The Greg Stier Youth ministry Podcast
episode 6 | August 2021
Apologetics for Gen Z with Sean McDowell
In this episode, Greg sits down with author, speaker, and apologetics professor, Sean McDowell. They discuss training Gen Z in apologetics, his YouTube channel, and the fundamentals of communicating the Gospel. Greg also speaks with youth leader, LB, to follow-up on Sean’s discussion.
Dr. Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a Biblical worldview.
0:00:07.4 Greg Stier: Alright, welcome to The Greg Stier Youth Ministry Podcast. I believe in the power of the gospel and the potential of teens. I believe that the best way to get our teens to grow is to get them to go, to go and share the good news. Encourage you to subscribe to this podcast, rate it, review it, let your youth leader friends know about it. And I’m so excited about our guest today. Today, we have Dr. Sean McDowell, he’s a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, particularly young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a very tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a biblical worldview. Sean is an Associate Professor in the Christian apologetics program at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. Sean is the cohost for the Think Biblically podcast, which is one of the most popular podcast on faith and cultural engagement. He’s authored and co authored over 20 books. Put it this way, he’s wicked smart, alright? Sean is awesome. And Sean, thank you so much for being a part of the podcast today.
0:01:19.9 Sean McDowell: Oh, man, happy to do it. Since you invited me a while ago, I’ve been looking forward to it.
0:01:24.9 GS: Yeah, it’s been great. And you love superheroes. What Tshirt are you wearing today?
0:01:30.7 SM: You know what, man, I had to go with kind of the Captain America background with Black Panther. He’s a cool character that I love.
0:01:38.5 GS: Black Panther’s hard to beat. Alright, I’m wearing my Batman shirt in honor of Batman and Sean McDowell. Again, thinking about… We’ve known each other over the years. I think the first event we did together was the Anchored Conference we did a few years back on how to reach LGBTQ+ teenagers with the hope of Christ, and how do we deal with that issue in the church. Boy, that was a pretty intense weekend in Southern California.
0:02:15.5 SM: That was intense. That was the first one we’ve planned together and done along with our buddy, Jonathan McKee. And you’re right, people came to learn, some people came to be critics. But it just reminded me, we gotta speak up Christianly on controversial issues but do it lovingly. And I still remember some of the stories you told about how when you were a young evangelist, was like, me against them and fighting them and proving them wrong, and God just softened your heart and transformed how you engaged nonbelievers, that story really stood with me.
0:02:49.1 GS: Sean, I really appreciated… You took basically the whole Bible, you dealt with every passage that deals with that issue of homosexuality and you lovingly exegeted it. I don’t know how anybody could walk away from that talk and criticize you for being meanspirited, but also criticize you for not being clear or holding to biblical authority. I really appreciated the way that you handled that. And you spoke for like an hour, and it was very, very engaging. So, I appreciate… We’re gonna talk a little bit about that, but before we dive into some of these issues, I mean, I’ve known your dad for longer than I’ve known you. You’ve known your dad for longer than you’ve known me.
0:03:37.5 GS: I remember the first time I met your father, there was a teen event done by Promise Keepers called The Passage. It was in Columbus, Ohio, it was for teen boys. And I remember preaching to 13,000 young men looking over to my right and seeing Coach Bill McCartney, who was the founder of Promise Keepers, also the head football coach for the University of Colorado, with his crazy eyes locked onto me, and next to him was your dad, the Josh McDowell, with his crazy eyes locked onto me, and I was so intimidated. I go, “Lord, I know I’m preaching for you, but here’s a football hero and an apologetics hero,” it was quite intimidating. And after, your dad invited me to go snowmobiling up in Breckenridge, Colorado, that Wednesday, and I said, “Man, I’m booked.” I called my wife and I said, “Josh McDowell just invited me to go snowmobiling but I’m booked, I got meetings.” She goes, “You idiot, it’s Josh McDowell, cancel all your meetings and go snowmobiling.” I’m like, “You’re right, I’m an idiot.” So I went up and man, it was a great, great time to connect with your father.
