Thursday morning February 21st, just before 11 am. There you are , sitting on your couch. A couple more minutes and it’s time. At last time to open the envelope that arrived by post a coupe of days ago. Some have probably opened the envelope already, some undoubtedly tried to peek inside, ahead of time. But you? You have exercised great self-control. But then, it’s 11 o’clock. You’re on your feet, ready to go! The Next Move Leadership Event has just started and there is only one way, and that is forward! 


It is my conviction that we are all born to lead: We are all called to lead our own life and in the process, we grow to lead others too; that’s a natural part of life. With time comes maturity and with maturity comes the possibility and the desire to see others become all that they can be; this brings about growth on the giving and receiving end of the bargain. As a married man and father of three children, and as the director of Next Move, I have grown and matured through the challenges I have faced over the years, my successes and also my failures. By living my life. By falling and picking myself up again. 

Growing, maturing, that’s what we want to facilitate for the young people who joined the NXM Leadership Event. It is our longing that they would grow in their identity in Jesus, that they would serve God from their character, from what God Himself put in them. To do that, we thought up a real-life game, the “Dare To Move” game, pushing the participants out of their comfort zone, taking them literally and figuratively to places where they had not gone before.

“We are all born to lead”

It was a fantastic and very ingeniously designed game: a trip from Groningen in the Netherlands to Prague, in the Czech Republic, with three intelligently crafted play elements. First of all, the participants were split in teams and each team had to choose its own route, deciding on the amount of points that could be earned depending on the route (see the photo above). Secondly, each team was given ten minutes per hour to play three cards from the Next Move variation on the Monopoly Deal game (see the photo below). And thirdly, each team was allocated 10 euro (approximately 11 dollars) per team member to cover the costs of whatever accommodation the team arranged for the first night of their trip. 

This, you can imagine, brought about a high level of challenge, indignation, frustration, fun and crazy situations: one team ended spending the night in a train station in Germany while another team made it into a luxurious four-star hotel after befriending a train conductor. This particular choice, comfort or no comfort turned out to be the key to victory. The team which arrived in Prague with most money in their pocket got a bonus for every euro they had and that gave them the necessary edge for the win. Thirty hours after the participants had opened the envelope with instructions in Groningen, they had all reached their destination, the capital city of the Czech Republic, Prague. 

After checking-in at a surprisingly hip hotel and enjoying a lovely three course-meal, we were ready for our first service. From the life-story of Gideon, I spoke about “Dare to look back”. Like in Gideon’s life, there are altars in our lives which need to be torn down to build new altars for God instead. The family we grew up in, for instance, may be an altar we need to tackle. That can be challenging, uncomfortable to the point of painful, but we find courage in knowing that God has already provided us with all we need. That truth, that promise allowed us to look back on the trip to Prague but also the journey of our lives up to this point. And in doing so, it is inevitable to think about the family one comes from. It was beautiful to see God’s Spirit get room to speak to each person individually. Even the owner of the building we were using for our service felt how special the moment was; she came to sit close to us and declared afterwards that the singing was so gorgeous that she could not resist and felt drawn to being in the same room as we were. 


Saturday morning we had a decent sleep-in and a yummy breakfast and we were ready for the “City Run”. It consisted of visiting six top touristic attractions in Prague which all in their own way pointed to a part of the story of Gideon. I personally was waiting for the participants stationed at the Saint-Vitus Cathedral,. a gigantic building erected over a period of seven centuries. The designer of this magnificent building has long died and many of the people involved in the building project never saw the end result. Forgetting the one, the little (seemingly) insignificant one who made all the difference. When the cathedral was built. When Gideon was called. The youngest of an insignificant family from one of the smallest tribes of Israel. Do you believe that you may be called for something much bigger than yourself? Something grand which you may not even see with your own eyes? 

After the City Run, which for some teams was more like a City Walk, we left Prague behind. Often the destination we have in mind is not actually our final destination. All teams ventured into the new part of our adventure together; we took the train to Dresden, Germany, where a relaxed afternoon of sport awaited us, followed by another service.

All this ended up building up to the Sunday morning, climax of our time together: The Arena. After a time of adventure and challenge, a time of learning and growing, of experiencing Jesus real close, often, reality seems to hit us particularly hard. To prepare ourselves for that, we stepped, one by one into the arena where we each in turn declared out loud what we stand for and what we believe God is calling us to do specifically. In response to that declaration, the rest of us had to come up with imaginary arrows, attacks, lies to – as it were – throw at the person in the arena. It seems real hard but whatever is said by the audience turns out to never be harder than what the person has already said to themselves a hundred times! But at that moment, you make the decision to stand up for what you know to be true about yourself and your calling. That is a mighty, life-defining moment, followed by surrender, kneeling and sealed by the prayer of those around the person in the arena. One particular young woman made a great impression on me. The moment she stepped into the arena, she broke into tears. “I feel under attack already”, were her first words but she regained her composure again. I hardly dared to say anything to her but that’s game, so I challenged her anyway: “You say that you’re okay now, but every time the going gets tough, you just crawl into your shell!”, to which she retorted: “That’s right but I always crawl back out of it!”. 

What an awesome adventure this Leadership Event has been! We saw young men and women come closer to their God-given destination. Our adventure has been a moment in time to become vulnerable through our shared commitment and our physical tiredness, a place where honesty, openness, transparency set the tone, a place where the next generation of leaders learn to know themselves and to express themselves. Hurrah, cheer for the men and women who dare to step into the arena, who Dare To Move!