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. Welcome to another episode of Next Gen on Mission. Thank you for taking the time to hang out with us. Today, we have a very special friend of mine, Kevin Flattmann. Kevin is a student pastor of Cyprus Baptist Church in the Shreveport-Bossier area of Louisiana. He is a husband to his wonderful wife named Megan, and I love having student pastors on, next gen leaders, on themselves because they are in the trenches getting it done. God’s doing great thing through Kevin and the ministry there in Louisiana. Today we’re going to talk about Next Gen and Who’s Your One initiative. I’m so excited about this episode. Kevin, welcome to the Next Gen on Mission podcast, my friend. Thank you for being on.
Kevin Flattmann: Man, thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor, and I’m just very excited to be here, man.
Shane Pruitt: Great. Hey, man, before we get too spiritual, tell us one fun fact about you that we should know.
Kevin Flattmann: When you sent me this, I kind of began to think about that, and I was like, “Well, this is going to shock a lot of people,” because being in student ministry you got to be relevant. That means you’ve got to have to wear skinny jeans and Jordans a lot, right? And so actually, Shane, I’m a cowboy somewhat. I love the Cowboys and love cows and do that kind of stuff all the time. I just got a horse a couple of weeks ago or about a month ago, and my wife is riding now. And so that’s kind of something that would shock a lot of people that don’t really know me very well or do know me very well. But, yeah, we like to rodeo a little bit and do that kind of stuff. We enjoy it a lot.
Shane Pruitt: That’s awesome, man. Hey, I grew up in the country, man, so I rode in rodeos growing up and did calf roping and had the Wrangler jeans that were three sizes too small, where they’re not Wranglers they’re stranglers. You know what I mean? So, hey, man, I’m there with you.
Kevin Flattmann: Of course. Of course.
Shane Pruitt: But living in the city for a long time has definitely changed my wardrobe, man.
Kevin Flattmann: That’s right. Same here, man. They all laughed at me because one day I’ll go into my student ministry attire and then the next day I’m in my cowboy attire. It just depends on what kind of day it is.
Shane Pruitt: I love it, man. I love it. Hey, I always love to ask this question to every leader that we have on, and it’s always fun to hear the different responses, but what do we need to know about the next generation? So you’re working with junior high, high school students on a daily basis. What do we need to know about Gen Z, that generation coming up?
Kevin Flattmann: Here’s what I would say to that is, first of all, I think that this is the word that came to mind as I was kind of preparing for this, Shane, is the one thing that kind of kept coming to mind is this generation, moreso than I’ve ever seen and that I’ve come into contact with, is genuinely hungry for purpose. And, man, I’ve never seen a generation that … granted, I’m not that old, so I haven’t seen many generations. But my point is, is that as you study and you’ve heard, and I’ve talked to very many people of older generations and things like that, what you see in this younger generation is a desire and a hunger to have purpose.
Kevin Flattmann: And so when it comes to the local church, when it comes to us giving vision and things like that, they desired nothing more than to be a part of a movement and nothing more than to be a part of something that’s actually going to change this world. That’s why you see so many different marches these kinds of days. That’s why you see so many kinds of different rallies of different people getting together and things like that. People desire to have purpose and are hungry for a movement, and I believe this next generation is really on the verge of being truly hungry for the gospel and a great move of God.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah. I love that, Kevin. And I’m right with you. My mentor once told me that two of the greatest days in anyone’s life is the day they’re born and then the day they realize why they’re born, the purpose of their existence. And whenever I share that with students and college students, young adults, you just see that light come on of like, “Yeah. That’s what I’m looking for.” And that purpose, there’s not a greater purpose than following Jesus, knowing him and making him known.
Shane Pruitt: So in light of that, a year ago, our current Southern Baptist Convention president, J. D. Greear, challenged all Southern Baptists with an initiative: Who’s Your One? And this isn’t anything new. It’s 2,000 years old. Always love to say. And Johnny Hunt, our leader of this moment, always says, “It’s as old as John chapter one where Jesus finds Philip, Philip finds Nathaniel, that the kingdom is expanded one relationship at a time.” And so the challenge was this, who is one person that we can always be praying for that’s spiritually lost, that we take the time to pursue a relationship with them to get to a point where we can present the gospel to them. And so you all took that initiative and made it very personal to your context there at Cypress. So share with me specifically about how you use the Who’s Your One initiative in your student ministry.
