The Greg Stier Youth Ministry Podcast - Jeff Martin on Leading a Volunteer Movement - Dare 2 Share
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

The Greg Stier Youth ministry Podcast

episode 4 | June 2021

Jeff Martin is an FCA Executive Director and founder of Fields of Faith which has become the largest annual national outreach event in the history of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, exceeding 250,000 participants each year.

In today’s podcast, he discusses his recently released book, “Empower: The 4 Keys to Leading a Volunteer Movement,” which we will get to hear about and discuss more on today’s podcast. Martin received his Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Kansas City, MO with his wife Julie and has three grown children AJ, Ashleigh and Alexis.


0:00:06.9 Greg: Hi, welcome to The Greg Stier Youth Ministry Podcast. I believe in the power of the gospel and the potential of teens. And I also believe that the best way to get teens to grow is to get them to go. I encourage you to subscribe to the podcast, rate it, review it, help us spread the Word to youth leaders. It is time for a revolution in youth ministry that will result in every teen everywhere hearing the gospel from a friend. And today’s guest is as passionate about that as we are. His name is Jeff Martin. He is a Fellowship of Christian Athletes, one of their executive directors and founder of Fields of Faith, which has become the largest annual national outreach event in the history of FCA, exceeding 250,000 participants each year which is mind-blowing. That is awesome.

0:00:56.8 Greg: He recently released his book, Empower: The 4 Keys to Leading a Volunteer Movement which he’ll get into in just a bit. And he received his Masters of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife, Julie and his three grown children, AJ, Ashley and Alexis, not to be confused with Alexa. That would be… It’d be a tough time to have a daughter name Alexa [chuckle] in today’s modern age. Jeff, how are you doing, buddy? 

0:01:25.7 Jeff Martin: Doing great. Doing great. And I am glad my youngest daughter is not named Alexa. That would be confusing.

0:00:06.9 Greg: Hi, welcome to The Greg Stier Youth Ministry Podcast. I believe in the power of the gospel and the potential of teens. And I also believe that the best way to get teens to grow is to get them to go. I encourage you to subscribe to the podcast, rate it, review it, help us spread the Word to youth leaders. It is time for a revolution in youth ministry that will result in every teen everywhere hearing the gospel from a friend. And today’s guest is as passionate about that as we are. His name is Jeff Martin. He is a Fellowship of Christian Athletes, one of their executive directors and founder of Fields of Faith, which has become the largest annual national outreach event in the history of FCA, exceeding 250,000 participants each year which is mind-blowing. That is awesome.

0:00:56.8 Greg: He recently released his book, Empower: The 4 Keys to Leading a Volunteer Movement which he’ll get into in just a bit. And he received his Masters of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife, Julie and his three grown children, AJ, Ashley and Alexis, not to be confused with Alexa. That would be… It’d be a tough time to have a daughter name Alexa [chuckle] in today’s modern age. Jeff, how are you doing, buddy? 

0:01:25.7 Jeff Martin: Doing great. Doing great. And I am glad my youngest daughter is not named Alexa. That would be confusing.

0:01:32.1 Greg: Yes. That would be confusing. And I actually think I just misread that because we talked last week, you moved. You’re in Oklahoma now, is that right? 

0:01:39.6 JM: Just lately, yeah. Just updating the bio there, but moved down into the Northeast part of Oklahoma. My job allows me to work from anywhere. I’m over at Strategic Partnerships, and a little bit closer to my parents and my wife’s parents and yeah, it’s still close to Kansas City. Originally from Oklahoma so that’s why I moved and I love being back on Okie soil.

0:02:03.4 Greg: Did I remember right? You’re like three hours from each set of parents, two different directions? 

0:02:08.2 JM: Well, our kids are in Kansas City, and then parents and the relatives are in Oklahoma City, so it’s right in the middle. Yeah, it’s got a good little buffer zone between everyone.

0:02:18.4 Greg: Yeah, that’s right. Get some space here. Get some space. [chuckle] But not too far away that you can get in the car in a weekend and go hang out with the fam.

0:02:26.9 JM: Absolutely. We’re loving it.

