Lies Christians Believe with Shane Pruitt - The Greg Stier Youth Ministry Podcast
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

The Greg Stier Youth ministry Podcast

episode 9 | November 2021

In this episode, Greg sits down with Shane Pruitt, who serves as National Next Gen Director for the North American Mission Board (NAMB). They discuss Shane’s new book, 9 Common Lies Christians Believe: And Why God’s Truth Is Infinitely Better, and talk about why teens should be the main focus of the church. Greg also speaks with youth leader, Tony Martinez, to follow-up on Shane’s discussion.

Shane and his wife, Kasi, reside in Rockwall, TX with their five children – Raygen, Harper, Titus, Elliot, & Glory. He has been in ministry for over 18 years as a denominational worker, church planter, lead pastor, and student pastor. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies, and a Master’s Degree in History. He is also a traveling communicator, evangelist, Bible teacher, and author.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

0:00:05.5 Greg: Hi, 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. I encourage you to subscribe to this podcast, rate it, review it, help us spread the word to youth leaders, so that we could see this revolution and transformation in youth ministry, and every teen everywhere can hear the gospel from a friend. That’s why I’m super excited about today’s guest, Shane Pruitt. Shane is all about the gospel of Christ. He’s about mobilizing teenagers for the gospel of Christ. When I first saw him on Instagram and Twitter, I’m like, “Who is this guy”? And he’s saying the same things we are, but in a much cooler way, and I just absolutely love Shane Pruitt.

0:00:54.7 Greg: Just to give you a little bit of a background, he serves as a national Next Gen Evangelist Director for the North American Mission Board. He and his wife Casey live in Rockwell, Texas with their five children. Shane’s also a traveling communicator, Evangelist, Bible teacher. Every year, he speaks to tens of thousands about the good news of Jesus Christ. He’s a podcast host, the author of a popular blog which has got over three million views, and a monthly guest on a national radio show, Point of View. He authored the book, Nine Common Lies Christians Believe, and Why God’s Truth is Infinitely Better. Winston Churchill said, “Fanatic is someone who won’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” That’s why I love Shane. He’s a fellow fanatic for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the potential of young people to spread that good news. Shane, thanks so much for being a part of the podcast.

0:01:51.5 Shane: Man, Greg, thanks for having me on, man. I feel like today… I feel like I’m the seventh grade B teamer getting to hang out with the all­state varsity quarterback. And no offense if anybody played seventh grade B team, but man, that’s what I feel like. You’re like the varsity all­state quarterback, and I’m just getting to hang out with you today, man, so what an honor.

0:02:12.6 Greg: Well, man, I remember you told me the first time we connected was in Dallas at a youth leader network event or something… That had to be like 20, 25 years ago. That was a long time ago.

0:02:26.2 Shane: Dude, I was brand new in ministry, I think I was like a 22 ­year ­old youth pastor, and it was at Six Flags. It was at Six Flags.

0:02:32.9 Greg: That’s right.

0:02:36.9 Shane: I don’t know if you remember that, and you were doing a teaching coaching for youth pastors, and I was like, “Man, I love this guy,” ’cause just your zeal for the gospel. And what was crazy is I got saved at 21 and became a youth pastor a year later. I look back and go, that probably wasn’t wise, but I was just zealous for the Lord. The Lord had saved me. I believe that God could save me, he can save anybody. And then here’s this guy, man, who is like the evangelism ninja, and I was like, “I wanna learn from this guy.” So man, it’s been such a joy to become a friend of yours over the last two years, and I count you as a dear friend because I’ve been such a fan of your ministry for a long time.

0:03:13.2 Greg: It’s really neat. I mean, honestly, I’m so grateful you are with NAM and are influencing so many, not just southern baptist churches, but I think you’ve really brought together a team of teams, all these states that are generally kinda own their own state, not necessarily connected nationally, are technically, but not organically. I think God has used you in a powerful way to bring everybody to the same page, and it’s a gospel­advancing, disciple­multiplying, believe­in­the­next­gen, unleash­them­with­the­gospel page. That’s what I love about you, Shane. And so I really feel like, Alright, southern baptist, check, alright, work on the other denominations, so…

0:04:00.8 Shane: Thank you, friend, it’s a… To God be the glory. And I think we’ve said it for a long time that we’re better together, but didn’t always operate like that, so it’s been fun over the last two years of being in this role of really bringing networks together and state conventions together. And man, you’ve been a big part of that, we’ve really enjoyed having your voice in those settings, so thank you, man.

