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First DiscipleNow sparks growth at Randolph churchcomment (0)

May 26, 2005

By Erin Webster

Take one youth minister, one youth group and one DiscipleNow weekend, and you’ve just created a recipe for growth, spiritually and numerically.
That’s what Calvary Baptist Church in Roanoke discovered after it held its first-ever DiscipleNow weekend in March. Five youth were saved during the weekend, and two more became Christians while attending the church’s Wednesday-night youth class.
Ryan Mitchell, youth minister for the Randolph Association church, said of the five saved during the DiscipleNow weekend, two had joined the church, one went to church elsewhere and the other two were very active in the youth group, although not members of the church.
“Five people got saved so I thought (the weekend) was pretty awesome,” Mitchell said.
Sixteen-year-old Bryant Reese, who attends Calvary’s Thursday-night youth service, said the weekend encouraged him in his walk with God. 
“I was very much affected,” he said. “Especially during the Saturday-night service. I could feel God enter the room and lift everybody up.” Reese added that he would attend another DiscipleNow weekend. “They’re awesome experiences,” he said.
Mitchell said many of the youth felt the same way, requesting to hold the event monthly instead of annually, as Mitchell plans to do.
Involvement in the youth group’s activities has grown since the weekend, too, Mitchell noted. On average, four to five students attended Sunday School, five to eight came on Wednesday nights and 15 to 20 attended the church’s Thursday-night service, called Thursday Night Thing (TNT).
But since DiscipleNow, those numbers have nearly doubled, with 10 to 12 in Sunday School, eight to 10 on Wednesdays and 25 to 30 coming to TNT. “In all, at least 35 to 40 kids come at least once a week,” he said.
Pastor Chris Mitchell noted that the church had no youth when his son was hired a year ago as youth minister. 
“The church decided to step out on faith and hire someone to draw the youth in,” instead of waiting until the youth came to hire someone, he said.
“[The Disciple Now weekend] was the most remarkable thing I’ve seen as pastor the five or six years I’ve been here,” he said. He, too, noted the growth spurt that has happened since that weekend and said that is providing a good foundation to build on. 
Ryan Mitchell agreed, noting that the growth has allowed him to fulfill some plans he has had since becoming youth minister.
In June, the youth group will travel with youth from two other churches — Marble City Baptist Church, Sylacauga, and Concord Baptist Church, Bessemer — for a retreat in Florida. 
Ryan Mitchell noted that he had worked with the youth ministers from both churches on their DiscipleNow weekends, and they had helped with Calvary’s. “Our kids interact well with each other,” he said.
Combining with other churches for trips and retreats helps both youth ministers and students. “It’s good for our kids to meet other Christians outside their communities to know that they are not alone,” said Ryan Mitchell.
Reese seconded that, adding, “I have a lot of friends that I met at other churches. I’d like to see them again.”
Ryan Mitchell said he is also looking into missions trips and other retreat ideas. “I would like to try to do something big at least three times a year,” he said.

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