0:02:29.4 Greg: Jeff, we were just talking before the podcast about the first time we met about a decade ago. You had just come to the national office at FCA. I think we were there for a youth ministry executive council, a gathering of national youth leaders. And you had taken over for Dan Britain in his role. He went international. I remember the first… One of the first conversations we had was about Fields of Faith, which was still relatively new, but it had already started to blow up. Tell us a little bit about Fields of Faith.

0:03:00.5 JM: Yeah, well, it was one of those things, and with all the listeners on here, we all do outreaches and events in small groups and one-on-one, and that type of deal. And this just happened to be one of those event ideas that I had around 2003, and the idea was simply to bring… Have an event at a local stadium outdoors, if it’s good weather and in a gym if it’s bad weather and have the heroes of the program, if you will, to be just ordinary students, volunteer students. And the idea was to give them the mic to allow them to share a really simple challenge. And the challenge was to read the Word of God daily and to come to faith in Jesus Christ. And so we kept it pretty simple and gave them the mic. And that’s where it all started, and we had no idea if it would work or not, and it did. And ever since then, there’s been over 2 million people that have been impacted by this volunteer, somewhat of a volunteer-led and volunteer…

0:04:10.7 JM: The heroes of the program are designed at the students and maybe have an impact adult at the end to wrap it up, that type of deal. But that’s where it came from. And it came out of a passage of Scripture, 2 Chronicles 34 about a young King Josiah who changed this country by re-discovering…

0:04:28.8 Greg: Nice.

0:04:29.2 JM: The Word of God. So that was the idea and it was just getting rolling. And it just keeps going to today, which sort of blows my mind that this continues to roll like that. But it’s been fun to watch.

0:04:46.0 Greg: And obviously out of that, you talk about leading a volunteer movement. That’s what Fields of Faith is and was is a volunteer movement where you give the microphone… On the cover of your book, there’s a picture of a microphone and I love that because you give the microphone and empower young people to do the challenge. And you tell the story, and I don’t wanna give it away, ’cause I want you to tell the story about a girl and it was one of the first Fields of Faith, and she was using a pocket knife or something to make her point and you were nervous for her and didn’t know for sure if this whole thing was gonna work. Can you tell that story? 

0:05:24.8 JM: Yeah. I think everyone will identify with this, but again, the idea was to hand the mic to students and as I was getting ready to… I was thinking about doing this. I thought it was a great idea, but there’s wisdom in many counselors. So I’d gone out and talked to counselors and a lot of people in ministry stuff, and they go, “Jeff, that’s the dumbest idea. It’s stupid. It won’t work.” [chuckle] And I was like, “Why?” And it’s like…

0:05:51.1 Greg: Jeff, just so you know that’s pretty much every day in my life, just so you know.


0:05:55.0 Greg: Right there.

0:05:56.6 JM: I think they said, “Greg, it’ll never work.” [chuckle]

0:05:58.9 Greg: Yeah, that’s right.

0:06:00.8 JM: “No I’m Jeff,” like, “Oh, I’m sorry. We’re used to that.” [chuckle] No, but it was to say it won’t work. And the idea was that you have to have a hook. You have to have the professional speaker, the professional musician, the athlete, the celebrity. And I said, “If you don’t have someone like that, first of all, you’re not gonna get today’s teens there. They won’t come. And second of all, if by some chance they do come, they’re ADD. They’re not gonna pay attention to just some kid up there who doesn’t know how to talk. And in fact, you’re gonna get… It’s gonna embarrass… You’re gonna get embarrassed and you’ll probably destroy the kids you put in front of them because no one will listen, they’ll be making fun of him, and they’ll never… It’ll destroy their identity and their self-esteem and all. So that was what was going on.

0:06:45.8 JM: So we went ahead and did it anyways, which sounds like something that you would do as well, right? [chuckle]

0:06:52.4 Greg: That’s right.

