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About two years ago Dare 2 Share developed 5 short videos that were designed to trigger Gospel conversations. They are all available to watch and use on the Dare 2 Share Youtube channel. We also developed a youth group curriculum called SALT…Creating Thirst that is available on our Dare 2 Share store.
Check this video out and use it on your Facebook page to “salt” a Gospel conversation. Then pick up the curriculum and train your teenagers do the same with all five of the well-filmed and super short SALT videos.
Here is the video that deals with relationships letting us down (which becomes a wonderful conversation starter to how Jesus will never let us down!)
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52
This year at Dare 2 Share’s Live it up tour we are going to unpack what it means to live it up in the Quad. What is “the Quad”? It represents four key areas of what it means to be human: intellectual, physical, spiritual and relational.
When Jesus got back from what was his first trip to Jerusalem as a teenager he grew in each of these areas. He grew “in wisdom.” The Greek word for wisdom here is “sophia” and means “wisdom, insight, skill (human or divine), intelligence.” Jesus most likely went to school (like other Jewish boys of his time) and excelled. He listened, learned and studied hard.
Jesus wasn’t born with a built in omniscient chip that allowed him not to have to study. He studied like any other red-blooded Jewish boy. He just did it unencumbered by sin and solely focused on His Father’s glory.
Teenagers who follow Jesus need to follow him to study hall and do their homework with diligence, precision and focus. It matters more than you might think!
Jesus grew in “stature.” This means that Jesus grew physically. He ate good food (bread, fish, lamb, veggies) and avoided fast food (because there was none!) and I’m sure got plenty of sleep. As a carpenter’s son he didn’t have to worry about sit ups, pushups and pull-ups. He was most likely sitting up in bed before the sun started shining, pushing trees down the hill to cut up for lumber and pulling hammers out to swing as he built whatever it was that carpenter’s built in those days. Jesus didn’t have gym rat strength but working man strength. Walking everywhere meant his cardio was strong and the fact that he survived such a vicious beating by the Roman soldiers proves he was in top physical shape.
Believing teenagers need to get their sleep (turn the music off, keep their phones out of the room at night or at least turn down their notifications), eat mostly good food and, unless they’re teenaged carpenters, do their pushups, pull-ups and sit ups. Why? Because, according to 1 Timothy 4:8, “physical training is of some value.” When they take care of themselves they’re taking care of the temple God has given them to serve him in and through. And some teen temples need a good cleaning and a little brick work.
Jesus grew in favor with God. This means that he grew spiritually. That’s right! The Son of God had his prayer time and quiet times on a consistent basis. I’m sure it was part of his daily rhythm because you see that rhythm continue into his adulthood. Jesus was always escaping to pray and spend time with the Father. Helping our teenagers find a quiet place and regular time to spend with the Father is vital. It will give them then fuel they need to live and lead THE Cause throughout the rest of the day!
Jesus grew in favor with man. This simply means that his relational equity grew as he grew up. He had strong relationships from friendships to family to others. He knew how to listen well and deeply. As evidenced by how he interacted with the rich young Ruler, the woman at the well and countless others he could read the little signs, get around the relational roadblocks and speak deeply into their souls.
In Luke 2:46, 47 we see that even as a 12 year old Jesus knew how to ask great questions and listen deeply, “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.”
Helping teenagers to ask great questions and listen well is a skill that will unleash them to build deep and lasting relationships. And, like with Jesus, will prepare them to share the good news in a relational and powerful way.
Bring your teenagers to the “Live it up!” Tour this year and we’ll dive deeper into helping them live it up in The Quad. This will prepare them for a life-time of healthy and well-balanced service to the King of kings for the rest of their lives!
1. A lack of urgency…We must remind them of the critical mission Jesus has given them (and us!) of rescuing the lost from the hell they are headed to and the hell they are going through apart from Jesus! (Revelation 20:11-15)
2. A lack of knowledge…We must give our teenagers Gospel fluency so they fully understand and can articulate the whole story of the Gospel message in a clear, confident and compelling way! (Colossians 4:4)
3. Sheer Fear…The number one reason teenagers don’t share their faith is the fear of rejection. We must help them overcome this fear by teaching them to pray and depend on the Holy Spirit! (Matthew 10:19-20)
4. Not knowing how to bring it up…At Dare 2 Share we train teenagers how to “Ask, Admire and Admit” as a thoughtful, natural way to engage a spiritual conversation and not just make a hard right turn to the Gospel in the first sentence. This enables teenagers to have a Gospel conversation and not just make an evangelistic presentation.
5. Fear of not having the right answers to hard questions…A lot of teenagers don’t share the Gospel because they are afraid they’ll be asked a tough question. Questions like, “What about evolution?”, “Why do you believe that Jesus is the only way?” and “How can you trust in a book that was written thousands of years ago?” can freak teenagers out so, instead of bringing the Gospel up, many will stay silent.
