“Gospelize” is an old English word for evangelize. It’s a cool word with an old flair that engages our postmodern teenagers with the ancient quest of going into all the world to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19.) If you really want to get your teenagers engaged in telling “the greatest story ever told that’s hardly ever told” (to quote my good friend Propaganda) then here are five simple action steps you can take right away in your youth ministry:
1. Spend more time in prayer.
For the last few years we’ve been programming into our Dare 2 Share weekend conferences an extended time in prayer. These mini concerts of prayer have been an exciting and somewhat surprising realization for me. I’ve realized that, given the right context, teenagers down deep inside really want to pray. What if you took 10 minutes of every meeting, maybe right in the middle of a worship set, and allowed teenagers to pray in small groups, silently and even had a few come up to an open mic? Or, like one youth leader in Chicago, get your teenagers in a big circle at the end of the youth group meeting to hold hands and pray for their friends to come to Christ, their schools to be reached and for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit as they go back to school.
2. Give the Gospel consistently.
Do you believe, like Romans 1:16 asserts, that the gospel “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes”? If so, do you give the gospel every time you have youth group? When you do, you begin to “gospelize” your youth ministry and create a context where teenagers hear the Good news consistently and begin to take the Good news personally. Not only will more and more yet-to-be-reached teenagers put their faith in Jesus, but more and more Christian teenagers will begin to understand the good news is something they (and we) need to continue to hear and apply everyday of their lives. As someone once said, “I preach the gospel to myself everyday because I forget it everyday.”
3. Train your teenagers to share the Gospel.
Not only should we give the Gospel but we should train our teenagers to share the Gospel. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me and I will show you how to fish for people.” In this singular phrase Jesus forever links discipleship with evangelism. If we are truly serious about discipleship we will get very serious about evangelism. But how do you train your teenagers to share the good news of Jesus in a non-obnoxious way? Here are three options:
-Have them download the Dare 2 Share app and read the Dare 2 Share Field Guide. Both of these work in synergy to fully equip your teenagers to share the good news “from takeoff to touchdown” in a Biblical and relevant way.
-Get them out to a Dare 2 Share conference. For a crash course in evangelism it’s hard to beat a Dare 2 Share weekend event. This year our theme is “Live it up” based on the life and ministry of Jesus.
-Take them to Lead THE Cause. If you’re ready to take your teenagers to the next level then there’s nothing like Lead THE Cause. Based on 60 years of combined evangelism training and disciple multiplication experience (between Dare 2 Share and Sonlife) this highly-intensive, super-interactive week is a boot camp for effective evangelism. Out of all the events we do this is the one I’m convinced is the most effective when it comes to getting teenagers to share their faith for a lifetime.
4. Share stories.
There’s nothing like hearing teenagers share evangelistic stories in youth group that will motivate other teenagers to join in. Story telling infuses evangelism into the DNA of a youth ministry culture. Like a modern day re-telling of the book of Acts your youth ministry can become a campfire of sorts where teenagers share the latest exploits of the Holy Spirit in and through them as they share the Gospel with their peers. The more your teenagers are gospelized the more stories they will have to tell. Prayer and evangelism training will do nothing but fuel the movement.
5. Why? What? How? Now!
From conferences to curriculum we, at Dare 2 Share, put everything through the simple grid of “Why? What? How? Now!” Does what we are teaching give a big enough “why?” In other words is it inspirational enough to get a teenager off the bench and into the game? Never underestimate the power of an inspirational story, quote or sermon to motivate teenagers to action. Then comes “what?” This is the delivery of the content you are hoping teenagers to understand and embrace. After that comes the “how?” This is when teenagers learn how to put what they’ve learned into practice. Finally comes “now!” This is when teenagers take what they’ve learned how to do and immediately put it into practice. This teaching strategy combines motivation (why?) with information (what?) with application (how?) and, finally, with activation (now!) Of course this teaching strategy works with subjects outside of sharing the gospel too.
Take these five action steps and you’ll begin to gospelize your youth group in ways you’ve never imagined. Also, stay tuned for a new book I just wrote (to be released this Fall) called “Gospelize your Youth Ministry”.
“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?
It’s been a jaw-droppingly good week but I needed every bit of yesterday (Saturday) to recover. Lead THE Cause is a sun-up-far-passed-sun-down affair with very little time for rest or recovery.
But this week was beyond fantastic. There are so many highlights its hard to know where to begin.
I can’t help but think of one girl from Texas who told the spell-bound crowd of teenagers about a recent incident in which she almost died from a lethal milk allergy. She challenged every teenager there to realize the brevity of life and maximize their gospel opportunities.
There was Peter from Staten Island who had never attended Dare 2 Share and knew nothing about Sonlife (the two partnering organizations that pull off Lead THE Cause.) But he Googled evangelism training for teenagers and did some research. The deeper he dug the more he got excited to make the road trip. He and his crew made the 30 hour drive and are on their way back right now, strategizing to gospelize New York!
Both outreach days went extremely well with over 1044 Gospel conversations and 30 indications for faith in Jesus! Teenagers also made phone calls, sent text messages and wrote letters to friends, sharing the good news of Jesus with the right mix of boldness and humility!
One of the biggest highlights was having our commissioning ceremony in the mountains. There in the woods almost 300 teenagers were challenged, prayed over, anointed with oil (as a symbolism of the anointing they have already received from God, 1 John 2:20) and signed their name on a large X, sealing their decision to make and multiply disciples for the rest of their lives.
Starting on Wednesday night, when I talked for a bit on world missions and the urgency of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth, I gave a challenge to teenagers to consider becoming a full-time overseas missionary. Those who made the decision that week could mark my arm with an “X”. My prayer was for ten marks on my arm. When all was said and done I got 18 x’s on my arm, 17 during Lead THE Cause and one teenager over Instagram yesterday asked me to mark my arm on their behalf!
One of those x’s on my arms came from my son! For me this was the highlight of the week (year? decade?) because, since he’s been born, I’ve prayed that God would use him in a great way to spread the Gospel. Of course he could do that as a businessman, construction worker, etc. But there’s something about world missions that screams of urgency and potential. As my friend Dave Gibson says, if you have a heart to reach America for Jesus you have maybe 5% of God’s heart.
We don’t know how or where or when yet but Jeremy is only 14 years old. I believe this calling will provide a trajectory and focus for him which will shape him in years to come as we prepare for his global launch!
Thank you for your prayers for us as we trained these teenagers and youth leaders last week. Pray for the youth leaders and students as they go back to their cities, that God would use them in amazing ways to truly lead THE Cause of Christ in powerful and exponential ways! Pray for us as, in a week from Monday, we go to Portland for one final training week!
If you are interested in being a part of Lead THE Cause in Chicago, Denver or Portland next year click here for more information. You won’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind week of inspiration, training and outreach!
We are midway through this power-packed week at Lead THE Cause Denver and, already, God is doing so many amazing things. Here are just a few…
1. The Prayer time at Columbine High School.
It’s hard to put into words the sight of almost 300 teenagers prayer walking around a high school that has forever been marked with a horrific school shooting that took place 16 years ago. It gave me chills to see four students carry one of the original Columbine crosses from the school to the Columbine memorial eight short minutes away.
There we prayed for the schools of America. There we prayed for our unreached friends, classmates and teammates. There we experienced God in a powerful way. There we yielded ourselves afresh and anew to Christ and His Cause.
2. The Internationals
We have Bethany from Canada, Phoenix from Belarus, and Corey, Silas and Livia from Switzerland. All of them are here to take the good news back to their own countries and to live and lead THE Cause of Christ! Livia has already translated the Life in 6 Words app into German! We are brainstorming how to “gospelize” the world and how we can help serve the international community when it comes to spreading the good news across the street and around the world.
It’s amazing to see how this school is growing and improving. Their new buildings are beautiful and, more importantly, the staff and students here seem to have even more of a missionary heart than when I attended 27 years ago. I count it an honor to have CCU partner with us on this quest to reach this next generation with the hope of Jesus Christ!
4. Hearing stories from the outreach experience.
From leading homeless people to Jesus to having a 30 year old salesman break down in tears while hearing the Gospel from a teenager the stories have been amazing. I’m also proud of my son, Jeremy, a first timer at Lead THE Cause, who told a teenager at a skatepark that he would let him “ollie” (aka “jump”) over him if he would give him five minutes of his time. He did and then he did.