0:04:22.1 Greg: Oh, it’s so fun. Brian Baldwin, Oklahoma, he’s been such a great friend and boy, he implements it like a general, he’s mobilizing the church, so it’s really cool. And to see that happen in more and more states really gives us the hope for the next generation. Let’s talk a little bit about your book. Now, it’s been out for a little bit, but it still seems like it’s super popular, Nine Common Lies Christians Believe, Why God’s Truth is Infinitely Better. What a great title. Is that your first book?

0:04:55.4 Shane: It is, yeah. So I’m currently writing two more at the same time right now with B&H, the publisher, but yeah, that one was with WaterBrook Multnomah, which is in your home state, man.

0:05:07.1 Greg: Yeah, that’s right.

0:05:08.5 Shane: My publisher there’s in Colorado Springs, and yeah, that was our first one. And man, it’s been awesome, to God be the glory, ’cause Greg, you know me, I’m a moron. So, God really gets the glory in all that.

0:05:18.7 Greg: It’s something we have in common. [chuckle]

0:05:21.8 Shane: Yeah, well, you know, I grew up in the country, so me and my friends, we used to time each other how long we could hold on to an electric fence without letting go. You know what I mean? So I gotta say, yeah, I don’t have a lot of brain cells left, so.

0:05:29.2 Greg: Oh, that’s perfect. Perfect. That’s why we get along.

0:05:32.4 Shane: Yeah, that’s right. So to God be the glory. Yeah, man, it’s really taken off. A ton of churches have done it, it’s like a sermon series or a small group study. I think it’s a work that’s relevant for teenagers, but also all the way to senior adults and then… Man, this was really cool, just at the very beginning of this summer of 2021, YouVersion the Bible app put some reading plans on their app from the book and then put it on their homepage, which was insane, and so it’s just continued to grow and take off.

0:06:03.5 Greg: That’s great.

0:06:05.1 Shane: So we’ve seen over half a million people do the reading plans on YouVersion, and the book is just kinda… To God be the glory, man. God gets all the glory in that.

0:06:12.6 Greg: So what are some of the lies? Give us two or three of those lies.

0:06:17.8 Shane: Yeah, sure. So yeah, the big vision of the book… There is some cultural clichés that we as the church, for a lack of a better term, have adopted into our faith, baptized them and made them a part of our vernacular, but they’re not biblically true, and it’s clichés like “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” “Follow your heart”, “Believe in yourself”, “If a loved one dies, God gains another angel.” And so we typically share those with people who are struggling, right? And so we know what’s gonna get us through those dark nights with the soul is God’s Holy Word and not some cultural cliche that’s not even biblically true.

0:06:56.5 Greg: So you…

0:07:00.9 Shane: So each chapter takes one of those cliches and then teaches, What does the Bible actually teach about that? And a better truth to move forward with.

0:07:04.2 Greg: That’s great, that’s great. I read kind of a turn on, a phrase, that phrase you always hear, “God helps them who helps themselves,” right? Somebody turned it like, “No, God helps those who can’t help themselves.” Those kinds of turns…

0:07:24.9 Shane: Yeah. And I think the invitation of Matthew 16:24 is “Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.” So you could almost say, God helps those who doubted themselves, which is the opposite of the self­help stuff we hear today.

0:07:39.5 Greg: So when you think about it with teenagers, just in a broader… Not necessarily connected with the book, but in a broader sense, what are some of the lies that teenagers are facing today, Gen Z, when it comes to Christianity, when it comes to the message of God’s Word?

0:08:02.1 Shane: Yeah, when you think of Generation Z, those currently that are young adults, like post­grad, those that are in college, high school, junior high, older pre­teen. There was an interesting survey back in 2020 from Wall Street Journal, as Generation Z’s getting older, we’ve been able to get more data on them. And one of the things that we saw from that poll was very eye­opening, it says less than 30% of Generation Z says religion is important to them. Now, not even Christianity, just religion as a whole. If that be true, then statistically speaking, they’re the least religious generation we’ve ever seen, almost like a post­Christian generation as a result of an ever­changing post­Christian culture. However, in that same poll, over 82% said, living a self­fulfilled life is very important to them. So I think that’s the threshold to cross in reaching Gen Z, that’s the threshold to cross in evangelism, to go, “Hey listen, God wants you to live a fulfilled life too, it’s just gonna come from someone outside of self.” So I think a lot of the lies that Gen Z is believing is because it’s lies that older generations told them, is really a lot of self­help jargon. Like, “Hey, believe in yourself. Be whoever you wanna be, you determine who you wanna be. The world is your oyster. You can do whatever you wanna do.”

