their missions trip, having already served a work week at Lincoln Lake Camp in Gowen, Mich. Actually, competing in Talents For Christ was a requirement for participating in the trip. Three students continued from state competition and performed in the Visualized Bible Teaching, Oral Interpretation of Scripture, and Female Public Speaking categories.

Morgan Elizondo, 18, competed in the Visualized Bible Teaching category, with her friends cheering her on from the audience. She has been competing in Talents For Christ for three years, learning and growing through each experience.

“This has been huge for me to really understand what God wants me to use my talents for,” Morgan says. “No matter what we’re using them for, we need to be willing to serve and glorify God with whatever we do.”

Students have been preparing for the trip since January; the qualifications were intense, including readying for state and national Talents For Christ.

“Talents For Christ is very important for our youth group,” says Thomas Payne, a youth sponsor accompanying the team. “It gives them the motivation to practice those talents so they can use them in the local church and beyond.”

The rural town of Nevada (pronounced Ne-VAY-duh by locals) has a population of about 6,800, so a group of 11 serving people is a pretty good cut. Pastor James and Heather Reynolds, with the help of youth sponsors Thomas Payne and Amy Paige, are leading the group on the unique trip.

“One of our main purposes is for the kids to see ministry behind the scenes,” Pastor James says. “We weren’t up front—just doing our work, which is equal in ministry as being up front.”

So this popular “serve the Lord” phrase can take on many forms. The contrast between raking leaves and teaching the Word of God seems vast, but both count.

As GARBC National Representative John Greening put it, “You don’t have to be a dud.”

Greening spoke to the teens before the TFC national competition. “There’s opportunity to have lots of fun,” Greening says. “But do it in a way that displays Christ and His character to the world around us, that Christ might be seen, that we might share the gospel.”

The teens from Nevada aren’t duds. They’re what you might call high-resolution display, learning to serve the Lord—and so display Christ—in any way they can.

Talents For Christ prepares students for a life of service, whether that be in the church or not. Students compete in categories ranging from art to preaching and public speaking, writing, and various music categories.

First-place winners receive $5,000 and second-place winners receive $2,500 toward their next educational step. Five colleges honor the scholarships: