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Speaker 1:

You’re listening to the Roundup Podcast, a podcast on reaching the college campus, developing leaders and sending out kingdom multipliers. This podcast is created by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and provided through Cooperative Program giving.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well, howdy friends and welcome to the Roundup Podcast. I’m your host, Mitch Tidwell. Thank you for joining us today. Pretty excited about today’s episode with Drew Dabbs. Drew is the minister to college at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Mississippi. Drew and I got to meet a couple of years ago in what’s called a leader learning community we did with Scott Kindig. He was helping us think through how to make disciples of college students who then can in turn reach the campus. That was a couple of years ago.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well, talking to Drew recently, he’s seen his ministry go from a leadership huddle of 12 college students to now 30, I think, eight huddles of these leadership huddles. He’s rapidly making disciples. I was like, “Man, we got to get you on to talk about that, how you’re doing that.” Then also we talk about missional community and how these kind of communities of students are being used to reach the college students on the three campuses they minister to. It’s a super fascinating podcast.

Mitch Tidwell:

Grab a journal, grab a pen, open notes up on your computer because I think there’s a lot of good nuggets here for you to take away in terms of methods to making disciples, and then also reaching those on your campus. Super excited for this. Before we jump in, I want to share with you, we are just a few weeks away from Roundup. It’ll be May 12th through the 14th. This is a collaborative learning environment for what we call as church-based collegiate multiplier.

Mitch Tidwell:

If you are leading a college ministry, as a college pastor or a pastor, or if you’re a student leader in your college ministry, this event is for you, and it’s completely free. It’s in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. We have a great lineup. J. D. Greear. We have Daniel Yang. We have Dusty Thompson and we have just 20 something other breakout speakers with all kinds of topics. You can find out more information on sbtexas.com/roundup.

Mitch Tidwell:

It’s going to be a great event. It’s free. All you need to do is get there. I will say that you only have a couple of days left to register because registration ends May 1st. Make sure you get registered. The best way to come is bring a team. Don’t come alone. If you have to come alone, that’s totally okay, but try to bring your ministry team with you, because what we found is that if you learn together as a group, then you don’t have to go back to your church to cast vision for what you learned. You can capture it there.

Mitch Tidwell:

We’re going to create time and space for you to learn, but also for you to collaborate with other churches and collaborate with your church to determine, what are your next steps going into fall 2021? It’ll be a great time. Don’t forget to register, sbtexas.com/roundup. Now, let’s get to our interview with Drew Dabbs. Drew, how’s it going, man?

Drew Dabbs:

I’m doing well. How are you?

Mitch Tidwell:

I’m good. We’re a way past snowvid, which was the crazy ice storm here in February. We’ve got through spring break and now this will actually be dropping in April. Temperatures are warming up. We’re doing pretty good here, man. Man, glad to have you on. Thanks for taking the time to be on.

Drew Dabbs:

Hey, absolutely. I love the work you all are doing in Southern Baptists of Texas Convention over there, and excited to get to be a part of it.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, dude. I’m really impressed you got the name right. Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Nobody ever gets that right, but good job.

Drew Dabbs:

SBTC, it’s super easy.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. There you go. It’s usually Southern Baptist Convention of Texas is how people word it, which is how I did for like the first year I worked here. Anyways, well man, glad to have you on. Just to tell listeners, Drew and I, how we got to know each other. A couple of years ago, we were involved in what we call a huddle with Scott Kindig and a bunch of other college ministers. Just learning how to develop leaders in ministry and do missional community.

Mitch Tidwell:

How to try to get students to think less inwardly and more outward focus, to see their campus and the people that they’re around as a mission field, rather than as church, as this consumer estate kind of thing that they attend. I know, Drew, that when we were in there, man, you were … I don’t know if I’d call it … I guess we were students, but I felt like you were one of the best students in that room.

Mitch Tidwell:

I know that you have done a big transition in your ministry in developing these leader communities of leadership huddles and the missional communities in your church. I want us to get to that here in just a second. Before we jump into that, I’d love for people to have some context about you and who you are, where you’re from, a little bit about your family. Then tell us about the church in which you minister.

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. I’m Mississippi born and raised. My plan was to graduate college and leave Mississippi and I’m still here in the town I went to college in, which is awesome. Now, I’m a Mississippi College grad. Mississippi College is in Clinton, Mississippi, which is just west of Jackson. I moved here as a freshman in 2004 and the Lord kept me here. I became a part of Morrison Heights Baptist Church, which is a large church here in Clinton, in 2005, which I think you had Dr. Charles Smith on here recently.

Mitch Tidwell:

We did.

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. He was the worship leader at the college ministry and I was his bass player. That’s how I became a part of the college ministry, and true-

Mitch Tidwell:

Dude, I just picture you with a mullet and just take on that bass man with those fingers. That’s what I’m picturing, Drew Dabbs.

Drew Dabbs:

Actually, you are not that far off, man. I had a lot more hair back then and it was a lot longer.

Mitch Tidwell:

I love it.

Drew Dabbs:

Well, actually it probably was mullet-ish at some point. Yeah. We-

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Yeah. Which by the way, I feel like that’s making a comeback among college students. Are you seeing that at all where you’re at in Mississippi?

Drew Dabbs:

Man, I got this kid that recently permed his mullet.

Mitch Tidwell:

Oh, so it is a thing. I love it.

Drew Dabbs:

It is. It’s pretty awesome though. I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to do it, but I’m behind him all the way.

Mitch Tidwell:

Absolutely.

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. I’ve been married for the last six years. My wife’s name is Kristie. We got two boys, four and one, Isaac and Nathan. I’ve been in ministry since 2011, serving here at the church and in the college ministry before that. I’m the college minister at Morrison Heights now. We work on three college campuses. We’ve got Mississippi College, 5,000 students, small private Southern Baptist.

Drew Dabbs:

15 minutes one way, we got a large community college campus that has about 1,500 students on campus. Then 15 minutes the other direction we got HBU Jackson State University, which they’re about 7,000 enrollment there. We do ministry on all three campuses.

Mitch Tidwell:

Man, that’s great, dude. Well, cool. Well, tell us a little bit about Morrison Heights. I know that when we were in that call with Scott, that all of us were going through there for about a year, I know there were some transitions that you were making in your ministry. Tell us a little bit about when you got into your college ministry, what did that look like?

Mitch Tidwell:

Then as you began to learn some of those things about leadership huddles, missional community, how did you begin to make that transition? Then really behind that. Why did you decide to make that transition and establish your ministry the way it is?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. The before for us, before leadership huddles and missional community, we had student-led Bible studies and there were a couple of things that were always core to the DNA. We always wanted them to be missional, in the sense that we always saw it as we’re developing student leaders and sending them back to campus to lead Bible studies that even lost people could come to, but we hit a point. Two things happened about three years ago.

Drew Dabbs:

We had a group come in named Life Action Ministries. They’ve been really critical in my walk. We had a group of freshmen that the Lord started doing some really cool stuff in their lives. Out of that, I recognized that we needed a place in our ministry where college students could practice confession and repentance, where they could name their sins and actually hold one another accountable. I recognized that our Bible studies weren’t doing that.

Drew Dabbs:

I had a leader who we were just talking about how we were evaluating our own Bible studies. He said, “You know, I feel like if I were to call out one of the guys in my Bible study on their sin, that would just be weird.” I heard that and I’m like, “Okay. Well, if it’s not happening in our small groups, then where is it happening? How are students going to hear what the Lord’s saying and respond in obedience? How are they going to experience freedom from sin?”

Drew Dabbs:

I started looking around and try to figure out, “Are there any churches that have that place?” Also, we looked at our Bible studies and saw that they weren’t, on the one hand, discipling students well, but on the other hand, they weren’t really that missional either because most lost people aren’t that interested in a Bible study. We were sending our students out and we were releasing them well, but they didn’t really have the tools they needed to disciple well or do mission well.

Drew Dabbs:

While we were searching, I found a couple of churches that had some things happening that I really liked. Those churches were using this leadership development tool that they called huddle while they were doing missional communities. I just started finding people who could help me learn how to do that. That’s how I ended up in this group with all these Texas guys-

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Yeah. You did.

Drew Dabbs:

… who welcomed me in, which I was really glad because Texas is so much bigger than Mississippi.

Mitch Tidwell:

Wow, man.

Drew Dabbs:

I appreciated y’all.

Mitch Tidwell:

You seem like one of the guys, man.

Drew Dabbs:

I said bigger. I said bigger, not necessarily better.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. That’s right.

Drew Dabbs:

That’s how I ended up in that group.

Mitch Tidwell:

Okay. Tell me a little bit about … We’ve been using this terminology, leadership huddle, missional community. Can you define those for me and what are the differences between those?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. Leadership huddle, for us, it’s groups of anywhere from three to six students who are believers that meet weekly. That for us is a really high commitment. We’re telling them, “You’re there every week pretty much, no matter what.” If you miss a couple of weeks, the leader is going to sit down and have a conversation with that student, “Hey, are you bought in? Is this what you want, or do you need to take some time where you can commit to this later?”

Drew Dabbs:

During that time … This is not a Bible study. It’s a time where they sit across the table and look at one another and say, “What’s the Lord saying to you, and what are you going to do about it?” It’s repent. What’s God saying to you? And believe, what are you going to do about it this week? We want them to, as a disciple, learn to hear the voice of the Lord for themselves.

Drew Dabbs:

We have some tools we use called life shapes that we use, but all the life shapes are really just born out of that idea of the Lord is speaking to us in our lives all the time and when He speaks we need to obey. That’s huddle for us.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Okay. Then you have huddle and then missional community. What’s the difference that you see in those two things?

Drew Dabbs:

The main difference is huddle for us is given solely for believers, but missional community would be where we welcome those who don’t follow Christ in.

Mitch Tidwell:

Got you.

Drew Dabbs:

We say missional community, the line we use is they’re families on mission. They’re families of anywhere from eight to 20 believers that are gathering regularly as the body of Christ. Then they’re pursuing lostness, engaging lostness regularly. They have a regular rhythm of engaging lostness. For us, we spent a year just doing huddle, just discipling leaders to prepare them for missional community.

Drew Dabbs:

Now, those tend to work side by side, but through the transition, the very first thing we did was disciple leaders because we didn’t have enough leaders to run missional community. We had to disciple people into understanding the mission that God’s called them to. Now we’ve got, I think it’s 11 missional communities that we’ve developed and led over the last two years that are doing ministry on campus.

Drew Dabbs:

For us, missional communities are all fully student-led. We have a lot of leadership development happening within that. The key difference is anyone can be a part of a missional community, but huddle is very invitational. It’s only for believers.

Mitch Tidwell:

If I’m getting this right, it was you assessed your ministry. You thought, “Hey, this is not a bad thing, but I think this could be better as far as confession of sin, but also this missional component to this ministry.” What you started with was gathering just a leadership huddle and you begin to invest in a few that eventually multiplied themselves into other huddles, but also these missional communities, is that right? Am I tracking there?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well, so tell me about that first huddle. When you say, “Hey, I need to …” I think this is what the case is with a lot of ministries, Drew, is that they’re like, “I just don’t have the leaders. I don’t have the capability.” It sounds like you just started from your little nucleus of students and it just grew from there. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. One of the things that Scott always told us, told me, was that if your vision outpaces your leaders, you need to slow down and make more leaders. That’s a statement I have had to return to over and over again for the last three years. When we started that first leadership huddle, I had 12 leaders who were primed and ready to be huddled. They had been a part of my leadership team, most of them for two years already. I’d already walked alongside of them for two years.

Drew Dabbs:

I didn’t necessarily know what I was doing, but I was investing in them. I already had the relational component of a huddle, that has to be there as you’re inviting people into your life. For that group, all I had to do was give them the challenge, “Hey, we’re going to do this for you. You’re going to learn how to do it and I want you to go ahead and start doing it with others.”

Drew Dabbs:

If I did not have those 12, my first task would be, “Okay. I just need three or four or five, who will say yes to being huddled for a year.” Where I could walk alongside of them to get to the point where I could look at them and say, “Okay. Hey, we’re going to continue doing huddle, but I want you to now grab three or four or five guys or girls.”

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. That first year, it was me, my wife and another female leader in our ministry. We just huddled those first 12 as they started leading their own huddles. It’s multiplied outward from there to where we have, I think 38 huddles right now happening and two and a half years now doing it.

Mitch Tidwell:

Wow, man. Y’all three led that huddle and simultaneously they were … Essentially those students were part of two huddles. They were with you guys and then also they were actually going on to lead their own huddles and what they’re learning in y’all’s they’re sharing in this other one. Is that correct?

Drew Dabbs:

Exactly. Yeah. I don’t know that that would work in most situations. It was just really clear at that time to me that the Lord had arranged it so that our leaders were ready to do that.

Mitch Tidwell:

Got you. Got you.

Drew Dabbs:

I think we got to accelerate the process a little more than a lot of people who may make this transition would.

Mitch Tidwell:

Hey, you mentioned something just a second ago. You said … What was the quote you got from Scott? If your vision outpaces your leaders, you need to slow down. Is that what you said?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. Slow down and make more leaders.

Mitch Tidwell:

Man, that’s good. Now, why did that quote resonate so much to you?

Drew Dabbs:

Being a minister, I always think everything’s going to go faster than it actually does.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. It’s so true.

Drew Dabbs:

I tend to believe that what makes stuff happen is my ability to strategize and create a 1414 and set all the goals for how much X by Y and all these things. I did all of that and the Lord still gave, but it was never as much as I imagined. I always had to remind myself my first task as a minister … That statement reminded me that my first task is to make leaders, and if I trust that process, I don’t know, I guess it’s like a snowball rolling down a hill.

Drew Dabbs:

It’s just going to keep on taking more and more snow until it’s the huge avalanche at the bottom. That’s the kingdom growth I want to see. That’s not something I can force or make happen. If I were feeling frustrated that my vision, that I couldn’t enact it, then I would remember that statement and step back and say, “Okay. How can I make more leaders so that the vision that I think the Lord’s given me can actually happen?”

Mitch Tidwell:

Dude, that is a stinking word, man. That is really good. You could write a book on that and sell a bunch.

Drew Dabbs:

Well-

Mitch Tidwell:

Maybe Scott’s got the rights to that, I don’t know.

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. I’m going to let Scott have that since I quoted him on it.

Mitch Tidwell:

I love it. Man, that is such a really good word. I guess because I’ve seen, probably even in myself and then even in other ministries, is just that frustration of feeling like there’s something the Lord wants to do, but don’t have the bodies to do it. Part of that is realizing that part of your vision may be, hey, to develop the leaders that are going to fulfill what the Lord is doing in your midst. Man, such a good word.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well, let’s zoom in just a little bit more on the nuts and bolts of a leadership huddle. You talked about the big picture is to help them know and obey, so listen to the Lord and obey the Lord. You mentioned a life shape. It sounds like the major core competency there is it that you help people listen and obey the Lord. Is there anything else going on there that you’re trying to ingrain in the students? Because that seems to be your major leader development disciple-making method, is that leadership huddle, right?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. It’s through huddle where we identify people who are ready to become leaders.

Mitch Tidwell:

Got you.

Drew Dabbs:

We’re developing them as leaders. Man, one thing I recognize is before we were doing leadership huddle, I was pretty much dependent on college students showing up and being ready to lead before they got here, because I didn’t have a mechanism to help them grow as leaders, right?

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah.

Drew Dabbs:

There’s just not that many college students who show up as an 18-year-old guy or girl ready to lead. What I’ve seen is that huddle has given us the mechanism to both develop and identify people who are ready to lead. I think it’s just helped us really expand and multiply. Some of the things that are first priority to getting the students, one is, hearing the voice of the Lord, responding in obedience.

Drew Dabbs:

A second one is to help them evaluate their relationships. How’s your relationship with the Lord? How’s your relationships with other believers? How’s your relationships with the lost? That’s the key component to help them start thinking about mission. Then another big one for college students is thinking about rhythms of work and rest, and how to do that well, because until you get that right, it’s really hard to do mission.

Drew Dabbs:

Until you’ve learned how to just manage your life in general, it’s hard to give up your life. You’ve got to have the margin to go and do and pursue the lost and be in community with the body of Christ. Those are some of the big things. Life shapes it’s just a picture to help you process God’s truth, to help you process the truth of scripture. It’s an evaluative tool for us.

Drew Dabbs:

It’s not a curriculum we’re trying to force students through, but it’s based out of 3DM, Mike Breen’s book, Building a Discipling Culture. The idea is that he has … And we’ve found that those ideas consistently come up in our discipleship with college students. If one of our huddle leaders here is like, “Man, my students are just exhausted.” I would say like, “Hey, you need to walk them through work/rest.” What we call the semicircle.

Drew Dabbs:

It’s a tool that they have. It’s really helpful and it’s really reproducible. That was a big thing. A lot of the discipleship stuff I tried in the past, I could teach it, but then my 19-year-old sophomore would just feel overwhelmed and not know what to do. When it comes to life shapes, it’s really easy, really practical, and any of our student leaders can take it and reproduce it in the lives of others.

