The Greg Stier Youth ministry Podcast
episode 13 | March 2022
The importance of sustainable youth ministry with dr. kara powell
In this episode, Greg sits down with author and Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute, Dr. Kara Powell. They discuss the current state of youth ministry, as well as the TEN x 10 Collaboration. Greg also speaks with youth leader, Bill Freund, to follow up on Kara’s discussion.
Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller’s Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.
0:00:06.9 Greg Stier: Hi, and 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.
0:00:32.1 GS: We’re in the midst of a mini-series around my book, The Failure of Youth Ministry And How To Fix It. For decades, many ministries, churches and organizations have sensed that the typical way we do youth ministry is not really working. It’s failing to ignite students with a passion, and it’s really failing to capture this next generation for Christ. And so, what we wanna do over the next few months, few episodes, is really talking about solutions. How do we turn the ship? How do we change the paradigm? And how do we start seeing traction when it comes to gospel advancement? We’ve been talking to different youth ministry experts and practitioners. So excited to have Dr. Kara Powell back with us. She is a friend. She’s a chief of leadership formation at Fuller. She’s executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and associate professor of Youth and Family Ministry. In addition to her roles at Fuller, she serves as a youth and family strategist at Orange. Volunteers in student ministries at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena. Has authored several books. She was named by Christianity Today as one of the 50 women to watch.
0:01:41.9 GS: Kara and Fuller Youth Institute are leading a new initiative that we’re excited about at Dare 2 Share, we’re actually part of it. It’s called the TENX10 Collaboration with the mission of making faith matter more. So that 10 million young people over the next 10 years can really have their hearts captured for Jesus, see these students transform by the power of the gospel. Kara, thanks so much for being a part of this podcast again.
0:02:07.5 Dr. Kara Powell: Oh, my pleasure and honor, Greg. I’m such a fan of you and your team. And you did a great job on my bio, maybe one of the biggest points of credibility I have is I’m actually living with teenagers. Dave and I have three kids. A 21-year-old, a 19-year-old and a 15-year-old. And so, every day we are living youth and young adult ministry in our home and with their friends, and we just love that.
0:02:32.4 GS: Yeah, it’s great. And it’s all theory until you have teens, it’s… I have a 21-year-old and a 17-year-old, and I took one of those… You know those Growing Kids God’s Way things growing up, which was fine. I learned a lot, but it made it almost sound like bowling, you just… You follow the arrows and you’re gonna hit a strike or a spare every time. And it’s not like that, it’s more like, I call it pinball parenting, I just push buttons and pray, Lord, help us, you know? [laughter]
0:03:03.4 DP: Totally. Totally, no kids, young adult and teenage kids, they keep us real. They keep us humble. They keep us praying and they keep us in touch. Just yesterday, my daughter was telling me something about TikTok, which honestly, I never would have learned if it wasn’t for her. So I’m really grateful for the vitality that our kids add to our life and our ministry actually.
0:03:31.3 GS: Amen. Amen. Well, tell us a little bit more about your background. Why are you so passionate about reaching young people?
0:03:37.9 DP: Yeah, well, I think in many ways, because Jesus captivated me when I was a high school student. I had grown up in the church, and it was Easter Sunday of my junior year, when our relatively new youth pastor gave a message on Easter and said many of you have Jesus as Savior, but he’s not your Lord. Would you like to make him your Lord? And this was a Pentecostal church, so there was an altar call and I went forward, and I remember the outfit I was wearing. It was a peach skirt and a cream blouse, in case you’re wondering. And that was really a turning point for me. So, I think my own life was so changed as an adolescent, because of how God worked through the church and through adults. And every day I see that happening, and like you, Greg, I just wanna see it happening exponentially more than it’s happening right now.
0:04:30.8 GS: Yeah, and there is, I think you bring up an interesting point. I think there is a go-all-in moment for our teens. It’s really important. Like Romans 12:1, I beg you therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, go all in, offer your bodies as living sacrifice. A lot of us put our faith in Christ as kids, and maybe got that ticket to heaven, but it really didn’t make a difference on Earth. And those moments where, you know what? I’m going all in, I’m gonna pick up this cross and follow Christ. That is a discipleship acceleration point that we got to see kids get to, you know?