0:04:55.9 GS: Let me just ask you this, from a son’s perspective, how is it for you personally to be the son of an apologetics legend? Is that intimidating? Is it exciting? Is it…
0:05:11.0 SM: Well, like anything else, throughout my life at different stages has carried different emotions. Like when I was younger, I didn’t think of my dad as this great worldwide apologist. I knew he did all those things, but he was really just my dad first, loved my mom, loved me, great dad, and that’s the lens through which I saw him. I never planned on going into apologetics. My dad, he never said to me, “Hey, you’d be a great writer, you’d be a great speaker, you should follow in my footsteps.” Not once did he say that, Greg. The narrative that I remember was just, “Son, God has gifted you. Whatever that is, use it for God’s kingdom.” That’s how I remember the narrative being. And then as I got older and started thinking like, “Gosh, God has gifted me to speak, and for different reasons, I do love apologetics and I wanna work with students,” then there were thoughts like, “Do I really wanna go into this world when my dad is like the Michael Jordan of apologetics?”
0:06:12.6 SM: And it’s not that my parents ever put pressure on me, but everybody else would, and I just had to wrestle with the ideas of, “Am I comfortable being myself? What does it mean?” Just those natural questions, and I’ll tell you, I… When your dad has the influence that my dad does, through my entire life, people are always making comparisons, and that’s okay. The most freeing thing for me was just to be like, “You know what, God’s given me this family, He’s given me this gift, He’s given me these passions, and I don’t have to compete 1% with my dad,” all that matters to me is when it’s all said and done, God says, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” That’s a freeing idea that I just try to live out, and so now I’m at a season where my dad and I do stuff together. And it’s just one of the greatest joys in my life.
0:07:10.2 GS: That’s such a great answer and very honest. And I really see how you have carved out your own pathway for apologetics and really made it accessible to Gen Z, which I really appreciate. You’ve taken that passion for apologetics, which… A lot of people view apologetics as
something for the age before, like it was back in the ’70s and ’80s, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, kids aren’t even asking those questions today. But I think you’ve reframed it, taking all that great stuff and reframed it and communicated, what I call, sound truth in sound bites, to really kinda
become these truth bombs to get kids to think and youth leaders to think biblically with this. So,why is that important to you?
0:08:00.3 SM: Well, I think culture has clearly shifted, one of the ways I think my father was so effective when you go back to the ’70s and ’80s is there was a debate culture, there was… He would show up on a college campus and people would cancel classes and come out to hear the radical talk about things. The way my dad describes that era is just like one of the most exciting moments,
really, kind of in American history. People knew there was truth, they would debate and he would stand on a platform. And you didn’t have a conversation with somebody, you stated things dogmatically and firmly, or they would just shut you off the stage. Well, my dad is just wired for that moment, just the way God made him and his background. Well, clearly culture shifted. Now,
he’s still effective in a different way, but God, I love a debate, but I also think in our cultural moment when you say things too dogmatically and firmly, people, because they have access to endless information are like, “Wait a minute, it can’t be that simple.”
0:09:00.2 SM: So, we have to nuance things, I think we have to have conversations, and I think we have to be super careful that the level of confidence that we assert in our position is backed up by the evidence. And so that’s just extra important today. And the other piece is people are just digesting information differently. I mean, YouTube is the number two search engine in the world. In the world. So, I do short videos on YouTube, I do long videos on YouTube. About a year ago, my son said to me, he goes, “Dad, if you wanna reach my generation, you’ve got to get on TikTok.” And I understand all the concerns about TikTok, but like you, Greg, I was like, “You know what,
I’m willing to risk it ’cause I wanna reach kids.” I just did a short video yesterday, I got like 30,000 views, they don’t all get that… Most get a lot less, but kids are watching this stuff, they’re digesting it. And so my goal is to just take the ways kids are digesting information, bring apologetics, bring theology, bring the Gospel to where they’re at.
0:10:05.4 GS: So, that’s great, and I love the fact… I never even thought about it. Your teens can actually factcheck you, check you on the spot. My son does, my 20yearold son.
0:10:17.0 SM: Oh yes. Yep.
0:10:18.9 GS: Like I’ll be saying something, he’s like, “No, Dad, it says it right here,” and I’m like, “Seriously?” And it’s just a whole different era. So, I appreciate how you’ve taken all of these channels, social media channels, and really maximized them for apologetics and worldview and God’s truth. So, let me just ask a more basic question. Where does apologetics fit into youth
ministry today for an average youth leader, where do you think apologetics fits?