Kevin Flattmann: Yeah, man. Well, first of all, our pastor came to us, then our pastor and Pastor Johnny, of course, are good friends. And long story short, our pastor just came to the staff one day and was, look, said that we’re going to start this initiative, who’s your one? And our church has always been a church that has been a place that is going to be very evangelism heavy. We’re always going to share Christ and then ultimately raise those new believers, new converts into a relationship with God through discipleship and things like that. Our church has always been passionate about that. But one thing our pastor came to us this year is that he wants to jump on this train of who’s your one and really challenging the people of Cyprus to go and find that one person and in the next year have that opportunity to lead that person to the saving faith of Jesus Christ and then into baptism and things like that.
Kevin Flattmann: And so our pastor came to us with that and just, I kind of had the heartbeat of the same thing as my pastor, but also I’ve just kind of come under that. And I just realized that, man, as our pastor is doing that and as our pastor’s casting that vision of Who’s Your One to the church, and I just felt like, why in the world would our student ministry not jump on this? Because like you said earlier, this is not just a call to a new movement that come up recently. This is something that’s been around for 2000 years. And so we just kind of came on board with that and decided, you know what, this is how we are going to model our student ministry this year of making the gospel the center of everything that we do.
Kevin Flattmann: So we kind of took some resources together and compiled a bunch of resources together and made a Sunday school curriculum for our students to go through for about a six-week period about Who’s Your One and explaining the different passages of scripture about how Jesus thought out someone and they began to be saved. And then after that, we did a Wednesday night series, talking about that one person that you’re going to come into faith in Jesus Christ with. And then in February or early January, February, we kind of had a summit weekend where we challenged every single one of our students to bring their one to our “D-Now” weekend.
Kevin Flattmann: And, man, let me tell you something. Man, God lit it on fire and it was unbelievable to see our students be a part of a movement, a God movement, and that’s how we’re currently kind of getting Who’s Your One into our student ministry and challenging our students to truly own their faith, to take their faith to the next level by sharing the gospel with as many students as they possibly can, but also focusing in on that one person.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah, I love that. And when you think about, especially with teenagers, that according to researchers on our team at the North American Mission Board, there are nearly 20 million, 13 to 18 year olds that don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. So when you think 20 million, that just is mind blowing. If those 20 million created their own state, that’d be the fifth largest state in the nation if all those teenagers created their own state, so that’s mind blowing.
Shane Pruitt: But when you really narrow it down to one person, who is one person that you know that desperately needs Jesus, our prayer is that it would become not just an initiative but a lifestyle of us all that we’re always praying for at least one lost person, investing in them, presenting the gospel. And so that’s so exciting that you’re mobilizing teenagers to do that. And I know you’ve shared with me personally, just the God movement, just the baptisms you all have seen, the testimonies of salvation. Can you just share with us a couple of those testimonies that you all have seen from the Who’s Your One initiative at your church?
Kevin Flattmann: Yeah. Man, just particularly in general, our summit weekend, we baptized over 30 students that weekend about a month ago now. And, Shane, probably half of what we’re expected to, what we’ve been told and how many students we’ve talked to, about half of those students were some of our regular students ones that came.
Shane Pruitt: That’s amazing.
Kevin Flattmann: Yeah. And, man, the reality is, is that the gospel still changes lives and the gospel is in the saving business. Jesus is in the saving business still today. And our students here have just kind of gotten on board of that, and they’ve gotten understood that their purpose here on this earth is to see as many people come to know Jesus as they can to live out the great commission in their lives. So during that summit weekend period, we saw many students, many people came up to us and were just like, “That’s my one. That’s the one I wrote their name down on that ping pong ball. That’s them. And they came to know Jesus as their Lord and savior.”
Kevin Flattmann: Then, just this past weekend, I had a student come up to me. I saw them out on the weekend and we saw them in town and they came up to me and said, “Hey, my one is coming to church tomorrow.” And I was like, “Well, man, that’s awesome, man. Make sure that they’re here, and I’d love to meet them,” and things like that. And they’re like, “Okay, I’ll make sure they come.” And then sure enough, low and behold, we’re in service and at the end of service the student comes walking up to me with their friend, and their friend is just crying and just saying, “Look, I want to give my life to Jesus.” And that just happened this past Sunday, and this is us a seventh-grade student.
Kevin Flattmann: And my point is, is that what God is doing here is special. But ultimately what God is doing all over the country with this Who’s Your One movement is just absolutely special. And so we’re seeing testimony after testimony of students hopping onto this vision, and we can hardly see a church member without them at some point saying, “Man, this is my one,” or, “I’m bringing my one this Sunday,” or something along those lines.