0:05:03.5 DP: Yeah. One of the interesting things in our research at the Fuller Youth Institute, and this is I think counterintuitive to many of us as youth leaders, is that young people actually want to be challenged in our growing young research. When we looked at churches that aren’t aging or shrinking, but are really thriving with young people and growing young, that’s why we call it Growing Young. One of the things that young people loved most about these churches, was that they really challenged them. They invited them to follow the real Jesus in a radical way. And so, I think often we undersell what it means to follow Jesus, ’cause we think that’ll be more palatable. But the reality is, but the full claims, the audacious claims of Jesus, when they’re clear, that is really compelling to young people.
0:05:55.2 GS: Yeah, and I think that that ties right into this study that came from the great opportunity Pinetops Foundation that were losing… Tell me if I’m saying it right, a million… At least a million teens per year.
0:06:05.9 DP: At least, yeah.
0:06:08.9 GS: Evangelical teens, not just leaving the church, but abandoning their faith. And some of that is because… Would you agree that a lot of these teens have been under-challenged and Christianity has turn into kind of a program they go through and to, not a movement they’re a part of.
0:06:25.3 DP: Yeah, absolutely, Christianity can so easily feel like a list of rules, a list of dos and don’ts, not a love and justice revolution that God is leading and we get to be part of regardless of age. And I look at the US church right now, Greg, and I think this is maybe the first time I’ve said it publicly, I’ve said it in a bunch of small circles with friends and close colleagues, but when I look at the US church right now, I have far more hope in 15 and 25-year-olds than I do 55-year-olds in terms of where God can take us, where God needs to take us and our openness to God’s leading. So I think there’s never been a more important time for us to really prioritize young people in our churches and build relationships with them that are empowering.
0:07:17.8 GS: I think that’s really good. And I do feel like the great… I love that whole idea of a love and justice revolution. And quite honestly over the last 30 years, I’ve adjusted some of my views of that, because I was just a Gospel guy, gospel, gospel, gospel.
0:07:35.9 DP: Yeah, you’re Mr. Evangelism, so. [chuckle]
0:07:39.5 GS: And I still am, but I think what I’ve seen is that they’re not distant cousins, they’re siblings. That when students learn how to… They can serve the poor and share Christ, they… It actually builds bridges so that the Gospel can be shared and declared and incarnated face-to-face, eye-to-eye with those that we’re serving. And I think bring… Students can bring those two together in a powerful way.
0:08:06.7 DP: Absolutely. I think students are some of the best at understanding people need Jesus for better life now as well as eternal life in heaven. Students, they grasp that, and they… As they have the adult support that they need, I think students can really lead the way in the church in helping us understand that. So we’ve seen that even when… The last couple of years with what our country has been through racially, some of the really exciting God-centered initiatives toward greater racial justice are led by young people, diverse young people, young people of all ethnicities and cultures. Which makes sense, ’cause if you look at data on the US today, we crossed the line in 2020 according to the census. In the midst of everything else that happened in 2020, we crossed the line. And now half of those under 18 are young people of color, and half of those under 18 are White. And so what a great opportunity for the church to really be a reconciling community that engages diverse young people in reconciliation with each other as well as with God through Jesus Christ.
0:09:22.9 GS: It’s interesting, this last weekend I was in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I preached at my friend Derwin Gray’s church, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Pastor Derwin Gray.
0:09:33.2 DP: Great church. Fabulous church. Yeah.
0:09:34.3 GS: Such a… It’s… And his big thing is, “Let’s build multi-ethnic churches that model to the world what it looks like to be a united bride of Christ.” And man, that is a multi-ethnic church on fire for the Gospel. And it was interesting, we had a conversation about exactly what you said. He goes, “We almost have to… Teenagers already go to public school already locked into this multi-cultural movement in their schools.” He goes, “It’s almost like we have to de-program them from that.” That’s what the church often does, they de-program you from that and segregates as opposed to, “You know what? Let’s build on this, and let’s let this multi-ethnic, gospel-advancing, disciple-multiplying movement just like a tsunami take over our churches and really show the world what unity looks like.” You know?
0:10:25.7 DP: Yeah. And that’s where I think… I try to make it clear, Greg, when I’m talking based on data and when I’m talking based on non-data, so I’m gonna talk for a moment based on more of a hunch than data. But it’s a hunch that a couple senior pastors have told me they’ve seen in their own churches, that they were struggling with seeing people of different ethnicities and cultures engage and build relationship with each other. And so they instead started emphasizing inter-generational relationships, in other words, “Let’s bring 15 and 35 and 55 and 75-year-olds together in relationships.” And they said that was a really helpful precursor for then crossing lines of race and ethnicity, which I think often are harder, especially for those of us over 30, to cross. So I think in the church today, we have this opportunity to be both multi-generational and multi-racial communities in beautiful, beautiful ways.
0:11:28.7 GS: So not to put too much on Derwin, but one other thing, I’m a big Derwin Gray fan. He traveled with…
0:11:34.3 DP: Yeah, me too. I love him on social media, and we’ve had a chance to chat here and then, and I just think he’s brilliant, so.
0:11:40.9 GS: He traveled with Dare 2 Share for two years right after his video, The Evangelism Linebacker, came out, so nobody really knew him other than through that video. But I had heard a sermon, and I’m like, “Oh my goodness, this guy can preach.” And got to know him, got to know his heart. But now seeing at his church when he preaches, oftentimes he’ll address the teenagers in the crowd. They don’t have a separate meeting, he brings the teens in, he goes, “Teenagers, I wanna talk to you for a moment.” And he does that consistently to make… He goes, “I do that, because I want them to know they’re part of the church now.” And they have their separate Sunday night meetings for youth and all that stuff, but Sunday morning, man, youth are elevated. And it was really… It’s really neat to see that. So the question, I guess, is as we take… As we push back, I wrote this book, The Failure of Youth Ministry And How To Fix It.
0:12:32.0 GS: And it’s just a hook to get people’s attention, because it’s true, youth ministry, generally speaking, if you run by the data, we’re… If we’re losing a million teens per year, they’re abandoning their faith, we’re failing. So the question is, how do we fix it? And obviously, I kinda… I’m laying out this gospel solution, and let’s get back to getting our kids to know it and share it and own it. And I’m sure as you look through that, there were probably some gaps, because you’re wicked smart, and [chuckle] this is what you do all the time. And the TENX10 Collaboration is bigger than just… Evangelism is a part of it, but it’s bigger than that. So what would you say… We talked about inter-generational, what are those other gaps that you think need to be filled for youth ministry to be strong again?
0:13:23.9 DP: Yeah. Well, first off, thank you for having such a provocative title, The Failure of Youth Ministry. We, in the academic world, we always have to qualify something, make it completely defensible when it comes to research. So I appreciate your boldness for saying, “The failure of youth ministry.” And, Greg, I just wanna say to youth leaders, I think now is a really tough time to be a youth leader. Barna released some research in October 2021 indicating that about 38% of US pastors have seriously contemplated leaving ministry in the last year. Mark Oestreicher in The Youth Cartel, motivated by that, I believe, did a study just of youth leaders and found the percentage was about the same, of youth leaders who had seriously contemplated leaving ministry in the last year. I was talking to a youth leader at a large Black church, I won’t tell you what state it was in, but in the South. And they had shifted to online, they shifted to Zoom when the pandemic hit, like almost all of us did. And they hadn’t opened back up for in-person youth group. And this youth pastor told me that before the pandemic, they were having 500 high school students per week at youth group.
0:14:52.2 DP: As he was getting ready… As the team was getting ready to open back up in person, they’d been doing zoom, but in person, he said he was hoping for 30. He said, “I’ll be ecstatic if we have 30 students.” So that’s a stark reminder of just how tough it is to be in youth ministry these days. So I know Greg, like me, that in the midst of us wanting the youth ministry to be better, we wanna start and say, “Man, we get it. We get it that it’s hard, we get it that you’re… You are working, you are trying, you’re unappreciated.” And so actually I think that is a theme that you bring out in the book that I would wanna highlight here, is that youth ministry isn’t a solo sport, it’s a group project. And so to every hard-working youth leader out there, I invite you to think about what adult team are you investing in so that you can multiply yourself and your impact. And here’s where there’s some good news, well, first, I’ll start with bad news and then get to good news. In some recent research, Greg, that according to the Spring Tide Research Institute, a great research center, only 10% of US teenagers heard from any faith leader during the pandemic. So not just Christian faith leader, but Mormon, Jewish, etcetera, only 10% of teenagers heard from a faith leader. That’s heartbreaking.
