CLARKS SUMMIT, Pa.—Families that pray together, stay together. Families that serve never swerve. Call it whatever you want, but it’s a family thing.

Talents For Christ has a unique way of bringing families—organic and church—together. Especially when the pastor is also your dad.

And there’s something about the way this bonding works with a dad’s heart. Patrick Odle, pastor of First Baptist Church, Elyria, Ohio, quickly found that out. The emotions of the day caught up to him as he recounted coaching his daughter, Victoria, 17, in the TFC female public speaking competition.

“We sat down and prayed, and kept our focus on the fact that this is a spiritual thing, a serving-the-Lord thing,” Patrick says with wet eyes. “I told her, ‘This is really a ministry and you need God to help you do this.’ There were some precious times of prayer together.”

Thirty-four national competitors spent the day around the conference, seeing families like the Odles in action. Students participated in categories such as art, oral interpretation, and music.

The relationship works with big families too. Churches come together in a special way to support and mentor the next generation. Dale Williams, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Warrenville in Naperville, Ill., came not for the GARBC conference, but to support four of his youth group’s teens at TFC.

“I don’t believe that youth are the church of tomorrow. They’re the church of today, and they should serve today,” Dale says. “TFC is a way to get them active in church. It creates an enthusiasm for serving the Lord, and attaches it to the much wider perspective of the association.”

First-place winners receive $5,000 and second-place winners receive $2,500 toward their next educational step. Baptist Bible College also offers an extra $1,000 for Talents For Christ winners. Five colleges honor the scholarships: