The Greg Stier Youth ministry Podcast
episode 12 | February 2022
Why the Gospel was the missing piece in Jerrod Gunter's ministry
In this episode, Greg sits down with fellow speaker and youth leader, Jerrod Gunter. They discuss Greg’s new e-book, The Failure of Youth Ministry and How to Fix it, as well as how youth ministry has to go back to Biblical principles to keep up with culture. Greg and Jerrod also speak with youth leader, Morgan Marshall, to follow up on the discussion.
Jerrod has a heart for developing and equipping youth in every phase of life. He serves as Next-Gen Pastor at New Direction Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He has shared his passion for youth ministry with organizations such as Google, Stuff You Can Use, and Dare 2 Share Ministries where he has spoken at several events. His new book, Riotstarter, discussed creating a counter-culture movement of prayer to transform cities for Jesus Christ.
0:00:06.9 Greg: Alright, welcome to the Gregster 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. Super excited about our guest today, pastor Jerrod Gunter, he serves as an Eshen pastor at New Direction Christian Church, Hickory Hill campus in Memphis, Tennessee, where he ministers to more than 300 middle school and high school students each week. And prior to joining New Direction Jerrod worked for the Urban Youth Initiative, where he created educational and mentoring programs for students during this time, he started a movement called Riot starters that encourage students to create a culture of prayer and evangelism in their schools and communities.
0:01:02.5 Greg: He recently released his first book called Riotstarter, answering the call to counter culture, which gives youth leaders and teens the tools to be counter-cultural, make noise for Christ, I love that, and transform the world for Jesus. Jerrod has shared his passion and perception of youth ministry with leaders at organizations such as Google, stuff you can use Center for Youth Ministry training and our very own Dare 2 Share where he’s a member of our speaker team. He’s happily married to Lakisha. They’re proud parents of Desmond, Ariana, Maya and Jalen, super excited Jerrod’s here because he’s one of my favorite speakers in the world, and he’s one of my dear dear friends. I love this guy, I love everything about him. Jerrod thanks for being a part of the podcast today.
0:01:47.7 Jerrod Gunter: Oh man, I’m so hyped to be a part of this, this is gonna be good today.
0:01:51.9 Greg: Yeah, I’m thinking back to where we first met, and I think it was at Youth Specialties.
0:01:57.7 JG: It was Youth Specialties, and for some reason, you don’t remember it was in Dallas… I don’t… You keep saying you never were in Dallas, but it was at Dallas, it was in Dallas.
0:02:06.5 Greg: It was in Dallas?
0:02:07.6 Greg: And I was doing the seven Value Training, and I remember talking about…
0:02:13.3 JG: Youth specialties in Dallas.
0:02:14.2 JG: I don’t know that seven values was how we…
0:02:16.6 Greg: The first time? Okay.
0:02:17.8 JG: It was the very first, I don’t think so, I’m thinking…
0:02:20.1 Greg: So this is before then.
0:02:22.8 JG: This is before seven values.
0:02:23.9 Greg: Okay, I just remember you talking to me about… ’cause I talk about you’re either a coach or a quarterback, and…
0:02:31.8 JG: So that was Cincinnati I saw you in Cincinnati too, when you were in Cincinnati, I was like, “Yeah, I gotta tell them what’s been happening, ’cause at by that time, we had went full on into Dare 2 Share principles, And so, Cincinnati was like, “Yo like, let me tell you what’s going on”.
0:02:49.0 Greg: That’s cool. And you…
0:02:51.4 JG: I walked in late to your speaking…
0:02:54.2 JG: Yeah, that’s when I got the gospel up.
0:02:58.4 Greg: You know, we talked about… You’re either a quarterback or a coach or a quarterback, bring your friends out to youth group, watch me throw the touchdown pass or coach your students to throw the touchdown pass, that hit you because you’re a former professional football player, you told me after that really got me…
0:03:16.6 JG: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think it was… I think it was because when you come into youth ministry, you kinda… Your goal is to kinda… You wanna save everybody. You kind of put this show, this burden on your shoulders, like to go after every single student, and you feel like it’s on you to do it, and whether it’s buying intention or whether that’s just the youth ministry culture that’s been created before you, you feel like it’s up to you to kinda do that, and when I heard you say that like, “Hey, you’re not the superstar quarterback, if you would just simply train these assistant coaches, so to speak, and these and mobilize them, they are the ones that are gonna go get and share the gospel”, and man, when you said that, it just radically changed how we were gonna pursue ministry from that moment on. I was no longer gonna pursue trying to one, be the superstar quarterback, and then I was no longer gonna try to put that burden on sharing the gospel with every single person, every single student… I could just mobile our students and they would multiply themselves and do that.
0:04:26.6 Greg: And that philosophy really kinda ties in to your story, just give us a kind of a nutshell. You had some radical stuff happen at your church, and years ago that kind of really set the pace for this gospel advancing movement and mentality, what’s this? Just kinda fill us in on that.
0:04:45.4 JG: Yeah So again, we really were doing great ministry in comparison to what youth ministry called success, we were seeing a lot of students come, we were seeing… I think at one of our lock-ins, we had over 600 students locked in from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM the next day, so we were doing successful ministry, but we just felt like something was missing, is this it, like, was this it? And I remember just meeting one of my friends, he was in the city at the time, he was at another church, and I was looking for a basketball gym, and I walk into this church and I asked for the youth guy… Well, actually, I asked for the guy who owns the basketball, it happened to be the youth guy, he comes down and he says, “Hey man, yeah, sure, you can use our gym.” But on his wall, he had this huge banner of gospel life in six words, G-O-S-P-E-L, I’m like, “what is that?” and he says, “What do you mean? What is that? You don’t know what that is?” And immediately he gives me this manual, ministry to movement. I think that’s what it was called, ministry to movement. And I just devoured it that whole week, and it was what was missing it was mobilizing students with the gospel, like I said, our kids were hyped, they were excited about coming to church, but they didn’t have a mission…
0:06:10.1 JG: And so we wanted to put that before them. And so, we began to do those things and go through those principles, but I thank my friend, he actually was going to the conferences that Dare 2 Share was having, and I wasn’t never able to really make those. So, we end up just diving into those principles and really sharing what it meant to share the Gospel, what prayer really meant. Then we had a situation. I wouldn’t say a situation, it was just a part of culture at the time. In our culture, riots were breaking out really all over the nation at the time. There was some incidents that broke out in a… Mike Brown was murdered in St. Louis, and of course here in Memphis, Tennessee is already a racially divided city, and so some of that spilled over into our city, and one Friday night, a young Black kid was shot by a white police officer on the front lawn of all places, of our youth campus. Literally, Saturday morning, I get up and I roll up and all I see is yellow tape at the front lawn of the youth campus and many of our students knew this young man. And so, they were looking for answers. They were looking for like, “What do we do?”
0:07:24.4 JG: And we really recognize that there are other organizations that were really trying to create a response, they were trying to get those young people to join some other organizations and to riot during those times. And we recognized that a riot is a response. Martin Luther King said it is a response. It’s a response of the unheard, but we recognize that there needed to be another response, and we begin to challenge our students that the Gospel is a response. Prayer is a response to those things at our city. And we begin to train them that whole year, that whole whole summer, I’d say, on the power of prayer, the power of sharing the Gospel with your friends, and we committed that when we get back to school in the fall, we’re gonna pray every single Wednesday. I know prayer at the PO is important, but our city was in trouble, we needed more than just one day of prayer. We needed to pray every single Wednesday.
0:08:18.4 JG: And we was like, “Look, we’re gonna pray in every school that we’re represented in.” And it turns out the first day that we prayed was prayer at the PO and students come up and they say, “Yo.” They were sharing with their friends, “Hey, we’re gonna pray. Hey, we’re gonna pray this Wednesday.” And somehow the administrator got word of it, and they determine that, “Listen, if you guys are late, we’re gonna suspend anybody that’s late to class because this shouldn’t be a distraction.” And kids come tell me and I’m like, “Yo, what are you guys gonna do? We don’t want anybody suspended?” It’s like, “Yeah, we’re praying. We just wanna let you know that, that’s what’s going on.”