0:06:53.1 JM: So we went ahead and did it. And so the first night we had to move inside to the gym. And anyone who’s ever spoken in the gym knows that sound bounces everywhere. It’s not really good. And so we didn’t think people would would come ’cause it was raining and pretty soon they came and the only draw we had was students going out saying, “Hey, you ought to come to the field.” That was the only training. But they came. So there’s over a thousand kids smashed into one side of a small college gym, and I’m going… Right there was a miracle. I couldn’t believe it. So the first speaker, you were referring to this young girl. She comes walking up and she had been chosen by our leadership team. We wanted to have some… These volunteer student leaders. I didn’t know who she was. And she was so little. She’s a little ninth grader. And I remember she had a bow on her hair and had it pulled back and she’s walking up in front of this big crowd just looking down here and she looked so little and I thought… I just sort of froze and I thought, “What have I done? What have I done? This is not gonna be good.”

0:08:02.7 JM: So all of these voices saying, “Gotta have a hook. Gotta have a hook, the specialist,” were in my head. And so what she did was she immediately pulled out a knife. It was a little Gerber knife and had a little blade. She goes, “If I got in a fight, I could use this.” And so she sort of pokes it. And I remember there was this rough looking dude on the front row. They were sitting on the… Actually down on the court because it was overflowed. The whole place was packed. So this dude’s sitting there and he sort of goes… He sort of did his hands like, “Yeah, you could use that.” He probably had to used it before. And so she’s poking at it, she was… “But if I got in a fight I’d rather use this.” So she reaches down and picks up a Samurai sword. And she unsheathes it and it sounds just like in the movies. I still remember that sound.

0:08:52.0 JM: It went “Shing!” Came out like that. And my thought was… [chuckle] My first thought was is how did she get this weapon in here? No one had seen her do it. And then she starts going through a routine. So she’s literally flipping and whirling and twirling and doing this… And I’m like… I didn’t know that she was a black belt in martial arts weaponry. I’d had no idea.

0:09:21.7 Greg: Wow.

0:09:23.0 JM: I didn’t know that. And I just didn’t want her to let go of the sword and go [chuckle] flying into the crowd. That was my main…

0:09:29.4 Greg: The first and last Fields of Faith.


0:09:32.8 JM: There was no spiritual anything. It was just like, “Please hang on to it,” but she did. And she ended up… And I remember she brought the sword down with this loud yell. She goes, “Hiya!” And that sword went right on that dude, that tough dude in the front. It came right down, I remember right over his forehead and I remember him looking cross-eyed up like this. [chuckle] And I was like, “What just happened?” And so she walks back over to the mic and she says the Bible says of itself, that it’s the sword of the Spirit, and that it’s the only offensive weapon in the armor of God. And she said, “So if I’m going to use it, I don’t wanna use it like this.” And she held up the little Gerber knife. She goes, “I wanna use it like this,” and she held up the Samurai sword. You could have heard a pin drop. No hook. It was an…

0:10:22.2 Greg: Drop the mic.

0:10:24.0 JM: Drop the mic.

0:10:25.1 Greg: Drop the sword.

0:10:25.9 JM: Drop the sword, drop it. The untrained ordinary volunteer. And God just said, “Just give her the mic.” And I was terrified. It was a risk and all that, ’cause I have to control things and everything has to be on time. And the next kid gets up, they speak, they stutter, they stammer, they’re terrible. The next one chases rabbits down here. But here’s what I noticed, you could hear a pin drop. And the reason is, is because they saw themselves up there. They heard themselves. They identified with them, like they don’t… No one out there is gonna necessarily be a pro athlete or a great speaker or anything like that, but they understood this kid that was struggling in Biology and their parents were going through a divorce and the Word of God was helping them. They did understand that. And so they got done. I got up at the end and I just said, “You heard what they said. If you wanna make a decision, you can do that.”

0:11:18.0 JM: We had our three or four counselors down there, and hundreds came over the rails.

0:11:21.0 Greg: Wow.

0:11:22.8 JM: They literally came over the rails onto the court, and a revival broke out. And it happened at other places. So that was the first Fields of Faith and it’s grown ever since then and continues to go. And so that’s why I wanted to capture the basics of that, somehow. Do a little autopsy and go, “What? Why is this still going?” And that was the impetus of writing the book. It’s just to get that out and find out why is that still working? 

