The Greg Stier Youth ministry Podcast
episode 22 | March 2023
Relational Evangelism is Key featuring Mercy Alarid
Nothing beats the reckless bravery of a young person. When they are inspired and equipped to share their faith, they become an unstoppable force.
In this episode, Greg is joined by Mercy Alarid, the Vice President of Communications and Equipping for the board of America Prays. Together, they talk about how teens can share the Gospel relationally by having genuine care for those closest to them. They are joined later in the podcast by Nate Gillen, a Gospel Advancing leader serving in Joplin, MO.
0:00:07.0 Greg Stier: 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, review it and rate it. Please do that, get the word out about it, tweet it out there, Instagram it out there, get it out there, because we want everyone to be part of this movement until every teen everywhere hears the gospel from a friend. Super, super excited about our guest today. I have two friends on. Kathy Branzell is the president of the National Day of Prayer, NDP, the task force. And she’s been a long-time member of the NDP Board of Directors. She’s also… Serves as the vice chair for Dare 2 Share, so our Board of Directors, so I need to make sure I’m doing things well today, this may be a job review right here.
0:01:03.4 GS: And she has other leadership roles that she’s held, Rapid Response Chaplain for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, and the National Coordinator of Love 2020, national facilitator of the Mission America Coalition. Man, she has done so so much. She’s authored, co-authored five books on the topic of prayer, having raised two children with her husband Russ, which will make you a prayer warrior when you’re raising kids. Kathy lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and she’s a really good friend, not only to me, but especially to the president of our ministry, Debbie Bresina. They are partners in crime against the forces of evil, and just love that their great, great friends. And love having you as my friend too, Kathy. So thank you for being a part of the podcast.
0:01:52.6 Kathy Branzell: It’s an honor, I’m really excited about this.
0:01:55.2 GS: It’s gonna be fun. Just a little bit of a refresher. How did you first get engaged with Dare 2 Share?
0:02:04.3 KB: So we have a good mutual friend, Chuck Klein, who knew Debbie and who knew me, and said to each of us, you have to meet one another. I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the heavenlies when it happens, but it’s gonna be huge. And so we came together, we met in Kansas City several years ago, and within 15 minutes, the Lord was already at work, and we were just… Strategy, strategy, strategy, connection, relationship. And everybody at the table was like, “How long have you guys known each other?” And we were like, “Oh, about 20 minutes.” And it was like 20 years.
0:02:43.2 GS: I remember that. I was in the room, in Kansas City. And you guys… It was like, long lost sisters.
0:02:50.7 KB: Yes. Yes. And my heart just was completely saturated in all that Dare 2 Share was doing, and I just heard the Lord say, you’re gonna get to be a part of that, and so I’m thrilled.
0:03:03.7 GS: And this isn’t in the notes, but something that’s just striking me now, it tends to be a very male-dominated ministry world, and you two are two high-powered ministry leaders that connect on a spiritual level, emotional level, relational level, but you also have probably a unique set of opportunities, but also challenges as women leading major national ministries. And so it seems like that God has just used you in her life and her in your life to encourage each other along the way in this battle to reach this next generation.
0:03:47.0 KB: Absolutely, iron sharpens iron. Iron doesn’t have a gender. And so iron sharpens iron, so she and I just armor up every day and lock shields and run into the fight together.
0:03:56.6 GS: I love it, I love it. That’s great. And you’ve gently rebuked me in the past, because sometimes just out of muscle memory, I’ll use the term “this next generation”, and you always have a come back to that.
0:04:16.8 KB: I do. I hate the word next. It’s the now generation. I can’t imagine how belittling it might feel to tell someone, no, no, have a seat, you’re next. And Dare 2 Share is such an incredible ministry to take this now generation and remind them they’ve said yes to Jesus now. And the moment, the moment you call Jesus Lord and Savior, you are now, you’re living now. There is no junior Holy Spirit. You have the same spirit as a 50, 80-year-old, and so you are running, you are serving, you are living out your Christ-designed destiny right now. And so we get to run together. None of the nonsense of handing off a baton, that’s not scriptural, but running together is. And so I’m grateful that they’re now.
0:05:14.7 GS: I love it, and we’re actually seeing it right now as we film this, as very revival people, young people, teenagers and 20-somethings, they’re not dependent on the junior Holy Spirit. They’re getting excited, focused on the Lord and set the pace for what may be the next great awakening. And that’s what I’m praying for, hoping for, and I know there’s detractors out there, is this real revival? I’m like, you know what, I pray it is, I hope it is. And we wanna play our role well with that, but again, it’s not the next generation, it’s the now generation. I love it.
0:05:49.2 KB: That’s right, that’s right.
0:05:51.6 GS: So why, let me just ask you just a elemental question, why is prayer such a passion of yours?
0:06:00.5 KB: Because without it my life is worthless. I know that I know that I know that prayer is our discussion with the Creator of the universe, the Author of our days, the person who knit me together, the God whose image I’m created in and gave me this kingdom purpose in life. But if I’m not listening, if I’m not learning, if I’m not this ongoing disciple and don’t go to him throughout the day, not just daily, but throughout the day, I’ll misstep, all that I do will be absolutely worthless. And so I learned that at a very early age, was very dependent on God, my Abba Father, as my father was a colonel in the military and gone a lot, being in Special Forces. And so just having the presence of a heavenly Father was very strengthening and powerful and made me bold and courageous as a child who could have been very weak without the conversational prayer that I got to have with my Heavenly Father when I couldn’t talk to my earthly father.
0:07:16.6 GS: So powerful. And just to go with the military conversation, I remember probably the first real significant conversation you and I had, we had a gathering of leaders up in the mountains, and you were getting out of your car and coming in to talk about prayer and to lead the time in prayer, but I found out you had a… Somewhat of a military background yourself. Do you wanna just share a little bit about that? Not somewhat, you have a military background.
0:07:43.1 KB: Yeah, just to understand. So growing up a military brat, which I never understand that term, ’cause we are far from spoiled. We are very, very sacrificial as a military family, you give up a lot of things, but you’re serving. And so brat, to me, is born ready, alert, and training up. And so I felt that way my whole life, and from the time I was very little wanted to fly SR-71s, I wanted to serve God and country and fight the enemy. And I made every decision growing up in my life, all the way through high school, to try to get to fly SR-71s and serve God and country. And I was on that track, learned to fly, all of these things, and then we found out I was night blind. And in a moment’s time, 15 years of work came to a crashing halt. And just since then, making a very long story short, it’s just realized that God has me flying in the heavenlies, outside the atmosphere, as the 71s did, in prayer, fighting for this country and kingdom, and fighting the real enemy. So I am grateful for that, that deep military background with my husband and my father.
0:09:09.9 GS: I love it because as you know I wasn’t in the military. I do come from a military family, my dad was a sergeant major, last POW released in the Korean war. I have three uncles that were in the military, it’s just kinda in… I love it. The best compliment I ever got was from one of my buddies in special forces that started volunteering at Dare 2 Share. And he goes, you know what I like about Dare 2 Share? I’m like, What? And he goes, You run like a military op. I’m like, Yeah, oh yeah. I was all pumped up.
0:09:36.4 KB: That’s right.