0:08:55.6 Greg: That’s awesome.
0:08:57.4 JG: And because they had a mission, right? And that’s what I think was missing. They had a mission and nothing stops a mission. The next day over 400 something students show up to this prayer. Somebody takes out a phone, he probably should have been praying, but he takes out his phone and he records it, and this thing goes viral all over, and it’s still being shared today at times on Instagram, and man, God put a crazy display of the Gospel on display for the world to see that day, and our students are just… They saw it, that the power of prayer is a mission, and it just radically changed what youth ministry was gonna be like for us from that point on.
0:09:36.7 Greg: So Jerrod, it’s so exciting for me to see this happen in Memphis. I’ve been to Memphis and through Memphis, it is a racially divided city, 200 active gangs, and the Gospel is shining in the midst of it all and God is using you and other churches. You’ve united other churches, you’re doing it in other cities. I believe God is raising up a movement of riot starters. A righteous riot as you say that will pray and advance the Gospel and build relationships and transform entire communities through the power of the Gospel of Christ. And that’s not just what urban youth ministries need to do though, that’s also what every youth ministry needs to do. Youth Ministry has failed in a lot of ways, and I know this is kind of a micro series within our… The Gregster Youth Ministry Podcast, we’re gonna be talking about the Failure of Youth Ministry, the e-book that I wrote, and how to fix it. Let me just ask you, why do you think this is an important conversation? The conversation about the failure of youth Ministry.
0:10:48.9 JG: I think it’s a really important conversation because I mean even much of my story, what was placed before us was, “Hey, you gotta attract kids, you have to attract them to youth ministry.” You gotta have these amazing displays so that kids can be excited about wanting to come to your space, and we all know that that’s important. It’s important to have a great time with students because kids are energy, they’re fun, but what I’ve seen is, and I think we all can see that, is that doesn’t last very long. Your games don’t last very long. Your light show is not enough to keep them from deciding whether to come to your space or to basketball practice or to the party that’s gonna happen that week.
0:11:36.9 JG: And so I think when you pastors have been showing this kind of model like be very attractional, it’s kinda placed them in kind of a holding pattern. What do we do when they no longer are attracted by what we have? So there has to be something more than using attractional methods to attract them. I remember when I first started, I would see these flyers say, “We are attracting students from all over. We are attracting students.” And I would almost ask myself, “Yeah, we are attracting students but are they really engaged?” And so, I think that that’s where we’re starting to look at like, we’re attracting students, but are they really engaged into our spaces? Are they engaged with a mission? ‘Cause if not, playing Chubby Webby, Bunny whatever that game is, it’s not gonna keep them very long. For a little while, but it won’t keep them very long. They need a mission.
0:12:38.0 Greg: Well, yeah, I agree, and you think about youth ministry in a lot of ways, it’s kind of stuck in the ’80s. There’s so much distraction now, there’s so many sports and smartphones and Netflix, and so much gaming, there’s so much for students to do. They don’t necessarily need to show up to youth group to have a good time, and if we’re depending on that at the same time, not throwing out the baby with the bath water that it’s okay to have sizzle as long as you got some steak like when I go to Chili’s, sometimes I hear those sizzling fajitas go by. I’m like, “Well, I’ll have that.” But when they bring it, there better be some steak there and it’s okay to have fun and games and all that, but we gotta be leading them somewhere, that’s what I really appreciate about you, Jerrod, you’re in the trenches, leading these students to engage on a deeper level with a message and mission of Jesus Christ, and you’re seeing that actually happen in your youth group, but also with other youth groups as they catch on with this idea and this vision, and not just in Memphis but other cities, so that’s exciting. So I assume you had an opportunity to read the Failure of Youth Ministry.