And the answer is not just teaching them apologetics. While I’m a big believer in apologetics (1 Peter 3:15) it is a misnomer to expect teenagers to know every answer to every question before they share their faith. Instead we must help them learn how to learn the answers along the way. A simple, “That’s a great question and I have no idea. But let me study my Bible and talk to my youth leaders and I’ll try to have an answer for you next week” is both honest and a powerful “Get out of Jail” Free Card for teen evangelism. They will learn the answers along the way but, as has been said by many, I’ve never seen anyone argued into the kingdom of God.
A great tool to help teenagers learn how to answer the tough questions is the free Dare 2 Share app. It has a whole section on how to “engage not enrage” 13 different world views (Mormons, Muslims and Hindus, oh my!) with the message of Jesus in a loving and effective way.
6. Distraction and busyness…teenagers are busy creatures. Some of this busyness is self-inflicted (X-Box, social media, etc) and some of it is school inflicted (academics, homework, sports, etc.) So they must be equipped to make disciples along the way. After all, in Matthew 28:19 when Jesus said “go and make disciples” the word go is more participle than command. It could read “as you go make disciples….” As teenagers go online, go to practice and, of course, go to school they can and should make disciples.
7. Leaving their first love…When Jesus used John to communicate to the church of Ephesus in Revelation chapter two he reminded them that, although they were busy executing programs and dealing with false teachers, they had left the love they had for him that they had had at first. And the first time we see the Ephesians in Acts 19 they were spreading the good news about this Jesus they loved to anyone and everyone (Acts 19:8-10.) As I love to remind teenagers, if you fall in love with evangelism you will fizzle out. But if you fall in love with Jesus you will always evangelize!
What are some other roadblocks to teenagers sharing their faith?
1. It must become more about Gospel conversations and less about evangelistic presentations.
2. We must learn how to ask better questions and listen with humility and respect.
3. We must consistently pray for the right mixture of love, boldness and wisdom to effectively engage this culture with the message of Jesus.
4. We must learn how to tell the whole story of the GOSPEL in a clear and compelling way.
5. Churches must discover how to inspire, equip and unleash all of their people to initiate Gospel conversations in their own circles of influence.
6. Pastors must discover how to build multi-ethnic churches that model a form of deep, authentic and radical unity that should be unique to the body of Christ and can become a huge witness to the power of the Gospel to a skeptical, fragmented world.
7. We must become better at answering questions regarding the exclusivity of Christ and the reliability of Scripture.
8. High quality, interactive evangelistic apps must become the new gospel tracts.
9. Christian film makers need to develop artistically creative, high quality and Biblically accurate short videos to explain the Gospel message in a relevant way.
10. We must create safe places (churches, homes, small groups, youth groups, etc) for unreached people to explore the message of Jesus, ask hard questions and hear what the Bible has to say.
11. We must unleash the potential of teenagers to lead the way in engaging their 400+ online and face-to-face friends with the hope of Jesus Christ (by the way Dare 2 Share can help you do just that, specifically when it comes to building a Gospel Advancing ministry!)
12. We must scrape away any terms from our Gospel message that focus on our human efforts rather than Jesus’ finished work! This culture desperately needs to hear the good news of Jesus, not the re-fried bad news of performance-based religion!
13. We must program the priority of evangelism into our church, small group and youth group meetings (giving the Gospel, sharing evangelistic stories, etc.)
14. The leaders must lead the way when it comes to initiating Gospel conversations!
15. Intercessory prayer must become the engine not the caboose of our outreach efforts (1 Timothy 2:1-4.)
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”Acts 2:41
Last April, as I stood on the southern steps to the Temple in Jerusalem, I wondered to myself if the ritualistic baths that had been chiseled into the stone were the same ones used on the Day of Pentecost to baptize 3,000 new believers. If so, the site of their baptism was a hustling, bustling place. After all Jews and God-fearing Gentiles came from all over to celebrate this ancient Jewish festival. These steps were most-likely full of spectators coming back and forth from offering sacrifices at the Temple as they witnessed thousands of new believers declaring “Jesus is Lord!” (the original baptism declaration) before or after they got plunged into the water.
Sure it could have been a river or stream where they were baptized but whatever or wherever it was baptism in the book of Acts tended to be a very public event. Think about the power of that for a moment. You just put your faith in Jesus and make that “public declaration of your inward transformation” in front of believers and unbelievers alike. You were identifying with this new tribe of people nicknamed by Jesus as “my church” in Matthew 16:18.
I’ve recently witnessed the power of this with my 10 year old daughter. We decided to baptize her on our recent cruise to Alaska. While we didn’t want to immerse her into the frigid waters of Glacier Bay (hypothermia!) we decided we could do the baptism in the swimming pool on the deck of the cruise ship (heated!) Other than maybe getting baptized in the Jordan river it’s hard to beat the setting. But baptism on a cruise ship in front of kids, teenagers, family led to interesting questions like:
“Shouldn’t baptisms be done in a church?”