0:16:25.8 DP: But here’s the good news, that in that same study, 70% of teenagers said they were more open to meaningful relationships. So I actually think that this is a unique window, whether it’s student-to-student, evangelism and relationship-building, or whether it’s adult to young person relationship-building, evangelism, sharing life together. I think we’re in a unique window right now where… I don’t know if I should say coming out of the pandemic, who knows what stage of the pandemic we’re in. But in this moment in the pandemic, young people are more open to relationship. So I think this is such an important window for us to double down on a lot of what you say in the book, let’s pray, let’s do whatever it takes, and let’s reproduce ourselves in adults who can continue to love and serve teenagers.
0:17:24.6 GS: That’s super-insightful. It also makes me think of… About six months ago, I did a podcast with Louie Giglio and asked him, “What is the spiritual condition of the college students at your Passion events? Where are they at with the pandemic?” He goes, “Greg, they deal with it. 42,000 go out and be a part of other things, I have never seen a time where young people are more open to talk about spiritual things, about heaven, about hell, about death, about life.” Because I think the pandemic has been like a global funeral service, and at a funeral service, everybody’s also thinking about their own mortality. It says in Ecclesiastes, Better is the house of mourning than the house of feasting, because in the house of mourning, you pause and consider. And I think a lot of kids during the pandemic have paused and considered life, which oftentimes they’re… They don’t… They’re so busy, they don’t have that opportunity. And so I agree with you, this is a window of opportunity that we have right now that we can reshape youth ministry. I also think… So to use the analogy of a tsunami that goes out, the wave goes out before it goes in, I think the wave has gone out, and we’re seeing a lot of what is broken in youth ministry, this whole thing has exposed a lot of the brokenness.
0:18:44.0 GS: So it’s time that we can do something to shift the system and to change it. And so… Tells us, let’s shift… Speaking of that, solutions, let’s talk about the TENX10 Collaboration. What are you guys doing that could really help shift the system, help create a youth ministry that’s sustainable, youth leaders that are sustainable, and especially teenagers that sustain in their faith long-term? Can you give us just kinda the basic pillars of that?
0:19:17.8 DP: Yeah, thanks for asking that great question, and I’m so glad that Dare 2 Share is so committed to evangelism, discipleship and including the TENX10 Collaboration. So the collaboration emerged a few years ago looking at the data that you quoted already, that over a million young people a year are leaving the church. And so we thought, gosh, “Dare 2 Share, you’ll only accomplish so much working on your own. Fuller, Young Life, Presbyterians, Alpha, whoever it might be, we’ll only accomplish so much working on our own. What if we could really embody the unity Jesus prays for in John 17? If that’s one of Jesus’s last prayers, maybe it should be one of our first go-to strategies. And what if we could harness the expertise of all these amazing ministries and denominations and bring together and curate really the best evangelism and discipleship resources. And so we’re now in a process, we’re still in kind of a quiet pilot testing phase, so for listeners, if you’re wondering, “Gosh, why haven’t I heard about that?” Because we’re just barely starting to talk about it publicly. But you can find out more if you go to tenx10.org, That’s spell out T-E-N-X-10.org. You go to that website, you can sign up to get updates, but we’re in the process now of curating amazing resources, from church and para-church ministries, and then we’re gonna be offering them in well-organized, doable, accessible, feasible, communal training for youth leaders nationwide.
0:20:57.6 DP: And so, like I said, we’re in a curating piloting season, we’ll be going more public in 2023, but we had a summit and you and I were just talking about the two Dare 2 Share team members that were there. We had a summit last month in Los Angeles with 140 leaders from 20 denominations and 40 different organizations, urban, rural, suburban and protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, all different ethnicities represented. Over a third of the people in the summit were leaders of color, which we want it to be even more that way in future gatherings. And so, so it just feels like it’s this divine season for us to come together and focus on relational discipleship that’s radically focused on Jesus. And so, every word there is important: It’s relational, it’s discipleship, and it’s radically focused on who Jesus is, and how Jesus can change us, and young people.