0:10:49.2 SM: Well, I think it’s one leg of the stool, so to speak. Of course, there’s prayer, of course there’s mission trips, of course there’s personal counseling and worship, all of these components are important. I think it’s a mistake when people just do apologetics. Sometimes apologists love it and they’re eager, and so that’s all they do, but I think it’s also a huge mistake to not make apologetics at least one staple of how youth ministers reach this generation. And there’s a few reasons for this, and number one is kids have genuine questions, they do. And I speak to tens of thousands of young people every year, I’ve got two Gen Zers in my home, I teach a class parttime, and I think in the right context and in the right way, kids wanna know, “Okay, is there such thing as truth? Is the
Bible true? Why does God allow evil? Is there life after death?”
0:11:46.3 SM: These are apologetic questions. And kids have them. So, if we wanna equip Christian kids to have a confident faith, to know what they believe and why they believe it, which is biblical, by the way. When Jesus says, “Love God with your heart, your soul and your mind,” when Peter says, “Always be ready with an answer for the hope within,” it’s biblical. But second, if we want kids to do evangelism and get out and have spiritual conversations, apologetic questions are going to come up. So, I found when kids are equipped to apologetics, as a whole, they’re more likely to engage nonbelievers ’cause they’re not afraid to be asked a question, ’cause either they might have a thoughtful answer, or at least they know there’s an answer that is out there. So, I think in youth ministry of apologetics is valuable internally for just giving our kids confidence, and externally for engaging nonChristians.
0:12:39.4 GS: You know, it’s interesting. Training teens over the last 30 years how to share the Gospel, what I’ve seen, it works both ways. Because when teenagers begin to share their faith, they get asked questions they don’t have the answers to, they comeback to their youth leader and say, “Okay, why do we believe in the Trinity? How do we know the Bible is the Word of God? How do we know that Jesus really was here… ” And when kids ask you… Teenagers ask you questions like that as a youth leader, that’s gold. So I think evangelism and apologetics… I mean, if you just do evangelism, you may not have a more informed faith. If you just do apologetics, sometimes you can use that… Or weaponize it. You know?
0:13:20.4 SM: Sure, sure.
0:13:22.3 GS: But when they come together, boy, it’s like nitrogen and glycerin. It’s explosive, in a good way. Let’s tie in a little bit with… You do a lot of shorter videos that… TikTok you talked about, but some of your YouTube videos, a lot of the ones that I’ve seen are really short, you have them on IGTV or five minutes’ long that deal with key subjects. How are youth leaders and how can
youth leaders use those in youth group as discussion starters?
0:14:00.0 SM: Well, here’s actually a great way to do it, I would start by asking students and say, “I want you to write down… ” pass out a note card or you could do it digitally somehow. “Write down the toughest questions you have about God.” In other words, the biggest question you would fear somebody asking you, feeling like you don’t have a good answer for this, and give them some time and typically kids will say, problem of evil, hell, maybe something relational will come up, how Jesus is the only way, science and faith. And then what you’ll find is, because I’ve done this over and over again with students and try to answer the very questions that I’ve been asked, just go to my YouTube channel, and there’s other people that do these short videos too, you’ll find a two, three, four, five minute response. So you just say, “Look, I’ve gathered the top 10 most common questions, and for the next six or eight or 10 weeks, we’re gonna talk about this, and these come from you, the student, about evil. Here’s a fiveminute response. What do you agree with? What do you disagree with? What would you add to this? Can you think of anything else the Bible says?”
0:15:06.2 SM: And you just use that as a springboard. But rather than starting with, “Hey, some guy named Sean says this and you should listen,” you start with the hook that says, “You guys are asking this question and you know what, other people have been asking this question and thinking about it for a long time. Here’s a short video that gives us one way to address this question, let’s
watch it together and then discuss it.” That’s one of the most effective ways I’ve seen youth leaders use those short videos.
0:15:34.1 GS: And by the way, you just took care of the next 10week series for every youth leader listening to this right now. And it’s great ’cause it’s free. And I think it’s the most effective way. We have a strategy of training called Ask, Listen, Teach alternative teaching; ask questions, listen, and then teach. And when you do that, when you have the students driving those topics, there’s
ownership there, and then you’re bringing in the truth bomb and then youth leader’s cleaning up the mess, and it’s in that interaction, I really think repentance, if you think of that word means a change of mind, a change of perspective; that repentance really begins to happen, and worldviews get
crafted. Sometimes I think youth leaders are so afraid of debate and awkward questions, but that tension… We say at Dare 2 Share, awkward is awesome. It’s in the crucible of the awkward where transformed thinking takes place. So, kick over that bucket, let that mess out and you and the Holy Spirit can grab a mop and Sean will kick in with his cool videos and help clean that up.