0:09:25.3 Greg: Yeah, “You do you.”

0:09:25.5 Shane: Yeah, “You do you. You do you, I do me.” But here’s the beautiful thing, is what we gotta realize, and I think this is a biblical principle that we help them realize, is that, “Hey, a lot of times, the biggest problem with self is self, and so if self is the problem, then self can’t be the help.” We need someone outside of self, His name is Jesus.

0:09:47.1 Greg: Yeah. That’s so good. And I think really, about 15 years ago, I traveled with… Started traveling with Zane Black. And you know Zane.

0:09:54.8 Shane: Love Zane.

0:09:54.9 Greg: Bro.

0:09:58.6 Shane: [chuckle] Dude, I don’t think Zane ever has a bad day. You know what…

0:10:01.4 Greg: He doesn’t. He’s a…

0:10:02.1 Shane: Yeah, even if he’s going through something hard, it’s still like… He’s like, “It’s still awesome.” It’s like, What…

0:10:05.7 Greg: He’s so good. But he helped me, actually, because I think our gospel acrostic that we use to train students to share the gospel, the L used to be “Life with Jesus lasts forever” or something, but he’s like, “Bro, what about now? What about now?” And so we ended up changing our L to be about “Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever,”

0:10:36.6 Shane: I love it.

0:10:38.3 Greg: And really helping students understand that John 10:10, that he came to… Jesus came that we may have life and live it to the full, have abundant life. He doesn’t wanna rob us, He wants… But when students get a hold of that, it’s awesome to watch.

0:10:52.1 Shane: That’s true.

0:10:54.6 Greg: The lights turn on and everything changes.

0:10:56.3 Shane: Yeah, me, you and Zane are kindred spirits anyway man, I love everything y’all do. And so when y’all made that shift, I was like, “Yes, yes,” because I feel like, especially with Gen Z, when you talk to them and around them, what you’ll find out is they’re not scared to die young, but they are terrified of boredom. You know what I mean? And so we help them see like, “Hey, there is a kingdom cause that’s bigger than yourself, and it’s not boring. And if you want your life to matter, there’s not a greater matter than the kingdom of God.”

0:11:26.8 Greg: So kind of you switching gears to the North American Mission Board, I know you guys recently came out with some directives, and I don’t know how all the stuff works in the SBC, but one of them was a greater prioritization of getting young people baptized, getting those baptisms up. Why do you think organizationally, the SBC just leaned in to young people, Gen Z, as a priority?

0:12:02.0 Shane: Yeah, first and foremost, if you don’t reach your future, you have no future, and so we look at it and go, Psalm 145:4, which has become kind of like a mission verse for my life in the role that I’m in, so as National Next Gen Director for the North American Mission Board means we partner with 50,000 churches that we serve and oversee like our ministry side of movement for young adults, college students and teenagers. And so, Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall declare the mighty acts of God to the next generation.”

0:12:33.0 Shane: So if you think about it, Greg, the reason you and I exist is because for a long time, each generation was faithful to point the next generation to the mighty acts of God, and that generation to the next and that generation to the next, and generation, and generation, and generation. And then you get to you and I, and you even think about what we do as leaders, you think of youth pastors, college pastors, we don’t start anything, we don’t end anything, it’s just our turn to be faithful, to point the next generation to the mighty acts of God. And so we look at that and go, “Hey, are we reaching the next generation?” And I think a lot of times, really the measurable of that is gonna be, at least evangelistically, is baptisms.