0:13:50.8 JG: Oh, yeah.
0:13:51.7 Greg: Yeah. So it’s short 40 pages long. What would you say you agreed with, and is there anything you disagreed with or maybe have a different perspective on? I’d love to hear your thoughts about that.
0:14:05.8 JG: I can’t say, ’cause I think you and I have had several conversations about youth ministry even in this our culture right now, how unique it is. I can’t speak for a lot of the different contexts, but I know even right here in Memphis, Memphis is still in many regards kind of shut down as it relates to the pandemic. Our church still hasn’t been in person, man, now two years, coming up on March, and so we… If I’m gonna be a youth pastor in this context, I’m gonna have to figure out how to pivot, how to evolve as youth ministry, because I can’t be as if I don’t have a building to attract them to, I don’t have Xbox or PlayStations, they’re already at home playing those things, and so when reading the Failures of Ministries so… Yeah that wasn’t really much. It was like. Yeah, this is… This is has to happen. We have to begin to evaluate, is what we’re doing getting us the results that we really want. Is the way we’re currently doing ministry and engaging students, is it getting us the results that we want. ‘Cause if not, it’s time to make a change, so I think one of the things that really man just really jumped out to me was, we’re two things one, I think… I think the. I think it’s the Stockholm paradox. The Stockdale paradox.
0:15:31.6 Greg: Stockdale, yeah.
0:15:31.8 JG: Yeah, the Stockdale paradox and, yes, there a… There is faith that we have to have that things are gonna get better, we know that students are struggling with anxiety and depression, and we know that the hope of Jesus Christ can and will interrupt that pattern and give them a better life. The abundant life that Jesus Christ, but then the other part of that, it’s also being able to say. Okay, we gotta look at the reality of what’s happening right now, are we actually engaging them with that hope? And if not, what are we gonna do about it? My friend always tells me, he says. “You’re getting the results that you’re getting whether you like it or not, based off of what you’re doing.” Whether you like or not and so that was very important to see that part like yo like we… And I think sometimes, especially in church is how… We’re so loving and we’re so… We wanna see the best in things, it’s hard for us sometimes to look at ourselves and really evaluate and say, “Yeah, that’s not fruitful, and we gotta stop doing that.”
0:16:36.3 Greg: Yeah, and I think it’s tough, like you said, the push back and look at a model and say. Okay, is this really working, but in some ways, this whole pandemic has given us an opportunity to pause and think. ‘Cause I remember that first surge is, how do we do youth group online on Zoom effectively, and that lasted for about a month or two, and then everybody started dropping off and now youth leaders are like. Okay, what do we do? And yeah, there’s some creative technological ways that have been developed and ideas that youth leaders come up with that are great, but I think it’s a great opportunity to say. Is the system broken? And if I’m reading that Pine Tops Foundation report right, we’re losing at least a million evangelical teenagers per year, they’re not just leaving the church or leaving their faith, I’m like, I’m not a brain surgeon, but it feels to me like youth ministry is failing to not only gain new believers, but retain the current ones. And there needs to be a fundamental shift. And so you’ve been implementing these seven values of a gospel advancing ministry, intercessory prayer, relational evangelism leaders modeling it. How has that shifted your perspective of youth ministry, how has it shifted your students excitement for youth ministry?
0:18:01.3 JG: I think what was so unique in reading this… This excerpt or this really heart burst from you is these principles are not new, like they’re biblical, they are in Scripture, and oh, man for whatever reason, oftentimes we don’t apply them to really like what we’re currently doing, and so I think when I begin to look at the values and say yo like in prayer, like here is Acts chapter two is how the disciples were up having a prayer service up in the upper room and as we begin to implement those things, I think it gave students, I think it gave students a mission, we talked about earlier how students have a mission in their DNA like they wanna be a part of something, which is why they oftentimes choose football practice over youth group, or why they choose to stay home and game over youth group is because those things have some type of mission, they have some type of call for them to be a part of, but for whatever reason, our churches are not putting that mission before student and we tested it, we say, “Okay cool, look, we’re gonna give them a mission,” and so at that when we begin to do that, youth group no longer was just, was just a place to hang out. Pretty sure, people want to come hang out with their friends, it became a place is like yo. Okay, I’m gonna be equipped to go do the mission. We had students calling us in the middle of the day, like yo like PJ.