0:16:47.7 GS: I remember when I was a youth leader, we had… Our most popular curriculum series was what’s called, Hot Buttons, and it was like 10 hot button issues. Well, you’re giving them a free way to do that, and it’s the hot buttons that are their top of mind, so that’s a great idea. I know we’ll
talk about this at the end, but where can people find those YouTube videos?
0:17:12.6 SM: Well, my YouTube video is just technically Dr. Sean McDowell, but if you search Sean McDowell, it’ll pop up, and I have different playlists. And just so you know, I do two things. For example, I forget the title, but “If God made everything, why is it wrong to smoke pot?” I have like a three, fourminute response to that, but then I have an hourlong interview with Todd Miles, it’s called Cannabis and the Christian, in which we go into more depth. So the short videos, you could just search “How could God send a loving person to hell?” “Why is Jesus the only way?” These tough questions, and they’d pop up or you could work through the playlist and just see the questions that are there. But just know on a lot of the topics, there’s the short answers, but there’s also longer ones that I’ve had youth leaders use as well, if that’s helpful.
0:18:01.8 GS: Yeah, that’s great. So let’s talk about one of those topics, not necessarily an apologetics issue, but a very hot button issue, LGBTQ+. Why is it important that youth leaders tackle this subject with their teenagers? And how can they do that in both a biblically responsible way, but a loving and kind way?
0:18:31.3 SM: That’s exactly the right question, and the tension that you and I and our students live in. So the first part of the question is why talk about it? For about the past decade or so, as I would go and speak at different conferences and events and open up for Q&A, the first or second or maybe
third question was always on something related to sexuality, typically LGBTQ. Now the T is more the last three to four years, but I’d started realizing, my goodness, this is on the heart and minds of our students. We’ve been going through Pride Month and kids are getting this message everywhere
through social media. I was just sitting on American Airlines yesterday, pulled up and the cover is like celebrating LGBTQ, so our culture is pushing and promoting this, and our students are just confused and not sure how to navigate this.
0:19:26.0 SM: So the first big win is just to talk about it. I wanna tell youth leaders, you don’t have all the answers. If a student asks a question you don’t know, just say, “Gosh, I don’t know. Let me look that up and get back to you.” Just talking about it with a desire to be faithful to Scripture and with a posture of love, that’s a huge win in itself. You, the youth leader, don’t have to be the expert.
0:19:51.1 SM: So the way to do it is also to go a little bit deeper and talk about not only what Scripture says, but why Scripture says it. That’s what a lot of kids don’t understand. Many of them know that God doesn’t want sex outside of marriage, He’s against divorce, against adultery, and against same sex unions, but they don’t really know God’s heart behind it, that’s when kids start
getting convictions and understand, “Oh, wait a minute, God is good, and God has a purpose for moms and dads, he has a purpose for sexuality.” And even if our culture says you’re bigoted and hateful for holding this view… And by the way, I found there’s a lot of people who disagree with the biblical viewpoint but are open to conversations with Christians who hold a historic Christian view.
0:20:43.2 SM: I just had a guy comment yesterday, he watched a video I did with Jack Phillips, the guy who refused to bake a cake for a samesex wedding. This guy goes, “Look, I’m LGBTQ. I appreciate his heart and respect his convictions, but then there’s other people that no matter how gracious and kind you are, will hate you and hate your position, ’cause they think it’s inherently discriminatory.” So it’s important we don’t just stereotype all people in LGBTQ community, ’cause it’s hugely diverse, but I also wanna bring people back to Scripture and say the big question is, “Am I following what Jesus taught? Am I afraid of men? Or am I afraid of God?” And asking those questions is really at the heart of it for this generation.
0:21:33.9 GS: In the ’70s, there was a big battle for inerrancy, there was a battle for the Bible, and is all of Scripture inerrant? And it’s still an issue today. But I really agree with you. I think the battle today is not, Is the Bible inerrant or inspired? But, Is it in charge? It’s a struggle for the authority of Scripture, do we really believe what the Bible says? And not just about issues like LGBTQ+ but also that we need to love everyone and love those who speak. If we take that seriously, we must speak this truth in love, and again, Sean, that’s something I’m really appreciative about you and your ministry, everything I’ve seen, every debate, our interactions, personally, as well as when we’re at
the Anchored Conference, and again, we had gay bloggers in the room that were waiting off for every word, and you just really handling yourself with gentleness and respect. And I respect that. I think teenagers can really think through, “Do I really believe what the Bible says?” Because if we
do, we have to take these issues seriously.