0:09:37.5 GS: But we talked about general Norman Schwarzkopf and the Gulf War, that before they sent in the ground troop, they had 100,000 bombing missions. They dropped 88,500 tons all over every target in Iraq, took out their eyes and ears, and when the ground troops came in, the Iraqi soldiers were surrendering to CNN troops. And so from that square one when I realized that was…
0:10:04.4 KB: That’s what prayer does.
0:10:06.7 GS: That’s what prayer does, and…
0:10:07.6 KB: That’s what we do. We clear the ground and we see where the enemy is, and we start taking them out to… Prayer comes in and it clears the path for us to go running in.
0:10:17.6 GS: I don’t know if you remember, but I nicknamed you at that moment, I said, okay, you’re the… You’re now the captain of our prayer force. You’re the leader of that. And thank you for helping infuse that prayer DNA deeper into me, into Debbie Bresina, our President, into the whole ministry. And with other industries as well, but we are very grateful for that.
0:10:44.3 KB: It’s a pleasure.
0:10:44.6 GS: So, let’s shift a little bit to intercessory prayer. I always joke around, I was like, praising God is like going to the club for Christians. We love it, we love the music, we love praising the Lord. We naturally pray for our own needs, that supplication prayer. Often intercessory prayer gets left out, unless we’re praying for aunt Susie’s broken arm, which we need to pray for that as well, but what makes intercessory prayer so needed, necessary, unique and powerful?
0:11:20.8 KB: Yeah, so understand that intercessory prayer does what we never could. That in this, what seems to be hurting hopeless world, I wanna talk to students, as you’re going to campus, and you know so many things that are going on on your campus, you can do absolutely nothing about. You have no authority, you don’t have the resources, you don’t have the influence, the relationship, whatever it is. Well, God does. And so, what intercessory prayer does, this verse, it takes our eyes and hearts of our own self, because prayer is not running into the throne room of heaven every day, handing Jesus a to-do list on how he can make you happy and running out the door again. That is not prayer.
0:12:10.7 KB: And so what intercessors do is they come in, they come in from the air, they see all that’s out there, all the wrongs that need right, all the needs that need meeting. All the things that are going on. And they pray, God’s Kingdom come, will be done, into those situations, they pray the glorious riches of heaven into those situations. And so it takes your hands, your needs, of your friends, your school, your neighborhood, your family, your church, everything that you watch on the news and hear on social media, and you take it and you hand it to God, who can do all things.
0:12:56.5 GS: Man, I love that. And it’s set a new thought in my mind of, we’re always telling youth leaders to make sure you incorporate intercessory prayer into your youth group. Take time to pray for the lost, take time to pray for each other, but to mobilize prayer missionaries, and it made me think of my wife who’s been a public school teacher at the same school for 29 years. She told me, she goes, I walk the hallways and I pray. And when kids are taking a test, I walk up and down the aisles and I pray for each of them by name, and I pray for their souls, and I pray for their lives. And she can’t stand up on the desk and give the gospel.
0:13:39.2 GS: She could do it once before she got fired, but how many of those kids started conversations with her about God because she’d been praying for them. Our students can start out as prayer missionaries praying, students that don’t feel empowered to change the cutting and the drugs and the depression and anxiety are empowered to unleash a tidal wave of trinitarian power that will flood the hallways of their school. And praying for it gives these kids a sense of power, divine power, that I can do something about it through prayer. God can do something about it through my prayers. So I really get it.
0:14:23.4 KB: Right. Oftentimes the word is supplication.
0:14:25.9 GS: Yeah.
0:14:26.7 KB: And people are like, oh, what a fancy word. But it comes from the Latin word, supply care. And so when you don’t have the resources, you don’t have the power, you really think about even going in in prayer before school every single day while you’re at school, every single day, and as your words hit God’s ears, He is commanding heaven’s army to flood your school, and to fight the enemy.
0:14:53.2 GS: Love it.
0:14:54.5 KB: There’s nothing more powerful.
0:14:55.6 GS: Yeah, I love that. That’s awesome. So let me ask you this, is there like a go-to passage of scripture when it comes to prayer that really… That you… I’m sure you have several, but just one that you’re like, this really communicates my heart and passion and the need for prayer. Is there a go-to passage you have?
0:15:19.2 KB: Well, interesting. Right this second, it’s the one that we based this national day of prayer theme on, we couldn’t believe that this passage had never been used because you can’t go to a prayer meeting without hearing 2 Chronicles 7:14, that if my people who are called by My name prayer. But right now, my heart is sitting in James 5:16, where it ends by saying… It’s a promise, the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. And when you get into the original language of all that, which you and I love to do, first of all, the word man is human, so nobody get offended here. It’s in his righteousness, He became sin who knew no sin.
0:16:08.1 KB: Jesus became your sin. For everybody listening, He became your sin who knew no sin, that we could become his righteousness, and in that rightness of thinking and feeling and speaking and acting, the rightness aligned with God and the fervent prayer, that is a heart-felt, that’s not like a frenzy or a chaos, but in this heart, poured out prayer to God, we avail much. And that word much, you’re like, well, how much is much? ‘Cause people go, oh, I love you so much. Or I want that so much. Really need a Starbucks coffee right now so much. I think you and I have said that a few times, Greg.
0:16:51.8 GS: Yes.
0:16:52.1 KB: What is much? So the same word in the original language, this word much about how our prayers avail much, is the same word in New Testament that is used to compare with God’s glory, God’s mercy, and our reward in heaven, and several other things, that’s so much. And so what else could I do that would ever avail that much. And so that’s really where my heart is. When you think, oh, what else could I do? What else could I do? I wanna make sure you jump back in there and you pray and you listen and linger in listening to God to hear what part he’s gonna let you get to play in his much.
0:17:35.3 GS: I love it, and I love in that passage when it talks about Elijah was a man just like us, that he was human, but how much God did in and through him to pray and stop the rain for three years and pray again and bring it back. And man, much, much, much. So what are some youth leaders… We all want practical takeaways, what do we do, what are… Do you have any disciplines that help you make prayer that priority, intercession, praise, whatever? What are some of those disciplines that have helped you personally that may benefit some of the these leaders listening right now?
0:18:21.7 KB: Prioritize prayer every morning, that is you know I have many opportunities in my life, I’ve removed the word busy from my language, but my schedule is full, as are many of our youth and youth pastors, by the way, but my prayer time is a non-negotiable. There’s no use in stepping foot out your door unprotected without your marching orders every day and having first… And here’s what I want to hear people understand about prayer as well, so I’ll answer a double question. Praise reminds us of who God is. See, I think there’s a massive identity crisis going on in the world right now, and even within the church, that many times we’ve forgotten how mighty and magnificent our God is, how powerful, loving, but just how he watches over us, not like he’s waiting for us to mess up.
0:19:24.1 KB: So many of us think that that he’s just waiting for me to goof up so he can discipline me, but he’s watching over you with so much love and so much authority and so much power, for you, that strengthens you up in the day. It’s like walking down the hall and you see the bully coming, but you turn back and you see God’s got your back, that there’s people of authority standing in the hallway, so you’re safer. That’s what praise does. And then the second item is to remember who you are in Christ, and so when you’re praying and you pray scripture, that’s another priority. So making it first in your life in the morning and praying God’s word so you’re praying truth, not preferences or opinions, something you might have read or heard somewhere, that there’s no cultural camouflage on you, but you’re armored up in the word of God, so you know who you are in Christ.