0:19:41.0 JG: “We didn’t talk about Wickens so, but I have a Wicken at the lunchroom that I wanna talk to about the gospel, but we didn’t cover that one, so can you help me out right now?” I’m like, “Yo, man, go eat your lunch and we’ll talk.” You know, so they’re… Because they recognized like, “Yo, my school is now a mission and youth group had became a place where I’m equipped for a mission other than a place where I just came to play games.” And I think that’s what happened for us when we began to implement these principles, that again are biblical. It gave students a mission and a reason to like now, okay, they saw their school essentially different, they saw it as a mission field.
0:20:20.5 Greg: Man, I love that because, yeah, I love you mentioned that. I mean, in Dare 2 Share, we did not develop these principles, we discovered them in a research project. And then reading the book of Acts like, “Duh, how do we miss this stuff?” Secondly what I love is it makes youth group all week long, like I’m not done on Wednesday night or Sunday night or that retreat or that camp, we’re just launching into a week-long discussion of Jesus with my unreached friends and also calling Jerrod to find out, “Hey, what do I actually believe about Wickens?” I mean, think about the beauty of that kids asking you questions about theology, philosophy, worldview, world religions, we’re always struggling to keep kids’ attention. And now they’re asking for your attention, because they’re on a mission. They wanna know the facts, they wanna know the truth, changes everything.
0:21:13.0 JG: Yeah, it does, ’cause I think I was always asking myself in ministry, once a student made a decision for Christ, like “What’s next?” I mean, again, like I’m saved, so what’s next? What do I do now? And I think being able to say, “Okay, hey, here’s the mission. Here’s what… Here’s why we come to church every… Yeah, we’re gonna come, we’re gonna celebrate, but we’re simply coming here to be equipped to go.” And I think once that paradigm shift hit us, it was like, “Oh, man.” And the students, man, and it blew us away, too. Like, I mean, I’m not sitting here like we knew this was gonna happen, it blew us away to be getting calls in the middle of the day like, “Yo, like we’re really… Hey, I’m trying to see how… What are we doing this Wednesday, ’cause I wanna bring this guy, ’cause I really kind of stuck on this piece, I want… ” I mean, it was just radical to see that once we gave them a mission, their high schools became mission fields for them.
0:22:09.0 Greg: Man, I love that. And I think, I go back to when I was a teenager, and I was raised in the city, fatherless home, a lot of crime in my neighborhood. I get involved with this youth group, and all of a sudden I got that mission. I got a purpose and thank the Lord I was in a youth ministry that they trained and equipped us, “Welcome to the family, here’s your Bible, read it. We’ll help you understand it, and there’s the mission, go start telling your friends.” One of the first things they would do is train us how to share the gospel, which now in the typical church, that’s a 401 class. And by the time you get to 401, most adults are institutionalized by then, this was the 101, let’s do this.
0:22:51.5 Greg: And it gave that mission, that vision, that excitement. So exciting for me to hear all this from you Jerrod, excited. I never get tired of hearing it. And you know, you look at that prayer video, which I’ve seen at the public school, you talk about intercessory prayer fuel and here’s 400 or 500 kids interceding to God on behalf of their school and their city and just calling out to him for revival and transformation, and it’s like an upper room experience. And then that relational evangelism flows from that so, so exciting. What would you say to the typical youth leader watching this or listening to this saying, “Okay, this is excitement. I agree, youth ministry is broken, where do I start? What do I do to begin to make these kinds of changes?”