0:11:52.5 Greg: Man, Jeff, it’s so good. There’s so many applications to youth ministry. I think just giving teenagers the mic in youth group, ’cause they have a youth leader, doesn’t do Fields of Faith every week. They do their youth group meeting every week. And to empower teenagers by letting them speak, letting them share stories, maybe do the lesson. I remember when I was 12 years old, my pastor said, “I want you to preach in church this week.” I was one of the little preacher boys at their Independent Fundamentalist Church, and he had a little 10 minutes slot for me. It wasn’t the real sermon, but it was a sermon. And I remember standing behind this pulpit that was way bigger than… I could barely see over it, but I felt the same… I felt empowered. And part of the reason I’m doing what I’m doing today is because somebody gave me the microphone when I was a kid. That same preacher walking down the hallway looked at me one day and said, “You’re gonna reach the world for Christ someday, young fellow,” and just kept walking.

0:12:52.6 Greg: And I knew he said it a thousand times to a thousand kids and I knew he meant it every time, and he gave us the microphone. So to make a youth leader application and how can we most effectively give our teenagers the microphone more and more and more and empower them in the process.

0:13:14.5 JM: Yeah, it’s funny, I was talking to a bunch of pastors about some of these concepts, and usually the read step is… “You want us to have a free for all and just let them run everything?” I was like, “No, no, that’s not it.” [chuckle] But it’s to your point. It’s to look for opportunities. And I’ll just give two quick words that will help faint that way. And it’s elevate and include. And you can do that in a variety of ways. And what happens is, is when we do a volunteers, and not just student leaders, but those who work with student leaders, the extension of us as leaders. But many times, we’re just trying to get a warm body in there to do youth… “Just teach this class please,” and just “Please, please.” And what we do is we lower the bar and say, “If you’ll just do this, it’s great.” We get a warm body. And the reality is at times, as leaders, we gotta look at our volunteer or student leaders and we need to raise the bar because they wanna be part of something epic. They wanna be part of a cause against all odds. They wanna take the heel. Now I’m not saying all the time, but at times you put that in there and sometimes it’s small, it’s just a small way.

0:14:38.2 JM: And the thing that I’m excited about is as people look at this book and think about those concepts, that the ones that will figure out the ways to elevate and include are the ones closest to the issues, which are the ministry leaders and I think there’s gonna be all types of examples out there. So that’s what my encouragement is, you’re not giving up full control, but you are taking a risk and you’re elevating and including at times what you want those students to do. And when you do that, that’s exactly what you just said, Greg. When he said, “I’m gonna give you the mic.” It might be giving them a mic. It might be coming up with an outreach idea. It might be, “Hey, how do you think we ought to do this?” Even though it may or may not fail and taking that risk. And so that’s the way that I think as our ministry leaders approach this, they’re gonna see all types of opportunities. And if they’ll just take a chance and risk, those students will respond.

0:15:40.3 Greg: As I think about this personally on a ministry level, it really is at the core of what we do as an organization at Dare 2 Share, because we wanna give the teenagers the mic when it comes to sharing Christ with their friends. Allow them the opportunity to engage their friends in the gospel. It just hits so many different areas. One of the things in your book I thought was brilliant was the importance of identifying a common enemy. Now, talk a little bit about that.

0:16:09.7 JM: Yeah. So there’s different ways you can look at what you’re doing organizationally, and some of that is a lot of people, when you’re looking, dealing with volunteers, there’s a lot of books and trainings on volunteer management. There’s very little on volunteer movement. But they’re not separate. We’re talking about creating movement within your management.

0:16:35.4 JM: So for instance, you can come up with common goals which can unite people, “Hey, this is what we wanna do. This is when we want to… This is what we wanna do. This is how we wanna do it and this is when we wanna have it done.” Smart goals and stuff like that. That’s good. Common goals are awesome, but you can take the same… If you think of that as a diamond and you turn it and the light hits and diffracts, you can do it a little bit different that can cause movement, not just managing to hit goals. So here’s an example.