Mitch Tidwell:

Man, that’s a good word, especially the whole work/rest. I mean, I see that at the local ministry that I’m at in my church. I feel like I see students that they’re at the far edges of those pendulums oftentimes, where it’s like it’s work, work, work, work, work for the kingdom. Then they burn themselves out. It just slams to the other side where it’s like, rest. They don’t want to do anything. They just need a lot of care because their Christian walk has become more about working for God rather than being with God. That pendulum swings pretty heavy.

Mitch Tidwell:

Then [crosstalk 00:22:27] you get somewhere you just got to kind of push them out into the field of like, “Hey, you know you’re sent.” Well, that’s really good, man. That’s your main hub where, one, you’re discipling folks, but you’re training up leaders in your college ministry disciple there. I think it’s cool.

Mitch Tidwell:

One of the things that … Personally, I use the life shapes too, and I know that it really helps you be … If you can get to a place of being really intuitive on how you’re using some of those tools based on where the people are at in your ministry, are currently, just as you said, if everyone feels exhausted, well, it’s probably time to, “Hey, let’s talk about work and rest a little bit in this.” That’s good. I had some … What was that?

Mitch Tidwell:

I was just thinking of something else I wanted to ask about that. I’ll come back to it here in a minute if I can think of it. Okay. Well, cool. All right. Now you’ve got leaders in these huddles and then now they’re going out to lead missional community. Now, missional communities is a much different thing than a huddle. How are you preparing to launch those, or how do you know who’s doing that? How does that happen?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. It was a funny transition transitioning away from Bible studies to missional community. We had to help our student leaders understand, “Hey, you’re no longer just leading a Bible study, although you will do some Bible study as a part of missional community.” For us, missional community has a rhythm. Our leaders spend two weeks focused on … We call them up and in, so relationship with the father and relationship with one another as believers. That family time is the body of Christ.

Drew Dabbs:

Then on the third week, they have what we call an out night. They’ll throw some kind of party or a hangout time, specifically focused in on inviting people that they wish knew Jesus better. It’s the kind of party that lost people would want to come to.

Mitch Tidwell:

Got you.

Drew Dabbs:

We say those parties are 95% fun, 5% Jesus, because you got lost people and saved people in the same space. Then on the fourth week, I tell them, “You can do whatever you want. You can have a planning night. Y’all can just go get dinner together, whatever you want to do.” There’s a really natural rhythm built in, and we’re just asking students to give this time every week. Our students pretty much totally plan out their missional communities.

Drew Dabbs:

I give some guardrails, but as far as where they want to tackle, what area of lostness on campus they want to tackle and how they want to tackle it, I give them freedom. Then my staff and I just step in and coach them on it. We do leader learning communities twice a year at the beginning of each semester, where we put all of our missional community leadership into a room, and we work them through some tools so that really they do all their own evaluation of the previous semester. Then they develop their plan for the next semester.

Drew Dabbs:

When we first started doing that, I was nervous because I’m like, “What if they mess it up?” After that first semester, I realized that, honestly, them messing it up is one of the best things they could do because at the next LLC, they dug in and they figured it out themselves. By sometimes even failing, they have learned how to become missionaries in their current context, even better than I could have if I just told them how to do it.

Drew Dabbs:

We have a process that just gives them guard rails and sets them free to learn how to run on their own. That’s been, honestly, one of my favorite parts of the process. We invite anyone who wants to help lead to LLC. I’ve got a few leaders in each group, but I say, “Hey, whoever you want to bring to leader learning community, bring them in.” We’ve seen more energy and excitement come from that time than anything else we do as a ministry.

Mitch Tidwell:

All right. Going back for just a second, you got missional community roughly two nights of a month. It’s time with the father, time with each other. That third night is just an out party, something. Invite lost people to. That fourth night it’s up to their choosing.

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah.

Mitch Tidwell:

You’re evaluating all of this through these leader learning communities that you’re doing at the beginning of fall and beginning of spring, is that correct?

Drew Dabbs:

That’s it.

Mitch Tidwell:

Okay. For that fall, that leader learning community, that’s basically shaping that fall, is that correct?

Drew Dabbs:

That’s correct.

Mitch Tidwell:

All right. You said-

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. You would look back to the spring and evaluate, and then you would look forward to the fall.

Mitch Tidwell:

Got you. Got you. Okay. Wow. That’s really cool.