0:20:21.8 KB: That you’re an amazing workmanship of him, that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. And what you’re called to do. That there is this… You are clothed in Christ, heading off to campus every single day, and so in that you are walking in the power of who God is and the truth of who you are in Him. And with a compassionate heart having prayed for others, and so those are three very important pieces. And then the fourth one is this thanksgiving, is this gratefulness because we’re so dismayed, we’re so discouraged, depression is consuming right now. When we don’t choose, realize nobody, nobody controls your mind. You get to decide what you think about.
0:21:14.9 KB: And when we choose to think about Christ and think about our blessings, and think about who we are in him, and the incredible assignment we have here, then that chemically changes your mind and there’s a strengthening in that. And the last thing I’ll say is, pray all day. Lots of people play the High Low game at dinner, or you get in the car with mom or dad, they go, “How was your day?” We go “fine,” but that’s an opportunity to pray together, here was the greatest part of my day, the high point of my day, here was the low point of my day. Here’s what’s going on in my life. Can we pray about it? Pray about it right then, pray about it while it’s happening, and grab a prayer partner and pray about it so that you’re doing something about it and not letting it fester and not letting it try to take victory over your life.
0:22:04.8 GS: I love that, and I love the idea of really prioritizing prayer before you go out the door, that it’s… You’re already armored up and… I heard Chuck Swindoll preaching one time on that passage, I think it’s 1st Thessalonians 5:18 that pray without ceasing, 17 or 18. That’s the same Greek word, without ceasing Doesn’t mean non-stop. It’s the same Greek word used to describe a hacking cough. You know, you don’t just have a cough perpetually, but when you got a cold, you have a cough that happens throughout the day consistently, that our prayers need to go up like that. And what a great reminder. What prayers… Do you have like a prayer resource or two that you would recommend youth leaders that wanna dive deeper into this subject of prayer that you would recommend?
0:22:57.8 KB: There’s so many great ones out there. So I’ll take a moment for… There’s the one that I wrote for educators is a 365 devotional, and so not to be self-promoting, but it seems to be one of the few out there specifically for educators called An Apple a Day, but beyond that we have…
0:23:19.9 GS: ‘Cause youth leaders should be educators.
0:23:22.9 KB: Exactly.
0:23:23.3 GS: I mean, they are educating these students. Yeah, that’s great.
0:23:27.3 KB: Completely relevant in each of the devotionals and the prayers for 365 days a year, for anybody, quite frankly, that works with children or youth. And so there are incredible prayer guides out there that you can go to. Dare 2 Share puts out beautiful information and prayer prompts, and I would just say grab on to various pieces, but quite frankly, the Word of God is your greatest guide in prayer of what is truth and how to pray that truth, that power over someone else and in your own life, and being able to lay down at night and rest throughout the night by saying, “Lord, I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I’m just gonna hand it over to you ’cause there’s nothing I can do about it tonight that would be any better than just giving it to you and getting a full night rest.” And so I just think that praying the word of God is your greatest resource.
0:24:34.9 GS: Well, and I think, you know, I can look at my… I had my daughter, she was like, well, she’s like, “Dad, I’ve never heard God speak to me.” I’m like, “Well, you read the Bible, right?” She goes, “Yeah.” I go, “Well, he speaks to you.” I go, “You know, when I read scripture, I’ll pray, I’ll read, I’ll think about that and I’ll talk to the Lord about that.” It feels like a conversation, because you’re thinking about His word to us, you’re sensing His spirit guide, but you’re also speaking His word and having that conversation about your life back with him, and it becomes… You and I both had kind of a father gap years, ’cause he was gone a lot. Mine, because I never knew him, but I do think there is that special kind of place that God allows us to really engage with our dad or our daddy, Papa.
0:25:29.5 KB: Absolutely.
0:25:29.8 GS: And it’s such a great place of intimacy. Tell us little bit about… Now, a lot of youth leaders are very familiar with [0:25:35.8] ____ to Paul, kinda kicks off your school year, you know, the third Wednesday of September with prayer. Well, National Day of prayer is on the end of that… That’s toward the end of that school year. Tell us a little bit about NDP and how youth leaders can get involved with National Day of Prayer, ’cause I’m just imagining these things as being potential bookends of prayer…
0:26:00.0 KB: Right, to the school year.
0:26:01.1 GS: To the school year. So tell us a little bit about that and how youth leaders can find out more.
0:26:05.8 KB: Yeah, that’s great. So National Day of Prayer, a lot of people don’t know it’s a law, and they confuse us with what happened in February, the Presidential prayer breakfast, that’s not us. That only happens in DC for a couple hours, but the National Day of Prayer is an actual law since 1952, and so students, teachers, anybody everywhere can be involved in national day of prayer because the President of the United States must proclaim a day of prayer for the nation. And so having our students meet up before school, during school, after school, praying for our nation, that’s some powerful praying, especially since they are leading now living now and are the future leaders in government and all of the various spheres of influence.
0:26:51.2 KB: And so we are grateful for that. You can always go to nationaldayofprayer.org. We’ve got our prayer guides, we’ve got our national prayer for this year, would love to see that posted in classrooms around the world, and just wanna encourage. There’s so much, and we pray for education, and we pray for our younger brothers and sisters. May is a pivotal time in the life of the student of all ages with graduation coming up, or transitions coming up, summer jobs, future decisions on and on it goes, prom. And so we are praying diligently for you, and we’d love for you to pray fervently with us.
0:27:35.7 GS: That’s awesome. Yeah, go to nationaldayofprayer.org. I think, oftentimes, youth leaders are probably not even aware of that. It seems like something for the older generation, but we need to make it something for young and old, and it’s really cool that it’s a law. I mean, often times we are really hard on the US. Prayer got kicked out of school this and the other, Christians didn’t get kicked out of school and prayer didn’t get kicked out of schools.
0:28:06.0 KB: That’s right, that’s right. As long as there are pop quizzes there will be prayer in school.
0:28:10.3 GS: Exactly, that’s right, that’s right. Well, I wanna introduce our youth leader guest Francisco [0:28:16.8] ____ Giménez Peña. He is a passionate gospel advancing leader in Dayton, Ohio. He lives with his wife Shelly and their children, Jackline, Nicole and Francisco David. Stayed at the age of 12 in Madrid Spain under the ministry of the US missionary, at age 15 he felt God’s call to missions. At 19 served as a youth leader, assistant pastor, a missionary church planner in Southern Spain. 2015 he moved to the US with a call to reach and mobilized students from every culture for the gospel, and he and Shelly now live that calling out as Word of Life missionaries. Francisco is a friend of mine, and I love this guy, ’cause he’s got a heart for Jesus, he’s got a heart for the now generation, and he’s gonna hurt for prayer. And so, Francisco, I’m just gonna turn it over to you, thanks for being a part of this. And any questions or comments? This conversation is now between you and Kathy, so.
0:29:11.8 Francisco: Yeah, well, thank you for having me. And what a joy to be listening to this conversation and Kathy, seeing your heart, your passion for prayer is such an encouragement. And I love you’re passing for the now generation as you were saying with us, so just I love it. When we think about prayer, and I think of those verses with the lord Jesus talking about their relationship with the Father and how we are invited into this conversation within the Trinity, and to align our hearts with the story he’s writing for the gospel. So when you talk about the now generation and us as youth leaders, we invite our teenagers, like the lord Jesus did with His disciples to pray with us, for them to see how we pray, how we are invited into this amazing conversation and story that our King Jesus is writing.
