DiscipleNOW (DNOW) weekend kicked off with piles of pillows, plates full of pizza, and plenty of excitement for what was in store for the weekend. 145 students, both members and guests, and 85 adult volunteers gathered at the church campus over the weekend of March 2-4 for Salem Student Ministry’s annual retreat.
Joined by guest speaker Brandon Watts, lead pastor of Epiphany Church in Brooklyn, New York, the students engaged in a weekend of worship services and small group sessions centered around the theme “Holy,” along with theme verses 1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV):
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”
In the first small group session, the students discussed God’s holiness and that to be holy means to be set apart from the rest of the world. During discussion, one student said, “That’s like sanctification and how God changes our hearts to be more like him.”
Part of the weekend was more specifically focused on how Jesus interacted with the unholy and how his holiness overcomes all sin and uncleanness in order to make us more like him. Pastor Brandon also used parables of Jesus, such as the lost sheep and the lost coin, to illustrate how Christ pursues the lost, leaves the 99 to find the one, and rejoices over that one sinner who repents and returns to follow the Lord.
Conversations erupted into response – students shared their newly found and deeper understanding of the parables and how it applied to their lives and to their faith. They emphatically talked about how they related to the parables, knowing that God has pursued each of them personally. As a result of this truth, they found that they should pursue others and make disciples, as we are all called to be set apart and made like Christ.
By the end of DNOW, the students grasped what it means to be holy, to be set apart, and how they can continue to grow in their personal faith. Such would allow God to continue to shape their lives into his own holy image, knowing that this theme was not confined to the weekend itself, but is something that impacts every part of our lives in Christ.
“One student came to Christ …. Others chose to tear down idols and place God back on the throne of their hearts.”
Josh Komis, Pastor of Student Ministries, reflected on the weekend. “One student came to Christ. Several recommitted their lives to him. Others chose to tear down idols and place God back on the throne of their hearts. Some are opening up to what it means to know and follow Jesus. Our students unified around their love for Jesus and connected to fellow students. We saw great discussion and openness about spiritual struggles.”
Among a weekend about holiness – being set apart and shaped into God’s image – God not only moved in the lives of the students, but also showed how Salem’s multi-generational church body came together in service and support of the students.
Young adults served as small group leaders. The praise team led worship music for the weekend alongside the tech team. Others served in hospitality as host homes for the small groups. Several groups prepared and served meals for the students throughout the weekend. God is certainly at work in the Triangle and beyond. May he be praised!
An abridged version of this story first appeared in Salem’s April 2018 Update. Click here to download it!