0:21:57.2 GS: Wow, that is awesome, and you just recently have a book out about three questions that teenagers need. And what is the exact title? I always mess the title name up, I always call it Three Questions Teenagers Ask, and I get it wrong. What’s the… Three something…
0:22:17.0 DP: Three teenagers on a bus, and they ask questions or whatever it might be. Yeah, Three Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, and that was… It certainly has informed TENX10, and that is the result of a lot of research we did on real life young people as well as surveying amazing research that already exist, to look at, Okay, on any given day, young people are asking questions about technology, they’re asking questions about college, they’re asking questions about what they’re gonna do on Friday night with their friends. Okay, on any given day, that’s what they’re asking. What are the questions beneath the questions? And that’s where we identify that those three big questions are, Identity: Who am I? Belonging: Where do I fit? And purpose: What difference can I make? And the good news is Jesus and the faith community offers the best answers to those questions, and we have the chance to point young people to the only answers that really satisfy versus some of the answers they’re tempted to grab onto short-term.
0:23:19.2 GS: I’ll just tell you, it’s impacted me, those three ideas of identity, belonging and purpose. I’ve always seen those, but I’d never connected those. And now like we… Even on Sunday, when I was giving the gospel, we have a gospel across… I moved through the Ella’s life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. But then I talk about, it’s life as, life with, and life for. It’s life as a child of God, that’s our identity.
0:23:44.7 DP: I love that.
0:23:45.4 GS: It’s life with the people of God, that’s our belonging, and it’s life for the mission of God, that’s our purpose. And it’s not…
0:23:53.9 DP: Greg, I’m writing that down. Did you come up with that?
0:23:57.7 GS: Yeah, well, I came up with it based on those three things that we heard about at…
0:24:01.5 DP: No, but you… Well, that’s a beautiful merging of our research and very clear language. I love that. Thank you.
0:24:06.8 GS: Yeah, yeah. There you go, one team.
0:24:07.7 DP: Well, and what’s interesting is all of us, regardless of our age, all of us are wrestling with those identity, belonging and purpose questions.
0:24:14.8 GS: Exactly, oh my goodness.
0:24:17.2 DP: It’s just that for young people, they’re out like a real rolling boil. And I’ll tell you, whenever I’m around a young person, whether it’s my own kid or some other young person and they’re doing something that just doesn’t totally make sense to me, or I think, “Gosh, that’s out of character for you.” Or, “I’m surprised you’re doing that.” If I take a step back and I go, “What are they hungry for? What are they seeking? Are they seeking identity, are they seeking belonging or are they seeking purpose?” It’s like it all of a sudden makes sense to me what they’re after.
0:24:46.9 GS: It’s interesting, I just had a wake-up call, I finished a book called Unlikely Fighter, and it’s a memoir, and it’s…
0:24:55.9 DP: Yeah, it’s great. I’ve read it, it’s fantastic.
0:25:00.0 GS: So, that book, what’s interesting, it’s 22 chapters, the first 21 happened before I turned 16. It really is all about identity, belonging and purpose. Who am I? How do I belong in this family? And why am I here? And looking back, I didn’t know those three before when I wrote it, and I’m like, “Oh my goodness, the Lord really… ” Even for my uncles who are now geriatric, who are main characters in the book, they’re like, “That brought together stuff for us about our identity, belonging and purpose.” It was very interesting. But again, these are questions we always struggle with. I want to bring in our guest youth leader now, and his name is Bill Freud. He’s affectionately known as Mr. Bill, he’s a husband of Jean for over 30 years, has a 25-year-old son and a 21-year-old daughter. And he has an awesome family, he’s been doing youth ministry for 37 years, loves the outdoors, playing games, hanging out with anyone younger than him, and he’s a runner, he’s a running machine. And I’ve known Mr. Bill since our days at Colorado Christian University, and he is a good friend. So, Mr. Bill, thanks for being a part of this podcast.