0:13:12.3 Shane: It’s hard to say that you’re living on mission and you’re sharing the Gospel if there’s no baptisms, right? And I think there’s been an intentional leaning to discipleship, which I think is good. That’s great. We’re called to make disciples, but in that, I think we kind of pitted evangelism and discipleship against each other, almost like they’re the Bloods and Crips, you know what I mean? They’re not, they’re not enemies. They’re conjoined twins. And so the call of evangelism is an invitation into discipleship, but if we’re not training students how to share their faith, then we’re not making disciples. And so I think we looked at the decline in baptism numbers, and to go… For 30 years, Greg it’s been year over year for 30 years, three decades, and go, Are we making disciples? Are we teaching a generation to point the next generation to the greatness of God? And you and I’ve talked about this. I strongly believe, the most effective person at reaching a teenager with the Gospel is another teenager that has a heart that beats with passion for Jesus, and that same heart is broken over the spiritual lostness of their own generation. Yeah.

0:14:16.9 Greg: Yeah, I love that. And there’s something about baptism, just as a side note. I feel like there’s an opportunity, if you look in the early church, you’ll see baptism was the first thing that happened when you got saved, it wasn’t like after a 12­week class. It was like… People say, “Well, altar calls don’t exist in the scripture,” I’m like, “Yeah, they do. They were always, ‘Come to the water.” It was like, “Get in line…

0:14:45.6 Shane: Yeah, yeah, that’s right.

0:14:46.1 Greg: They’d go right in the Jordan or the lake or the Mitzvahs on the southern steps of the temple. And it was in front of your family and friends, people that knew you. When you got baptized, it was a public… So one of the things I was thinking about…

0:15:02.7 Shane: Yeah, that’s right.

0:15:02.8 Greg: So my daughter, I baptized her when she was 12 years old, I was on a cruise ship, it was my 25­year wedding anniversary, and I literally stopped the boat on the main deck, like I stopped the party, I go, “Everybody, can I have your attention? I’m about to baptize my daughter. Don’t worry, I’m a licensed professional,” and I explained the gospel. And she had some friends that she had made on the boat and so did my son. And I baptized her, invited anybody else who put their faith in Christ to come on in, nobody did. [laughter] But I did it because it felt more…

0:15:39.3 Shane: That’s amazing.

0:15:39.7 Greg: Early­Church­like.

0:15:41.9 Shane: Yes.

0:15:42.2 Greg: So, one of the thoughts I was thinking about is, what if we had Baptism parties? What if every youth leader gave each kid getting baptized 10 to 20 invites for their friends, unreached people they knew, and they came in to celebrate the gospels, given that… I don’t know. I just think, man, what if we turn…

0:16:01.7 Shane: I love it, man.

0:16:03.9 Greg: Baptism into a party? But just a side note.

0:16:05.0 Shane: And that’s one of the things we’ve been focusing on, man, at least in our context, is making baptism a really big deal, you know, celebrating it. You know what I’m saying? And I really believe this. Like you said, there was… All through the New Testament, we saw “Repent, believe baptize. Repent, believe baptize,” you just see it over and over, and so we look at it and go, “Hey, you’re gonna have a hard time walking in obedience if you don’t get the first step of obedience right, which is baptism.

0:16:30.8 Greg: Yeah.

0:16:31.6 Shane: And then there’s that old illustration that’s true, that baptism doesn’t save you. We know the gospel saves you, but that baptism is like your wedding ring. It’s that public showing that you belong to Christ, right? Like, I have a wedding ring. This wedding ring doesn’t make me married, the covenant I made under God and the covenant I made under my wife makes me married. However, I wear this ring to show the world that I am married. It’d be like saying, “Hey, I’m a follower of Jesus, but I don’t wanna be baptized.” That’d be like me telling my wife like, “Hey, I love you, I wanna marry you, I just don’t want anybody to know about it.” You know what I mean? That’s not gonna work really well. That’s not gonna go well for me, Greg. You know what I mean?

0:17:10.4 Greg: No. Well, and I think it’s a great… It’s kind of the… We talk about biblical outcomes measure the movement, and the original biblical outcome is baptism. That’s something that’s tracked throughout the book of Acts. So, let’s talk a little bit about, again, why teens are strategic. You did a Twitter survey, which I quote ’cause I think it’s solid, and you always hear these numbers floating around, but you did a Twitter survey about when people actually came to Christ, and you have a large online following. What are the results of that Twitter survey that the age… The ages where most people came to Christ?

