dcla big room

a few years ago, ys picked up this large triennial youth event called dcla (it had been a youth for christ event since the mid-80s). we hosted dcla in 2006, using a modified version of the approach that had been developed for the 2003 event. that approach was to use the big room meetings to do a narrative walk through the story of jesus as seen in the gospel of john. drama, film, music, animation, mini talks — all combined to weave the story (or stories).

(the labs, a seperate aspect of the event, allows a very interesting space — in peer circles of 8 teenagers — to process and interact. in 2003, that was around the 3-story concept: understanding the relationship between god’s story, my story, and my friend’s story.)

when we were considering whether or not we were even going to DO dcla 2009, one of the things we decided was that we only wanted to plan the event if we thought we had something new and fresh that we were excited about as a framing for the content. in some dreaming meetings earlier in the year, we landed on the “be. love. serve. repeat.” idea, as well as the hope of expanding the big room concept to telling the entire story of god — the whole bible narrative.

so, these last two days (tuesday and wednesday), i sat with four others to lay down some rails for that idea of the big room. obviously, we knew we couldn’t somehow tell every story in the bible over 3 big room sessions. so we had to come up with a thread. we talked about various aspects of god’s story, various threads that could be pulled or followed to create a pathway. and we landed on a story thread, or framing device, that was to tell the stories of god’s interactions with humans to redirect the story. for a while, we were referring to these scences as times when god “broke the plane” and interacted with humans. but we reminded ourselves that that isn’t accurate, really, since there isn’t a plane to break.

based on that “god’s interactions with humans to redirect the story”, we created a long list of bible stories that hang on that thread, or are implicated by that theme. that list is below. lots of stories didn’t make the list, after discussion about whether or not they really connected with that theme.

all of that work was done in about a half day. then came the real challenge. we knew that list was still way too long. so we went back through the list and culled it down to those stories that seemed essential to both the thematic thread, and to telling a reasonably complete version of god’s story or the grand narrative arc of scripture. we wrestled, argued, theorized, philosophized, prayed, considered, proposed, and laughed our heads off. but we really sensed that god was in this thing, and that we were crafting something that could be really helpful to the tens of thousands of kids who attend dcla.

anyhow, here’s the list. the struckthrough words — like this — are the stories we cut from the list.

Moses call/exodus/pillar & cloud
Boy Samuel/Samuel/saul/david/Nathan/Solomon
[writings] (psalms, etc)
kings & prophets
Jeremiah (29 – “know the plans I have for you… in 70 years”)
Daniel/shadrach, meshach, Abednego
Anna/simeon/42 generations
Birth/angel choir
Baptism/Trinitarian moment/temptation/reading the scroll (luke 4)

(this part of the storyline was a toughie. based on our thread of “god interactions with humans to redirect the story”, every single story from the life of jesus qualifies! so we had to find a secondary framing for the life of christ. we considered a framing from Isaiah, and a few other prophetic fulfillments. but in the end, we decided to go with a contextual theme of jesus’ counter-cultural, revolutionary actions and message. so we listed some of the counter cultural kingdom of god, god-in-christ moments that we thought fit the arc, then winnowed from there.)
woman at the well
– anointing feet
– healing on the Sabbath (including matt and friends)
– eating with sinners
– lepers/unclean woman/jairus’ daughter
jesus speaking truth to those in power
– foot washing
7 woes
centurian/cannanite woman

(back to the regular storyline)
Pentecost (focus on the shift in relationship from pre- to post-pentecost,
that we’re invited into the relationality of the trinity)

at the end of our work, we sat around and talked about what an amazing gift it was to spend two whole days reflecting on the stories of god and the story of god. it’s rare that any of us would take two whole days for this. but to sit in a room with a group of 5 and talk about these stories, reflecting on god’s story-crafting, god’s love, god’s interaction with humans — wow, what a gift.

now i’m really pumped about dcla.

10 thoughts on “dcla big room”

  1. Hey Marko,

    DC/LA is great. I have students already clamoring for 09. I like the idea of a broader story. The thread is God redeeming his people, so I am surprised Noah didn’t make the cut, but that is a big task you took on.

    I have been to every other Dc/la since ’88. It is an amazing experience for students and you guys did a great job in 06.


  2. As a long time YFC’r back in a church ministry setting, I’m excited to hear more about DCLA and where you are taking it. Thanks YS for keeping it alive and keeping the changing momentum of this conference. See you in DC!

  3. I took students to LA in ’06 and promised the younger ones we would go back in ’09. Unfortunately, school is not out here until the end of June (with provincial exams during the LA period). I was just going to throw the towel in, given that we have also used the 3 Story curriculum, but got excited when I saw the new theme. So we are going to try to fundraise our butts off to get to DC.

  4. Good stuff Marko.
    i get excited thinking about the numbers of students who will have the chance to connect to the larger biblical narrative and be unleashed to help redirect the story…

  5. I love this post. That is a challenging project. I like the decisions except for Jacob. It seems hard to remove a guy who wrestled with God and won,but with a limp. Then God renames him Israel which is the name of God’s people. I don’t know, just my thoughts.

  6. Marko, it sounds like what you guys did those two days is also my favorite way to explain salvation, using the overall story. I would be interested in what qualifications you guys used to pick the stories. After creation I tend to stick with stories where God tried to remake creation. Seth, Noah, nation of Israel, Jesus. Just wondering.

  7. Way too late for every-day bloggers, but as someone who was in the room with Marko I’ve been telling the same story for almost a month. The chance to gather with good people in a great location to reflect and wrangle over which stories of the Bible might best be stitched together in this unique delivery venue to tell The Story of God’s mission in the world–the arc of the good-to-great news that zeniths in Jesus–well, it makes me write run on sentences! The most refreshing time of my past month. I hope my YFC family jumps into DCLA 09 and takes advantage of it like it was our own event.

  8. Hey Marko,

    Sounds great! Keep up the good work. We’ve got students starving to get back to DC and as a result the new ones have a desire to be there as well.

    Just a comment on the big room experience … I understand that Compassion International does an awesome job and it’s truly simple to sign up for and affordable even for today’s “iPod/new cell phone every other month” generation … but … is there any other creative ways to call students to action in meeting the world’s needs other than yet another Compassion Internation plea.

    This may fall under the “I’ve been a youth pastor too long and have heard it too many times but my students are hearing it for the first time” category … but what how would we call students to respond (or to “Serve”) if Compassion International wasn’t there and didn’t sponsor the event.

    I guess I’m just reflecting back on the past two DC events where it felt like the whole Compassion thing was forced and not a real part of the flow of the event. Again, I realize this is very subjective so take it for what it is worth: just a youth pastor who cares for this event and is thrilled that you guys are at the helm!

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