0:26:05.8 Bill Freud: You bet. Thanks for having me.
0:26:08.8 GS: Yeah. And just to… I’ll let you to respond, we’ve got a few minutes here, but I wanna let you respond, ask questions, make comments based on what Kara shared, which I thought was super in…
0:26:19.3 BF: Sure.
0:26:19.8 DP: Any corrections that you might wanna offer, Mr. Bill? We welcome anything you wanna suggest be different or said differently too.
0:26:26.8 BF: Well, I just want to say thanks for your work in the youth ministry world. Like I said, I’ve known you for a long time, gone to a lot of your breakout sessions at different youth things. And really a lot of my lady leaders really have connected with you over the years and it’s been awesome. So thank you for your voice in this whole discussion. I think when you said that Jesus captivated you, I always go back to… Remember when David prayed in Psalms, “Restore me to the joy of your salvation.” I think sometimes we forget how awesome it is when we came to know the Lord and how he captivated us. And somehow, we gotta communicate that to students, because honestly, when Jesus captivates our heart, then other things start happening. But until that really happens, those other things don’t. And all this stuff is… I think we got into… When you talk about the failure of youth ministry, we’ve got into much more programmatic than we have been relational. And whenever we do that, it’s gonna turn out products rather than people, if that make sense.
0:27:44.4 BF: And so that part really jumped out at me, and I would absolutely agree, our students want to be challenged. They are students of cause. You go to the schools and walk up and down the hallways, and you got posters everywhere. They’re raising money to do this, or they’re helping to do this, and they wanna be about a cause. And we have the greatest cause that we could ever give them, and that’s the cause of Christ. And so if we under-challenge them, they’ll just go somewhere else. And you know what? We gotta stop doing that. You expect little, you get little, but if you expect much, you get much. Look at all the public schools, they gotta learn all that hard stuff, trigonometry and… Oh my goodness. I remember when I… It was 8th grade. After 8th grade, I could no longer help my students with their… My own son and daughter with their homework. I was like, “Oh man, it’s been a few years and that’s all, as far as I can take you, you’re gonna have to find a tutor now.” But they’re learning hard stuff, and the last thing we need to do when they come to the church is play with them. We can’t do that. And so I believe our students, they don’t want to just…
0:28:56.4 GS: Mr. Bill, I’m gonna jump in here. I think both of us fully agree with you. But I know… What we’re not saying is that youth groups shouldn’t be fun. I know you play games, we play games, but it’s okay to have sizzles as long as you got some steak.
0:29:12.4 BF: That’s exactly right.
0:29:13.7 GS: And I know you get them to the steak, right? And that’s…
0:29:17.7 BF: Yup. That’s right. And our students don’t wanna just take in something, they wanna take on something and they really wanna be involved, okay? And so we want them to be involved, and so you do that by giving away ownership, you gotta give them ownership. And I think a lot of times, if we’re playing… Like we talked about a lot of times, the quarterback, and we’re the one doing everything, and rather than being a coach where we’re going, “Hey, we gotta coach everybody.” Then that’s what happens a lot of times, and it’s… By the way, it’s harder to coach than it is to be the quarterback, and that’s why we do it.
0:29:56.9 DP: I love what you’re saying, Mr. Bill. And as you were just talking, I was thinking about a ministry that’s in our pilot for TENX10. And this wonderful youth leader realized that she was doing ministry for and to teenagers instead of it being done with and by teenagers. And so she said, “You know what? We’re gonna end that, we’re gonna help young people really have a sense of purpose in the ministry.” So she went to her teenagers and said, “Okay, I’m not planning Sundays anymore for you to just show up, we’re gonna plan them together, we’re gonna plan mid-week together, we’re gonna plan service together, service activities, etcetera.” And so the students really got the keys with her to run the youth ministry. And it got to the point that there was a church business meeting coming up, and not only did the students attend, but they came with amendments that they wanted to suggest to some of the items on the business agenda, which I just think… I love that, that she was able to change that paradigm, and I love what you said, Mr. Bill, not just take in but take on something.
0:31:00.1 GS: Yeah, that’s great. That’ll preach, Mr. Bill. I’m gonna steal that.