0:23:43.5 JG: Man, I honestly would say I would first start with you first. Like I would start with you first and say honestly prepare your heart, that this is something that you’re tired of doing. And I think it started with me first, I was… I knew something was missing in the youth ministry, this wasn’t some leader came, this was… And I believe maybe they just didn’t verbalize it, but I think it had to start with you first that you have to get to a point where you say, “I know something is broken and I wanna do something about it.” And once you begin to do that, I would say then be it first, you begin to be that change.
0:24:28.9 JG: You begin to be somebody that says, “Man, I’m gonna pray like crazy.” I think and maybe you told me this story, Greg, some guy draws this circle. He says he wanna see these revival and he tell this young guy, he says, “Get in the circle and when you get in the circle, pray like crazy for everybody in that circle to see revival,” and essentially it’s yourself. And I think that that’s what I would encourage a youth leader right now is start with you first and be committed that like, “Hey, I wanna see this change first in me.” It’s one thing for us as youth leaders to want to see our young people share the gospel, and go out and change their communities and the schools, man but if it’s… I think about Genesis, God says, “Be fruitful and multiply.” But I think most of us wanna do the multiplication first, we wanna see the big numbers in our rooms. We wanna see the great displays of… But God says “First be fruitful, and then I’ll multiply that,” right? And so I think if we’re fruitful in praying first, if we’re fruitful in sharing the gospel in our own lives, this is gonna multiply in our ministries, it’s gonna multiply in other areas. And so… I would say start first with yourself, and then secondly, man create a prayer culture in your ministry. With your students.
0:25:54.0 Greg: Man, I love that ’cause it just hit me as you were talking, like we multiply by the fact that we’re multiplying by. So if we’re into this, we’re not living this out, we’re a zero, that’s what we’re gonna get with our students. We’re a one that’s… We’re a 10, that’s what we’re gonna multiply who… Whatever that this gospel advancing philosophy is in us will be multiplied in and through our students by that same factor so, so, so important. Well, I wanna bring in youth leader right now who’s been eavesdropping on this conversation, her name is Morgan Marshall, she grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado attended Dare 2 Share conferences when she was in youth group. Yes, I am very old. She served at a church in Texas for five years before returning home to the state of Colorado, she now serves as student minister in Storyline Church, right here in the city of Arvada, where she’s leading their efforts toward the vision of the 14,000 middle school and high school students hearing the gospel, from her friend in Arvada, Colorado. Morgan, welcome to the podcast.
0:27:00.7 Morgan Marshall: Thanks, Greg, it’s great to be here.
0:27:02.2 Greg: Yeah, so as you’ve listened to Jerrod and I kinda talk about this, it’s a tough subject because it’s your job and to say the failure of youth ministry, does that automatically imply that all of youth ministry is failing and it’s not, but as you’ve kind of wrestled through some of the thoughts that we’ve bounced back and forth, what are some of your thoughts?
0:27:30.9 MM: Yeah, I love everything that Jerrod said and would agree with the things that he said, and I know he has a ton of experience and just working with students and implementing some of these things into his own church and ministry. And I think that one of those… One of the things that I’ve seen the most is that I think a lot of churches or youth leaders will maybe just not see the importance of our students and how they can really raise the bar even for the church as a whole, and they can be people that kinda set the pace for the church, and so I think as I’ve been able to work with students and just kind of see them stepping into some of these things, it’s been a lot about just raising the bar for them and asking them to do hard things because like Jerrod said, they want a mission, and they work hard for their missions for their sports team or to get into that certain college that they really want to get into, or to be a really good friend with certain people.
0:28:41.2 MM: They will have a… When they have a mission, they’re gonna continue with it with all guns blazing, and so to give them a mission that is focused on the Gospel and to help them see. Okay, now that you’re a believer, your mission isn’t just to be a really good athlete or a really good student or a really good friend, it’s actually to be those things with the Gospel in mind and to use those places that God has put you, to then take the Gospel forth and to be someone who demonstrates the love of God on to those people, because they really are capable of it, and I think that that’s the hardest part, is just stepping into recognizing that and then giving them those opportunities and helping them see the places that God has put them.
