The Christmas holidays are over and its time to get back to planning Dnow. Since hopefully you took a few days off and stepped away from everything, I want to encourage you to do something special on your first day back. I want you to take the time to lay out everything you have done and pray over every single component. If you have not done anything yet then pray over each thing that you plan to do. This includes schedules, host homes, leaders, curriculum, etc. Pray deeply about whether anything needs to change. Once God gives you peace about that then pray God would move mightily in each component of your event. If you have not done anything then pray for direction in each step of your planning. This not only helps to refresh your memory about where you are in the process but is also a great way to get started back in the right direction after your break.
Traditionally in a DNow weekend you bring in college students to lead your small groups. There is nothing wrong with this and this is what we have done for years. But we are trying something different at our event this year. This year we are going to let the small group leaders within our ministry lead the groups that are meeting in our host homes. Why are we doing this? There really is only one big reason. These leaders already have relationships with our students. This gives three great benefits. They will not have to spend half the weekend getting to know our students and getting our students to open up. Also, our students will be less likely to get away with putting on a show since their leaders know their lives and their hurts and struggles. Finally, having our students' weekly leaders lead their small groups for this event will help keep them from thinking that God only moves in special events but instead can move anytime, anywhere. There are many other great benefits but hopefully these help you consider following our lead and
At the root of Dnow is family. Here is what I mean. First and foremost is that you need to make sure you make time for your family as you plan and run your event. Too often we get so wrapped up in ministry that we forget what is most important. The second part of this is about your host homes. You want people who are willing to open up their homes and be a family to your students for the weekend. This is especially true for those students who do not get to experience a healthy family life normally. Finally, your small groups should be a family. They need to realize that this weekend is about more than just bible study but instead about building relationships that can support one another through the difficult road ahead. So as you plan your event keep one word in mind, family.
After your Dnow weekend you need to stop and have a time of thanks. Of course you need to first stop and thank God for all that He did throughout the weekend. But your thankfulness does not end there. You also need to thank a few other people. You need to thank your leaders for giving of their time to invest in your students and your ministry. And I highly encourage you to thank your small group leaders with a paycheck if you can. You need to thank your host homes for laying the safety of their home on the line for one weekend of possible life change for students. And a gift card or two here might help to get that thankfulness message across. You need to thank any support staff that you have because I can guarantee that they probably worked just as hard if not harder than you did. And you need to thank your church as a whole for their support and prayers and let them know that all that did not go to waste. This is important because not only is this the right thing to do but it also will help make next year easier as you try to pull everything together once again because people will be more ready to jump back in since they remember how appreciated they were the year before.
In planning for your dnow, and doing ministry in general, the big danger is that you get so busy that you fail to stop and listen to the needs around you. While we are not exactly in the midst of planning our disciple now weekend, currently I got a small taste of this danger yesterday. Like most of us I am busy most of the time. But because we slowed down and had a Christmas party of sorts in our small groups I had the chance to really slow down and hang out with some students. Thankfully, one student who usually comes on Sundays just for the worship service, decided to come to come to small group as well. We got the opportunity to sit and chat and he began to pour his heart out about the incredible difficulties he was having. I got an opportunity to listen and to mourn with him and to offer some encouragement and to let him know I was there. It broke my heart, not just that he was facing great trials, but also because I began to think of all the other students out there who were probably hurting as well. How many other students were crossing my path weekly and daily, and because I was so busy I missed out on the opportunity to give them the love that they needed? We have to find ways to slow down and be sensitive to what is going on around us. We have to do train our leaders to do the same thing. It will not be easy for some of us, and some work may not get done, but if we are not doing the work of sharing love with our students who so greatly need it, then the everything else we do is meaningless.
Dnow is a great event. But if that is where all of your hard work ends it is all for nothing. You have to think about what the next step will be. Granted, this is a slippery slope. I have a bad habit of dreaming ahead of the next big thing instead of enjoying the moment and making sure I finish the task at hand. This gets me into a lot of trouble at times. This is not good, but the other extreme is not good either. That is getting so caught up in the moment that you think that is all that matters and once that is over there is nothing else to worry about. You have to find that balance between throwing your full energy into what you are doing and keeping an eye on where you are going. This is especially true with this event. On Sunday afternoon, or Monday morning after the dust settles, what this the next step for your students and your ministry? You may not fully know until the event ends but you need to begin to wrestle with this question so you do not miss out on the chance to maximize the life changing experiences your students will have y
Dnow should not be just about your students coming to see a show. Instead this event should be about you empowering your students to go out and do ministry. There are many reasons for this, too many to mention in one blog post, so I will just cut to the chase. There is too much work to be done and too many lives that need to be changed for you to do it all on your own. Therefore you need to be training others to go out and do the work of sharing the Gospel, showing love, and changing lives. That way more impact can be made in the short time we have to change the course of students' lives. Not to mention that students can reach their friends a lot better than you can. I know this is harsh. I apologize if it hurts your feelings. But if you disagree with me on this you are wrong. Yes we can reach students and should continue too but revival will only come if students start reaching out to those around them instead of relying on us to do it for them. So plan your dnow weekend, and all your ministry for that matter, in such a way that students are empowered to go out and change the world around them. And with any luck they will all do it so well that we have to find new careers.
The best Dnow in the world will be useless if no one knows about it. But how do you promote this great event? First of all I would suggest starting early. Not so early that students get exhausted hearing about it but early enough that they can plan accordingly and you can work on removing their excuses. Second, I would focus on social media. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are where your students are spending their time so you want to take advantage of these resources to get the word out about your event. And the added bonus to this is that not only are these promotional options free, they are also time efficient since it does not take you much time to post and your students can do most of the work by Retweeting, Liking, sharing, and everything else they can do to get the word out. Finally, allow your students to promote the event. This can be everything from getting your students t-shirts to wear if your community does not have standardized dress, to giving them posters to hang, to challenging them to start their own social media campaign. Whatever it is this is a powerful method because it means one thing to hear about an event from you but it means completely different when it comes from one of their peers. Now all that is left is for you to formulate a plan and get out there to promote your great event and if you follow these simple tips I know you will have great success.
When planning a dnow you have a lot of things to consider. But you need to take some time to consider what students will be attending your event. I do not mean simply looking at a list of names although this is important and I encourage you to take that list and pray over each name personally. What I am talking about is deciding what type of students will be attending your Disciple now. You need to consider what their interests and hobbies are. You need to consider what their pain and struggles might be, especially if you live in a smaller town where you can basically pinpoint the majority struggle of students. You also need to consider things like culture and how that effects the events and materials that you plan. Most importantly you need to consider the spiritual state of the students. Are they predominantly lost? Are they followers of Christ but new in their faith? Have most of your students grown stale in their faith? Or are the majority of the students in your ministry maturing in their faith to the point where they need more leadership opportunities. These questions are the kind of things you need to consider so that you can effectively plan your event and tailor it to the needs of your attendees. If you do not know the answers to these questions then do some homework. Talk to leaders, parents and students. Do whatever it takes to make sure that your event can be as effective and powerful as you envis
When planning your Disciple Now you have to think well beyond just your event to what exactly will happen after your event. How do you go from simply having a successful event to this being the catalyst for your ministry? In this video we discuss this and help you consider how you can take all your planning and preparing and help your event have its maximum impact in the grand scheme of things.