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Youth Advance builds the future, and present, of the church (reporting from Malvern, Pa.): Organizers work to identify and train the most outstanding teen leaders in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

MALVERN, Pa. — In a hotel meeting room northwest of Philadelphia, a gray-haired facilitator sings karaoke with a group of teens.

The playlist ranges from Katy Perry’s “Roar” to the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” to the hit “Let It Go” from the “Frozen” movie.

“This is so pretty,” the facilitator — Bill McGee — proclaims as he emphasizes every syrupy word of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

As the music fades, the atmosphere turns more serious — but not too serious.

Students take their seats as McGee, minister for the Tabernacle Church of Christ in New Jersey, teaches a lesson on “The Relationship Bank Account.” The focus: treating every relationship — at home, school or church — as a spiritual opportunity.

For 30-plus years, Youth Advance has worked to identify and train the most outstanding teenage leaders in Churches of Christ in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

This story appears in the February 2015 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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