Intro: They may be called the next generation, but they’re the church of today. Reach, disciple and mobilize students to share the hope of the Gospel. This is Next Gen on Mission with Shane Pruitt.
Shane Pruitt: Hi friends, Shane Pruitt here. Thank you for hanging out with us, on another episode of Next Gen on Mission. Today is a good friend of mine, Greg Stier. We’re going to be talking about mobilizing students to reach other students.
Shane Pruitt: Now, Greg has over 25 years in youth ministry. He’s widely viewed as an authority on teen issues and adolescent spirituality. Over the course of the last 20 years, Greg has spoken to over 1 million teenagers at major venues across the nation.
Shane Pruitt: Greg, welcome to Next Gen On Mission. We are so glad you’re here.
Greg Stier: Hey Shane, glad to be a part of it, man. Love what you’re doing, and I love the name of the podcast. Next Gen On Mission, I love it, it’s like music to my ears.
Shane Pruitt: Well man, we have a great marketing and content team that came up with it. I would love to take credit for it, but it wasn’t mine.
Shane Pruitt: Before we dive in, to some deeply spiritual things, tell us one fun fact about you, that we wouldn’t normally know?
Greg Stier: I can work the nunchucks pretty well. I was a child of the late ’70s and ’80s, so End of the Dragon came out, and everybody ran and got nunchucks. I didn’t date a lot, so it gave me a lot of free time to work the nunchucks. So just know, if things go down, I’ve got your back.
Shane Pruitt: I appreciate that, man. Can you do the crane kick, from Karate Kid?
Greg Stier: I cannot. But, I can crack the kid whose got the crane kick …
Shane Pruitt: With the nunchucks.
Greg Stier: With the nunchucks.
Shane Pruitt: That’s awesome, man.
Greg Stier: That’s all I can do.
Shane Pruitt: I love it.
Greg Stier: But, I wouldn’t do that because I’m a follower of Jesus. I don’t want to do that.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah.
Greg Stier: Throw a little Testament on him.
Shane Pruitt: I can beat you with nunchucks in Jesus’ name, that doesn’t really work? Yeah.
Greg Stier: That’s right.
Shane Pruitt: Hey, well man, we always kick off the podcast by basically asking the same question to everyone, and it’s always fun to hear different responses. But man, briefly share with those who are listening what we need to know about the next generation?
Greg Stier: I believe this next generation is dying a King, a cause and a crew. King Jesus, he said, “All authority in heaven and Earth has been given to me.” A cause, go and make disciples. And the crew is the team of teens that teenagers go on mission with. If they have no other teens, Jesus said, “I’m with you always, until the very end of the age,” so He’s part of their crew.
Greg Stier: I think if we can mobilize them to make and multiply disciples, spread the gospel, look at themselves as federally funded missionaries, like my friend Chris Selby says, at the public school. We can see them, really, flip the switch, and really set the pace for the church at large.
Shane Pruitt: Wow. A King, a cause, and a crew. Man, that’s it, man.
Greg Stier: Yeah.
Shane Pruitt: Podcast is over. Man, wow. I wrote that down.
Greg Stier: Well, you know …
Shane Pruitt: Here’s the deal.
Greg Stier: Go ahead.
Shane Pruitt: If I steal it, I only have to quote you two to three times. After that, it becomes mine, right?
Greg Stier: That’s it, that’s the Baptist way. That is.
Shane Pruitt: That’s right.
Greg Stier: It’s understood, when you become part of the Baptist church, that’s the drill.
Greg Stier: I do think that it really is important, because I think kids are looking for a leader. They’re looking for a mission. I just tell Christian adults all the time, “Man, if we could mobilize our young people on mission for the gospel, with Christ as our King, gospel as their cause and to get them some friends.” It could be youth group friends, school friends, or both, to really go on mission with.
Greg Stier: I think we need to reframe the Great Commission as the greatest cause to a teenager. Great Commission sounds like a bunch of money somebody made on a real estate deal. But, they’re into causes, this is, we call it the cause. Dare to Share, we always call it the cause, this is the cause. So, you want to give the hungry bread, but you want to give them the bread of life. You want to give the thirsty water, but you want to give them the water of life. Want to build the homeless a house, you’re making one in Heaving. You want to stop human trafficking and soul trafficking. And every other cause is a subset of this greatest cause, to make disciples.
Shane Pruitt: That’s amazing. You also wrote a great book called Gospelize. Give us a brief snapshot of the heart behind your book?
