Community Stories

Leadership Training Conference Offers Real-World Practice for Teens

Carter Duncan, 18, remembers his first time at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Power Leadership Training Conference. He was in seventh grade, watching the older teens for cues on how to act and listening to Adrian Despres, a Christian speaker, talk about Jesus.

It was a big crowd that year—Carter estimates close to 700 teens—but he felt like the sermon was just for him. At the end of the sermon, Adrian asked if any students felt they were complacent in their faith. Then he invited them to the front of the auditorium to pray.

Preachers often end sermons with an invitation to the front, but only a handful, at most, take him up on that offer. Even more rare is when teenagers walk to the front of a church. That day, however, hundreds of teens were moved to think about Jesus more—in their schools, on their sports teams, and even when peer pressure gets to be too much.

“Out of the 700 people, 650 went down,” Carter said. “They were face-first on the floor…giving everything that they had, praying, crying. It was a very emotional experience, unlike anything I had experienced up until that point in my life…People I go to high school with now still talk about that night as a change in their life.”

That moment set Carter’s life on a different path. In the next few years, as he braved Huntsville High School, he became more and move involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). This year, he’s a senior who co-ops with FCA during first period—he works with area middle and high schools before returning to Huntsville High School for the rest of his classes. He’s also helping plan for the upcoming Power Leadership Training Conference on August 4 and 5 at the Embassy Suites in Huntsville. Tony Nolan, a popular Christian speaker, will be the keynote for this year’s Power Leadership Training Conference.

You can read more about Tony’s testimony here.

Carter describes the conference as a pep rally before the next school year begins—a way to get kids fired up before they head back to the hallways. The conference, open to 6th through 12th-graders, is set for the weekend following the first week back at school for most districts.

On Friday night, the public is invited to a block party in the Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center. Students will spend the night at the Embassy Suites before attending the conference the next day.

“It’s a great tool to get students and athletes fired up about being bold for Christ during the year, to live out their faith in a way that is recognizable and makes an impact,” Carter said.

Humble Beginnings

Power Leadership Training got its start 12 years ago, but things weren’t quite as fancy as they are today. The first PLT Conference was held in a church with the boys sleeping on the gym floor while the girls slept on the church pews. There were only 30 students that year—a far cry from the 500 they expect this year, said Ken Burnett, area director for FCA.

It’s grown over the years, changing countless teen lives. Recently, Ken went to the FCA banquet where a girl he didn’t know got up to make a speech saying Christ changed her life at this event, Ken said.

Everyone is Invited

Carter wants you to know FCA isn’t just for teens who can kick a ball or run a quick mile.

“It’s not just for athletes,” he explained. “It’s for any student who wants to make an impact where they are.”

FCA groups differ from school to school, but the Power Leadership Training Conference wants to prepare teens to get a strong FCA going on any campus. Let’s face it—high school is a scary place to start new things. That’s why some of the breakout sessions at the conference will equip students with the tools they need to lead an FCA chapter. One huddle, as the sessions are called, will even emulate what it’s like to lead an FCA meeting at school, Carter said.

Practice makes perfect, right?

“Most schools will meet weekly, monthly or biweekly, and anyone in the school can come be a part of that huddle,” Carter said. “Then, FCA will plan ways to minister to the sports teams, whether it be to hand out water, to pray with the teams, to go support a team that doesn’t get a lot of attention like the swim team. Then events like barbecues, cookouts, movie nights and things that get people involved and get the name of Jesus into schools.”

Registration is open for the Power Leadership Training Conference and PLT Party. Tickets for the conference are $99 through May 31 or $119 on June 1. Registration includes a Bible, shirt, housing, food on Saturday and priority seating for the concert on Friday night. 

Click here to buy tickets to the PLT Conference. 

Remember, the PLT party is open to the public and will feature musical guests Crowder and Tedashii. Get tickets to that concert here. 

To find out more, go to the Northeast Alabama FCA website. Also, be sure to check out Northeast Alabama FCA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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