‘A spirit of devoted worship’: 1,300 youth gather for discipleship event at Georgia church

Attendees participate in a worship service at the Disciple Now gathering at New Hope Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Georgia on March 24-26, 2023. | Nate King

Approximately 1,300 youth from 17 congregations gathered at a Georgia megachurch last weekend for a multiday worship and praise event, with many making commitments to Jesus Christ.

New Hope Baptist Church of Fayetteville's north campus hosted the annual "Disciple Now" gathering from March 24-26, centered on students in grades seven through 12.

The gathering, billed as the largest youth ministry gathering in Fayette County, included small group Bible studies led by college students and large group events led by nationally acclaimed speakers and worship bands. 

New Hope Senior Pastor Rhys Stenner told The Christian Post that attendees had "an anticipation and a preparedness for what God was going to do."

"He softened and prepared hearts," said Stenner, describing the gathering as an "incredible time of worship from the first service to the last," with there being "unity among the churches."

According to Stenner, there has been a yearly increase in participation in Disciple Now since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pastor said that for Sunday morning worship, there were approximately 300 students and 12 "unexpected baptisms."

"The tremendous spirit of praise that morning was above the usual despite a terrible deluge of weather that morning," he recounted. "There was no dampening the enthusiasm, and probably the most joyous we had had on the Sunday morning of a DNOW."

Attendees participate in a worship service at the Disciple Now gathering at New Hope Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Georgia, on March 24-26, 2023. | Megan Edwards

Stenner hopes the gathering will foster long-term "unity amongst the students" and that they will be "a witness to others about what God has done in their lives."

The continued growth of Disciple Now comes as there has been an eruption of evangelistic outreaches among younger generations in recent months.

In February, students at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, began an impromptu worship service after their regularly scheduled chapel time, eventually transforming into a 16-day revival service in which thousands of people traveled from across the country to attend.

The constant worship service inspired spontaneous services at other college campuses, including some public academic institutions, as well as at churches and at least one middle school. Some Christian college students were even inspired to travel for hours to bring the spirit of revival to major universities like Ohio State University and Michigan State University. 

When asked if he felt that the revival movement influenced this year's Disciple Now turnout, Stenner replied, "we don't think so, directly."

"There was a spirit of devoted worship and praise that was striking and noteworthy. It's always a good event, but there was a notable sense of reverence," said Stenner.

"On the last night, nobody seemed to want to leave. He is the same God."

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