What is disciple now(or D Now) is a question that many pastors, student pastors and parents have asked. This could be because your student came home all excited about going to this event and you want to know more about it. Or it is very likely you are in charge of a ministry and have heard of others doing this event and wonder if you should incorporate it into your ministry calendar. Well I would like to take a moment to help you answer this question by walking you through what this event is and a little bit about how it traditionally works.
Disciple Now is a weekend retreat where students gather together for bible study, fellowship, worship, and often times service projects. Some people will hold this event for a week but the vast majority of the time it is only for one weekend. It is one of the few events that I truly still believe in because it gives students a safe environment to share their questions, hurts and struggles and gives them a taste of what the Christian life really should look like.
Now, as far as how it runs is up to you but here is usually what happens. Students are divided up by gender and grade levels. If your student ministry is smaller you might only have a boys house and a girls house or maybe junior high boys and junior high girls and high school girls houses. These houses are called host homes and are usually provided by some of the parents or other members of the church. Each home is usually provided some paper goods and possibly snacks. These are not mandatory in anyway but are often a great gesture for the sacrifice these families are making of their time. Also, each home is assigned a small group leader. Sometimes this leader is an adult leader from the church but quite often it is a college student who is brought in to lead. They not only are in charge of leading the bible study but are also in charge of keeping up with the schedule for their group and trying to make sure their group is following the rules. This minimizes the work and stress on the host homes. Because of this responsibility I highly suggest of having a leader training meeting on Friday before everything kicks off.
As fart as a schedule, that is really up to you. Ours has changed slightly from year to year but here is how a typical Disciple Now would run for us. Students would arrive on Friday night at the church with their luggage. We usually tell them to have dinner before hand. We then have a rally with a speaker and a worship band. Sometimes this band and speaker are from within the church and sometimes we bring someone from outside for a special treat. The host homes are at the rally as well so that when it is over they can help transport the students to their host homes.
After the rally students then go to their host homes for a bible study and get to know you session. Lights out is usually at 11:00, but I do not know of a time where kids away from home actually did that. On Saturday morning breakfast is provided either by the host home or a Sunday School class that has volunteered to adopt the home. Then there is another two Bible study sessions with a break in between each one. Lunch is then again provided by either the host home or a Sunday School class. Then you have two options. We use to recreation with something crazy like a city wide scavenger hunt. This can be a great time and do a great job of building community. We now have switched though to having each group do a service project that fits their age group and things they might be interested in as a group. Some things we have done are a canned food drive, cleaning up parks, feeding the homeless, and volunteering at a nursing home. We then allow students to have the rest of the afternoon off for free time and hanging out at the host home. Then Saturday night we have dinner at the church and another rally with the same band and speaker.
After this there is one final wrap up bible study session. Sunday morning we sometimes do share time but other times do one final rally. Then the we always try to sit together in the church service so that the church can see we are together and see some of the results of the investment that many of them made. Then students are free to go home.
All of this is flexible, but this is the plan we usually follow. Also, the Bible studies can be ordered, like one of our disciple now curriculum packages, or you can write your own. I encourage you though to order a package because you can see this is a massive undertaking already and you do not need more on your plate on top of scheduling, finding volunteers, ordering t-shirts. Anyways, hopefully this helps you answer the question what is disciple now and we will be giving you more info in the coming days.