0:30:17.6 Francisco: And we can align our hearts with everything he’s doing. And is when… Intercessory prayer really is leaved out because the more time we spend in prayer listening to the story that King Jesus is writing, we start praying His prayers and we become aligned with that passion to reaching the lost. So what would you say to youth leaders that they want to lead the way in prayer, and invite their teenagers to their prayer life, my question for you will be, I’m very curious to know, what do you do to invite others to see you pray?
0:31:04.0 KB: That’s great.
0:31:05.1 Francisco: To embrace the lifestyle of prayer, like Jesus did with his disciples.
0:31:07.8 KB: That’s the most important thing you can do. Because we say prayer is caught, not taught. Okay? So I can get up and I can talk to you about what praise is, what thanks is, what intercession is. That’s one thing, but you’re kind of like, huh. But if you hear me praise, if you hear me intercede for other people, as you hear me give thanks and supplication, people are like, oh, that’s what that sounds like. It’s a showing instead of just a telling. And so as we mobilize prayer, as we bring people together in agreement prayer, inviting your youth group, inviting other people, and now it’s terrifying to pray out loud. Many people are like, I’m not sure I’m gonna say the right thing.
0:32:01.7 KB: I don’t like talking in front of other people. I don’t know my bible that well. There’s no wrong way. You’re having a conversation, you’re talking to God just like you talk to your best friend, with respect, but you’re going in and you’re having a conversation with someone who loves you more than you’ll ever understand. So even if you stumble over your words, not a big deal, just talk to him. Just hand it over to him. And so the greatest thing you can do is have praying aloud, not just aloud like you have permission, but praying out loud so that everybody hears each other pray and they can be in agreement with it and learn from that prayer.
0:32:47.2 Francisco: Amen. Yeah, I love it. I think many times when the lord Jesus was praying in Gethsemane, just in the battle before going to the cross, and how he invited at least three of his disciples to pray with him. And so to see that happening, and when our students see our hearts when we pray for the lost, I think that’s vital. So that’s a huge blessing. When we talk about prayer and having this conversation with our King, with our heavenly father and the holy spirit, what is the power of listening, the role that listening plays in your prayer time? Because we invite our teenagers and, well, this is what we’re gonna do, and we need to pray about this, instead of really listening to God and say, let’s take a time to be alone with the lord and really hear his voice. So a prayer is an exchange of voices with our heavenly father. When our voices become his or his voices become our voices. What is that role of listening in your prayer life and how you can give us that advise to youth leaders to teach our students to really listen?
0:34:16.0 KB: Sure, so the easiest example for them to understand, ’cause everybody has this person in their life, unfortunately, that only comes and talks to you when they want something, and they come up and they let you know how you can improve their life, how you can do something for them. And then they go marching off and there wasn’t even like a good morning, or is there anything I can do for you? Or how are you today? They just… Their only relationship, and it’s not really a relationship with you, is when they need something. And so everybody’s been involved in a conversation that wasn’t a conversation, it was a lecture, and prayer is not a lecture. We don’t lecture God. And so with that understanding in mind, and when Greg was talking about… When we were talking about praying scripture, this is very helpful because there’s a lot of jibber-jabber going on in our heads. That movie Inside Out is everybody’s brain, ’cause you’ve got all these voices and all these insecurities and all of this stuff going on.
0:35:18.4 KB: And so to be able to quiet your brain, if you open the Word of God, if you can give them as a youth leader 2, 3, 1 scripture and say, what is the Scripture saying? This is knowledge. This is information. Okay, how does that inspire you? What is that saying to your heart? That’s inspiration. Okay, now we’re gonna be quiet and we’re gonna listen to God, and you’re gonna say, “Lord, what is my application? You’ve given me your word, the information, and you’ve touched my heart with it.” I know I need to improve in this area, or I know I really, really, really wanna share the Gospel with my friend and I’m terrified. Or this is going on in my life and I need your help. And so, Lord, I’m gonna sit here and be quiet and just see what you have to say to me about my life, my need, my school, my lack of courage. Strengthen me, Lord. I wanna hear you speak over me and speak into my life. So there can be application.
0:36:23.9 Francisco: Amen.
0:36:25.6 KB: And that causes transformation. And just tell them to write it down. That’s a really good practice is… Okay, then all of a sudden for adult, like all of a sudden we’re thinking about what’s for dinner, or oops, I didn’t do my Math homework or whatever it is. Okay, write that down. Don’t let it be a distraction. Pray it. The greatest lesson I’ve probably learned about my prayer life is if something comes in, if something sneaks in, not to let it run off with you, but for you to grab it and take it to God.
0:36:57.5 KB: And so let them know that whatever is going on in here, they just take it to the Lord and then they’re quiet again. Maybe he wanted to remind you you didn’t do your math homework, maybe he wanted you to ask for help on that test, maybe he reminded you about your friend who told you their parents are arguing all the time, or that they’re cutting or whatever the situation is. God is saying, hey, talk to me about your friends, so and so. Hey, talk to me about your fears, because I’ll be your strength, and so practicing listening, but realizing that he talks to us much more than we really understand is important.
0:37:38.1 Francisco: Amen.
0:37:38.3 GS: This has been really, really good. I don’t like cutting this off, but I think we’ve given youth leaders plenty to think about. Francisco, those were excellent questions and comments and insights. I appreciate you being a man of prayer, and the fact that you’re working with Word of Life as a missionary, it’s exciting to me, and how God has used you in Dayton and beyond and will continue to use you in a powerful way. So thank you for being a part of it. Kathy, thank you so much for your insights and this is not in the script, but would you mind as we wrap up, that would you pray for the youth leaders listening to this right now, watching this right now, that God would infuse prayer into their personal lives? Their family lives, but also their ministries and their students.
0:38:31.6 KB: I would love to. Oh Lord, Jesus we thank you for all of our youth leaders, and for such a beautiful, powerful assignment, Lord, to get to speak truth and life in to so many people, our younger brothers and sisters, and help them to become bold and courageous to be gospel advancing warriors on their campuses. On the ball field, where they hang out, were they work out, wherever they go, Lord, where they’re working, in their own families, for their neighbors and this nation.
0:39:04.1 KB: And so, Lord, I ask that you continue to speak into the lives of our youth leaders, that you continue to give them creative ways to remind our younger brothers and sisters, this now generation, that history belongs to the intercessor, that their prayers are writing the history books of tomorrow, that the power and the glorious riches of heaven are just a whisper away. And so strengthen them, I pray, give them all that they need, let no insecurity have a hold in their life, but let them be saturated in your words, your will and your ways and your love. In Jesus powerful name we pray, Amen.
0:39:50.5 GS: Amen, Amen.
0:39:52.2 Francisco: Amen.
0:39:52.9 GS: Kathy, thank you so much for being a part of it. Francisco, I really appreciate you as well, and remember, youth leaders, that a thriving youth ministry is a prayer fueled, gospel advancing, disciple multiplying youth ministry. So go pray it up, put it into practice. Thanks for tuning in.