Kevin Flattmann: And so we have multiple testimonies from summit weekend. We have the testimonial like I just told you about. And then just recently I had another student catch me, and they saw their one baptized at summit weekend. But he came up to me and he goes, “Well, can I get another one?” And I said, “Well, of course. That’s the model.” And so he of course gets another one, and it’s just kind of this overflowing, this constant reminder to the students that, man, this is what it’s all about. This is what I’m supposed to do, this is living my life on mission.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah, I love it. Yeah. And so, man, praise the Lord. If your one comes to know the Lord, then that relationship shifts just slightly to where now you start discipling them to have one and you have a new one. And that is how the kingdom is expanded. And so as you’re challenging your students and the next generation to have a one and to share the gospel, what are some practical ways you’re training your students to share their faith?
Kevin Flattmann: Yeah. Well, man, one of the best tools that I found personally is the Jimmy Scroggins’ 3 Circles method. And we have trained our students, and we train our students constantly through discipleship programs that we have here at Cyprus on Sunday nights with our discipleship groups and things like that. We are constantly encouraging. We are constantly challenging. We’re constantly have our students go over the three circles method in other words, because if they can get that down, then there’s no way that they can get away from having a gospel conversation. And because if they can have that and they can draw that three circles method out, I encourage every student pastor to incorporate that method into their student ministry. Because if they can do that, then they can have an explanation and they can explain the gospel in a very clear cut, clean way to people. And so we’ve used the 3 Circles method, and we’ve done a lot of other things, but particularly we use the 3 Circles method to encourage and train our students to share their faith.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah, it is a great tool for sure. For the teenager, young adult listening that’s wanting to share their faith with someone, or the college student that’s listening, what are some practical ways or advice you would give them of how to get that ball going? What I’ve found is most people can have the conversation, a normal organic conversation, but turning its spiritual is very difficult. So what would you tell somebody who says, “I really want to share the gospel with my one, or my friend or my coworker, but I just can’t get there.” What are some practical next steps you’d give them?
Kevin Flattmann: One thing that we always teach our students is that if you share the gospel, every single time you do it will get easier and easier and easier. And so we just encourage them that boldness is a big deal, and so we encourage our students to share the gospel and to continue doing that. And what they’ll realize is the more they do it, the better they become at it. And so we always are encouraging our students to share, and we’re always encouraging them to continue to share because, again, it’s just like that great old example of working out. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. And so that’s kind of where we lean in with our students and encourage them to do that. And so, of course, we go with the mentality of the Great Commission to go and tell and that it is the calling of God on the Christian’s life to go and tell as many people as they possibly can about the good news of Jesus Christ.
Kevin Flattmann: And one thing that we particularly see in our student ministry a lot is a lot of students that are reading their Bible, they are praying, but they still feel disconnected from God. And so I always go to that and I always encourage our students. And I literally had a conversation with a student just the other day who had been reading his Bible, who had been praying, who honestly didn’t have any unrepentant sin in his life that he was aware of. And he just began to say, “But I just feel like I’m in a rut spiritually.” And so I just looked at him and said, “Let me ask you one question. When is the last time that you shared the gospel with someone?” And he just got all beat red faced and was just very like, “Wow, it’s been a while.”
Kevin Flattmann: And I said, “Because ultimately what’s going to happen is you’ve got to live out the calling of God on your life, and the calling of God on your life is to do the Great Commission, to go and tell. If you’re reading your Bible, if you’re praying, if you’re doing those things, that is awesome. And I’m so proud of you for doing that. But the reality is the calling of God on your life comes out of reading your Bible and praying, which is to go and tell.” And so when I told him, I said, “This is what I want you to do. I want you to take this time and I want you to share the gospel with as many people as you can in the next week.”
Kevin Flattmann: And he came back to me and, of course, with just like, “Man, my spiritual life is just, I don’t feel like I’m in a rut anymore.” And he just simply said, “Because I wasn’t living out the calling of God on my life.” And so practical advice that I would give to any student pastor, or to give to any young person or anything like that is to encourage your teenagers not just to read their Bible, not just to pray, but to live out the calling of God on their life by sharing the good news of Jesus.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah. That’s, man, such great godly advice and wisdom there, Kevin. I wished we could duplicate that 50,000 times over in student ministries across the nation. We truly would see revival, truly would see a movement of God. So, Kevin, for the next gen leader that’s listening, I mean, you just mentioned a while ago you baptized 30 teenagers in one Sunday. Some context won’t see that in a decade. And so for the next gen leader that maybe they just feel down or maybe they just feel a little beat up in ministry and they feel discouraged because they haven’t seen a student get baptized in a long time, we’re not here to beat up or make fun of. We’re here to encourage and empower. What advice would you give that student pastor that goes, “You know what? I have such a heart to reach the next generation, but we just have not seen someone come to know Jesus or get baptized in a long time.” What kind of encouragement would you give them?