0:17:55.0 Shane: Yeah, I love that, Greg. Yeah, I share it all the time as well and I know you and I have talked about this, and it really shows an urgency for really children’s ministry, student ministry. We did a poll… Same thing, we kinda hear all these numbers floating around all the time, so we wanted to put tangible results to it, so we did a poll through my Twitter and we asked the question, If you are a follower of Jesus, at what age did you surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life? And we gave four options: 13 and under, 13­18, 18­30, those young adult years, and then 30 plus. Just shy of 2700 people answered that poll. It was 2694. And Greg, as you know in the data research you do, that’s a pretty big polling segment there. And we found that 77% of all Christians surrender to Jesus before the age of 18.

0:18:47.0 Greg: Wow.

0:18:47.0 Shane: Think about that again. 77% of all Christians surrender to Jesus before the age of 18. And then the next largest segment is really after the 18 and under, is in those young adult years. You know, a lot of college. You always see people come to Jesus in transition and trouble. And so they’re in that transition time of college, a lot of people really are at that fork in the road, and a lot of people come to know Jesus in their college years. And so if you go up to 30, then 95% of all Christians surrender to Jesus before the age of 30. So even… That’s why I love what you do in evangelism, Greg, because let’s just talk about that. In evangelism, when you think of initiatives, tools and strategies, a lot of people default to thinking, We’re gonna train adults how to share the gospel with other adults. Hey, and that’s important, that’s great, do that. I preached at an event two weeks ago, where there was multiple decisions and we baptized 12 immediately, spontaneous baptism, and two of them that got baptized were guys in their 70s. Praise the Lord, that happened.

0:19:47.6 Shane: But practically speaking, that’s like fishing in 5% of the lake, when you think of 95% of people who come to know Jesus before the age of 30, 77% before the age of 18. So that’s why I say it, that’s why I love what you do, Greg, and what I get to do, is we look at our next­gen leaders, college pastors, youth pastors, children’s pastors, and go, Hey, you’re more than entertainers. You’re more than event organizers, you’re more than like a pastor of a calendar. You’re primarily an Evangelist, you’re primarily a disciple maker, you’re primarily a missionary. Because I know God can save whom he wants when he wants, but practically speaking, if we don’t reach people by the age of 18, we almost lose a whole generation.

0:20:28.7 Greg: And I think it’s strategic. I actually think this is a message that we really need to get through to pastors, is that if you’re really serious… I mean, I just came from an evangelism conference with evangelists. I was teaching the only next­gen talk on it, out of all these workshops, and I’m like…

0:20:47.8 Shane: Yep.

0:20:48.5 Greg: If we’re really serious about reaching our cities, we gotta get serious about reaching the next generation. If I was a business guy, I would go to the demographic that was most likely to buy my product and sell my product, right? Teenagers and children most likely to say yes, and most likely to get their friends to say yes. And we are focusing 90% of our effort on the 10%­ish that are least likely to come to Christ. And so that’s why, again, I love… So I wanna transition to the… You guys have a campaign that’s just gone crazy and is so simple, and I think that’s why it’s blown up. It’s called Who’s Your One? And tell us a little bit about the Who’s Your One campaign.

0:21:32.5 Shane: Yeah, man. When you think of, just say, spiritual lostness in the United States… Let’s just take the United States alone. And you think of Generation Z, some statistics say roughly about 50 million of Generation Z are not connected to the local church or have a relationship with Jesus at all. It’s almost like an unreached people group, right? And so when you think of lostness, you think of billions around the world, you think of millions in the United States, you may even think of thousands in your community or hundreds in your high school or junior high.

0:22:01.1 Shane: And so that can be overwhelming. And when people think of big numbers like that, they typically don’t do anything. So we said, Hey, think about the number one. Who is just one spiritually lost person in your life that you can begin to, super simple, three things, pray for by name every day; invest in, meaning live differently in front of them, serve them, invest in them; and then thirdly, when God opens those doors of opportunity, and he will, then by faith and obedience, you walk through that door of opportunity and share the gospel with them, share your testimony, point them to Jesus. And so hey, it’s not anything new. We may have just marketed it, put some graphics with it, we’ve put a lot of free resources. I wanna encourage people to go to whosyourone.com, all kinda spelled out, whosyourone.com, or you can text the word One, O­N­E, to 888­123. And you’ll get a response back to take you straight to it. But it’s really two thousand years old.

0:22:53.8 Greg: Can you say that again? For…

0:22:57.1 Shane: Yeah.

0:22:57.6 Greg: Slower, for youth leaders and for me.