Just after the first day of outreach God has done so much and we have two more days to go!
5. Being in my own home state Colorado for a week with hundreds of believers from all across the nation!
I love this state. It’s a beautiful place. But what makes it especially beautiful this week is the joy of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are living THE Cause in powerful ways!
Can’t wait to see what God does the rest of this week.
“Yes, salvation is free BUT it will cost you everything.”
“Sure it’s by faith in Christ BUT you also have to get baptized.”
“Of course it’s a matter of believing in Jesus BUT you also need to go to church, read your Bible, blah, blah, blah.”
These statements (and tons more) litter far too many Gospel presentations of far too many preachers today. They give the Gospel a big BUT and that is not flattering to the message of God’s grace.
The Apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 3:22-24, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
In other words we are saved by faith alone through Christ alone and by nothing on our own. Jesus did all the work. He died so we can live. He rose so we will rise from the dead some day.
The only thing we must “do” is believe. When Jesus was asked by the Jews in John 6:28-29 what works they must do to be saved his answer was clear, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
We put our faith in Jesus and God forgives us for all of our sins (past, present and future), adopts us into his family and indwells us with his Holy Spirit to begin that work of transformation in our lives. Some people say that this Gospel is too good to be true but I say it’s too good AND it’s true!
But, as my friend pointed out to me, if there’s one BUT in the Gospel it’s found in Ephesians 2:3-5,
“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. BUT because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
So don’t add to the Gospel. Don’t add caveats or small print to the free gift of God’s grace. We are saved by simple faith in our amazing Savior! And it’s this good news message that inspires me to serve him with all of my heart, not because I have to in order to be saved, but out of sheer gratefulness for God’s no-strings-attached gift of eternal life.
We filmed this like 10 years ago for a Dare 2 Share conference. We must have been trying to make some spiritual point or something but it’s still pretty funny. Sadly, I make a good perpetrator and I may just have to grow back the mullet. HT Danny Oertli, Karl Wheeler and Megan Isaacson.
Someone once said, “Prayer changes nothing!” Of course this was a shock-value declaration that drove to a deeper point. What was it? The only thing that prayer changes is us!
While I agree that prayer changes us I’m fully convinced Biblically and experientially that prayer changes actual situations. Here are 7 reasons why:
1. Moses prayed like it would actually change God’s mind (and it did!)
“Then Moses entreated the Lord his God, and said, ‘O Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.”Exodus 32:11-14
2. Joshua prayed like it would stop the sun from going down (and it did!)
“On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.” Joshua 10:12,13
3. Hannah prayed like it would result in her having a child (and it did!)
The High Priest, Eli, thought she was drunk but, instead, she was filled with a passionate prayer that so intoxicated the heavens it resulted in Samuel being born, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.” 1 Samuel 1:27
4. Elijah prayed like it would actually change the situation (and it did!)
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” James 5:16-18
If he had not have prayed the rain would not have stopped and started again. Prayer changed the situation!
5. David prayed like it would stop the plague (and it did!)
“David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.”2 Samuel 24:25
6. Jesus prayed like it would raise Lazarus from the dead (and it did!)
“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.”John 11:41-44
Jesus was so confident that God would answer the prayer in his heart that the only reason he prayed it out loud was so that others would be encouraged by it.
7. Jesus said that we can pray like it will change situations (and it will!)
Jesus promised us, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son”John 14:13. If our motive is to glorify God then he will give us what we ask for. This means that situations will change and God will be glorified as a result!
Actually this blog could be titled, “100 reasons why I believe prayer changes things” and it would still be too short! From cover to cover prayer is constantly a divinely appointed wrestling match between God and his people to forge and form human events.
To say that the only thing that prayer changes is us is kind of an arrogant statement. It makes prayer a self-help therapy instead of a kingdom advancing force. It implies that God is not sovereign enough to decide that prayer can be used as a vehicle to influence his decisions. Our Father is not an insecure King who must micromanage every detail of every situation. Yes, there are certain things he has decreed but, within the boundaries of his sovereignty, he allows for situations to be influenced significantly by the prayers of his people.
Oh how much we miss when we underestimate the power of God unleashed through our prayers!