Greg Stier: Well, we did a research project, and found seven values in every youth ministry that were seeing 25% new conversion growth per year, or more. We cross checked the seven values with 1,000 Pastors and Youth Pastors, in 10 different cities across the country, from urban to suburban, to rural. From Pentecostal, to Presbyterian, to Southern Baptist. And, double thumbs up, everybody was like, “Yes, we agree with this.” Cross checked it with the book of the Book of X, the Gospels, the Epistles. And just looked at these seven values and were like, “How did we miss these?”
Greg Stier: They’re not present, or massively present at least, in the typical youth ministry. We call it, when you apply these seven values, it’s what we call Gospelizing your youth ministry, and really creating a context for evangelism and disciple multiplication to thrive. To use an illustration of seed chuck in class, Dare to Share we train teens to chuck gospel seeds, to spread the gospel. That’s something you’re passionate about as well. As a Hoosier One, we want to get people chucking gospel seeds.
Greg Stier: But, what we found is if you don’t train the youth leaders how to build a greenhouse, then those kids will stop chucking after a while. So, the seven values are really how to build a greenhouse, where gospel advancing, disciple multiplication mindset is the culture. As the old business saying goes, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” So, to really change the mindset of youth leaders, so that evangelism is not an outreach meeting, but our students are the outreach meeting, and they’re on mission, every day. We equip them, and mobilize them to do that.
Greg Stier: So, that’s really what Gospelize is. It’s kind of like the Biblical basis of those seven values. And then, how do you apply those, in the context of your youth ministry?
Shane Pruitt: Yeah. Man, it really is a great book. What are some practical ways to train students on how to share the gospel with their friends, coworkers and families? Like, on the training aspect, for those who are Pastors, next gen leaders and Student Pastors. In your training the next generation to be the now generation, mobilize them, what are some practical ways to train them on how to share the gospel?
Greg Stier: I think, first of all, you’ve got to give them gospel urgency. You’ve got to get to heart. The way to the brain, we always say at Dare to Share, is through the ribcage. You get the heart, the brain will follow. If you don’t motivate kids, and inspire them, it doesn’t matter what training you’re going to use, they’re not going to use it. We need to get to hearts.
Greg Stier: Secondly then, you need gospel fluency. So, what is the Gospel message? Because they can’t articulate a message that they don’t know, so at Dare to Share we use a Gospel acrostic, that tells the whole story of the gospel from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. G-O-S-P-E-L, God created us to be with Him. O is our sins separate us from God. S is sins cannot be removed by good deeds. P is paying the price for sins, Jesus died and rose again. E, everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. And L, life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. Literally, we train students to memorize that, we say it’s like chords on the guitar. You get the chords down, and then you can make the music. Get gospel fluency down. A lot of kids, they just don’t know the gospel. If they don’t know the gospel, they can’t share the gospel.
Greg Stier: So, we train them in that, you’ve got gospel urgency, gospel fluency. And finally, we have gospel strategy, so how do I actually bring it up? At Dare to Share, we use three simple words: ask, admire, admit. Ask them a ton of questions, get to know them, find out where they’re at spiritually. Admire what you can about what they believe, like Paul did in Acts 17, with the men on Mars Hill. He said, “I see you’re very religious, a lot of altars. I’m going to talk to you about the altar to the unknown God,” so admire what you can. Then, admit the reason you’re a Christian, you’re so messed up you need Jesus to save you, share your story. And you go through the gospel story, and give them an opportunity. Is there anything holding you back from trusting in Jesus right now?
Greg Stier: That’s how we train students. We kind of have training wheels, because we have a Life in 6 Words app. It contains all those elements in it. It’s basically a free, faith sharing app. Students download it, they ask their friends, “If you were to describe your life in six words, what would they be?” There’s 14 words, they choose six of them. And they ask, “Tell me why you chose those words?” They hear their story, and people open up. Then, your six words are pre-programmed in so, “Can I share with you my six words?” You share your story, using those six words.
Greg Stier: Then, “Can I share with you the Bible’s six words?” Then, you use, actually, the G-O-S-P-E-L, God our sins paying everyone life, to just swipe through the Gospel. You can pull verses up, give them an opportunity to trust Christ. “Yes, I’m ready.” If they pushed yes, water comes out of that thing, and baptizes them right there on the spot. No it doesn’t, I’m just joking. But, that would be awesome. Anyway, you can send them their six words, with verse from scripture from each, and continue the follow-up.
Greg Stier: Plus, this has faith sharing groups students can be a part of. And, you can put all the names of the friends that you’re trying to reach in what I call your Cause Circle, people you’re praying for, caring for, and sharing the gospel with. It’s all free, and it’s a really highly functional, very cool app, and it’s a great way to get started. Because literally, you don’t have to know anything about sharing your faith, you can just walk them through the app to start with. That’s why I call it like training wheels. Even though it’s that, I use it all the time. I used it three times, this last weekend.
