How a simple talent competition has impacted my life

Denise Soerens, Associate Editor

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Friday and Saturday, March 9th and 10th, I was able to participate in an event known as “Fine Arts Festival”. It’s an event run by the Assemblies of God, a nationwide Christian organization/denomination (you might’ve read my article on SAGU, an Assemblies of God University). The nation is divided into districts by the Assemblies of God, and living in Temple, TX, I am in the North Texas district! Every year, SAGU hosts the North Texas District Fine Arts Festival, a fine arts competition designed to “discover, develop, and deploy God-given talents”. There are tons of categories to participate in from writing, drawing, dancing, singing, acting, playing an instrument and many more!
The Fine Arts website describes Fine Arts as: “Fine Arts Festival is a discipleship tool of AG Youth Ministries designed to help students discover, develop and deploy their ministry gifts. Beginning in September each year, over 65,000 junior and senior high school students begin preparing their entries for the district and National Fine Arts Festivals. Students may enter as many as 75 categories offered in 9 main divisions: Art, Communication, Dance, Drama, Enterprise, Exhibition, Instrumental, Vocal, and Writing. For more information about getting involved, contact the youth office at your Assemblies of God district office.”
I’ve participated every year since 6th grade, and have been able to advance to the National competition in a couple categories every year! To advance, you have to get 36 out of 40 points or a rating of “Superior with Invitation”. The national competition is usually held in a convention center somewhere around the country. We’ve gone to Orlando, Florida, Louisville, Kentucky, Columbus, Ohio, Anaheim, California, and many more, but those are the cities I’ve attended. Everyone with a Superior rating in a category gets to go and perform at Nationals!
This year, I participated in 7 categories at the district level, which is… a lot! I performed a Piano Solo (Sacred), Piano Solo (Classical), Worship Leading Solo, Human Video Ensemble Large, Worship Team Large, and Drama Ensemble Small. I also submitted art in the category of 2-Dimensional Art Alternative Media. Believe it or not, I was blessed enough to advance in all 7 of my categories! When we go to Houston, Texas later this year in August, I will be a very busy beaver.
Fine Arts are so much fun to participate in or even attend just for fun. It does cost money to participate, but we often are able to do fundraisers and sell fireworks to cover most of it. We believe that discovering and developing our talents through Fine Arts can be a great form of ministry, especially since most of the categories must contain some kind of Christian message. In addition, the friendships you develop along the way are like no other. Your teammates and youth group friends sometimes are by your side your whole life, and I’ve seen many weddings where the bridesmaids and groomsmen are friends from the youth group days! Teams work for months to prepare for Fine Arts, usually starting sometime between November and January, while districts are in March, and nationals in August.
Now the national competition I must say is the most fun. Traveling the country with 50 of your closest friends (if you have a big youth group like me) is a great experience to have! Unless the competition is in-state (like it will be this year), we take a charter bus to wherever we go. A bus full of 50 teenagers traveling with stops only for food and bathroom to another state may not be your cup of tea, but it’s an incredible bonding experience.
Beyond that, we always do so many fun things! It’s normally a week-long trip, while the competition is normally 3-ish weeks long. We’ve gone to the beach, Disney World, Disneyland, gone rock climbing, done ropes courses, and stayed up till 3 am, giggling in the halls of our hotel. It’s fun to explore new places, perform, and watch your friends perform! One of the most rewarding parts is getting score sheets back and standing as a group, cheering every time someone’s score is read out, even if it’s not a Superior.
At the end of the district and national competitions, there’s a Celebration service, where the Top 3 and merit (1st place) for every category is announced. If you get merit, you get a medal, and it’s a huge deal, especially at nationals where there are hundreds of thousands of teenagers there, all hoping to score well! After those, we load back on the vans or charter bus and head back to Bethel of the Assemblies of God in Temple, TX, my lovely church.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, I’d encourage you to reach out and find an Assemblies of God church near you! A youth group is the closest family you’ll ever have, and there are churches all over the nation ready to invite you in with open arms.
Fine Arts and my youth group are probably one of the biggest things my life revolves around, and I just wanted to share my experiences with you! My closest friends I’ve found in my youth group. My mentors who help me through life I’ve found in my youth group. My lovely boyfriend, I met in 1st grade in Kids Church and eventually through the youth group. Fine Arts is a great way to make friends and get connected in your community!
Recap video from this year’s North Texas District Fine Arts Festival:
(Hint: at 0:45 you might see a familiar face!)
For more information about Fine Arts:
To find an A/G church near you:
Feel free to message me on Hangouts ( if you want more information!

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