By the way, I’d love to have you on our prayer team. Together we can energize a generation to evangelize the world. Click here to join our prayer crew! And believe me when I say, your prayers WILL make a difference!
God did so many amazing things this last week at Lead THE Cause in Chicago that, by the end of the week, the miraculous seemed normal! It truly felt like the book of Acts!
The Word of God spread and multiplied.
The believers spent time constantly in prayer.
There was no needy person among them.
Midway through the week I posted a blog of highlights (you can read it here) and, after that post, great things continued to happen! Here are just a few of them…
The teenagers came back from sharing their faith on fire for THE Cause! After spending two full afternoons on the city streets of Chicago engaging complete strangers in Gospel conversations the teenagers were pumped up. When the pumped up teenagers were coming back into the auditorium from the outreach experience it sounded like a dance party. I remember telling Livia, our stage manager (on loan from Switzerland by the way), “Do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of evangelism!”
We equipped teenagers to “Ask, Admire and Admit” by learning to ask questions, admiring what they can about what someone else believes and admitting the reason they are a Christian is because they desperately needed Jesus to save them. This little strategy for evangelism made a big impact in helping teenagers trigger Gospel conversations and not just making evangelistic presentations.
In addition teenagers had the opportunity to engage three friends with the gospel (one via text, one via phone call, and one via letter) over the course of the week. Many put their faith in Jesus as a result! I can’t wait to hear more stories as they roll in from all of these conversations!
Midway through the week I challenged teenagers to prayerfully consider becoming a full-time overseas missionary. I reminded them that everyone was a missionary but that there was a need for those who are exclusively focused on reaching those who’ve never heard the message of Jesus in a foreign country. If they were called that week to be a missionary they could mark an X on my arm with a sharpie. By the end of the week I had 14 marks on my arm (my prayer was for 10!)
Another very exciting part of the week for me was the “internationals”! We had Donovan from South Africa, Jeffery from Canada, Callum from Australia, Gustavo from Puerto Rico and, of course, Livia from Switzerland. All of them have plans to go back to their respective countries and multiply what they’ve learned in their own contexts. We spent the day with Donovan yesterday brainstorming how these same Gospel Advancing values could transform the young people of South Africa from jobless and hopeless to a Godly gang of on-fire, Jesus-loving, Gospel-sharing continent changers!
Please pray for all of these brothers (and sister) as they take what they’ve learned back to implement in a way that fits their context and fuels THE Cause!
And, of course, one of my highlights was the commissioning service on Friday night. Almost 600 teenagers signed “The X” to show that they were committed to going back to make and multiply disciples through the power of Christ! Pray with me that God uses them as they do! And pray for their youth leaders as they coach them along the way!
There were so many highlights for me this last week from outreach to hanging out with our Sonlife partners-in-crime (against the forces of darkness!) to worshipping with Stephen Miller and his band to eating Chicago-style pizza to chatting it up with Zane Black and Wilson McSwain in late night discussions.
If you were at Lead THE Cause in Chicago last week what was your highlight?
2. Conversations with teenagers in the hallways. So many teenagers from so many places ready to share their faith!
3. The Prayer Meeting at Moody Memorial Church. It was so powerful to hear teenagers read their “letters to God” that they wrote after a prayer walk through downtown Chicago. The power of these prayers brought tears to many eyes (including mine) as these teenagers called out to God on behalf of their lost friends.
4. The “Internationals”…this week we have India, Canada, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand represented! These men of God are ready to take what they learn at Lead THE Cause back to their own countries! Pray for them as they do!
5. Doug’s Dance. Although he’s a full on white boy, he owns it. “The Bus” is hard to beat as a large group dance-along-song.
6. Worship. Stephen Miller and his band have done a GREAT job leading us in worship.
7. The Youth Leader Sessions. It’s so fun to watch youth leaders “get” what we’re going for and then take it to the next level. Their ideas, insights and excitement becomes the tackling fuel we need to keep on keeping on!
Today teenagers will be unleashed to actually share the Gospel. Pray for them as they do. I expect even more highlights as a result of all the evangelism that will happen for the rest of this week!
If you are at Lead THE Cause in Chicago what’s been your highlight so far?