Our highest attended student event of the year is “Elevate Weekend”, your church might refer to it as DNOW. As you look through our pictures of this event, it’s very easy to see the screens and it’s hard to ignore the lights. Through these pictures you’re able to see a room full of students ready to worship, have fun, and hang out with friends. You might look at these pictures and think that everything was planned down to the T, and that things were planned months in advance — and I’d tell you that you were right. I’d tell you that our student team worked tirelessly from October through February. I’d tell you we planned, plotted, projected, and prayed over this event from the very start. I could spend a lot of time and tell you about all the great meetings we had, all the obstacles we overcame, and all the personal triumphs when planning this event. But I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to tell you that God moved through the failures and the things that we didn’t plan or have any hand in.
Leading up to this event, our prayers went a little something along these lines, “God, we want these students to see You. Bless every detail and every volunteer that touches this event. Soften our students’ hearts and be with all our staff as we prepare for this event. Most importantly, God, we want your will to be done. We want our students to see You in and through every single part of this weekend. God, we’ll plan and steward the time and resources we have, but ultimately, we want You to show up.” Before we began and ended every meeting, we prayed. Before recruiting volunteers, we prayed. We prayed over the rooms, our breakouts, our “pre-party” — this thing was slathered in prayer, to say the least. So, when things started to go wrong… we knew better than to stay in a panic mode, we let God work. And boy, did He ever!
Our tech was incredible, our speaker was a knock-out, our leaders were prepared, our host homes were the best, and our students came hungry for Jesus — it was looking to be a perfect weekend! Until the sky (randomly) began to fall out; rain just kept pouring and pouring and pouring. When the rain started on Friday night, the projected weekend forecast looked very grim. I wish I could tell you we prayed away the storm (we definitely tried to), but God clearly had other plans. Roads were closed, homes got flooded, cars were damaged — but GOD STILL MOVED. It was clear that we could plan and prep as much as we wanted to, but GOD WAS STILL IN CONTROL. GOD STILL MADE A WAY! HE IS FAITHFUL & HE STILL WORKS!
One of the best moments of the whole weekend was in the middle of service on Saturday night. If you serve or work with youth ministry, you know that at a weekend event, Saturday night is THE night, gospel night. Everything you work for and plan for is so that your students and their peers can hear a clear message of the gospel. But, when when the room suddenly loses all power, and when the back-up generator doesn't come on, you know that God is up to something. In that moment, when the lights went out, we knew this moment and this night was appointed by God. As much work and planning we went into this weekend, this was completely out of our control, but we were excited and expectant to see what God was up to! Our speaker (God bless Rob), kept going and you could genuinely hear a pen drop in a room of 700+ students. Rob gave the invitation and God moved. We had an acoustic worship set and God moved. The lights came back on mid-song, and God moved. We got all the power working again, and God moved.
I say all of this to say… when you plan an event you can (and should) plan everything down to the T. You should steward your time, money, and resources responsibly because that is what we’re called to do. You can plan and you can prep, but it all means nothing if you don’t pray. If you don’t allow and invite God to move, don’t get me wrong He will inevitably still move, but you will miss the blessings that come with allowing God free reign over your event. So yes, plan. Please prep. But most importantly, pray!