0:22:48.0 SM: I think that’s right. The bigger the platform God has given me, the more criticism I get, and I know that’s true for you, and there’s an awful lot of people that will criticize everything, and that’s okay. I’ve fallen short, but what you said, I think is the posture that I aim for, and I think Christians need to aim for today. We have a cancel culture, we have an angry culture, we have a
hurting culture. And we Christians get caught up in that and we name call, and we attack and we play by the rule book of our broken culture. I try and I fall short, Greg. Let’s err on the side of being gracious, let’s turn the other cheek, let’s extend an olive branch. And one reason I think we can do that is if we know what we believe and why, because I have confidence Christianity’s true, I’m not afraid to have conversations with people who see the world differently. That’s another reason why apologetics is so important, but that posture more than ever, I would just so encourage any youth leaders listening to say, “Let’s do that, let’s be relational, let’s be gracious, but let’s stick to Scripture.”
0:24:00.1 GS: And let’s try to get people saved. I mean, let’s share the gospel of Christ because my conviction is, it’s a lot easier to win an argument on that kind of issue if you have the Holy Spirit… You know, if a person recognizes I’m a sinner, even if they don’t necessarily think homosexuality is
a sin, but they recognize I’m a sinner in need of a Savior, they put their faith in Christ and guess what? The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, convicts the believer and will begin that process of sanctification from the inside out. So if I’m talking to somebody who’s LGBTQ or whatever, I first of all say, “Man, I wanna introduce you to Jesus, and Jesus will change your life from the inside out.”
0:24:47.7 SM: Amen.
0:24:49.2 GS: Remember the Gospel, and we need to remember the Gospel in all this. Where can youth leaders go? I know we’ve talked about this a little bit, but to find out more resources that you offer, and when you’re Dr. Sean McDowell, that’s SEAN not SHAWN.
0:25:04.3 SM: Yeah, that’s right.
0:25:05.8 GS: So, Dr. Sean McDowell is your YouTube channel. Where else can they find you?
0:25:11.3 SM: Probably the thing that leads to everything else is just my website, it’s just seanmcdowell.org and at the top, I have my latest YouTube video. I blog roughly once a week, and the one last week was actually on worldview and apologetics curriculum for third to sixth graders,
there’s a new great curriculum that’s out and I just give a platform to other people doing well. There’s link to our podcast there, and then links to… The main social media I use are Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, and there’s all links there. And even resources and my speaking schedule, I tell a lot of youth leaders, I go, “Look, when I’m out traveling at different events, if I happen to come to your city, come over and we’ll try to get coffee. I will carve out time if you’re able to come to event that I’m at and that’s important to you and my schedule allows it.” A lot of people don’t take me up on that, but Greg, quite a few people do, and able to just have some great connections where we’re
both blessed and encouraged.
0:26:05.7 GS: Amen, praise the Lord. I appreciate that. One last word of encouragement as you leave, and then we’re gonna have a youth leader on to talk about what you just shared. Could you give one last word of encouragement to our youth leader, Sean?
0:26:22.4 SM: Oh, gosh, that’s such a big open question. I would just say, I’m a dad of two youth leaders, and I thank God for the youth workers, whether Christian school teachers, those at church and coaches, who pour into my kids, because even though I may have this platform, and my kids do listen to me, a prophet is not welcome in his own country. There’s something profound about that, that I’ll say something, and then my son’s coach or my daughter’s youth leader will say something and it’ll stick. So I guess if I just had one voice, I would say, through COVID, it’s been tough, and I don’t know how a lot of youth leaders have made it work, but you are one of the most underrated but important voices in the life of young people today, don’t stop. Be encouraged. Know that you’re making a difference.
0:27:21.3 GS: Man, Sean, that is great. Thank you so much for being a part of this podcast. I appreciate your friendship, I appreciate your focus, and you are a gift to the body of Christ. You’re a gift to youth ministry. And you said you’re the father of two youth leaders, but I think you meant you’re the father of two youth, I’m like, “Really?”
0:27:37.2 SM: Oh yeah. [chuckle] Well, you meant what I knew on that one, fortunately.
