Celebrate MN Recap

September 5, 2023


A Local Church Story…

I wasn’t surprised. Switchfoot always throws down for a willing crowd. It’s what they do. From just five feet beyond the stage’s front edge, Sophie and I understood this; we were caught in it, could feel it, and hear it. Pummeled by soaring anthems and the rock n’ roll risk-taking from frontman, Jon Foreman, who characteristically worked all night to dismantle the definitions separating audience and performer, we scream-sang every word. No surprises there.

As a YFC mission, we were thrilled to be called upon to help coordinate the soccer and basketball tourneys for Celebrate MN, along with a special BMX/skate event at our local skate park, but I could not have predicted the redemptive impact Celebrate MN would make on my heart… as the dad of a teenager.

Estimates suggest that over 40,000 people converged on Whitney Park over the 2-day festival we came to call, Celebrate MN… but as evangelist Mike Silva stated before the events started, this one-of-a-kind celebration would exist ALL for the sake of just ONE: one dear friend, one long-time neighbor, one hurting family member, one curious co-worker, even for one daughter and one dad.

Listen. I’m tempted to make many caveats here to justify my joy for my own kid, to try to explain to you how being a vocational ministry family creates unique challenges for a kid, or to go into detail about the difficult year Sophie has had medically. I’ll spare you all that. But I will say this…

God’s grace is absolutely sufficient for every moment of every story of everyone present at Celebrate MN—even mine.

Deep into the performance and during a fleeting instance of concert-induced clarity, I followed Jon’s lead, reminding myself simply, “Matt, you’ll regret not ‘going for it’ here.” I looked at Soph and gestured for her to get on my shoulders. Before I could ask, she was hoisting herself into the air.

From stage, Jon saw the moment and jumped to meet the crowd… to meet Sophie now floating atop a sea of hands—too many friends and family to count. They made contact, balancing against one another with the band blazing. Jon asked her name… and then, smiling, belted the lyrics we all need to consider:

“This is your life, Sophie!… Are you who you wanna be?!!”

For every kid facing an unknown future; for every adult who wishes they had a story do-over; for all of us who need hope today… the answer is in the smile of the ONE who asks this question.

And so, when He asks, “Matt, are you who you wanna be?!!” my answer to Him is this:

“God, your grace is way too much for me… but I cannot manage any of my story without it, and so I welcome all your work in me. My story is yours. I love you.”

All of this is worth celebrating, friends.

Matt Hebert
Ministry Director