Drew Dabbs:

We set a goal. Last spring, we wanted to see our missional communities multiply, and so we were trying to do all this stuff to get them to multiply. Of course COVID dropped in the middle of the spring, and our groups did not multiply at all in the fall. We had eight groups last spring. We had eight groups again this fall. We didn’t do anything with it last fall. At our spring LLC, our students, by their own volition, got the vision for multiplication and they just multiplied.

Drew Dabbs:

We went from eight to 11 missional communities just at LLC. My staff didn’t do a thing to see it grow. It was pretty powerful to be in that room and see that. Something that I had wanted and I thought would go faster, just happened on its own because the DNA was there. They got it-

Mitch Tidwell:

It become culture. Yeah.

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

Mitch Tidwell:

Wow, dude. Let’s step into the leader learning community just a bit. You’re evaluating the past and you’re planning the future. Is that essentially what’s happening?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. We ask three questions that guide LLC. What is, where they’re looking at the current reality, and we have some tools to help them with that. What could be, asking them to dream about what God could do. Then finally, what will be, where they’re going to say, “Okay. Out of all the possible things we could do, here’s what we’re going to do.” Then closing out in a worship celebration time. Then we try to do some sort of community building things as a part of that.

Drew Dabbs:

COVID’s messed that up a little bit for us, but we’re, like everybody, hopeful for the fall.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Wow. Out of that leader learning community, because of the fostering of the huddles, the missional community and that leader learning community, it’s like they’re learning to dream and catch this vision for disciple-making multiplication. It’s cool to watch because it’s like the natural by-product of disciple-making is multiplication and you don’t have to overtly say it. It just happens.

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. Yeah.

Mitch Tidwell:

Wow.

Drew Dabbs:

That started with huddle where we’re telling students in the very beginning, “Hey, I’m going to disciple you, and eight months I want you to be ready to disciple someone else because that’s how the kingdom of God grows.” At the personal level, you’re setting up for multiplication. That just flows right out the group, the missional community level. I’m praying that one day that’s going to even flow out to the ministry and church-wide level to where we’re multiplying out college ministry, college-focused churches at some point in the future.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. I remember Scott used to always say that to us. I forgot the exact wording of it, but if you make disciples in turn you’ll end up getting new churches when you do that. Well, that’s really cool, Drew. I think something I forgot to ask, but when you’re trying to identify those folks to be in a huddle, what are you looking for there? Is that open to everybody, or how does that look?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. Folks we would want to huddle?

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Drew Dabbs:

I tell my students a couple of things. Number one, look for people who really want it. If you’re trying to force someone, they’re probably going to drop a couple of weeks in. To look for people who say, “To be discipled, it’s something I want.” In the past I’ve said, “You need to huddle people who are committed to being a part of Morrison Heights.” But we’re getting to a place where I’m stepping back from that a little bit and just, “Hey, the people the Lord put in your life, disciple them.”

Drew Dabbs:

I tell my students, “Give a high bar, a high challenge invitation. Give it to several people knowing that not everyone’s going to say yes and that’s okay. The ones who do say yes, go with them.” Yeah. We do set a pretty high bar for huddle because I would rather set a high bar and have people tell me no, before they join my huddle rather than a month in.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Yeah. Because you just end up getting frustrated. Yeah.

Drew Dabbs:

Exactly. Exactly. We have two levels of huddle. We huddle our huddle leaders as they’re then huddling that third tier of disciples.

Mitch Tidwell:

Got you.

Drew Dabbs:

Then we have a few things we look for to determine whether or not someone’s ready to lead a huddle on top of that.

Mitch Tidwell:

Got you. Well, man, what do you think as you have … This leadership huddles, missional community, leader learning communities, what have you seen? How’s this really impacted your ministry? Could you give us a synopsis of that? I know you’ve shared a little bit around it, but any thoughts you’d want to give there?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. The switch from, I would say a top-down structure of ministry where it’s like me as the minister trying to oversee and have my hand in everything, to a transition to where it’s really bottom-up, it’s students leading everything and I’m just empowering them, that has given me more joy and freedom in my ministry than I think anything else I could have done.

Drew Dabbs:

Four years ago, I would have been looking out at our college mid-week gathering and felt a burden that we’ve got … At that time, we had 65 students in the room and I really only knew where 12 of them were spiritually. That really burned. There was so much pressure on me to try to be that person for all 65 in the room, versus now when we have a college gathering, I can look out and for about 80% of the students, I know I may not know them well personally, but I know who does and I know who’s discipling.