0:00:00.0 Greg Stier: All right. Welcome to the Greg Stier Youth Ministry Podcast. I believe in the power of the gospel and the potential of young people. I believe the best way to get our teens to grow is to get them to go. I encourage you to subscribe to this podcast, to rate it, review it, to get the word out about it, to tweet about it, Instagram about it, whatever social media, get it out there, ’cause it’s time for a revolution in youth ministry, and that’s what this podcast is all about. And we’re right in the middle of a series on the Seven Values of a Gospel Advancing Ministry, and today we talk about Relational Evangelism Drives It.
0:00:37.1 GS: And as I thought and prayed, as we thought and prayed about it, who would we bring in on this, it was very clear. Today we have as a guest, Dr. Mercy Alarid. She’s a Vice President of Communications and Equipping for the Board of America Prays. It’s a ministry dedicated to engaging believers in prayer and service and evangelism for their cities and nation. For 25 years, Mercy has been married to Brian, who is the President of America Prays and Pray For All now, I believe. They reside in Guatemala City. They have three children; Chloe, Colin and Lauren. Live there and made a recent move there. Mercy, thank you so much for being a part of this podcast.
0:01:19.2 Dr. Mercy Alarid: Thanks so much, Greg, for having me. I look forward to conversing and learning from you, from Nate, from everybody.
0:01:26.2 GS: It’ll be great. Well, we’re excited. And I remember our conversations about evangelism and relational evangelism, evangelism training, because Pray For All is super passionate about every person in the world being prayed for by name. Talk a little bit about Pray For All and America Prays, the vision and passion behind that.
0:01:51.4 DA: Yeah. So Pray For All is an initiative of World Prays and America Prays, and in that initiative, we wanna pray for every person in the world by name and share Jesus with them, and it takes the whole body of Christ to do that. Imagine, I used to work for the census where every person counts. This is the spiritual side of the census, and we don’t count people, but we say, “Hey, every believer needs to be engaged. Go find five people that are close to you, but that are far from God, and pray for them by name. Every single day, take five minutes a day, pray for them by name, and then relate to them. Start not just praying for them, but listening to them and eating with them, serving them, and sharing the gospel with them.”
0:02:31.8 DA: So the the purpose is, yes, you’re gonna engage in prayer, ask God to give you opportunities to share Jesus with them. But the end of it all is that those five people hear from Jesus from a friend. So that’s what we do, and that’s why we partner with Dare to Share so much, because you guys are the experts on evangelism and you’re teaching us a thing or two about how to get there. Not just prayer, which is our forte. We teach people to be intimate with Jesus and to pray for others, but to take that step and go share Jesus with them.
0:03:02.7 GS: Yeah. I love it. And I’m trying to think, before we dive into relational evangelism, how we all first met. And I think, and you can correct me, but it was really in Austin at the Pray For All or Austin Prays event where we first connected. Is that right?
0:03:24.7 DA: That’s right. Yeah, I think we invited you as a guest speaker, and Brian had met you, I think you had spoken at the same events and he heard you speak and he said, “Hey, let’s bring him in.” And for me, you were one of the guest speakers. And then I heard you speak on evangelism and your burden for young people, and I thought, “Oh my goodness, we’ve got to get his vision into our vision and then deploy it to the world.” So yeah, we met in Austin, that was kind of the pilot program for America, for Pray For All. Back in those days it was Pray Beyond, and then we changed the name to Pray for All. And then that initiative went global, and now we’re in different continents doing the same thing that we did in Austin, just engaging people…
0:04:04.7 GS: That’s awesome.
0:04:05.2 DA: In prayer, service and evangelism.
0:04:07.6 GS: I love it because you bring prayer. It seems there’s the prayer people and then there’s evangelism people. And you keep those separate. It’s like keeping Nitrogen and glycerin separate. You bring those together, first prayer, obviously, then evangelism, it becomes explosive in all the right ways.
0:04:28.8 DA: Absolutely.
0:04:29.6 GS: Yeah, that’s the essence of…
0:04:32.4 DA: There’s no way that you can be intimate with God and not get in his burden for the people. There’s no way. If you’re praying and you’re seeking God and God’s speaking to you and shaping you, he’s gonna give you the burden of his heart, which is to save people. And so we, like you, you always said, “Put those two together and it’s explosive.” And so we just kind of guide people in that, “Okay, well let’s pray. Yes, we are intimate with God, but remember the people that don’t know God yet and bring them into the fold of God.” And when that happens, when they start praying for other people, there’s this burden that comes on them like, “Wait a minute, I wonder what he’s feeling, I wonder what he’s doing. How can I give him a meal or serve him?”
0:05:12.1 DA: And then, I think the hardest step though, prayer and service are easy, because you can pray in private and service, you can serve them and just do as much as you can do and be thanked for it. But evangelism sometimes requires that step of faith of, “I’m gonna look stupid. I don’t know enough. What if they don’t like me after all,” that relationship dynamic that evangelism takes a little bit of time. And so that’s why we’ve love to just learn from you, from Dare To Share, how to equip people. ‘Cause people will do it, they have the burden for it, but many times the block is, “I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to tell my loved ones that I’m praying for them and that they need Jesus.”
0:05:57.2 GS: Love it. And I think it’s pretty cool because I know Brian’s working on a book about what this means, to pray for all and to reach the world and pray for everyone to share Christ. And I believe we got a chapter in there on basically how to share the gospel and how do you bring that up in a natural way, because a lot of times it really is a difficult challenge. Let’s talk a little bit about the BLESS strategy. This is the strategy that’s used across the world by Pray For All to help, I would say, the average Christian adult, how do we begin to reach people with the gospel and how do we do that in our own neighborhoods? And this applies specifically because the number one listener of this podcast is the average Christian adult. I mean, there are youth leaders that live in neighborhoods. Just tell us, unpack the BLESS strategy. Just quickly, what is it?
0:07:00.8 DA: Yes. So it’s not a new idea. We did not invent it or anything. It’s been going around in circles for many decades. But we really learned it from Dave Ferguson from Exponential and NewThing, and he was one of the speakers at the same conference that you were in. And he talks about how, in the past, he wanted to share the gospel and tried not have a relationship with people and just out in the open for the first time they met, “Hey you need Jesus. You’re going to hell, and let me tell you about him.” And that didn’t work. And then he decided, “No, I can’t do that. So I’ll do the relational thing and just live out my faith,” but nobody was getting saved. And so he said, “There has to be a happy medium.”
0:07:38.2 DA: And so he began studying the scriptures and all that, and he came up with an acronym. And the acronym is BLESS, which is super easy to remember. B stands for Begin with prayer. Pray for the people that are far from God, that are in your life that you can reach, pray for them daily. And then don’t just do that, but begin listening to them. Find out what their needs are, find out what their passion is, what their dreams are, what their fears are. And once you begin doing that, you begin listening to God about them, you begin listening to them about their needs and fears and all that. Then God begins to give you a burden to do other things. So the E in BLESS stands for Eat with them. And so not everybody’s a great cook, like Greg, but some people can invite people to coffee or takeout.
0:08:26.9 GS: No, no, no no, let me make it clear. I’m a horrible cook. Your son is a phenomenal cook. Oh my goodness.
0:08:35.0 DA: He’s an amazing cook.
0:08:37.5 GS: Remember when he cooked for us that night? And I’m like, “Oh my goodness.”
0:08:38.1 DA: Yeah, he’s great.
0:08:41.3 GS: “Would you travel with me and be my own personal chef?” Oh my goodness. Anyways.
