I started Devotional Drop-in a few years ago. I had come to realise that I wasn’t giving God the time and space I should – not proper, quality time where I could listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting as I read God’s Word and time where I could pour out everything to my heavenly Father in prayer. I then started to suspect I wasn’t alone!
I was also concerned that new Christians needed to see this done and have it modelled to them – not just have daily Bible reading notes thrust into their hands. Little did I know how God would also start to use DDI to reach non-Christians (and nominal Christians) with his Word through it too.
What is it?
Devotional Drop-in is a time and space for people to experience a guided ‘quiet time’ with God. There is no discussion (unless this develops naturally after the session has ended) or feedback. And it runs strictly to time to encourage those who have limited time available.
- Gives people a regular and manageable time they can fit into their schedules (but is advertised as a drop-in and hence no pressure to commit)
- Opens the door for people to engage with the living God – maybe in a way they don’t know how to do or have never done
- Gives people the opportunity to meditate and ‘chew on’ God’s word
- Gives the Holy Spirit a time to speak into people’s hearts and minds, as they’re quiet and still before God
To run a Devotional Drop-in you ideally need:
- A room – preferably large enough for people to feel like they have ‘their own space’ (comfy chairs or sofas are a bonus)
- A means of projecting a PowerPoint presentation and playing sound
- Bibles, paper and pens available (though regulars may like to keep a notebook they bring each week)
- Light refreshments (not essential, but helps to create a relaxed atmosphere)
- A creche would help those with small children to attend (in my experience, having children present is too distracting, but parents of small children can find these sessions especially welcome)
DDI is a 20-25 minute guided quiet time. A PowerPoint runs through on a timer, guiding people through the session. I generally use the following pattern (although I do vary it slightly sometimes):
- SLIDE 1: Listen to a worship song – something to focus our hearts on God.
- SLIDE 2: Read a verse or short passage of the Bible (I have specific DDI bookmarks that I use to mark the place in church Bibles in advance. You don’t want someone to spend 5 minutes just looking for the right verse!)
- SLIDE 3: A sentence or two of context, if that’s necessary or helpful (but keep it simple). Two or three questions about the content of the Bible passage or verse.
- SLIDE 4: Three or four questions encouraging people to apply the passage to themselves.
- SLIDE 5: Some suggestions for things to pray about, off the back of the passage or session. Encourage people to respond to what God has been teaching them.
- SLIDE 6: Listen to a worship song – if possible encouraging the application of the passage or our response to God following it.
Consider making handouts available with a verse printed (some people find colouring it in helps them to meditate on the words) or with a different version or paraphrase (for example, from The Message) if you think it will be helpful.
Make the sessions standalone so that people really can drop-in when they can without feeling they’ve missed something critical.
Run the same session as many times through the week as you like. (I even ran two sessions back-to-back and found some people stayed for both so they could spend more time thinking and praying.)
You don’t actually need a leader present as long as the PowerPoint is running smoothly, although it is good to have someone available at the end in case anyone has questions or needs support or prayer.
COVID made me switch to using Zoom – and I soon discovered this reaches a whole new set of people who couldn’t attend in person. So I will be continuing to use Zoom even though we’re also back meeting live.
DDI can be publicised in your whole church – no need to worry about group dynamics or numbers (unless you have room capacity limits) as there is no discussion during the session. You can encourage anyone to come along who would like a bit of a ‘reset’ in their quiet times with God.
You can also encourage people in your church to invite friends and contacts who they feel have a spiritual interest, or an interest in engaging with God. Maybe they’re not quite ready to come to church, attend a course or do one-to-one Bible reading. But a time of peace and quiet to relax and think can sound very non-pressured and attractive.
I have always created my own PowerPoints, but tried to use various resources so I’m not starting from scratch each week. I try to have some sort of theme even though I’m trying to make each session stand alone. For example I have done a series on the attributes of God; the promises of God; the seven ‘I AMs’, etc.
For a few months I made available to everyone a daily Bible reading book (3-minute devotions) and I based the weekly sessions on every seventh session. Some people just kept doing the DDI sessions alone, but some took the notes and tried to do them every day in between (but each week was a reset for them even if they’d missed some).
Some other resources I have found useful in planning sessions (to varying degrees):
- One2One by Andrew Cornes
- The Cross in Four Words by Kevin DeYoung, Richard Coekin and Yannick Christos-Wahab
- 5 Things to Pray for Your Heart by Rachel Jones
- Once-A-Day Bible Promises Devotional
- Abundant Grace: A Gift from God (Devotional Prayer Journal)