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Pursuit: A new Focus on the Family conference for singles

Focus on the Family has something for everyone, including, a ministry to and for young single adults. And this year is a milestone for Boundless as they get ready to host their first conference, Pursuit 2014.

I corresponded with Lisa Anderson, Director of young adults and and host of a podcast, The Boundless Show, to learn more about and its upcoming event. The Boundless Show receives 300,000 to 400,000 listeners per month on a weekly basis and regularly appears in the top 100 Christian podcasts on iTunes.

It’s that audience–and more– that Anderson hopes will make the journey to Colorado Springs, CO on August 7-9 for Pursuit.

What led you to organize Pursuit 2014?

Pursuit 2014 was started largely due to requests from our audience. After engaging on the site, blog, show and social media for years, our audience built a connection with the staff, personalities, writers and fellow readers/listeners. They’ve been asking us for a while now to host a live event where they can put faces to names. Also, there just aren’t many conferences or events out there specifically for single young adults. We wanted to fill that space and show young adults that the journey they’re on matters, too. We want to do whatever we can to encourage them in that.

What is the goal of Pursuit?

Our goal is to provide a weekend for single young adults where they are reminded that God loves them and has a purpose for them. We’ll do that by challenging them to maximize the season they’re in while preparing for the one to come. We want our attendees to gain valuable insights into dating, marriage, career, life responsibility and biblical maturity.

Why now?

We feel we’re in a great place of growth at, and our audience continues to diversify. This is a great opportunity for us to grow a little more by trying something new.

You have a diverse set of speakers joining you at Pursuit. Are there themes for each talk or a list of sessions and descriptions anywhere?

Yes. The topics of the conference reflect the core content/mission of Boundless, which are relationships, life and faith. Here they are:

  • Valorie Burton is a life coach who will be helping our audience “get unstuck” from where they are in life right now. She’ll talk about goals, building realistic expectations and dreams, and work-life balance.
  • Emerson Eggerichs and his daughter Joy will talk about male-female communication, how it’s different and why it matters now and in marriage.
  • Tullian Tchividjian will focus on the grace of God in our lives, how he loves us, and how, regardless of the “hand” we’ve been dealt, God can use our brokenness, hurt, failures and successes to grow us and glorify him.
  • Brant Hansen will share “what I wish I’d known at 30” in the areas of life, relationships and faith. He also has Asperger’s, and will talk about how God has used his limitations as strengths for what he does in radio.
  • Lisa Anderson will share her story of navigating singleness, while having a desire for marriage. How can the two be maximized and lived out with intention and joy? She’ll also challenge the audience to sign a promise to do its part in breaking cycles of dysfunction and start a healthy (future) marriage and family, regardless of where they are in the process.

The title, “Pursuit”, could mean several things. What does the title mean, and how do you hope the participants will apply it?

It has a few meanings. The first is a reminder of God’s relentless pursuit of us. Second, we are to pursue Him wholeheartedly in a culture that is telling us to turn away from Him. Third, we’re asking our folks to pursue maturity with biblical intention in all things. This means actively pursuing relationships, marriage and family, responsibility, holiness and grace in all things.

The conference tag line indicates that it is part conference, part meet-up, and part adventure. Tell me what activities you plan for the meet-ups?

We want this to be more than just a conference. It’s, of course, going to have teaching, worship and a few workshops, but we also want to capitalize on the potential for connection among those who have known and loved Boundless for some time (almost like a family reunion) plus those who are new to Boundless.

The in-person advantage for mature, like-minded single young adults meeting is huge. The meet-ups can go many directions, and we’re letting them be crafted largely by the audience themselves. We’re expecting certain affinity groups to form and will provide space for that. For example, all of the Canadians may want to meet, or those in their 30s, or those in college, or those who are Dr. Who fans. We have one guy from Australia who’s determined to go to Chick-fil-A while he’s here, so he’s already on our Facebook page inviting folks to join him. He has quite a group so far!

I assume the adventure is the 5K. Tell us more about the 5K and what led you to develop one as part of a conference.

The adventure is a bunch of things, including meeting new people, hanging out in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains (many attendees are staying an extra day or two to go rafting, hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing, etc.) and stretching one’s faith. That said, the 5K is part of that. I literally thought of the idea over a year ago in the middle of the night. My thought was, “Why not show, a la Hebrews 13:4, that marriage should be honored by all, beginning with single young adults?” So my vision was to take to the streets of Colorado Springs in public support of marriage and family. But we don’t want to merely do that by ourselves, so we’re opening the 5K to the public and inviting others to run with us, making it a true citywide (or regional) event.

We’re encouraging folks to insert their own story into the experience, so maybe they want to run “for” something, like their grandparents’ marriage that made it more than 50 years, or their parents’ marriage that made it back from the brink of divorce, or their mom who was a pregnant teenager but chose not to abort them and instead chose life, etc. We’ll finish the 5K with food, vendor booths, a book signing by prominent authors at our bookstore, and other activities for the community. The cost of the 5K is really just a break-even. It’s $25, and every registrant gets a race T-shirt.

I saw that you will be doing a live podcast with the Dalys. Will there be a Q&A time, or is it just a live recording?

Yes, Jim and Jean Daly will be featured in one of the segments of a live-to-tape podcast during Pursuit. I’ll be asking them a ton of questions, primarily about their own dating/marriage story, but we probably won’t have time for audience Q&A with them. Jim will also do a general greeting to our audience.

What do you hope to for the attendees?

We want to send our audience away encouraged and fired up to grow in every area of life and determined to reject society’s low expectations of them, and instead, be an example (1 Timothy) to those around us as we pursue faith, life and family with intention. We also want folks to leave with new friendships, a bigger sense of what Boundless and Focus on the Family are, and the sense of having had an inspiring and fun time with new friends.

Is there a deadline or a cap on how many may register?

We can take 900 unless we make adjustments in June that will cause us to cap it at 500-600. Registration is open until mid-July.  We currently have 41 states and 5 countries represented. This audience (based on registration so far) will be super diverse. We’re pulling a great number of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians thus far. We have a very diverse podcast listenership, which is great.

If you’d like to find out more about and look into attending Pursuit 2014, visit their website.

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