0:08:44.8 DA: He’s amazing. That’s why the E part of BLESS for our family is so easy ’cause we just say, “Hey Colin, would you make some gourmet burger and we can have these people over?” And it’s so easy. But anyways, we go from Begin with prayer to Listening to Eat with them. Share a meal with them ’cause there’s something about food that breaks barriers. You can sit at a desk with someone and they’re not gonna share intimate stuff with you, but you sit at a table and then all those walls come down and you begin having just a more intimate relationship with someone. The first S in BLESS stands for Serve them. Once you pray for them and you listen to them, really listen to them, and you eat with them, and again listen to them, you begin learning what their needs are.
0:09:31.1 DA: Are there physical needs that they have? Are there emotional needs, mental needs, spiritual needs? And you begin addressing those needs with what you have. It doesn’t mean that you are gonna give them, pay the mortgage for the rest of their lives, but it might be that you help with a meal because they’re at work and their needs, their kids need somebody to cook for them. So you bring them a meal, you do something for them, you drive them to school, something little that you can do. You begin addressing those needs, and as you do all those things, these people are starting to see that they’re not a project to you. That they’re actually your friends and the BLESS pathway is not, again, project-based, like, “I’m gonna do all these things so that you listen to me.”It’s really genuine interest in a person. You pray for them, you listen to them, you eat with them, you serve them because you love them.
0:10:22.0 DA: And then the last S in BLESS stands for Share Jesus with them, and others say share your story but we make it really clear that it’s share Jesus with them. What has Jesus done in your life? What do you know about the gospel that you can share with that person? And it doesn’t mean that these steps take place one after the other, because if they’re ready to hear from Jesus after you’ve begun praying for them or even before you pray for them, you better share Jesus. Sometimes you serve them then that opens the door for you to listen to them. But it’s a good acronym for relational evangelism, that with every person that you wanna share the gospel with, you should be serving, you should be listening to them and opening your home or your heart and sharing a meal with them. So basically that’s what we promote worldwide when it comes to relational evangelism.
0:11:14.8 GS: Yeah, and I really love that. I’m actually doing that in my neighborhood and it’s a really good way, ’cause I’m the guy. I wanna get to it quick and it’s slowed me down a little bit in a good way with neighbors, to begin to really work on getting them out to eat. I’m getting to know them and I’m dropping the gospel in and out of conversations all the time. But yeah, and I think for youth leaders that are watching this, you wanna model evangelism, relational evangelism to your students. This is a great way to model specifically with your neighbors or if you’re a part-time youth leader, your coworkers, to invite them out to eat, to be a part of those conversations, to love them, to serve them. It’s a different… We use the, across, prayer-care-share, but it really is prayer-care-share. You pray for them…
0:12:00.9 DA: It’s the same.
0:12:06.2 GS: You care for them. Part of that is you’re eating food. And it’s interesting ’cause if you look at Jesus and his model of ministry, he’s always eating and he’s eating with sinners. He’s eating with the people he is trying to reach, not just the religious. I mean, he eats with everybody, but he’s fellowshipping. There is something about eating food together that brings those walls down. So I think it’s a great strategy. I encourage youth leaders, if you’re thinking, “”Man, how do I model this in front of my students? I’m not an evangelist, so how do I do that?” The BLESS strategy is a really effective strategy. I do think it’s unique, and you and I have had conversations about this. You have a background, and I don’t know what your… What is your doctorate in your master’s?
0:12:49.5 DA: It’s in education.
0:12:51.9 GS: Okay. So, that’s one of the reasons we connected right away, ’cause you’re like, “I love the Dare to Share because it hits all the pedagogical, like audio, visual, kinesthetic. Gets kids involved.” Talk a little bit about that because I know we really connected on that. It actually was super affirming to me, because I think we didn’t come toward evangelism training from a clinical point of view. We just tested and applied until it worked out. But you have more of that kind of, not just practical, but also a theoretical point of view. Talk a little bit about that and how the Dare to Share evangelism training connects, when it comes to checking those teaching boxes.
0:13:41.6 DA: Yeah. I loved it from the get-go. When you just shared your vision, I began just devouring all the Dare to Share resources. Every curriculum series, I downloaded it to my computer. Not everyone, but I just studied every part of it and I thought… Well, what I first told you was, “This is not just for youth. Dare to Share should be promoted to every single generation because it is so good.” And as we go into all these nations with Pray For All, we equip them. That’s our job. We don’t do the specifics with them. We just equip them and say, “Hey, here’s tools for prayer. Here’s tools for service. Here’s tools for evangelism.” But the number one thing that we heard was, “This sounds great, but how do we do it?”
0:14:23.8 DA: You can tell me… I mean, eating is easy, right? Just make a meal or invite them out. Listening, I mean, even listening, we have to teach that. But the evangelism part is something that we tell everybody we should do, but nobody really… Well, I shouldn’t say nobody, but we don’t have that teaching widely available in a way that’s easy and is easily digested and practiced. And I think that’s what Dare to Share does, is that the training manuals that I read are so practical and yet so packed with Christology, so packed with theology, but then anybody can do it. There’s no intimidation factor. It’s not a big old book that you have to learn Greek and Hebrew and memorize all of the stuff and steps. You just internalize it and it becomes so easy to do.
0:15:12.4 DA: And I think it’s because your target is teens. You want teens to learn the gospel. You want teens to internalize it and then share with others so that for an adult, that becomes easier. And I think, at Pray For All and World Prays, we always say, our target is an 18 year old. Anything that we produce, any graphics, any training, we wanna keep it there because that’s where most people are at. If we can grab the attention of an 18 year old, make him passionate about prayer, service and evangelism, then the adults are in too. So that’s what caught my eye about Dare to Share, that it was fun, it was exciting, but it was so biblical. And so, I mean you don’t veer. There’s no games at Dare to Share.
0:16:00.6 DA: Of course, there’s games in everything we do, but you’re not playing, and that’s what I liked about it. Because there’s other things that I’ve read that are like, it’s a little, not something that I would present, not something that will sustain them, that is actually feeding them. It’s just a little strategy here and there. And then when they get asked questions that are difficult, they’ll be like, “I don’t know what to say.” And Dare to Share addresses those things and talks first to the person and say, “Hey, don’t just memorize this. Internalize it, get to know Jesus.” And then you challenge them to share Jesus with them. It’s not like okay, you relate to people and then grab your pastor and he’s gonna share the gospel. No, that’s your responsibility and I love that about Dare to Share.
0:16:47.6 GS: Yeah, and empowers these teens. And we use a take-off to touchdown analogy of an aeroplane. How do you fill up on the right motivation? How do you get passengers on board? Prayer-care-share or BLESS. You get them on board, you get them engaged. How do you take off? How do you begin that conversation there? Ask, admire, admit. What’s your flight plan, the gospel? And then how do you land that plane? And how do you do it? How do you give them an opportunity to put their faith in Christ? And I love that. Just make it simple enough for a teenager to understand and the adults will understand in the process. It’s so true. When I was a pastor for 10 years, all the Dare to Share training started as a sermon series at the church I pastored.
0:17:34.7 DA: Yeah. It makes sense.