0:17:09.4 JM: Alright. So Mart Green, who’s a chief strategy officer for Hobby Lobby, he states his principle like this. I’m just gonna read a quote. He said, “I’m a part of a collaborative effort called every tribe, every nation, which is a partnership between ministry partners and gospel patrons to eradicate Bible poverty.” He said, “We wanna make sure all 7000 people groups have access to Scripture in their heart language By 2033.” Now, that last sentence is a textbook, smart goal. It’s specific, it’s measurable, it’s attainable, all of that type of stuff. 7000 people groups, Scripture in their heart language by 2033.

0:17:52.2 Greg: But what sticks with you is eradicate poverty.

0:17:56.1 JM: Bingo. Don’t miss that. Because now, if you’re a part of that organization and they’re going after… Guess what they’re doing. Who’s the enemy? Who’s the common enemy? Bible poverty, that’s an enemy. Because if there’s a poverty of Scripture, then the whole thing falls. I talk about it in the book. It’s a critical node that the entire system fails. So if you eradicate Bible poverty, guess what happens in the system? It builds it back up. So what are we gonna do? That’s out there. That’s our enemy. There’s poverty out there. What are we gonna do? We’re gonna eradicate it.

0:18:28.3 Greg: I love it.

0:18:28.7 JM: We’re bringing it down. And so the thing I like to say is that our volunteers leaders don’t wanna just take in something. “Here’s your smart goal. Here’s your job description. Here’s what we’re gonna do on Wednesday night.” That’s important. Again, I’m not putting that to the side. They don’t wanna just take in something. They want to take on something. And if you can look at what you’re doing and frame it in that way, and again, this is important. We’re not talking about politicizing things and trying to beat people down, and they’re the enemy and we’re gonna take them out. It’s not like that. It’s looking at… You could look at gospel poverty. There’s a poverty of the gospel out there, and we wanna eradicate that.

0:19:14.0 Greg: And one of the things I may have said it every Dare 2 Share event in the last 10 years, we wanna rescue a generation from the hell they’re headed to and hell they’re going through apart from Christ. And I think, I wish I had read your book, so I knew there were science behind it.


0:19:28.7 Greg: But I think there’s a book title… I never read the book, but there’s a book out there called The Necessity of an Enemy, and that every David needs a Goliath. Every person needs that battle, that epic struggle. And for us in youth ministry, that epic struggle is against the world of flesh, the devil for the souls of this generation.

0:19:55.8 Greg: So it locks in, and I think just calling that out and reminding… I remember once at a Dare 2 Share event, there was a girl that came up to me ’cause I had talked about hell and the reality of hell. This girl comes out to me and she goes, “Why has my youth leader never talked to me about the reality of hell? I did not realize that my friends who die without Christ will spend an eternity in hell.” She goes, “This is urgent.” And she was upset because he did not bring in that subject, that enemy. That common goal to eradicate. Man, it’s great. So just quickly, just give a high level overview. I don’t wanna give the book away because I want every youth leader watching or listening to this right now, to purchase the book Empower: The 4 Keys to Leading a Volunteer Movement, because this applies to youth ministry in massive ways.

0:20:55.9 Greg: And you happen not to be a youth leader or a volunteer or a lead pastor, it applies to your church. Go on through this book. I am just strip mining it for ideas, for Dare 2 Share. But it works not just in a global ministry, it works in a local ministry. But I really encourage you just give us a high level, quick overview, your elevator discussion of these four keys.

0:21:19.0 JM: Sure. Yeah and I would say it talks about leading a volunteer movement. But I always say it’s also creating movement within the management that you’re already doing. So it’s not like, “Well, I don’t feel called to do a massive 250,000 people a year.” No, no, no, it’s moving the heart of your volunteers where they are. That’s part of…

0:21:39.8 Greg: Jeff, that is brilliant. It’s getting your 5, 10 adult volunteer, student leader volunteers in this movement mentality, so there’s ownership of that. I love that. So just real quickly, just what are those four areas? 

