As a catalyst for mission, Seventy-two is about helping ordinary Christians find their next step in the Mission of God. This often means signposting people to resources, as we have been doing at our two Spring Harvest stands this Easter.
There’s one resource we’d really like to flag up through Seventy-two but we’re aware it could cause confusion!
The confusing bit is that DNA Groups are an idea we’ve been promoting through Seventy-two for a while. These are Christians meeting in twos or threes to learn together using the Discipleship Cycle. In this case, DNA stands for Discipleship, eNgagement, Authenticity.
This DNA, however, is a Christian Discipleship and Leadership year that’s described as ‘a gap year with a difference’, but for any age.
These two ‘brand names’ have arrived from different directions, but with exactly the same purpose in mind – that being a follower of Christ is our core identity and will infuse everything we are, making God’s mission our mission throughout life. Only changed lives change lives! Here, Emma Bowden, who is a DNA Trainee this year, describes her experience of this.
I started an Alpha course on the 10th of January 2017, just before my 21st birthday. My friend Linda from my hockey team invited me. I knew she was a Christian as we always had deep discussions about it to and from hockey matches but I come from a non-Christian household so this was as far as I gave it thought. When Linda asked me to go, I was in a pretty dark place; I was in my final year of university, and had been heavily depressed for a few years previous due to circumstances at home. I went because I didn’t think I had anything to lose, my life lacked purpose and I often wondered if there was more to life than what I was currently experiencing? I wrote some diary entries around that time which was rare but I thought to myself that this could be something I want to look back on and remember. After the first session I simply wrote: “I need more”.
I continued to attend Alpha and enjoyed each week thoroughly, making new friends and gaining understanding that there was more to life if I wanted it. I remember towards the end having a bit of a meltdown after one of the sessions, and making the decision there and then that I was going to give this whole “God” thing my full attention because I could not live my life the way I was currently anymore. I was miserable. So after Alpha came to a close, even though I didn’t consider myself any further along the belief scale, I decided to attend a home group for 18-30 year olds (from the same church as Linda). Here I made wonderful friendships with people my own age, who were all very different but all accepted, like a family, in this group.
One week the home group leader, Sarah, invited me to church on the following Sunday. Now I play football on a Sunday and I had an inkling she was going to ask me this so I already had my excuse lined up: “sorry I can’t because I have a game”. But she was ready for me; they were just setting up a new 6pm service and she said that this would be great for me because it was after football. I had no way out, so on the following Sunday at 6pm I found myself in church. I genuinely thought they were all crazy at first, lifting their hands in the air, shouting out things and one woman was even in the corner waving a flag (yes, a flag) about. I thought nope this is definitely not for me. But I found myself there the following Sunday and the one after that and the one after that. I couldn’t stay away. These weird, broken people were starting to become, dare I say it, my friends. They welcomed me into their family with open arms and it felt amazing. My depression was gone. I was healed of it and I hadn’t even noticed because God had been so gentle.
As I listened to the talks on a Sunday, they made so much sense; they put everything in my life into place and gave it reason, purpose and understanding. Somewhere along the line I started to believe. When I finished university, Sarah prompted me towards DNA. I never thought I would be appropriate for it (I had literally been in church a couple of months, a baby Christian if you will), but Sarah assured me that I would be perfect for it and that it would help answer the many questions I had.
I had no clue what to do with my life (does anyone?) after university, so I decided to apply and see what happened. During the interview I was so honest with the DNA team about my life that I was sure they would definitely not want me but a few days later, to my amazement, I received an email saying I had been accepted onto the course. It has been a whirlwind of a year, with many highs and lows but it has been the best year of my life so far. The topics you cover on DNA are amazing and varied, there is something for everyone and I have learnt so much. However, the best part of the journey so far has been the friendships I have made. I’m only half way through the course as I write this and I have grown so much already, and have been supported the whole way by my fellow DNA-ers and the team. I was very apprehensive about being a new Christian as I felt I wouldn’t know anything compared to everyone else on the course but DNA is honestly for anyone at any stage in your journey with God.
You can’t give away what you haven’t got. DNA is about discovering who you are, and how you are. Going deeper in knowing God as your Father, Jesus as your Brother and the Holy Spirit as your Helper. Learning to love yourself and discovering your dreams and your gifts, and changing your life for good! Forever!
DNA is your year of great growth. You’ll be stretched, but also safe! We create a culture and a community of family, love and laughter, as well as challenge and change. Our emphasis is on your discipleship and development, because it’s as you grow that you can grow others. How do we create this culture of Nurture? Through the DNA Team, our support staff, our teaching team, and through engagement with previous DNA Trainees on years 2 and 3. And through careful placement of trainees to quality local church, either your own or one that we provide. We are all about serving and working through local church, God’s chosen vehicle on earth.
You can’t be discipled in a vacuum. A disciple is a learner-doer. So on DNA what you learn is what you do. It’s faith in action. If our emphasis is on your discipleship, yours will be on serving God, His people, and the wider community. Your year will be packed with opportunities to learn through servanthood in action, locally, nationally and overseas. You will never be used as cheap labour; rather your serving will be the context for your growth and development. DNA is never about theoretical theology, but it’s about theology in action, because what you really believe is what you do and how you live. Come and Join in!
Why not check us out further on our website.