Drew Dabbs:

Man, that’s just given me so much more freedom. When I preach the word, I’m like, “Okay. I may not say this exactly right but I know Dylan or Samantha are going to be in these people’s lives. They’re going to help them get it and put it into practice.”

Mitch Tidwell:

Man.

Drew Dabbs:

It’s just given me a tremendous amount of freedom as I lead our ministry, man. To know that we’re developing leaders that, Lord willing, we’re going to send all over the world and they’re going to have an impact, has been very freeing. I didn’t set out to do this with the goal of seeing an increase in numbers in our ministry. We just initially added in huddles. We didn’t really change anything else.

Drew Dabbs:

We added in huddles, and that alone changed the feel of our college gathering times. You could sense a spiritual vitality in our worship gatherings that was different.

Mitch Tidwell:

Oh, so you guys also do a mid-week worship gathering too, huh?

Drew Dabbs:

We do.

Mitch Tidwell:

Okay.

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah, we do. We do a college mid-week gathering. We’ve done it weekly. Right now we got a little bit of a funky schedule, but yeah, we’re doing all of it. Having huddle, having missional community, people feel like this is their church family. We don’t feel like we’re asking too much of them to do all that, at least not at this point.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Well, man, Drew, that’s really good. Do you happen to have maybe just a couple of maybe stories, testimonies of students and just how all of this has really created fruit in your ministry? Is there anything you can think of?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. We’re on our fourth generation of huddles.

Mitch Tidwell:

Wow.

Drew Dabbs:

I can think about that first group that jumped in. I got two students in particular, Khalasia and Dylan. Khalasia’s out of college. Dylan’s a senior. I can look and see four generations in both of them, four generations of disciple, where there are freshmen who are being discipled as a result of Dylan and Khalasia’s line. Also, they’ve continued to disciple more every year.

Drew Dabbs:

Just thinking about Dylan who came in as a freshman, he was one of our first huddle leaders his sophomore year, and seeing how he’s grown as a leader. Now he’s, in the fall, planning to move to New Orleans and be a part of a church plant that’s trying to do a house church model of church to reach the city of New Orleans, the hard places in New Orleans.

Drew Dabbs:

I didn’t call him to that. The Lord called him to that. That’s the stuff that gets me excited about doing what we do here in little old Clinton, Mississippi.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Well, I love that, man. Well, that’s great stuff, Drew. Man, it’s been a real joy just to get to walk with you through all that from our time with Scott, to see what God has done through that and just the releasing students. God has gifted every student. He’s put His Holy Spirit in every student who’s trusted in Him as Lord.

Mitch Tidwell:

In fact, if we could just invest in them the most important things and release them to be disciples, it’s pretty awesome to see what happens and to see how [crosstalk 00:36:22] the ministry. That’s really good. Well, Drew, if folks want to connect with you, what’s probably the best way to do that?

Drew Dabbs:

Yeah. You can add me on Facebook and shoot me a message. You can look up our church, Morrison Heights Baptist Church. You can find my email address on there. My church email address is ddabbs@morrisonheights.org. You can also reach me at drew.dabbs@gmail.com. That’s Dabbs, D-A-B-B-S. Two Bs. Got to get that.

Mitch Tidwell:

Awesome. Well, Drew, thanks so much for being on, man. This was really great, really helpful, just talking nuts and bolts of the ministry and about releasing students. Man, I appreciate you taking the time to jump on with us.

Drew Dabbs:

Anytime, man. I enjoyed getting to share.

Mitch Tidwell:

All right, man. We’ll talk to you later. See you, Drew.

Drew Dabbs:

See you, Mitch.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well, friends, thanks for joining us on the Roundup Podcast. A great interview with Drew. Please reach out to him if you have any questions. I know he’d loved to hear from you and would love to help you. Don’t forget, Roundup is happening May 12th through the 14th. You got a couple of days left to register. It is free. All you have to do is get there. It’s at sbtexas.com/roundup.

Mitch Tidwell:

Then follow us on social media at SBTC Collegiate. That’s on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We have a Facebook group, Roundup Network. You can jump in there, ask questions, idea share. It’s got the gamut. You need to join that network of other college leaders from around Texas and also the nation.

Mitch Tidwell:

Please like and subscribe, and even review this podcast. We’d love to gain more listeners who want to know how it’s being a benefit to you, or not being a benefit to you. That would actually be super helpful. Thanks for joining us today and we will see you next time.