Ok are you ready? I am about to share the three keys for an awesome Disciple Now weekend. This might surprise some of you, but I am not about to say, “The Band, The Speaker, and the T-shirts,” though those may be important in their own right. There are 3 other things that I have seen bring about more lasting change than any band, speaker, or T-shirt has ever done. In my estimation, if you can get these 3 right you can make up for a bad band or t-shirt (its really hard to make up for a bad speaker so we’ll make him the unofficial 4th key to a good D-Now Weekend).
1. The Theme (go large view over small view)
When designing a D-Now Weekend I like to start with the theme. Generally speaking there are a lot of good and average themes out there (and I’ve done some of them). You have your run of the mill, “back to the basics,” “true love waits,” etc, etc… truth be told these are not bad themes. They just lack the substance I am looking for. If I’m going to invest the man hours that it takes to pull of a great disciple now weekend I want a theme that my students see practically 8 months down the road. (meaning they remember the theme as well as the event, and more importantly apply it to life.)
So what does that look like? Take the “True Love Waits” theme and think about it. Is that really the big issue? What do you want to teach your kids? “Don’t have sex until you are married? Waiting for Sex is good? Purity is better than impurity?” Nothing overtly wrong with those statements, but what if you had the chance to cover the whole “don’t have Sex until you are married” theme put it in a positive light (give the kids something to strive for… rather than something to strive against) and at the same time lead your kids toward maturity in Christ?
How do you do that? You take it a step deeper. God didn’t just make you a sexual being he made you to be a man or be a woman. The questions now isn’t, “will you wait?” But what kind of man or woman will you be? The challenge changes from waiting to being. As a pastor I am not so much interested in behavior modification as I am in leading students into a growing relationship with Jesus. While “If you love them, you will wait” is not a bad theme, it is a small goal compared to God made you for a purpose as a man or a woman.
The bigger theme we went for in DNow last year and several years ago was “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” The point was to help kids understand who they were in God’s eyes even down to their gender, realize how men and women compliment one anther, challenge our guys to be men, free our girls to be women, and help them to know how to encourage one anther in ways they will receive it. While true love waits was part of it, it wasn’t all of it.
So now months later I can ask our young men to filter a thought our an action and do it along the terms of biblical manhood. It doesn’t mean they all drank the cool-aide and are running around using the lingo, but it does mean we have introduced a filter to a world view that will help them evaluate their actions according to what kind of man or woman they are becoming. This year we are going to do it all over again with the theme of Servant Leadership.