0:27:47.2 GS: There you go. Perfect. Well, thanks again, and I appreciate you being a part of it. We’re gonna switch gears right now. We’re gonna do a section we call, Ask a Youth…
0:27:53.4 SM: Thanks, brother.
0:27:55.6 GS: You bet. Love you, man.
0:27:57.0 SM: Love you too.
0:27:57.7 GS: We’ll do a section called Ask a Youth Leader, and because I’ve not been in youth ministry for over 30 years, and it’s called The Greg Stier Youth Ministry Podcast so we thought, let’s bring in youth leaders on every show. Today, we have LB from Grace Church. I’ll give you a quick little update on her, she is currently serving on the Student’s Ministry team at Grace Church, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, one of my favorite churches on the planet, it feels like my home church, I love Grace Church. She’s been in youth ministry for 19 years, has her MDiv in Biblical and Theological Studies. She has a passion for communicating the Word of God, discipling the next
generation of church leaders. The greatest joy of her life is her nieces and nephews, and she loves traveling and Disney World, which is awesome. And she was in our offices a couple weeks back, and she was reading a book called, The Mortification of Sin, so that sounds pretty intimidating.
0:28:50.6 LB: I like to keep it light, Greg.
0:28:52.1 GS: Yeah, keep it up light.
0:28:53.7 LB: I like to keep it light.
0:28:53.8 GS: That’s right. That’s like, “From the latest prosperity preacher, The Mortification of Sin!” No, it’s John Owen, right?
0:29:03.1 LB: Yeah.
0:29:03.2 GS: Oh, man.
0:29:03.4 LB: I haven’t finished it yet. It’s so dense.
0:29:05.0 GS: Well, it’s ’cause you fall asleep on each page.
0:29:09.1 LB: I can get through like three pages and then I need to take a nap.
0:29:11.9 GS: Why don’t we have a worship songs about the modification of sin? The mortification of… I don’t know why… I’m sorry that was a broadway. [chuckle]
0:29:18.9 LB: I’ll talk to our worship team about that. I’ll talk to…
0:29:21.3 GS: Jeremy. Right?
0:29:23.0 LB: I’ll talk to… Jeremy would take that up, I think.
0:29:24.7 GS: Hear what he’s got, see if he can bring the mortification of sin worship song. Alright, are you ready to mortify, people? I guess, I don’t know, I don’t know what’s happening. Okay, here’s my first question.
0:29:37.5 LB: Alright.
0:29:37.8 GS: I’ve known you for years…
0:29:39.0 LB: You have.
0:29:40.2 GS: And I still don’t know how to pronounce your last name so I always call you LB or Laura. How do you pronounce it?
0:29:48.7 LB: This is why I put LB, and I actually go by LB because when people try to pronounce my last name, I would respond with gesundheit because they miss it. But it’s Buchelt, but apparently when the whoever came over on a boat, it was like… [vocalization]
0:30:05.0 LB: And so now it’s LB. LB.
0:30:07.1 GS: LB.
0:30:08.3 LB: And people have called me LB since I was 18 so I’m very comfortable. Very comfortable there.
0:30:11.8 GS: Yeah, it’s cool. Alright, LB. What did you think about what Sean shared?
0:30:18.7 LB: Oh, man, I loved it. I couldn’t nod fast enough through all of it. I was feverishly writing, feverishly writing. I think big picture everything he’s saying is so spot on, everything from the apologetics and evangelism have to go handinhand to the culture in… Student culture is shifting and we have to shift with it. He was talking about the way that they’re receiving information and so shifting to different formats. Yeah, I think sometimes we as youth leaders like to get to a spot where we’re comfortable with how we are doing youth ministry, but just how he was talking about, man, tweaking and adapting and hearing the questions and having the conversations…
0:31:10.9 GS: Yeah, so let’s talk about that because I’m thinking here about… A lot of the youth leaders that we have on the show are small to medium size. You guys have a large youth group at Grace Church. Thinking about a series, could you imagine a series like that at Grace? And it’d be hard to open up there, but you’d have to do some kinda small group interactions with those
questions, and it feels dangerous because there are so many strong opinions about those issues, but the Bible is so clear. But it gets you thinking, could you imagine a series like a hot topics or hot button series based on your.[overlapping conversation]
0:31:47.4 LB: But we’ve done it.
0:31:48.8 GS: Oh, great. How did it go?