0:17:35.9 GS: And we tested on the adults actually, and then begin to implement it. So it’s a little… And I’ve talked to you about this, I’ve talked to Brian about this. The BLESS strategy works for anybody. But one of the challenges adults have that teens don’t have generally speaking, is adults, Christian adults sometimes don’t build relationships with non-Christians. Teenagers, the great thing about teenagers is they build relationships. If you talk to a Christian teenager, there’s just your average teenager. Not necessarily homeschooled, maybe with Christian friends that all they have is Christian friends or a Christian school.
0:18:18.3 GS: But the average Christian teen, if you talk to them about building relationship with unreached people, they look at you like you’re weird. Like, “That’s all I do. That’s what my TikTok is. That’s what my Instagram is.” And the opportunity to be able to just… They already have the bridge built with a lot of these kids. They just need the courage to cross it with the gospel, and making sure they’re loving their friends, and caring for them. But it is a little bit… Would you agree, it’s a little bit unique with teenagers, because that’s what they do?
0:18:54.5 DA: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. That’s what we can learn. We can take a page from their lives and really spend some time with people. That’s why teenagers are so effective at evangelism, like you mentioned, because they already have that relationship. They already actually do care. It’s not just they’re just talking to people, but they actually do care for people, spend time with them. And for adults, it’s almost like a novel thing. Like what? I get to… I have to do all these things, be in relationship with them? Because we’ve taught them for many years, like be separate, be holy. Stay away from these things. And there’s a fine line there. You’re like, don’t cross that line, because if you talk to them, you’re gonna become like them. And it’s so not true. I think it’s a lie of the enemy to keep us worlds apart, so that people don’t come to Jesus.
0:19:47.7 GS: Amen. You know what’s interesting too, as I think about the BLESS strategy, specifically for a teenager in a public school setting, I think of one youth leader that introduced me to a teenager at a church in South Dakota where they had implemented what they called the Lunch Cafeteria Table Challenge. That once a week, they would sit at a different cafeteria table in the lunchroom and build a relationship with somebody else. And talking to this girl that’s considered herself a missionary because, for once a week throughout the school year, she sat at a different table and built those relations. Ate with people, begin to pray for them, find out about their lives, and it led to many gospel conversations. So it’s a great, great template to think about.
0:20:39.9 GS: I wanna just ask you one other question before we bring our youth leader in. As you think about youth ministries around the world, not just in the United States, but around the world, what role do you think relational evangelism should play and can play? And is it strong around the world, or is that an area of need that these youth leaders and these students need training, equipping and mobilization around the world when it comes to evangelism?
0:21:18.4 DA: It’s, I believe, one of the weakest parts, period. The youth ministry is one of the weakest in the world because we have this idea that we’re babysitting kids until they can make their own decisions and become adults. Once they, I don’t even know, turn 18 or go to college, then we begin focusing on them. But I see it around the world, either there’s youth ministries that are focused just on, “Okay, well let’s grow these kids.” But we know, from statistics, from studies out there, that even the kids that are in youth group, that even the kids that are in Christian homes, once they hit college, many of them leave. And I love what you said at first, and forgive me if I make a mistake, you said the best way to, what is it, to help kids grow is to what, make them to go, or something like that.
0:22:10.9 GS: Get them to go. Yeah.
0:22:11.0 DA: Get them to go, right? Get them to go.
0:22:12.9 GS: Yeah.
0:22:13.3 DA: And I think that worldwide, what we see is that they’re not engaging the youth. They’re going to church, they’re going to youth group, but they don’t see teens as this dormant force in the church. They can actually begin doing. And I’m an advocate for kids and teens to begin living out and sharing the gospel just like you. So yes, I believe that training in evangelism is key if this force of teens and kids are gonna wake up to the fact that they can be on mission. Once they’re born again, whether you’re four, I was born again when I was four, and I can tell you, I think I’ve had this discussion with you, that at 4 years old, I was so on fire for God that if anybody had taken the time to train me on just a few things, I could have done so much. And it took me going to Bible school for me to learn some of these things. But I was ready and I was at 4 years old, 6 years old. Whatever I knew, I used to pray over people, to talk to them about Jesus.
0:23:20.9 GS: That’s awesome.
0:23:21.1 DA: But I think that training is important, like intentional training, like we do Bible memorization, like we do whatever it is else that we do for teens. Training on evangelism is so key because they have the relationships to reach the other kids that don’t know Jesus.
0:23:37.4 GS: Oh yeah. And it’s strategic. They come to Christ quicker, spread the gospel faster, teenagers and children, and we need to focus on that. What struck me, Mercy, is when you talked about, it sounds like youth ministry in general is not taken seriously in every church around the world, ’cause it’s babysitting. And boy, when you focus on teens and you empower them and equip them, you’re telling them, I believe you can change the world now. Not later, now.
0:24:06.9 DA: That’s right.
0:24:07.5 GS: And what that does in the soul of a teenager is it elevates their sense of self-worth, like I have a place in the body of Christ and I’m so necessary. This has been great. I’m gonna introduce our youth leader. This is Nate Gillen. Nate is a husband, dad, youth leader, networker. Nate and his wife Kristi have been advancing the gospel in their personal lives and ministry for more than 12 years. He’s been blessed to lead the youth at Grace Baptist in Joplin, Missouri since 2019. Before that, they led youth groups in a rural northeast Iowa area. And the gospel advancing value has been foundational DNA to every program that the Gillens have had. This is a guy who’s very fun, but very serious about the mission. And maybe it’s his military background, but he’s got a serious vision for our teenagers. So, Nate, welcome. And I want you and you to have that conversation with Mercy, thoughts, ideas, questions about what she’s been talking about.
0:25:09.7 Nate Gillen: Yeah. I wanna first thank you guys for just letting me be on here. Listening to your heart, Mercy, I connected right away with seeing the need for relational equity to be built for youth. I think you have a world view of it. As a youth pastor in United States, it’s a little Americanized, I think. We’ve built it to be a system or this is what we do every week. I love the BLESS analogy. I’m gonna steal that. I’m gonna totally use that now. We do the prayer-care-share…
0:25:45.5 DA: Please do, Nate.
0:25:46.6 NG: We do the prayer-care-share, but it breaks it down for the youth a little bit different, and if you can share some things differently. I have a question for you though. Is there a big gap, do you think, between what you’re seeing worldwide and how youth are being led and reached through that compared to how we’re doing in the United States?
0:26:08.8 DA: Yeah, definitely. There’s a big gap. There’s a lot of similar similarities. Like I said, youth ministry is not taken seriously even around the world. But in terms of what we’re talking about, the gap in evangelism, there definitely is over… In America, it seems we don’t challenge the kids enough. We don’t believe that they… Because in the world, I mean, I live in Guatemala. This is a third world country, and you’ll see kids… I’m not saying this is right, but you’ll see kids, 8, 9, 10 years old working, on the streets and it breaks my heart. But there’s this attitude like if you’re able-bodied, you’re doing something for the family, you’re helping your family. Teens are working, or I heard of a teen that is going to school full-time and he’s an entrepreneur and he has two businesses, not because he wants to, but because he has to, because resources are low here.