Kevin Flattmann: Man, the biggest encouragement that I can give is that ultimately the numbers of baptism isn’t what defines you as a student pastor, but what defines you as a student pastor is your heart for the gospel. What defines you as a pastor is your heart for the gospel. And I heard this quote a long time ago, I can’t remember exactly who it is, but it said, “Consistency leads to conviction.” And if you don’t really have a consistent gospel type ministry or gospel centered ministry then what I would tell you is to start daily. Every time you preach, you need to give a gospel invitation. Every single time you preach, you need to give a gospel invitation. Every time you have the opportunity to pour into your students, you need to be sharing with them about how they need to share their faith or you need to encourage them to share their faith.
Kevin Flattmann: But honestly, Shane, this is kind of where I always come back to is just to encourage all the student pastors, all the evangelistic leaders in our convention and beyond, is that if you want to see an evangelistic culture in your ministry, then it ultimately begins with you. And it begins with you sharing the gospel personally. And so if someone is down, if someone is feeling discouraged in their ministry, what I would tell anybody is that take some time personally to get away from the office, get away from your ministry, and simply just share the good news of Jesus with people in your own personal life. And that’s something that I personally try to do on a regular basis, that I’m encouraging my students to do this, and so I want to ensure that I’m doing it as well because whatever’s important to me is ultimately going to be important to them.
Kevin Flattmann: And so that’s kind of where I stand on this for any next generation leader that’s wanting to cultivate that culture in their ministry. Man, they have to personally be living it out. And so I would encourage any student pastor to do that, give a gospel invitation. And it’s something that I always, truly, personally want to be known for is someone who ultimately is living by faith and is walking with God. And a person that is living by faith and walking with God always, always, always, always is sharing the gospel personally. And so I would just encourage any next gen leader, wherever you’re at, if you want to cultivate that ministry and cultivate that culture in your ministry, then you have to be personally sharing the gospel.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah, I love that. And let those that were leading see it in us, and it just reminds me of what Paul kept encouraging the church and the epistles imitate me as I imitate the Lord. I love that.
Kevin Flattmann: That’s right.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah. Hey, well, Kevin, well, we always close with this same charge? The heart behind this podcast is to see the next generation realize that they are the now generation, not just a future of the church, but they’re also the church right now. They have a mission now. They have the great commission on their life now. So give us one closing thought on this and maybe one practical next step.
Kevin Flattmann: One thing that I hear, Shane, and maybe you’ve heard this a lot, but I hear this question a lot and it’s this question of, “Man, are you discipleship driven or are you evangelist driven? What are you?”
Shane Pruitt: Yes.
Kevin Flattmann: And as a student pastor, I want to encourage every student pastor to do this, is quit answering that question one way or the other. Start answering that question with, “Man, I’m both.” Because the gospel, at the heart of the gospel, is a heart for evangelism, and at the heart of evangelism is a heart for discipleship. And so at the root of discipleship, I’ll quote you, I’ve seen this quote many a times and it’s this, is that at the baptism waters, ultimately at the baptism waters, is the heart of an evangelism. And in the baptism waters, he said this a long time ago and it’s this, it’s at the true heart of discipleship, always the baptism waters will be stirring. And so you can’t get away from that. You can’t really get away from the two. Start just living your culture and setting a culture of discipleship and evangelism in your ministry. One cannot live without the other.
Shane Pruitt: That’s so good, Kevin. Well, hey man, you are wise beyond your years. People listening don’t know how old you are. I do. God has got his hand on you. You’re wise beyond your years, brother. That’s so exciting. Thank you so much for your time, my friend. How can people connect with you? How can they find you on social media?
Kevin Flattmann: Man, they can find me on social media, just Kevin Flattmann, right there on social media, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. And, man, I’d love for them to hit me up and give me a follow and I’ll follow them back anytime.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah. Hey, and spell your last name for the listeners.
Kevin Flattmann: F-L-A-T-T-M-A-N-N.
Shane Pruitt: Yeah. Two T’s, two N’s. Well, awesome, my brother. Hey, thank you so much for listening to the Next Gen on Mission podcast. If you have questions on reaching the next generation, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, N-A-M-B.net. We’ll try to address those on a future podcast. Also, do not forget to visit whosyourone.com for more resources of what Kevin was talking about. That’s W-H-O-S-Y-O-U-R, and then spell out one, O-N-E.com. Whosyourone.com for more resources. And also, don’t forget to place your one on the prayer map. That has just started, and there are over 24,000 people at the time of this recording that are praying for the spiritually lost every single day. There is a movement happening. Join it, have a great rest of the day, and tell somebody about Jesus.