0:31:48.9 LB: We’ve done it. Mixed reviews because you’ve got some people that are…
0:31:58.0 GS: It had been better if you showed the Sean McDowell fiveminute videos.
0:32:02.9 LB: It probably would have been a lot better actually.
0:32:06.1 GS: Just a thought for the future.
0:32:06.2 LB: But we have Stand to Reason is a fantastic apologetics organization and they’re out here in the fall, here at Grace for our students’ conference, and so we get them, and so we’ve done that. And then for me, I take our seniors. I take just the senior class through some really heavy
apologetics conversations, but in a very… Like I make them watch a video and then we all come together, and then I make them hash it out. So sometimes a student will say, “Well, this is true,” and it’s completely not true, and then I’ll let other students correct them and let them hash it out, and then I’ll come in and sweep it up at the end, but I have found that they’re hungry, they’re hungry for these conversations and in a conversational format, not just in a me standing on the stage teaching them format.
0:32:58.9 GS: Well, and nobody gets bored in a debate. I remember once I was at an event on spiritual warfare, and the lady teaching was like, “Alright, everybody, right now, put on your breastplate of righteousness,” and this guy yells out, “What the heck you talkin’ about?” She goes, “Shut up, Herb. Put it on.” I thought it was a skit, and it was her husband, he goes…
0:33:24.4 LB: That’s…
0:33:24.8 GS: A crazy talk. “Puttin’ on your armor, what are you talkin’ about?” She goes, “Put iton, Herb.” And I’m the only one in the room laughing, but everybody was fully engaged.
0:33:36.2 LB: I would have laughed with you.
0:33:37.3 GS: Yeah, see there you go. I’ll be coming back.
0:33:39.6 LB: Buckle up.
0:33:39.7 GS: There you guys, buckle up, here we go. But you get those going and the adrenaline starts building and students start thinking, and I think if we can continually take them back to Scripture as the authority… As that topic, where do you think teens are today, the average Christian teen, from your experience at Grace Church, when it comes to biblical authority on those types of issues?
0:34:12.4 LB: Yeah, I think there’s a tension, and I think I can say this with confidence that this would be a pretty universal youth ministry thing. In the youth ministry, you got kids in a couple different camps, you’ve got kids that are raised in the church, their dad is the elder, deacon, whatever, or the kids who are just really they’ve been raised in it, they’re steeped in it, and then
you’ve got the kids that are like, “I’m here because I’m here, and it’s not really something I’m totally sold into and maybe I’m partying on the weekends.” So I don’t know that I can say average, I could say average church churched kid, and then I could say average student in our ministry, so it’s a little
bit of a different benchmark. But I think Sean said it really well that kids have genuine questions, and the thing that I’m coming across right now is that most current students and former students as I talk to them, they’ll say, “I never really felt like there was space made for me to ask those questions.
I either had to believe it or walk away from the whole thing.”
0:35:30.8 LB: And so just that concept of what does it look like to create space to ask those questions, that’s been something that I know I’ve really been wrestling with because there’s one sense that we wanna teach and we wanna get them the information and we wanna do community, and we have all these different things, but how are we making sure we’re being intentional about
creating space because I think kids do have questions, especially the average churched kid who would say, “I am a Christian” wants really badly to believe that the Bible is true, they want to believe, and I think if you have a really honest conversation with them, they can’t fully articulate why that’s true.
0:36:13.4 GS: Yeah.
0:36:15.5 LB: Or not just why it’s true, but why it’s important.
0:36:18.8 GS: I think that’s an excellent point. I think one of the things we have responsibility to do is really help teens understand why the Bible is fully authoritative, why it can be trusted. I remember my old pastor did something. I’ll never forget this, he preached on a Sunday night service, I was 13 years old, he held up his Bible and he said, “I want you to know this book well enough to rebel against me if I’m wrong.” And when I ended up leaving the church, I told him, I was 18 years old, I said, “You taught me too well. I’m outta here because this church is legalistic, and I believe this book,” but how do we really help students understand the authority of Scripture, I think that is… It’s gonna be an increasingly important topic.
0:37:07.3 GS: Shifting gears a little bit, talking to Sean who’s the apologetics guy, I’m the Dare 2 Share guy, it really feels like evangelism and apologetics, you mentioned it earlier, if we can bring those together, some of the best conversations. We do a… You’ve been… Lead THE Cause, our full week training…
0:37:28.9 LB: And by the way, just to plug, if you’ve got a group for youth leaders, you got a group, take your core five and go to Lead THE Cause.