0:27:08.3 DA: And so teens here are expected, and around the world, they’re expected to help out, where in America, maybe they are in the home, but there’s not that expectation, like you have to work hard, you have to do this, because you’re just a kid. Just go to school. And I think some of that is great, but some of it is keeping our kids below their potential. I think Greg talked about it. If we put great expectations on kids, I think that they would step up to them. I think that’s the gap that I see in America, that is the kids… And I don’t know, most kids will stay there because they don’t know anything any different. Whereas in other countries, they have to step up because they have to. It’s not that their parents are making them, but because they have to find ways to provide for their families, and so that transfers into the church.
0:28:02.1 DA: You see a lot of teenagers here. We speak at a lot of different churches here and around the world, and you see them on serving teams, and they’re key parts. We went to this church in San Marcos, Guatemala, and I was amazed at all the young people that were serving. And when I say serving, they were actually the leaders of these teams, media and sound and all these things. And I’m talking to a 16 year old and I’m actually following their cues. Over here, they’re learning, but over there, they’re… Here in other countries, they’re leading teams because they step up to expectations because they’re much more, in a way, mature in a way that they’ve had to grow up because of the need here. That’s the gap that I see.
0:28:56.1 NG: Yeah, that’s what we’re trying to leverage here in Joplin. A lot of my youth, they’re not churched. We pick them up on a bus, we bring them in. For them, they’re the first of their family to really go back with necessity to reach them. We’re taking that same mentality of, “Hey, you are important and we’re gonna send you back, equip you, inspire you to relationally evangelize your family.” And I think in Joplin alone, in just this region, it’s relatively lower income. So we’re taking that heart of what you have there to just see young people wanna lead and we’re selling out on it to really hope this next generation takes over. And I think some of the things we saw or we’ve seen here in the last couple of weeks, which is Asbury and the revival and the young people stepping up, they’re hungry, and I think they see their peers.
0:29:57.7 NG: I know we’re talking about the second value of gospel advancing, but the number one is letting intercessory prayer fuel the whole movement. And our thing is trying to get our student’s hearts broken for their peers and their families through prayer. And I think that’s where we can unite here in the States with around the world. And Greg, you guys have been doing a great job at Dare to Share with that, and Mercy, sounds your guys’ ministry’s just all about it. I really am excited to see how we take what you’ve learned and what we share with our own students about what’s happening in the world, not to just have them realise it’s happening in Joplin, but it’s all over.
0:30:40.8 NG: And I think our students realise the need for them to step up. Their desire is great. When you can get a student to have a heartbroken for their peers or their families, that’s usually home run in youth ministry. And I’ve led a couple of different churches and I’ve only hit a couple home runs. I’m gonna be honest. Otherwise, we’re getting singles and doubles and triples, and those all score wins for the kingdom, but when we have a couple students that step up and run with it, man, we love to see that and we allow our students to follow that pure well. One other question I got for you, for both of you guys is how do you guys feel the future of youth ministry, either in the States or really the world, can be encouraged and pushed forward through what we’re seeing in this new generation coming out?
0:31:41.4 DA: Greg, you want me to take that one first?
0:31:43.7 GS: Sure.
0:31:45.7 DA: You guys move in the youth circles way more than I do. But for me, I think the challenge for us in our ministry is to awaken the pastors to the importance of teens. We talk about training the teens, but sometimes, in our world, is talking to the pastor about not necessarily him being the doer of everything, the centre, or the sun around the universe of the church, but to turn his eyes to the teens and invest in them. That’s where, to me, teens can do a lot, youth pastors can do a lot, but imagine if they have the full support of the church. I think we’ve seen this Research by Barna, where, in the expenses of a church, how much money is actually spent on adults? How much money is actually spent on teens and kids? And it’s astounding, the fact that we are spending so little money on the teens and the kids, and so much expectation is placed on youth ministers, “Hey, you need to do this, you need to do that.”
0:33:08.4 DA: And I’m not saying that money fixes everything, but it does show, to me, it does show the priority. It does show the faith that they would have in kids and in youth and their ministers. And so for me, I see that the future of youth ministry is being given to the pastors. Like for generations, God has been saying, will you invest in the new generation? Will you deploy them? But when they don’t, God does this, which is what’s happening at campuses. This should be happening in churches. This should, being released from churches, but it’s not. It went straight to the young people. And I think churches have a choice, pastors have a choice. Will you equip, will you invest? If you don’t, I will find other people that will, and I will actually move sovereignly and they will teach you a thing or two about the next move of…
0:34:07.3 GS: I love that. That is great, and good questions, Nate. Good comments, Mercy. Great answer. I would say the same thing. Pastors was on my mind, is that we need to make a case to pastors about the power of the gospel and the potential of young people. And as that message goes out, then they begin to prioritize them. And the other thing you said, Mercy, that really caught me is, the typical church, a teen is there to learn, whereas that other church you went at, they were there to lead. And what’s interesting is they’re gonna learn a lot more when they’re put in a position to lead, and coming from a high poverty kind of fatherless background, I could testify, when I went into this youth ministry led by hillbilly preacher nicknamed Yankee, he empowered us.
0:35:00.0 GS: Right away, “Welcome to the family,” gave us a bible, gave us a stack of gospel tracks, said, “Well, you’re gonna learn this, you’re gonna learn this and I’m gonna put you in charge of stuff.” And that, for a kid that didn’t feel purpose or significance or identity or belonging, all of a sudden I had all of that. I don’t know the psychosocial impact of all that. All I know is God used all that stuff to rescue me from my high poverty background. I’m not just talking about financially, but emotionally and just all that stuff. So, so important to be able to empower these students, and relational evangelism does that so, so well. We do have the updated globalized version of the gospelised book that’s out now, in English, soon to be in Spanish.
0:35:46.9 DA: Awesome.
0:35:49.9 GS: And the audio version of it in English is out right now too. So it’s free download for youth leaders that are listening, and stay tuned for the Spanish edition coming soon. It’s exciting. So, Mercy, how would youth leaders find out more about Pray For All? Is there like a specific website or URL you could send them to?
0:36:12.2 DA: Yeah, you can go to prayforall.com, and we also have an app in English and Spanish, and that’s Pray for All on the App Store or the Play Store, but prayforall.com is where you can find everything about…
0:36:25.4 GS: Yeah, go to prayforall.com. Check them out. The other cool thing is Life in 6 Words, the app that we have now in 17 Languages and growing, students can literally… This is an epiphany I had with Brian on our last call. They literally can put in the names of every teenager they know on the app and begin to have reminders every day to pray for them. So a simple way for students to use their Life in 6 Words app to put in every name of every teenager they know, or maybe every teen at their school, they’re really gonna be courageous and start praying for them. Why not?
0:37:01.2 DA: That’s why we don’t use our app with teens. You know that our strategy is the Dare to Share strategy. When it comes to teens, we don’t even mention our app. The app that’s in our strategy is yours because it’s exactly what they need, and I wish we had some of the capabilities that yours has for adults as well, but it’s a fantastic app. We recommended it around the world.
0:37:24.4 GS: Well, Thank you so much, and Mercy, we’re glad to be partners with Pray for All, and we so believe in the mission. Let’s get everybody prayed for and shared with and loved on until every person has every last chance to hear the gospel from a friend. So Nate, thank you so much for your excellent questions and insights. Mercy, thank you so much for being a part of the podcast. And make sure you go to prayforall.com. Find out more about Pray for All. Youth leaders watching, man, take advantage of our website, raid the refrigerator. We got tons of free stuff for you. And remember that a thriving youth ministry is a gospel advancing one. Thanks for tuning in.
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