0:21:56.5 JM: Try and give four sentences. How about that? That’d be quick. But there’s four principles that we figured out that were part of not only Fields of Faith, but I’ve been to ministry for 30 years. These were consistent. The first is value. And what I like to say is if you want to release a movement, you have to trust the ordinary and call them to something crazy at times. And that we already talked about. You have to trust them, take some risk, elevate what you’re asking them to do and say, “Let’s go get there.” It’s not all the time, but at times. And when you do that, what I like to say is you trust what you don’t value. So the way to show value is you trust them and you elevate what you’re asking them to do at times.

0:22:37.3 JM: The second… And I will say this, Craig Groeschel says this great. “If you want workers, give them a task. If you want leaders, give them authority.” I think that’s a great way to put that. The second is simplicity. So if you wanna release a movement, keep it simple. These are volunteers, don’t overwhelm them with all these things and just like… And I’m not talking simple dumb. I’m saying simple, very coherent, clear and to the point. There’s an African proverb that says this, “It’s better to teach one idea to hundreds of people rather than hundreds of ideas to one.” So simplicity is key.

0:23:15.1 JM: Then the third is commonality. If you wanna release a movement, don’t just take in something, take on something. We’ve already talked about the power of a common enemy. People unite around a clearly defined enemy as opposed to clearly defined goals. You need both.

0:23:32.8 JM: And then the last principle is ownership. So if you wanna release a movement, don’t attend the concert. Be the concert. And in our world, our students are… Back in the day, we were all consumers. We waited for the people at the top. They would tell us what we needed to buy, what we needed to listen to. We could only watch so many shows during the week. Now we’re all publishers. All of us are. And so we don’t need to just sit back in the pews and attend the concert, we have the opportunity to be the concert.

0:24:04.6 JM: And I would say to everyone on this on this podcast, the opportunity is for us to create the environment so these students who are already publishing are publishing the gospel and the good news in a way that we’ve never seen before. So those are the four principles found in the book that are fleshed out once you get into it.

0:24:25.2 Greg: I love that. I was on a global call with youth ministry leaders yesterday and they talked about the difference between being hippos and honey bees. Hippos just consume everything but honeybees are part of a bigger group, part of a bigger tribe, and they all contribute toward that common goal. I thought that was great.

0:24:47.4 JM: I love that, yeah.

0:24:49.6 Greg: I told him I was gonna steal that. And then, hey, one other… Again, it’s so full. Your book is so full of these gold nuggets. One, you talk about instead of trying to reach tens of millions, why don’t we try to reach millions of tens. Can you explain that? 

0:25:12.5 JM: Yeah, so it’s the thought. It’s our mindset. The mindset is thinking tens and millions and it’s shifting from that. And that’s great. We can reach millions through the tens. So in other words, that’s a top-down mentality. And that is biblical because the structure of the church and the leaders… Again, this is not shooting one thing off to the side in favour of another one, but it’s changing the minds so it’s not only that. So the idea of thinking, “Hey, bring millions to the tens.” So tens of millions but think millions of tens. Not tens of millions, millions of tens. So there are millions of students out there outside of the church that are influencing 10 people around them. There’s millions of them, and the difference is staggering as opposed to trying to bring the millions to the ten. The 10 speakers and the people at the top, which is a strategy. Again, it’s not bad. But the mindset has to shift.

0:26:18.1 JM: And I would say this, Greg, is that the pandemic has forced that mindset to shift because we no longer had necessarily access of the tens of millions. So it’s a mindset shift and that’s what that means. And that’s where the culture is right now.

0:26:32.1 Greg: Yeah, I love it. So a couple of things. One is, how do people get a hold of your book? 

0:26:39.5 JM: Yeah. So anywhere you can buy books online. B&H Publishing has put it on basically anywhere you buy books. If you want a little bit more information, we have a website called And anyone go there, there’s a little… Some videos, a little bit more information background, some items there to contact me and things like that. So I would say that’s the easiest way to do that. As you know, I’m not really good on social media. But going to that website or anywhere you wanna buy books online, you can get it.

0:27:16.3 Greg: That’s great. And then how can… Let me just ask it this way. What challenge would you give… Parting challenge would you give to youth leaders listening to this podcast right now? 