0:37:38.0 GS: Awesome. Yeah, because…
0:37:40.2 LB: Done a couple times, and there’s nothing like it. Don’t bring your whole youth group, just bring your core.
0:37:44.2 GS: Yeah, you take those kids from your youth group to Lead THE Cause and they’re actually having those conversations out in the streets with real people, and the bus rides on the way back, they’re unpacking that stuff, there’s coaching along the way. And we found, what I would say is, what I found is, bring your student leaders and the ones that should be but don’t know it yet.
0:38:12.0 LB: Yes. Yeah, bring the quiet kids.
0:38:14.3 GS: Yeah, because there are so many just ready to go out. But how can we help teenagers engage their own peers in those Gospel conversations so they come back more hungry for apologetics? What are some of the ways that you’ve seen at Grace, that you guys do that?
0:38:38.0 LB: Yeah. Just so you know, Greg, you said it like Grace is your home, like we think Grace is your home too. We love you, we love Dare 2 Share…
0:38:45.8 GS: I love Grace.
0:38:46.7 LB: I’m a big fan. I was gonna wear my Dare 2 Share shirt but I didn’t. One of the things, the longer I’ve been in ministry, the more I’ve learned the reality that information doesn’t always equal transformation.
0:38:58.3 GS: Yeah.
0:39:00.9 LB: And so just communicating information… In fact, I have an intern that’s a former student of mine, and right now she goes to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, which is awesome. And she says to me, “I wish someone would have told me this when I was in high school.” And I looked at her dead in the eyes and I go, “I wish you had listened when I said this when you were in
0:39:18.7 GS: Exactly.
0:39:20.7 LB: And I think you ask the average student and what you’re gonna hear is, if you say, “Hey, how have you seen God work?” They’ll tell you a story about maybe God working in their parents or in their family, but it’s taking the information that they’re getting and seeing it in their life. So to me, the reason apologetics and evangelism go so handing love is that evangelism is,
“You don’t know Jesus and you need Jesus.” And discipleship is, “You know Jesus and you need Jesus.” And so when they’re doing… If they’re understanding the person of God, they’re understanding their faith… Well, if I’m understanding that I need Jesus, my heart is gonna soften
towards people who don’t have Jesus and need Jesus. And I think when students are struggling with evangelism, part of it for me is, they don’t realize that they need to be saved, not just from the, “I need to become a Christian,” but like the daily ongoing, I need to be saved and not for eternity but
like I need the Gospel for today.
0:40:33.4 LB: So I see this… To me, where it all comes handinglove is, as students continue to learn about the heart of God, they get out and share the Gospel, well, then all of a sudden they have a story of God’s faithfulness, not for their parents, not for their friends, not for their pastor, but they
have a story of God’s faithfulness for themselves, which is one of the reasons mission trips is so impactful for the student, but I don’t think we have to wait until our mission trip for that to happen, and it doesn’t have to be the full GOSPEL Ask, Admire, Admit, like the whole thing in one sitting. It can be, “Man, I had a conversation, and I went and asked a friend, “Are you a part of a
faith community?” And that was the first part of the conversation, and I’m looking forward to talking a little bit more about that. And so to me where those two things really come together are, if we want information to become transformational in the life of a student, it’s gotta be faith that
moves, it can’t just be faith that sits.
0:41:37.6 GS: So good. Laura, I appreciate your work at Grace. You’re a pillar there. You’re committed to sound theology, you’re committed to evangelism, you’re committed to apologetics, and you’re committed to loving these kids and seeing them conform to the image of Christ, and thank you for your work as a youth leader and excited for what the future holds, and thanks for your
partnership with Dare 2 Share and tell the team I said hello.
0:42:06.5 LB: I certainly will. Love you guys. Thanks for giving me the space, it’s been fun.
0:42:11.6 GS: Yeah, and if youth leaders are out there and they wanna find out more about you, what are your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook?
0:42:18.5 LB: Yeah, so grace.church is Grace Church and then we are Next Students.
0:42:23.3 GS: Next Students, right?
0:42:26.6 LB: Next Students is our Insta, and then, yeah, @mngracechurch is our Instagram for the church as a whole but grace.church, it’s super easy, is our website and I can be found out there.
0:42:37.7 GS: Awesome. Thanks so much, Laura. And youth leaders, thanks again for tuning in.
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