Disciple Now weekend unites churches

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NORTHWEST FLORIDA–“The church extends beyond the membership of any one congregation,” said Danny Mann, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Marianna. “We are working together to advance Jesus’ kingdom.”

For many churches, the annual Disciple Now weekend has become a much-anticipated retreat event for youth groups, filled with live worship music, guest speakers, games and service projects, but for churches in more rural communities, the event may be a new concept.

“I received a lot of blank stares and weird looks three years ago when we were planning our first DNow, but this year we were like a well-oiled machine,” said Nathan Morris, associate pastor at Trinity Baptist Church. “As we approach our neighboring churches with the idea, we create on-ramps for them to participate by choosing to make it as big or as small as they want.”

Chipola Baptist Association 2024 DNOW guest speaker, John Vickers, student pastor at The Point Church in Pensacola spoke to students on the theme of “Lost and Found”.

Multi-church events in smaller, spread-out communities enable bigger churches to minister with and to smaller congregations, foster a cooperative relationship between churches and impact the community in a profound way.

Five churches in Northwest Florida recently joined together for a joint DNow weekend for youth in the community.

“We gathered together for worship and teaching sessions, while breaking out into our individual churches for meals, activities and small groups, which allowed each group to contextualize DNow for their students,” Morris said.

Uniting for the event breaks down imaginary walls and divisions by bringing the body of Christ together for worship, service and discipleship.

“It is an awesome opportunity to demonstrate oneness in Christ,” Morris added.

CJ Ervin, youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Marianna, feels the multi-church DNow “gives the students a glimpse of what the universal church is and how local churches can partner together to grow in Christ and proclaim Christ to the community.”

Several of the more than 85 students in attendance expressed a desire to grow in their faith and pursue Jesus with greater passion. Two students sensed a call to ministry, and one made a profession of faith.

“We do better work when we work together,” Mann said. “We have a vision that every church in Chipola Baptist Association is built up to better fulfill the Great Commission in the communities where God has planted them. “

The churches participating in the multi-church event included Trinity Baptist Church, which hosted the weekend event, First Baptist Church in Marianna, Eastside Baptist Church in Marianna, and two other nearby churches, including one congregation in Dothan, Alabama.

Morris emphasized, “We have to be more intentional about cooperating, especially in rural areas and with students. I look forward to seeing what God does with this little thing we are doing in Jackson County. We had five churches participate, and I pray next year it’s 10.”

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