Greg Stier: I’ve used it a couple hundred times, all together. I’ve never been turned down, to engage with somebody’s six words. Which is really, as you know, it’s really weird for an evangelism tool. I mean, people love to engage with it. So, Life in 6 Words, it’s the numeric six, it’s free on at app store, free a Google Play. Just encourage youth leaders, download it, have your students download it, create a faith sharing group, and use it because it’s free, like the gospel. But, you’ve got to put it into use, so I just want to make that available for everybody.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah, thank you for that, Greg. It really is a great gift that Greg’s giving us, Life in 6 Words, the app. I have it on my phone. We’re excited to really partner with you on that app, Greg, and to promote that, and make that more known in our tribe, across the nation. Life in 6 Words, be sure to download it, it is an incredible tool.
Greg Stier: Here’s what I say, Shane, it’s like, … You ever eat at a fancy steak place? Well I finally got to go to one, and it was really cool because they have everything really nicely on a plate. Like, the plate is all fixed up. But, I didn’t go there for the plate, I went there for the steak, but I’m glad the plate was nice, right?
Shane Pruitt: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Greg Stier: So, the Life in 6 Words app, Three Circles, other … The Four … All these different deviations. They’re plates, you want to have a nice plate. But really, we come for the gospel, it’s just a way to serve the gospel up.
Shane Pruitt: I love it.
Greg Stier: It’s the gospel that we came for, the gospel, that faith, but you want a nice plate. Life in 6 Words is a nice plate.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah, I love it, man. This is so rich, and you’re providing so many practical next steps and tools, I love it.
Shane Pruitt: For the next gen leader whose listening, that says, “You know what? In our student ministry, and our college ministry, our young adult ministry, we haven’t seen any baptisms.” In a way, we don’t ever want to beat up, or be negative, we want to encourage, and help people to take their next missional step. So, for the person that maybe hasn’t seen any baptisms in their student ministry, or college ministry, young adult ministry, what encouragement would you give them? So, maybe a practical next step to move in that direction, being an evangelistic ministry and culture?
Greg Stier: You know, the number one defining characteristic of a gospel advance youth ministry, the values that we surveyed, number one, intercessory prayer fuels it. If you want to reach the lost, you’ve got to pray for the lost. If you want your kids to get a heart for the lost, they’ve got to pray for their lost friends.
Greg Stier: So actually programming time into your youth group, and into your life, to pray for your lost friends. We have some people who even have a prayer wall. They put the first names of their friends, they’re praying for them every week in youth group, sometimes they do it in small group.
Greg Stier: I have a friend who’s a retired Navy Seal, 26 year Navy Seal, and became a Youth Pastor at McLean Bible Church, where David Platt is at now. He read the Gospelize book, he said, “I’m going to operationalize this.” I go, “What does that mean?” He’s like, “I’m going to put it into practice.” I go, “Great, please don’t hurt me.” Then, he said intercessory prayer was the first thing he put into practice. He put it into practice like a Navy Seal puts something into practice. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and we’re going all in.
Greg Stier: He said, “Greg, I have what I now call the Black Toyota Truck effect.” I go, “What is that?” He goes, “I bought a black Toyota truck, because I’d never seen one on the highway. As soon as I bought on, I see them all over the highway.”
Shane Pruitt: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.
Greg Stier: He said, “You know what? My theory is when you pray for the lost, you see the lost. When my kids pray for their lost friends, they see their friends as lost.” Then, those opportunities begin to open up.
Greg Stier: I’d say number one, start praying.
Greg Stier: Number two, look for the 10 percenters. A man came out with a survey, years ago … a study, that if you can get any group, 10% of any group 100% committed to a vision, or a set of values, or a cause, they’ll inevitably influence the other 90%. But, the key is, you’ve got to get the 10% 100% in.
Greg Stier: So, start praying, get your kids praying, and then look for those 10 percenters, and get them all in, toward advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and making disciples, and prayer. Then, they’ll become a thermostat for your entire group. Don’t give up, keep grinding. Don’t just depend on … If you’re doing the same stuff, if I do the same curriculum camp every year, you’re getting the same results. That’s on of the definitions of insanity, doing the same thing, expecting different results. You need to change it up, and you need to take a look at this.
Greg Stier: I’d really encourage everybody to read Gospelize. We have a whole website, GospelAdvancing.org, where they can get free videos on what it means to Gospelize, training videos. They can actually download the Gospelize book, for free. We’re just trying to make this stuff available, so people can take it. I’d encourage it, download Gospelize. It’s the old English word for evangelize, I heard it in a Spurgeon sermon. I was like, “That just sounds cool.”