0:29:25.3 Greg: I love that, ’cause you… I love that concept of raising the bar, because as Jerrod said, as you just reminded us everywhere else is raising the bar for young people, oftentimes except the church now. How did that impact you as a teenager getting this mission, I know you came to Dare 2 Share. What grade were you in when you went to Dare 2 Share event?
0:29:45.8 MM: Oh man, I was probably like eighth or ninth grade.
0:29:49.1 Greg: Eighth or ninth grade.
0:29:50.6 MM: Yeah.
0:29:51.0 Greg: And I’m sure you had a youth leader that was trying to get everybody to share the gospel, how did that impact you as a teenager?
0:30:00.6 MM: Yeah, that was something that was huge in my life, so I went to Dare 2 Share, and our youth group was pretty small, but our youth leader was able to get almost all of our students there, which was amazing, so we just had a great weekend. It was really challenging. That was really the first time that I had heard that my responsibility was to share the Gospel, I had always believed like. Man, I can just start inviting my friends to come to church and they’ll hear the Gospel from the pastor or from a youth leader, or when we read the Bible, I don’t really need to do that. And so to hear. No, you as a student have a responsibility to share the Gospel, that really hit me hard because I recognize like that’s something that I can do with my friends, and I had a lot of friends that were not believers, they didn’t know Jesus, they didn’t really care about church. And so just starting to have those conversations with them at that conference, we had to call a friend ’cause texting wasn’t like a thing yet, really, and so we actually had to get on the phone, dial a friends number.
0:31:07.9 MM: Call them and just ask them questions about what they believed and have an opportunity to pray with them or share the gospel, and that was really hard, but doing that and then coming back to my school and just being able to continue to have conversations with my friends, inviting them to church, but not just inviting them. Also asking them like. Can I pray for you today? Here’s something that God is teaching me. Can I share this with you? I know that you maybe believe differently, but I would love to hear what you believe and talk with you about the things that I believe, and so I really started to see it as a mission that I had as a student, and something that our youth group was really… We were really sent out then from there to bring students to youth group, but not as a place for them to hear the gospel. As a place for them to learn then how to go back out into our schools and share the gospel.
0:32:06.7 Greg: Yeah, that’s a really good point, Morgan and I’ll bring Jerrod back in on this, because he kinda brings up a point of this “come and see” mentality that is, ‘Hey, bring out all your friends.’ Which is good, I mean, I love that. But if you’re just depending on ‘come and see’, and you don’t combine it with ‘go and get’, in other words, equip students to go and tell and share the gospel with their friends. We’re gonna miss a lot… We’re gonna miss out on reaching a lot of students for Christ, but how do you think, Jerrod, that whole ‘come and see’ and ‘go and tell’ philosophy can go together in a youth ministry.
0:32:47.0 JG: Yeah, I think Morgan hit it. Yeah, I mean coming and seeing that we want students to be in a community of faith, a part of a space where people are loving Jesus and loving other people, I think that’s dope. But again, if we look at… And again, ‘Failure of Youth Ministry’ kind of highlights it, if we look at the state of youth ministry now, and even in our culture. Many places, and again, I speak of myself, they can’t come and see, so we have to change and pivot to say, maybe it’s not about how many people gather, but it’s about how many students you’re sending. Like how many students are we sending equipped with the Gospel into their schools, because they may not get to ‘Come and See’ to my building, they may not get to come and hear me preach.
0:33:31.7 JG: But if I’ve equipped my student leaders with the Gospel and how to train, how to disciple, then now while they’re at school, they’re having that… They’re essentially having youth group on campus, they’re essentially having youth group at the parks, and I think that… Again, we’re taking… We’re taking the message out of the superstar youth pastors’ hand, and we’re putting in the hand of those students and saying, “Hey, if we could never come and see you again,” it’s not about how many students gather, which may be a direct effect on some of our egos, and some of our you know, it might be. But if we’re more concerned about how many students are we sending that are equipped with the gospel. I think ‘Come and See’ begins to take a back seat to ‘Go and Be.’ Instead of, Come and see.
