By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Imagine an evening of live music, outdoor sports, video games, an inflatable obstacle course, and hundreds of dollars in prize giveaways.
Area youth will have the opportunity to experience this excitement (and more) at Destination Night (D-Night) Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 6 to 9 p.m.
“It’s for sixth- through 12th- graders,” said Greg Gross, youth pastor at WestPointe Church. “It’s going to be a free event, with free pizza and soda.”
WestPointe Church, formerly known as Delano Assembly of God, is located at 9090 Highway 12 in Delano. It has a youth room with video game systems and two flat-screen TVs, as well as plenty of outdoor space for volleyball, football, Frisbee, and other sports.
Throughout D-Night, students will have the opportunity to race through a large inflatable obstacle course, hit a car with a sledgehammer three times for $5 (proceeds go to missions), and win an assortment of valuable prizes.
Students can also dress like their favorite celebrity for the “celebrity look alike” contest, watch a live drama, and listen to a live band.
One Accord (OA), a nationally recognized band from Minneapolis, will be performing throughout the evening. The group is based at North Central University, which is the college Gross attended.
Gross and youth evangelist Micah MacDonald will be the evening’s speakers.
“I was called into ministry in eighth grade,” Gross said, explaining that he’s always had a passion for encouraging youth in their faith.
Since Gross came to WestPointe in March, the church’s youth program, Flight Student Ministries, has grown from about 30 active middle and high school students to more than 50.
“We meet every Wednesday from 6:45 to 8:15 p.m.,” Gross said. “That’s really cool.”
Youth evenings typically start off with music, followed by an activity and a message. Afterward, students often enjoy spending time together in the youth room, which is known as the “hangar.”
“At 9 p.m., about 20 to 30 of the students usually go to Applebee’s for half-off appetizers,” Gross said. “It’s a great way for new people to get to know everyone, and it also gives me time to connect with them.”
Flight Student Ministries is aided by Gross’s wife, Courtney, and six volunteer young adult leaders.
By May 2012, Gross said he hopes to have 80 to 100 active students in the program.
“Students are attracted to it,” he said. “It’s a safe place. Students are encouraged and challenged here.”
Gross is preparing for hundreds of students to attend D-Night.
“We already have about 40 to 50 volunteers,” he said.
Posters are on display at several area businesses, and nine youth group members have been wearing D-Night t-shirts every day to draw awareness to the event.
“They’re getting excited about it,” Gross said.
The person who gets the most friends to attend D-Night will receive a free pass to a youth convention in Rochester the end of October, a $110 value.
Gross said he envisions D-Night as a growing annual event.
“A teenager’s life is constantly changing, and we strive to be a positive influence for them to rely on, and a resource to come to when problems arise,” Gross noted.
Businesses or individuals are welcome to make a contribution to help fund this event and/or future events.
To learn more about D-Night, call WestPointe Church at (763) 972-3334, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here.