0:27:29.3 JM: Yeah. I think the challenge I would give is don’t be afraid to risk giving more authority and opportunity to your leaders because if you will take that risk… And with risk, there’s gonna be failure and that’s okay. But it will release in the volunteers you already have. This isn’t about going and getting new volunteers. It will release something inside of them that I think will blow you away. So don’t be afraid to risk and give up some of the authority and opportunities to your volunteer leaders. Not only the volunteer like teachers and things like that but the student leaders. It will blow you away what they’ll be able to do. It’ll shock you if you’ll let them go to work.

0:28:18.6 Greg: Jeff, it reminds me of a quote I heard years ago from Dr. Jim Groen, who used to be the president of Youth for Christ. He said, “The first reformation took place when the word of God got into the hands of the common people. The second reformation will take place when the work of God gets into the hands of the common people.”

0:28:36.7 JM: Amen.

0:28:37.7 Greg: And if we can mobilize these volunteers… Think about Ephesians 4, 11 and 12. What’s our job as pastors, preachers, teachers, evangelists? It’s to equip God’s people for works of service. You stole this from Paul. You stole this from the Bible, this concept. Perfect.

0:28:54.0 JM: There’s nothing new under the sun. I had stole that from Solomon, too.

0:28:58.8 Greg: There you go, see. There you go. Well, Jeff, thanks so much for being a part of this podcast. I encourage everybody again, pick up Empower: The 4 Keys to Leading a Volunteer Movement by Jeff Martin. And now we’re gonna switch into a segment called ask a youth leader. This is called The Greg Stier Youth Ministry Podcast and I’ve not actually been on a hands on youth ministry for 30 plus years. So at the end of every segment, we bring an actual youth leader on to get their thoughts about the guest’s comments that day.

0:29:35.5 Greg: And so today we have a good friend of mine, Nathan Smith. Nathan has served as a volunteer youth leader and a full-time youth leader for 19 years. Fun fact, he was a pitcher in college at Central Christian College. He loves coaching, coaching students in sports, coaching students to follow Jesus. He serves as a youth ministry coach with Multiplier Ministries. Currently, he’s a student pastor at First Baptist Church of Roswell, New Mexico. I’m not gonna say anything about UFOs. I just said it. I can’t help myself. Where he lives with his wife and four children.

0:30:09.5 Greg: And he’s a long time part of our Dare 2 Share volunteer team of key youth leaders. So, Nathan, what did you think about what Jeff shared in the podcast? 

0:30:23.3 Nathan Smith: First off, Greg, one of my volunteers is a UFO expert. So there, if you ever come to Roswell…

0:30:29.5 Greg: See, there you go. Perfect.

0:30:31.2 NS: You can learn from the expert, nationally, internationally known expert on UFO. All UFO…

0:30:35.2 Greg: I seriously wanna go. I wanna go. I really wanna go. That’s awesome.

0:30:39.6 NS: There you go. But man, I totally was blessed. And it was so crazy to me. My network just tried to do… We didn’t call it Fields of Faith. I didn’t know Fields of Faith existed. I’m trying to catch up here. But that same concept, we tried to do about six or eight weeks ago and we saw 100 lost kids show up. And it was just students on the mic. And it was a great night. But it spawn off and for me, again, by accident, I started handing the mic to my students saying, “Hey, I want you to share the gospel and share your story at the vendor every Wednesday night.” And I had my first Wednesday night. I hand it to a kid, and this kid bombs. Didn’t share a gospel that was very clear. I was just disappointed. I went, “Well, maybe that didn’t work.” And then I had a youth leader come up and say, “My entire group said they don’t even have a story of salvation. What am I supposed to do, Nathan?” One of those kids, the kids I’ve been discipling now for about six months.

0:31:40.0 NS: So the next Sunday morning, this kid walks up to me and he goes, “Pastor, I just need to let you know I’m now having after I trusted Christ story.” I’m like, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Well, Wednesday night. After I went home, 2 o’clock in the morning, I chose to put my faith and trust in Christ.” And I said, “Why did you do that?”

0:31:57.6 Greg: Wow.