Greg Stier: There you go.
Shane Pruitt: I love it, yeah.
Shane Pruitt: My mentor once told me we should never talk to people about God, until we talk to God about people. Like, that prayer really is the fuel for everything.
Shane Pruitt: Hey Greg, for the students, you’re constantly in front of students, I am as well. For the students that are listening to this podcast, if you could go back, Greg Stier today, could go back and talk to teenager Greg Stier, or college student Greg Stier, what would you tell him?
Greg Stier: I would tell him to learn what it means to walk in a daily declaration of dependence on the spirit of God, that we don’t have a jumper cable Christianity, that we go to a camp and get all changed up, and then we lose energy. But, that we have current, we have an outlet right in our heart, and we just need to plug into the power of the Spirit, and He gives a steady current of His energy, to live for Him. It’s Christ, through us. It’s dependence on Him, it’s not a list. God loves you when you forget to read your Bible that day. But, the power of the Spirit of Jesus is in you constantly, so Christ can live His life through you.
Greg Stier: Learn to let him live through you, instead of just trying, and trying, and failing, and failing. Learn what it means to yield to the Spirit of God, and live by faith, walk by faith, moment by moment, in Him.
Shane Pruitt: Man, that is so good. Doesn’t that become true, even as an adult, that at the end of the day, Jesus called us to follow Him before he ever gave us titles, or ministries, or positions? So, may everything we do be out of the overflow of following Jesus, loving Jesus, worshiping Jesus.
Greg Stier: Amen. Amen.
Shane Pruitt: Hey Greg, we always close the Next Gen On Mission podcast with, basically, this same on mission charge. The heart behind this podcast is to see the next generation realize they are the now generation. They’re not the future of the church, but the church right now, they have a mission now.
Shane Pruitt: So, give us one closing thought, on this very thing?
Greg Stier: Every major awakening in the history of the United States has had teenagers on the leading edge of that awakening. First Great Awakening, George Whitfield, John Wesley. Jonathan Edwards in the Second Great Awakening. D.L. Moody led a generation of young people, to lead revival across the United States, starting in Chicago, spreading out. The Jesus Revolution was mostly teens, and twenty-somethings, back in the ’70s.
Greg Stier: I think God loves to use the unusable, to accomplish the impossible, because it brings maximum glory to His name. He chooses the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise. So, just own that, and refuse to be overlooked, and seize the opportunity. Right now, in high school, middle school, college age, is the best time to just go for it. But, go for advancing His Kingdom, go for the thing that matters most.
Shane Pruitt: Man Greg, thank you so much, my friend. You always inspire me, every time I’m around you, talk to you. Man, you inspire me to go tell somebody about Jesus.
Greg Stier: Shane, I read your tweets. I read your tweets and I’m thinking, man, this feels like we’re somehow related.
Shane Pruitt: I know, we are. We’re brothers.
Greg Stier: I just love your tweets, your Instagram. The same, spiritually, man, but I tell you, I love your philosophy of teenagers and youth ministry, so keep on keeping on, and look forward to conspiring more in the future.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah, man. Hey, so speaking of social media, how can people connect with you? How can they connect with the great Greg Stier?
Greg Stier: Yeah. Well, that’s my hashtag, it’s just The Great Greg Stier. No, it’s @GregStier. It’s S-T-I-E-R, I before E. Greg Stier, and that’s what I’m on Twitter, and Instagram, and Facebook, and all that fun stuff. Yeah, that’s the best way to connect. I have a blog too, GregStier.org, I try to blog once a week. I have a podcast too, called Gospelize Your Youth Ministry. Or, Gospelize with Greg Stier, and it’s available where podcasts are available.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah. Yeah, in fact Johnny Hunt and I had an opportunity to do one of those episodes on your podcast, so man, that was fun.
Greg Stier: Yeah, that was fun. My goodness, I feel like that was with the OGs, it was great.
Shane Pruitt: That’s right. Well Greg, thank you so much.
Shane Pruitt: Hey friends, thank you so much for listening to the Next Gen On Mission podcast. If you have any questions on reaching the next generation, please email us at email@example.com, and we’ll try to address those on future podcasts.
Shane Pruitt: On behalf of the North American Mission Board, and the Evangelism team, and Next Gen Ministries, we want to provide this book, Gospelize, for any Pastor, Student Pastor, College Pastor, next gen leader at your church. Now, we can’t do it for everybody, unfortunately, but if you’re a Pastor, Student Pastor, College Pastor, next gen leader at your church, if you’ll email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and say, “I listened to the podcast, I would love that Gospelize book,” we will provide that for you.
Shane Pruitt: Thank you so much for your time. Go tell somebody about Jesus.