Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rick Warren Headlines This Weekend's Flavor Fest Urban Ministry Conference in Tampa


Rappin’ Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Posse?

Maybe not. But that doesn’t mean the high-profile pastor of California’s Saddleback Church doesn’t see the validity of using that genre of music to spread the Gospel to members of the hip hop culture. In fact, this weekend he’ll be a keynote speaker at an event called Flavor Fest designed to educate, train, and provide resources to ministers and “urban missionaries” dedicated to that specific community.

It started over ten years ago when Pastor Tommy Kyllonen aka Urban D included a photograph and couple of paragraphs about his Tampa Bay youth group in the liner notes of his first nationally distributed CD. Shortly after The Missin’ Element was released, Kyllonen said he began to receive an influx of calls, e-mails, and on-site visit requests from people around the country who wanted to replicate the success of his hip hop-saturated Crossover Church.

“Eventually it just became overwhelming,” Kyllonen said. “So we sat down with our leadership team and said ‘Man, wouldn’t it be great to just have everyone here at one time where we could provide training and they could see a youth service, a Sunday service, and several all-out Christian hip hop concerts with lights and media done in excellence so they could go back and do that themselves?’ Flavor Fest really just emerged out of that need.”

The conference boasts five separate workshop tracks geared toward church planters, youth workers, outreach coordinators, and artists. Presenters will include the likes of the aforementioned Rick Warren, Efrem Smith, and DC Curry (a Houston-native and former NFL star who is now the Director of Student Ministry at Granger Community Church in Indiana.) Hip hop artists such as Lecrae, KJ-52, and Houston’s Tre-9 will also be conducting panel discussions and training sessions related to their craft and areas of expertise. Kyllonen said he has approximately 400 pre-registrants and expects over 1,500 people at each of the evening’s multi-artist, festival-like concerts.

An added stress to this year’s Flavor Fest planning and organizing was Crossover Church’s move to a new, larger location. There were the expected headaches of construction and decoration and unplanned complications like uninstalled Internet service and minor car accidents involving Kyllonen’s wife Lucy.

“Thankfully she’s is fine and our communication lines appear like they’ll be up and running and allow us to stream everything online at We also have over 200 volunteers from our church that are willing to serve and carry much of the burden,” Kyllonen said. “Our God always protects and provides.”

Flavor Fest is taking advantage of their “Decade of Purpose” anniversary theme and holding the event over the weekend of 10/10/10 at Crossover Community Church in Tampa, Florida. Details can be found online at

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