After my experience of Big Exo Day 2006, I am seriously considering taking my own youth group to Big Exo Day 2007 (September 1st). Obviously if you plan to take a group to Big Exo Day 2007 you’ll need to plan for all the usual things like advertising sufficiently early, transport, notifying parents, and budgeting to make sure you don’t loose money. However these are the three further things I plan to do in order to capitalise upon the Day’s strengths, and mitigate against the day’s weaknesses.
- Check out the 2007 speaker.
- Prime the kids before the day.
- Plan for follow up after the day.
I’m always cautious about allowing youth group kids under my care to be taught by a speaker who I have not heard myself, or received a recommendation about from a person I trust. The speaker for 2007 Big Exo Day in Sydney is Reggie Dabbs. I have not researched who the speakers are in other cities. Reggie Dabbs is an American with many years experience speaking to high school students, and has previously spoken at Youth Alive events in Australia. Searching across the web I was only able to uncover two examples of Reggie’s speaking. The most illuminating was a talk from a youth camp in 2004 (the other example was a podcast from Promise Keepers). The context of the 2004 talk appears to be very similar to Big Exo Day, so is a likely indication of how Reggie will speak at Big Exo Day 2007. If so, Big Exo Day 2007 will probably have similar strengths and weaknesses to Big Exo Day 2006. Reggie is likely to give a talk that creates enthusiasm and interest for Christianity in teenagers. However his use of the bible may only be token, and his communication gospel propositions is likely to be superficial.
As well as considering the speaker, it’s important that you prime the kids before you go to Big Exo Day. That is, the expectations you give them about the day can either help or hinder. It is easy to give kids the expectation that Big Exo Day will simply be lots of fun and entertainment for them to consume. If you do, Big Exo Day may unfortunately foster a selfish and consumeristic attitude that youth groups must be continually fighting against. It is probably more helpful to give kids the expectation that Big Exo Day is an opportunity to love others who they hope to see join the kingdom of Christ. That is, before the event encourage your youth group kids to be excited when their non-Christian friends say yes to coming, and not only excited about the fun they themselves will have on the day. Likewise, with so many different things on a the same time during the daytime, it is easy for kids to be focused on maximising their own fun, and forgetting to care for each other, particularly kids who may feel new or out of place. It may be wise to give kids the expectation that they may have to choose little less fun themselves in order to care for others.
Finally, before you go to Big Exo Day 2007 you must have a follow up plan for those who want to make a commitment on the night, or express further interest in Christianity. The shape of the follow up plan will vary depending on your context. It may be introductory bible study groups, one-on-one meetings, or something else. The important thing is that you have a plan. Those who make a commitment on the day will need lots of care and nurture far beyond what it possible on the actual day.
You may or may not bring kids to Big Exo Day yourself. However, my hope and prayer is that by reflecting on Big Exo Day you may be better able consider how best to use large evangelistic events in our common goal of growing the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.