Day of Encouragement seeks to train and inspire

Elizabeth Bouwkamp-Staff Writer

Day of Encouragement: it’s all in the name. It is a day for encouragement—a day to train, inspire and challenge students, alumni and the broader church community. Students hear about the event, yet are curious about its purpose.

At a basic level, the all-day event showcases a keynote speaker as well as individual speakers for three smaller group sessions.

The Feb. 4, 2017 event begins at 8:15 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. An event of more than ten years, hundreds of people within a 60 mile radius gather on Dordt’s campus; some drive greater distances. With opportunities for learning and networking, the college seeks to provide materials and training for college supporters and church communities alike.

But what do students gain from this event?

Aside from the reduced student price and lunch provided, “[It’s] a good way for students to get training and ideas now before their asked to make those commitments [to church committees and leadership roles],” said Alicia Bower, Alumni and Parent Relations Coordinator at Dordt College.

“Part of our goal is to help lead and guide important conversations that the church is currently having and needs to have,” said Aaron Baart, Dean of Chapel at Dordt College

Individuals may pick and choose three breakout sessions to attend on the following topics: family, worship, youth, tech media, preaching and shepherding.

In reference to the array of topics Dianne De Witt, Events Coordinator at Dordt College, said, “It’s a rich buffet.”

The keynote speaker, Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., directs LifeWay Research and remains active as a contributing editor for Christianity Today and column writer for Outreach Magazine. Stetzer also conducted interviews with news networks including the USAToday and CNN.

Baart said if students care about the church today, they should attend. The day consists of new ideas and old reminders.

Baart and his wife Nikki Baart plan to lead a breakout session titled “This Thing Called Love: The Mysteries of Intimacy.” Other Dordt College faculty including Tara Boer, an instructor of social work, and Deb Vogel, a music department adjunct, plan to lead individual sessions. Boer will speak on “Vulnerable Parenting: Finding Joy in the Hard Stuff” and Vogel’s presentation deals with praise teams.

“A fair amount of CCM [Contemporary Christian Music] is written for solo artists, which is more difficult to adapt to congregational worship,” Vogel said.

“When students graduate from Dordt, most of them will more than likely be in a [multigenerational] church, which will be different from worshipping with those from one age group [as in GIFT and Praise and Worship],” she said.

“The purpose of this workshop is to assist those planning and leading worship in multigenerational churches on how to choose and adapt CCM for their congregations.”

Bower refers to the workshop as training that’s local, said Bower.

In the future, the college plans to determine which topics interest Dordt students. Dordt especially seeks to know what subjects students believe need to be talked about in the church?

“If you want to learn more about worship, if you have a heart for caring and shepherding people who are sick or hurting or going through cancer…I think that’s what sets it [Day of Encouragement] apart” Bower said.

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