0:31:58.0 NS: And he looked at me and he said, “Well, when I heard that other kid’s story, I realized my story was just like his, and I’d never trusted Christ.” He thought he trusted Christ but he’d never actually found Jesus. And so that messed up story, it absolutely started the process. And then that alien expert volunteer who’s just been a youth leader with me for a few months, challenges kids to say, “Why don’t you have an after story?” And the combination of all of that, and I’m just on the outside watching and seeing what God did in this kid’s life. And it’s just fun to see how that works.

0:32:33.9 Greg: Wow.

0:32:34.5 NS: Yeah, that was the first thing as I was listening to Jeff.

0:32:36.6 Greg: That’s really… It’s just really cool.

0:32:39.0 NS: Go ahead.

0:32:40.8 Greg: That’s awesome. And you think about the power, like Jeff was sharing earlier, of kids that may be killed it on stage, like the girl with the knife and the sword. The kids that stumbled and chase rabbits, but it still worked because I think teens, they see themselves in other teens and teens that hurt on stage or they’re not doing well, I think a lot of times teenagers actually feel for them. And they’re cheering for them. When an adult bombs on stage, they laugh at us. I’ve been laughed at many times. [laughter] But when teens bomb, I think teens, they relate with that and they get that message coming through. Any other thoughts as you were thinking through what Jeff said? 

0:33:28.5 NS: I already do a lot of smart goals in my group. But the whole eradicating Biblical poverty as example of a common enemy, I wanna implement that today. I love the idea of keeping the smart goal but being able to really dig into that whole attitude of, “I want my students to see what we’re fighting against and what we’re fighting for.” I think that that’s something that we absolutely can do. I’m gonna go get the book. I was really… I’m always looking for ways that I can equip my leaders and to be able to be simple. To clear into the point. Sometimes I feel guilty because that’s something that I want to be able to do for my leaders, that I’m not making it… I don’t have the cool spreadsheets or all that kind of stuff. But to be able to identify with others out there that say, “I can only do two or three things at a time, and that’s all I can focus on. But if I can pick the right things, and keep that clear and keep that simple and to the point, what an incredible opportunity that can be.”

0:34:39.0 Greg: One of the things, Nathan, when Jeff was talking about the difference between tens of millions and millions of tens, I couldn’t help but think about youth leader networks, but also youth groups. If the average youth group in America is 10 kids, which I don’t know what the actual answer is, but if it is, it’s not a huge number, whatever that number is. Could you imagine the millions of tens, these youth leaders around the world mobilizing their teenagers and their adult leaders as part of this volunteer movement. When you take it back, isn’t that what Jesus did? Jesus ignited a volunteer movement with his disciples and his followers, and the early church. It was a volunteer movement. It still is, 2000 years later. But how did that whole concept of millions of tens… Were you thinking about youth groups and teenagers and adult leaders as well doing that? 

0:35:36.9 NS: Yeah. And I think there’s so many of us that are ambitious, like, “Man, I wanna have a group of hundreds or thousands of kids. I wanna speak. I wanna be cool like Greg Stier.” But at the same time, it reminded me of a conversation I had with the youth pastor I was coaching, and he’s discouraged. He’s got 12 kids in his youth group, but he’s in a school of less than 100 students. And me looking at him saying, “Dude, your ratio of the amount of kids that you’re equipping and empowering, you’re more successful than I am.” I don’t have a very big group, but he can look at me as this huge group and I’m looking at him going, “But you are making such an impact with the 10 kids.” And watching those 10 kids are thinking about in the past is I’ve had small youth ministries and kids going to Chad, Africa or India or Chicago or wherever God’s called them all over the world, all over the country, and bringing up other Gospel advancing movements most of the time from a very volunteer perspective.

0:36:41.3 NS: And if we will stay in that small mentality so that it’ll multiply, how cool is that? And so yeah, that really spoke to me a lot.

0:36:49.9 Greg: That’s awesome. That’s great. Well, Nathan, thanks so much for being a part of the podcast as well. And I think for the whole Gospel advancing movement, the Empower book is gonna be a significant book for us to learn from. So excited that Jeff is with us here today. Thanks for tuning into the podcast. And I just wanna challenge you, remember that a thriving youth ministry is a Gospel advancing youth ministry. Thanks for tuning in.

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