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On March 1-3, our student ministry was a part of an event called DNOW (an abbreviation for Disciple Now). DNOW functions like a retreat, but it is all held locally. The event begins Friday evening and then ends at church on Sunday morning (except this year when untimely snow had us cut out the Sunday portion of our event!). The weekend consists of three sessions, each session has worship, led for the third time in a row, by Bryant Urich, followed by a teaching session. Our speaker this year was Donnie Smith, and each session taught revolved around our theme of FEARLESS. Our goal was that students would spend the weekend being challenged to be fearless followers of Christ. This is facilitated by following each session with small group questions that aid in fostering the thoughts and points of the previous session. One of the unique things about this event is that students are able to still “get away” from home through staying in host homes—shout out to the volunteers that allowed students to crash at their homes—you are a blessing! Throughout the weekend it stays incredibly busy and it is always a blast!

That is a quick overview of what our DNOW event looked like—but why do we do it?

DNOW’s purpose is to help students to:

1) Grow in their faith

Each DNOW, the youth pastors involved seek to pick a theme that they believe is relevant and beneficial to their groups of students at the time. The goal then, is that through the weekend they will begin to understand that concept and begin to apply it in their own life. We wanted students this year to understand that we often live our Christian lives afraid of the consequences of completely living it out in front of others. When we put that fear aside, and replace it with our faith in Christ students will begin to see other’s lives around them change. We wanted to show students what it means and what it would look like in their own personal context if they were to begin to set aside their fears!

2) See the church beyond their own group

Every year, this event involves other groups outside of our own. We did this year’s event alongside FBC O’Fallon (who hosted), FBC Lake St. Louis, and Calvary Chapel—Troy. We had around 175 students and over 200 people when including adult volunteers! Students are able to connect with other believers that may be in their neighborhoods and schools!

3) Reach their friends

We want the student ministry to exist as a tool that students can utilize to reach their friends that don’t know Christ. We want the gospel to be at the heart of what we do so we encourage students to invite their friends to DNOW—especially friends that would turn down the typical church invite—because we know they will have multiple instances of hearing the life-changing truth of the gospel!

DNOW is one of my favorite events of the year—it is awesome seeing so many students from our area gathered together, worshipping our Creator! We already set our dates for 2020—Feb. 28, 29, and March 1! You can already begin praying for the students that will be impacted through this event!

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Lock-In Blog

Last weekend our student ministry hosted a Lock-in. This is an event that we do about every other year. So, what is it? And…why do we do it?

For our lock-in, we rent out a local sports complex—this year it was the Rec-Plex. Students are then free to play the whole night and sleep is highly discouraged. We schedule a night of events, activities, and tournaments. We provide prizes. We find a bunch of crazy adults that want to hang out with a couple hundred teenagers. Oh, this also happens from 9PM-7AM.

All night long, students are running around from activity to activity. Throughout, there are opportunities for 3 on 3 basketball, dodgeball tournaments, and broomball. Note: broomball is like field hockey…but on ice. Or ice hockey…without skates. Just google it. I also saw an incredibly impressive belly flop at 4 in the morning. A large group of leaders ate Dip ‘n’ Dots at 4:30 AM which I now understand is the best time to eat them. All of that to say, a lot of exciting stuff happens in an overnight lock-in with a bunch of students. The night ended with a huge dodgeball game between the two churches. It is important for me to mention that the winning church was FBC Wentzville. The groups make their way back to their churches to sleepily eat a donut until they got picked up to go home and sleep the rest of the day.

So, then the question is…why? Why would someone volunteer to help with this? The answer—the gospel.

When the students got to the church to check-in, before we bussed them out to the Rec-Plex, we all gathered in the Worship Center. FBC Wentzville students and FBC O’Fallon students, over 230 in number, worshipped together, and heard the gospel—shared by Jeremy Shirley who used an illustration of handcuffing a student to himself for several minutes. Thought that was worth mentioning. As a result, seven students indicated that they started a relationship with Jesus for the first time that night.

This whole event exists as a tool for students to have something to invite their friends to, where their friends can hear the gospel. Yes, it’s a ton of fun. Yes, it’s incredibly memorable. Yes, it’s cool to work alongside another student ministry. But, all of that is minimal compared to providing an opportunity for students, whose friends may not be willing to show up on a Sunday morning, to bring others to an event where the gospel is preached and there is an opportunity for lives to be changed.

As a church, continue to pray for the students that have just made this huge decision. Pray for the students that are asking questions and searching. Pray for the students that are still opposed to the gospel.

Also, pray for all of the adult volunteers to catch back up on their sleep…eventually.

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