Every year many Baptist churches around the nation do a student ministry event called Disciple Now event (DNOW). If you are not familiar with DNOW at Swift Creek, Pastor Mark takes the student ministry to Camp Piankatank near the Chesapeake Bay for an intense weekend of worship, small groups, bible teaching, high ropes courses, canoeing, and other games.
This year’s theme was “Live Sent” and was centered on John 20:21. “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” The messages challenged students and volunteers alike to live a life that demonstrates the gospel to the broken world around us and boldly declare the life-giving news of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
“I believe God is pushing me to be more open about my faith and more active in sharing the Gospel as opportunities arise.” —Brian Caish, leader of 8th grade boys.
There were 90 students and 31 small group leaders and chaperones to make the weekend run smoothly and effectively. “Middle school and high school can be pivotal years in a person’s life. I believe it takes a village to mold and shape a student for Christ’s glory. As a parent of students, I understand it is the parent’s primary responsibility to influence children; however, I appreciate my boys having scripture and a godly lifestyle reinforced through the leaders at church,” says Julia Caish, leader of 8th grade girls and camp nurse.
Because DNOW is hosted in the spring, students are forced to make some tough decisions and sacrifice time away from home. Eleventh grade student, Teresa Orellana, had never been to DNOW and didn’t even want to attend because it meant missing out on prom; however, after some encouragement from her mom, she said, “I am really glad I went to DNOW because it was really nice to get away from everything and hear God in nature.”
Another student, senior Tima Hancock, recognized that “we all need to be examples to the younger members of our group and to those who look at our every move.” That same sentiment applies to adults for whatever groups we have the chance to influence. The call to “Live Sent” is not just for teenagers.
Shannon Rutherford leads the 11th and 12th grade girls and was greatly affected by the message. “I actually went to work the very next day and shared what I learned about the cross. I told them that my story is still being written and God is going to use it for his glory.”
Some people may look at a weekend away from home and think it is just all fun, games, and nothing very spiritually significant can take place within 48-hours. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There were several opportunities for students to respond to what the Holy Spirit was doing in their lives. From those responses there were at least 7 salvations, 8 people who wanted to be baptized, and at least 12 people who have a desire to serve on missions or in ministry. God is certainly not limited to camp timelines, and He will do whatever He wills in the hearts of leaders and students.
“I feel like [volunteering] really stretches my faith and brings it to new levels through trying to answer different questions and be there for the kids. Being surrounded by people that are a wide variety of ages is something that I love that the youth group offers.” —College student Casey Ann Hollowell, leader of 9th and 10th grade girls
DNOW is a unique experience for students and volunteers alike because it is a weekend away from distractions at home, there are several age generations represented, everyone is surrounded by people who are striving to grow in their Christ-likeness, and it provides ample opportunities to meet someone you have never talked to before. “I may be one of the older adults, but I cherish every opportunity possible to serve. Age is just a number, and hopefully my heart for Jesus is what everyone will see,” recounts Kevin Bass, who was on the Food Prep team and played an integral part in feeding over 100 people each day for three meals.
One of the college students serving as 6th grade boy leader, Trey Henderson, said, “I think it is so important for younger students to see college students serving, getting along, being friends, and having a heart for Jesus.” This is key to living a sent life: that people around us could look at our lives and notice that there is something drastically different in the way we love, serve, care for, and help other people.
Bruce Simms, leader of 11th and 12th grade boys, echoes the importance of demonstrating a Christ-like example. “This world needs another generation that knows the truth and is faithful to follow it. The best way to affect the future is to raise up the youth to follow Jesus.”
Overall, students and volunteers can have a blast at a weekend away, but when the chief aim is to know Jesus deeper and to grow closer together as a church body; the Holy Spirit moves in big ways, peoples’ lives are completely transformed, and we are reminded to live a life walking in obedience to Jesus’ command to “Live Sent.”
If you are interested or have questions about serving in student ministry, please contact Pastor Mark Young at email@example.com. If you are interested in upcoming student events, please visit Swift Creek’s Student Ministry page.
About the Author: Renee is the wife of Student Pastor, Mark Young. They have two children, Ezra (2) and Piper (1), and another girl due in September. She enjoys reading and doing anything outside. She consumes too much coffee and is eager to talk to anyone. Renee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org