0:23:00.1 Shane: Sure, yeah, that’s right. Just text the word One to 888­123. O­N­E to 888­123, and that’ll connect you directly. But if you think about it it’s John 1; it’s Jesus found Philip, and the first thing Philip did was find Nathaniel. So the kingdom of God is expanded one relationship at a time. Like so, we all have one; who’s one person that you can commit to pray for by name every day, invest in, share the gospel with? I love it at whosyourone.com, Greg. There’s all kind of free resources, there’s a student devotional on there that I’ve written, that’s an evangelism student devotional. There’s all kind of training videos. But one of my favorite things is on the home page of the website is this big interactive map. Greg, you’ve seen it. And on there, you can go and type in the first name of your one person that you’re gonna pray for every day, invest in, share the gospel with, and then under it’s the city and state they live in, you can type that in and then hit the button, “Commit to pray”, and that interactive map will light up to where over the city that you just put there. And there’s currently over 42,000 people who have committed to praying for their ones on that map.

0:24:09.4 Greg: I love it.

0:24:09.9 Shane: And so it’s a movement. And a large segment of that 42,000 plus is young adults, college students, teenagers.

0:24:16.2 Greg: Yeah.

0:24:17.2 Shane: And so it’s a movement. And like you said a while ago, I always tell pastors, especially the pastors, if you wanna see a movement, if you wanna see a revival, go after the next generation, that’s where the harvest is. You wanna see your baptism numbers grow, go after the next generation. That’s where the harvest is.

0:24:30.6 Greg: And here’s the thing too, you and I know this. I was a pastor for 10 years. You work with a lot of churches and pastors, you’ve been a youth leader. When the youth leaders… When the youth group gets on fire, it fires up the adults.

0:24:44.5 Shane: Yep. It does.

0:24:45.6 Greg: They’re convicted. I remember once when I was a youth leader, I had a kid… We did this youth Sunday. And this kid named Steve stood up and he gave his testimony. And he’s like, “Yeah, we go out and share our faith all the time, and it’s been great.” And then he paused, and he goes, “You know what? I’ve never seen any of you adults share the gospel.” He goes, “Aren’t you supposed to be leading the way for us?” I mean he went off, and I remember cringing at first but then was like, “Oh, this is good.” You could feel the conviction…

0:25:15.7 Shane: Yes.

0:25:16.1 Greg: Over the audience.

0:25:16.6 Shane: For sure.

0:25:17.6 Greg: When kids get set on fire, it convicts and it persuades and it motivates adults to share the gospel, so it’s exciting.

0:25:24.5 Shane: That’s so true, Greg. And if you think about it, like, Jesus used 12, and one went astray, but essentially 11 and then they replaced Judas, and asked young people to turn the world upside down.

0:25:37.1 Greg: Yeah.

0:25:37.3 Shane: I know contrary to our Renaissance painters, who painted all the disciples to look like middle­ aged white men, they went and they were young, Middle­Easterns that Jesus turned the world upside down with. And so you could almost say like Jesus was a next­gen leader, ’cause all those disciples, most Bible scholars believe were either teenagers or young adults at the oldest of ages, so.

0:26:00.7 Greg: So I’m gonna give you a little something that a black pastor gave to me 15 years ago, and I’ve been using it ever since. I was teaching at the Billy Graham School of Evangelism. And I was talking about Jesus being a youth pastor, I think. And he goes, well, no, he goes, “He was a youth pastor.” I go… And he spoke out from the front row. I go, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Matthew 17:24­27. Peter, Jesus and the disciples go into Capernaum, and only Peter and Jesus pay the temple tax.” I go, “Interesting.” And he goes, “If you cross ­reference that Exodus 30, verse 14, the temple tax is only for those 20 years old and older. All the disciples are there, but only Peter and Jesus pay.”

0:26:41.3 Shane: Great reference. Great reference.

0:26:42.6 Greg: That helped me, because I always believed that, but biblically it’s hard to argue now. ‘Cause it’s like, okay. I would say Jesus was a youth leader with one adult sponsor and one rotten kid, and no budget.

0:26:55.0 Shane: [laughter] Yeah, that’s right.

0:26:56.0 Greg: And with that youth ministry, he changed the world. So, Shane, as we wrap up here, one encouragement that you would give to youth leaders listening right now or watching.