“Aren’t baptisms to be done by the pastor?”
“Isn’t a baptism for the believers to witness, not as much for non-Christians?”
All these questions and then some rattled around in our minds before the baptism. We wrestled with it as a family and were finally convinced it was something we should do.
After all there were no church buildings in the book of Acts. With the exception of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 all baptisms that are described seem to have some sort of public in-front-of-God-and-everyone element to them.
The Great Commission (which includes baptizing new disciples) is directed to all believers. My deduction from this is that if all Christians can do the greater (lead someone to Jesus) then they can do the lesser (baptize that new believer.)
As for the audience, of course believers in Jesus can and should be witnesses! But why not as many unbelievers as possible witnessing this sacred event as well?
Standing on my tippy toes in the 5 1/2 foot deep water of the swimming pool with my little Kailey perched on my knee I began the baptism “service.” Of course my wife, brother and sister in law, nephew and father and mother in law were there with us. But so were five or so teenagers that my son brought from the friends he had made on the boat. There was also Maddy (26 year old Nanny) and Sierra (her 15 year old cousin) that my daughter had befriended while in the hot tub a few nights earlier. There were also about 20-30 others (some kids, some parents, some people drinking it up at the bar just feet away, etc) who were witnesses to this spontaneous baptism.
I took less than 5 minutes to explain that although baptism doesn’t save anyone it symbolizes something significant. At this point I gave the Gospel and invited anyone else who was listening to put their faith in Jesus and consider getting baptized right then. By the time we got to dunking time it was a powerful moment. I plunged my daughter into the pool and baptized her in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. People cheered (believers and unbelievers) and Gospel conversions ensued for the rest of the trip.
What if? What if we saw baptism, not as a hide-away-in-a-church-building private ceremony but as a truly public proclamation. Whether it be in a pool, ocean, lake, river or in a church building that was specially stocked for this occasion with unbelieving friends, co-workers, classmates, teammates, family etc) believers and unbelievers alike could witness this powerful ordinance. I get the sense that this is exactly what happened with the early believers when they got baptized publicly. Who knows how many spectators put their faith in Jesus as a result of witnessing one of these baptisms and the conversations that followed.
However your church does it (dunk them, sprinkle them or send them down a Slip-n-Slide…jk) consider making baptism a public spectacle that can lead to more Gospel conversations among those who are watching. It will get the good news out to more people and help seal and steel the decision that a new believer has made for Jesus. Because now the wet cat is out of the bag because that soggy new believer has now been publicly branded as a Jesus follower.
Minutes after the baptism, while warming up in the hot tub, two half-sloshed partiers asked me, “What was that all about?” There, in the heat of the hot tub, I got to use Kailey’s baptism as a watery pulpit to have another significant Gospel conversation.
That my friend is the kind of conversations that baptisms (however we do them) should trigger.
As I sit here at our final Lead THE Cause of the summer I can’t help but be thankful to God for all that he has done (and is still doing) through this intensive week of training and outreach. After four summers of doing Lead THE Cause (and our first year of partnering with our friends at Sonlife to pull it off) I’m convinced that youth leaders should consider bringing their entire youth group to Lead THE Cause instead of (or maybe in addition to) camp next summer.
While I’m a big believer in camp I believe that Lead THE Cause is a way better investment for your youth ministry dollar. Here are 4 reasons why:
1. Your teenagers will be challenged to go all in for Christ in a deeper, more visceral way.
At Lead THE Cause teenagers don’t just stand around a campfire at the end of the week they start fires all week! They do this by igniting the flames of Gospel conversations with people they encounter in the city. For two full afternoons teenagers are mobilized to engage (not enrage) others with the good news of Jesus.
Of course they do this after intensive training and equipping. They spend time memorizing, role playing and practicing. On the first day of outreach (the 3rd day of Lead THE Cause) they are challenged to use the Life in 6 Words app. The second day they are encouraged to go “app-less” and actually use a strategy we developed called “Ask, Admire, Admit.” This is where they learn how to ask questions, admire where a person is coming from and admit the reason they’re a Christian is that they are so messed up they needed Jesus to save them. This more-humble-approach to evangelism opens up doors for Gospel conversations in ways these teenagers (and many youth leaders) could never imagine.
If all this sounds like Lead THE Cause was designed for just spiritually “advanced” teenagers then consider the fact that we had some teenagers come to faith this summer at Lead THE Cause and actively begin to share their faith that same week! Lead THE Cause is a highly motivational as well as a deeper-level equipping event that can impact any teenager for a lifetime!