0:34:24.8 Greg: Ooh, come and see, go and be that rhymes. I love it. Hey, and I think this whole idea, and I mentioned it earlier, Morgan, you guys have identified 14,000 teenagers. Why don’t you kinda tell us a little bit about that ’cause it really ties in with this whole ‘go and be’, go and share that message, go and tell them the good news of the gospel. That 14,000 number, how did you guys identify that? And what is that? How does that impact the way you do and view youth ministry?
0:35:00.9 MM: Yeah, so we looked at all of the high schools and middle schools that were either directly in our area or that we had students that are currently at. And so, we took all of those schools and looked up the number of students that were attending for this year, at those middle schools and high schools and added it up, and it was right around 14,000. And so that just became the number that we are praying for, which is really fun because we live in Colorado, and so there’s tall mountains here that are 14,000 feet, and so when we are reminded to pray for those 14,000 students we’re asking God to literally move a mountain in these high schools and middle schools. Because Colorado, like a lot of other places, and I’m sure Jerrod knows this too, even being in Memphis. There’s just not a ton of Christian influences in these schools. And so, just praying for God to move a mountain in these schools and using those students who are believers, whether they go to our youth group or they go to another youth group in our city, that they would be people that start gospel conversations, that their lives look different in those schools.
0:36:11.5 MM: And so because of that, we spend time each week with our middle school and high school students just praying for specific schools or for our actual friends. We’ll have our students pray for their friends by name. And we know that each of those names represents one of those 14,000, and we just wanna continue to ask God to do that because we can’t do that, and we certainly can’t do that on our own, but we know that God can. And so we’re just kind of leaving that in his hands and asking him to move mountains and that we would get to be a part of it and see that happen.
0:36:43.4 Greg: Morgan, I love that. And to get there in every city, whether it’s Memphis or Arvada Colorado or Lincoln Nebraska or Queens New York or whatever, it’s gonna force churches to unite. It’s gonna force youth leaders to get together and say, “Hey, let’s pray together, let’s help build each other youth ministries up, let’s multiply this out and transform not just youth ministry, but youth ministry, is a means to the end. And the end is fully discipled, passionate followers of The Lord Jesus Christ. Teens knowing what they believe, why they believe, and unashamed to proclaim what they believe to their friends. Disciples making disciples so, so proud of you, Morgan, and how God is using you at Storyline to really set the pace for Evangelism, to really live those seven values out. Jerrod, I’m proud of you as well man, just seeing God use you in powerful ways, I know we’re gonna be doing an event next week together, can’t wait to see you. That’s gonna be awesome. How can youth leaders, Jerrod, find out more about you and also your new book.
0:37:55.2 JG: Yeah, so I’m on Instagram @JGunter5, JGunter5 and then riotstarterbook.com all together, riotstarterbook.com and man, just follow the website and it’ll tell you exactly how to get in touch. Speak anything.
0:38:15.1 Greg: So it’s J-G-U-N-T-E-R-5.
0:38:18.6 JG: Yup, JGunter5.
0:38:20.4 Greg: JGunter5.
0:38:21.7 JG: Instagram and riotstarterbook.com.
0:38:26.5 Greg: Alright. Well hey Jerrod, Morgan, thanks so much for being a part of this. Encourage youth leaders, to download the Failure of Youth Ministry, read it. It actually is a very hopeful book, don’t let the title… Somebody yelled at me on Twitter the other day, and they were like “You need to… There are successful models.” I’m like, “Read the book and then you can yell at me.” But it’s full of hope. We all know youth ministry is broken, the answer is not Dare 2 Share, it’s not Riotstarter, the answer is the Book of Acts, the Gospels, the Epistles, all these values and principles are in there, so I encourage you to read ‘The Failure of Youth Ministy’. Remember that a thriving youth ministry is a gospel advancing youth ministry, so let’s start advancing the Gospel.
Keep in touch
Subscribe to monthly podcasts plus weekly tips and inspiration that will help you build a Gospel Advancing Ministry.