0:27:08.0 Shane: Yeah. Man, I would just go back to remember what you’re doing is so important. You’re part of a long work that existed before you, and will continue to work after you go be with Jesus, if the Lord delays. Remember just Psalm 14:5­4, “One generation declares your mighty acts of the Lord to the next generation.” And so, you’re a part of an ancient work. It’s your time to be faithful. You are standing on the shoulders of previous generations who were faithful. And then also remember that 77% of all Christians surrender to Jesus before the age of 18. And so you may not feel valued by your parents in your ministry, you may not feel valued by the students sometimes, and unfortunately, some, you may not even feel valued by your leaders or your pastors. But we want you to know, you have kingdom value. We see you, we’re cheerleading you on, you are on the front lines of the evangelical efforts, so thank you for what you do, and I pray that every day you would see purpose in what you do and you would have overwhelming joy to know that what you’re doing is so important. It is impacting an eternity and transforming lives.

0:28:19.4 Greg: What a great encouragement and, Shane, you are a great encouragement. You’re one of the most encouraging evangelists I’ve ever met, and just love being around you. I’m so grateful for our friendship, so grateful for your gospel focus. How can youth leaders who are watching or listening find out more about you? Where do they go?

0:28:42.4 Shane: Yeah. Thanks, Greg. And, man, thank you so much for your kind words, that means the world coming from you, and I deeply, deeply respect you, so to God be the glory, thank you. Yeah, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram it’s just: @Shane_Pruitt, P­R­U­I­T­T, 78. Website is ShanePruitt.com, and then our Ministry website at NAMB is just GenSend.org, so G­E­N, and then send, S­E­N­D.org. And that’s our belief is that we wanna send a generation to reach a generation. So GenSend.org is all kind of great free resources on there and all kind of ways that we can partner together.

0:29:22.8 Greg: That’s great. I really encourage you to follow Shane. You will be encouraged, as I’m always encouraged, by his social media. He really uses that to point to Jesus and point to the power of the gospel and potential of young people. So again, Shane, thanks so much for being a part of this. Right now, we’re gonna transition, and you’re free to kinda jump off or stay on if you’d like, but we’re gonna interview an actual youth leader, because I have not been in youth ministry for 35 years. And it’s called The Greg Stier Youth Ministry Podcast.

0:29:52.3 Greg: So this is Tony Martinez. And Tony, man, thanks so much. Let me give you a little bit of feed… Just a background on Tony. Tony’s been in youth ministry since 2004, served as the Youth Outreach Pastor… Serves as the Youth Outreach pastor at Center Point Community Church in Arvada, Colorado for the last 11 years. And has been bringing his students to Dare to Share since 2007. He actually attended Dare to Share as a student himself, and I’ve known his family since I was a teen. And you’re at the actual church where I was a junior high youth ministry part­time leader. It used to be called Community Baptist Church, but then you guys got fancy and now you call it Center Point. So Tony, welcome to the podcast.

0:30:47.3 Tony: It’s good to be here, it’s great to listen. We’re still finding some stains in that old classroom you used, so thanks for that.

0:30:53.4 Greg: Oh yeah, you bet, we created all sorts of havoc at Center Point. So, man, you’ve been at it for a while, and, boy, listening to Shane, he’s so on fire for the gospel and for young people, it’s encouraging that he’s the next­gen leader for NAMB, North American Mission Board. But what are some of your thoughts about what Shane had to share?

0:31:19.3 Tony: Well, it’s interesting, when you said right there at the very end, “What an encouragement,” and, “Shane, you have been really encouraging”, that was literally the idea that I was writing down at the end of it. This content, I hope everyone that listened, I hope you’ll listen to it again, because you’re gonna need to be encouraged. We have a million and a half reasons to be discouraged any given week. So this, started in there, that was great. I’ll be honest with you, this really grabbed a hold of something God’s identified in my youth pastor heart in the last two to three years, really zeroed in, this passion on real conversations with my kids.