0:31:03.7 BF: Well, I think I heard it from the FCA guy you had on a while back, Jeff… Or what was the name?
0:31:08.0 GS: Oh that’s right, Jeff. Jeff Martin.
0:31:11.3 BF: I think he mentioned it. So I was like, “That’s exactly right.” And so anyway… Another thing, I was looking down here in my notes. Just the idea of giving students the opportunities, the experience in Jesus. We like to be informational, and information doesn’t always cause transformation, and you gotta give them those opportunities. That’s one of the reasons I love Dare 2 Share, Greg, is ’cause we’re gonna talk about sharing our faith, but then we’re going out. And we do that right away and we gotta give them those opportunities. And one of the things I loved about the pandemic, if that sounds weird, is that it took their busyness away for a while. Does that make sense?
0:32:02.7 DP: For sure.
0:32:04.7 BF: And honestly, they’re starting to get busy again, but it was a chance for them to reboot, and a chance to build those relationships. And I was on the phone and making visits more than I’ve ever done in my life, ’cause I thought, this is the time. We gotta spend time with them if we can, if their parents would let me come over with a mask or whatever. But for a while there, it took busyness away, and that was a very good thing because it helped us see how much we think busyness can be godliness, and it’s not necessarily true, if that makes sense.
0:32:44.2 DP: For sure. I know so many youth leaders who’ve wanted their teenagers to be less busy. And so, I do think that was one of the gifts of the pandemic, is teenagers were less busy, and a lot of wise, creative youth leaders figured out how to involve kids in service, how to involve kids in sharing their faith in ways that were safe and worked with the pandemic. And so for those kids, the pandemic really was a growth opportunity.
0:33:07.9 BF: And I think, something you said too about the inter-generational stuff, we’ve been talking about that here a little bit, is on Wednesday nights, we’re saying, “Hey, what if next year we coordinate with our men’s and women’s ministries, and just say, we’d like to have our 11th and 12th graders, our older students, sit in on at least a couple of series they do throughout the year.
0:33:28.6 DP: Nice.
0:33:28.7 BF: To be able to get them building relationships in that regard as well. We have a prayer ministry where every student in our church is prayed for by some adult at some point in time in the week. And so, we are trying to connect that way, but they’re just… They’re not… I think there’s this mentality among young people. You know what it’s like, “Old people don’t know anything.” And then you get real smart all of a sudden around 25 or 30, going, “Man, they really do know something.” But there’s that age period where they’re like, “Oh, they don’t know.” But I honestly try to get a multi-age group of leaders in my student ministry, because they all have so much to offer.
0:34:11.6 GS: Yeah.
0:34:11.7 BF: And some of the best ones that our students love… We had this… When I was in Castle Rock, Colorado, we had a lady, she was 80 years old and they loved her. And they would come in and everybody would flock to her, and it was awesome…
0:34:28.8 GS: Mr. Bill…
0:34:29.5 BF: And so, what I do… Here’s what I do, is I ask… You want to talk about how I get youth leaders? Here’s my best way, is I ask the students, “Who would you like to come in and work with you on Wednesday nights?” And then I go to them and say, “Hey, the students asked if you would come commit.” And so…
0:34:45.0 GS: That’s awesome. That’s a great idea.
0:34:45.9 BF: And honestly… But honestly, one of the ways they do… They just go… It breaks down that barrier of not knowing if you can be of any kind of influence. If people are saying, “We want you to come in.” That breaks that down a little bit.
0:34:58.3 GS: Amen. Hey, Mr. Bill, this has been great insight. And I think that last jewel you dropped is gonna be gold for youth leaders that are listening. Kara Powell, you’ve done a phenomenal job, thank you so much for your work with the TENX10 Collaboration. Again, just one more time, how will youth leaders find that website?
0:35:16.6 DP: Yep. T-E-N-X-10.org, that’s T-E-N-X-10.org.
0:35:25.7 GS: Alright. And it’ll be in the show notes. Get the Three Big Questions by Dr. Kara Powell. You need to read that phenomenal book. Mr. Bill, keep doing what you’re doing. And remember, all those listening, that a thriving youth ministry is a gospel-advancing one. Thanks for tuning in.
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