I used to promote it as a leadership level event…but no more. I believe that this week is for any Christian teenager, leadership level or not! If this week doesn’t turn your teenagers into leaders I don’t know what would. This week inspires and equips. It motivates and mobilizes. It trains and transforms.
2. Your teenagers will learn how to pray and spend significant time doing it.
We spend the first day and a half focused on intercessory prayer. We train teenagers to pray like Jesus taught his disciples to pray and then give them several opportunities to do it. One of my favorite parts of the Lead THE Cause events is when we spend an entire afternoon praying at different prayer stations in an outside setting. In Chicago it’s in the city. In Denver it’s at Columbine High School and in Portland it’s at a stunning overlook called Rocky Butte. It’s powerful to watch teenagers P-R-A-Y (Praise, Request, Admit and Yield), begging God for revival and transformation in their lives, schools and cities.
So many youth leaders and teenagers have told me that this is the most impacting part of the event for them! Our prayer is that God uses Lead THE Cause to transform their prayer lives for a lifetime!
3. Your teenagers will put skin in the game, instead of just playing them.
I’ll never forget during one youth leader session when Jason Loewen said, “The difference between Lead THE Cause and camp is that at camp teenagers will stay up until one in the morning pranking. At Lead THE Cause they’ll stay up until one in the morning talking about the Gospel conversations they are having with their friends.”
Every teenager that attends Lead THE Cause is challenged to engage three friends with the Gospel that same week. We have them text one friend, call a second one and write a full on Gospel letter to a third. That means by the time they get back they have let the “I’m a Christian” cat out of the bag with their peers and have risked those relationships by sharing the Gospel with them.
Relational evangelism puts skin in the game for Christian teenagers on a discipleship level because the Gospel message can trigger rejection, mockery and social marginalization. That very risk is core to teenagers learning how to die to themselves, pick up their crosses and follow Jesus.
Sure, teenagers at Lead THE Cause have a blast too. There’s a ton of laughter, fun and all around kookiness. But during these intensive weeks the most fun flows from the unspeakable joy of watching God use them to reach their friends for Christ.
4. You and your teenagers will leave with a plan to reach your community for Jesus (and a tribe to pray for and encourage you!)
We all know the feeling of camp a week later. We are still exhausted but, far too often, many of our teenagers are back to their old patterns. Yes, some came to Christ and others grew in Christ but, if we’re honest, the DNA of our youth ministry doesn’t usually fundamentally change as a result of a week away at camp. Too often camp is a fire without the wood needed to sustain it. It can be a mountain top experience that fades into a good memory in the valley.
It’s the opposite with Lead THE Cause. A week afterward youth leaders are just as exhausted (maybe even a bit more) but they have a plan to execute and a tribe of new youth leader friends to help implement that plan into action. You and your teenagers will join a team of “Revolution X” leaders who are seeking to make and multiply disciples in the mission field where God has placed you. This band-of-brothers (and sisters) affect creates a movement feel that is hard to put into words.
Okay, maybe you don’t need to ditch camp. God has used and will continue to use camps to impact teenagers for Jesus. But if it comes down between camp and Lead THE Cause next summer I encourage you to choose Lead THE Cause. It will impact you and your teenagers in a deep way and turn your run-of-the-mill teenagers into world changers.
Next summer Lead THE Cause will be in three cities: Chicago, Denver and Portland. Click here for dates and more info.
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
While I’m no gym rat or beacon of health and fitness, I do try to take care of myself both physically and spiritually. With the amount of time I spend traveling and my advancing age (turning 50 soon!) it’s really important to make sure the body and soul are working in harmony at optimum levels. It’s hard to do effective ministry when you’re tired, our of shape or spiritually flabby. To keep in shape I’ve adopted 10 practices that I try to stick to consistently:
1. Go on a long prayer walk at least once a week. It’s here where I really pour out my heart to God and deal with issues that are hovering over my head or heavy on my heart. Depending on how far I walk these can count for both a physical and spiritual workout!
2. Exercise at least 5x’s a week, usually in my basement. I mix and match T-25, P90X3, Insanity and BodyBeast. Most of these workouts can also be done on the road in my hotel room as well.
3. Guard my morning quiet times. I like to read through the Bible at least once a year and mark the tar out of my Bible (underlining and jotting notes in the margins) along the way.
4. Get a full night’s sleep. Eight hours is more than enough. Anything less than six is not. I shoot for somewhere in-between.
5. Drink lots of water (I try to drink 100 ounces a day!)
6. Journal my prayers during significant events in my life.
7. Turn off the radio in my car to spend time in prayer for the day.
8. Eat 90% good food and 10% whatever I want.
9. Try to get a promise or a verse in my quiet times to reflect on for that particular day.
10. The older I get (turn 50 in August) the more I spend time stretching and working on flexibility.
These are some of the things I do to stay in some what good shape both spiritually and physically. What do you do?