0:32:00.0 Tony: The nine common lies, right? But what that leads to, the fear of boredom. Their faith is gonna be boring, and faith in general is gonna be boring if there’s not real answers to their real questions. And if I don’t create that environment in my youth room, and the rest of us all in our youth rooms, we’re not gonna have that chance to inspire them, equip them or anything, because they’ve checked out. And that’s just something that God has been just pressing on me really intently the last few years. I’ve been telling my students for a long time now, I don’t want the right answers out of you, I want real ones. And then it’s my job to get them to talk about all of it. The random, the inappropriate, the on­topic, all of it needs to be okay in my youth room, because, eventually, it’s gonna really drive home into one of those powerful conversations that moves them. So this all just pulled on all of that for me. I loved it.

0:32:54.8 Greg: I think, maybe even taking those nine common lies and making that some kind of a series where you can, like Shane was talking about, unpack each of those in youth group. And there’s probably even more that you could add, with Gen Z in particular, that teens are facing and then take them to the Word, the Word of God is the answer. I love that. I remember when I was there, Tony, the most popular curriculum we would ever do was called Hot Topics or Hot Buttons. And it was those issues, those buttons, that you would not normally talk about in church, that we just kicked the bucket over and got a mop, the Word of God, and said, “Alright, what do you guys think of this? And let’s talk about it.” And there were tears sometimes, kids would get upset. I think today, things like the LGBTQ issues, all those different things, a lot of different views on that, but get them back to the Word. What did you think about his whole philosophy on mobilizing the next generation to reach their own generation and the voice… Go for it.

0:34:11.1 Tony: Yeah, I think that’s just… It’s almost common sense. You think of the missions movement, so long ago, the real staying power is not the white man going to the country, it’s training the people who reach the people, the people who are there, the natives, the locals, the real ones in that people group, and so of course it applies to teenagers. I’m not… I’m 36 now. Yeah, I’ve been doing this for a while. I don’t even pretend to try to be cool anymore. [chuckle] They have to be the ones, they know it, it’s second nature. My generation is that weird bridge gap between the analog and digital age. They’re 100% native to it, and so they’re just gonna breathe it and be that naturally, so let’s give them the inspiration and the tools to take Jesus and God’s word into that space and watch it go, and we’ll just kinda support them along the way. So it’s spot on, I love it.

0:35:16.1 Greg: And tell me a little bit about what you thought about the Who’s Your One idea? I think it’s so simple.

0:35:24.1 Tony: I think it was great because it really makes you choose, Am I willing to pick one or am I gonna pick none? It is just one, and that makes it manageable, and because it’s manageable it forces the person to really say, Either I’m for this or I’m not. Because there’s no less than this. And so that to me was something I really noticed, like, Alright, either in or not. And I think students wanna be challenged. Not insulted or anything like that, and kind of bullied into it or manipulated, but just being honest and no fake, no extra… Who’s your one person? And it’s repeatable, it’s accessible. I was looking at the site and the visual­ness and all that sort of thing, but that’s what stuck out to me is you can do one. We believe that you can, we believe that God’s called you can, and it’s very doable, and you can do it again. So I thought that was really fantastic. It wasn’t three, it wasn’t five, it wasn’t whatever, it’s just one.

0:36:30.3 Greg: That’s awesome. Any other final thoughts that you kind of were thinking about during Shane’s…

0:36:37.5 Tony: I loved the baptism part of the conversation too, that identity, there is a… I know it was an aside, but it’s like, man, could we have baptism parties and we’re throwing out invites and having kids bring in people, because it’s a big deal. At one point, you guys said there’s just something about baptism, making that reference to the ring and the identifying, but the question that came to my head was, what is the really big deal in my youth ministry? In the calendar, the annual big deal? What is the big deal moment in my nightly programming? Or seasonal, like what is the big deal, even if it’s not stated that way. And I thought, man, does baptism fit in there? Identifying with Jesus, either publicly through that wonderful moment of baptism, or identifying with Jesus publicly through your week; what is the big deal? It was just this really introspective, Hm, that’s important.

0:37:35.2 Tony: We know of baptism, but it’s that identifier. And it’s more than that moment, it’s a repeating thing. So whether it’s a baptism party or just a re­commitment to identify with Jesus out loud in public, was fantastic. And it’s, again, that encouragement at the end that what we do matters, I hadn’t thought of it quite in that way, of it being a long and ancient work. If you’ve been in youth ministry for any length of time, it feels long, [chuckle] but it’s… You’re taking your place in a long work.

0:38:06.3 Greg: That’s right.

0:38:07.7 Tony: It’s like, Alright, it’s not all on me, and it never should be, but I’m part of this and I’m having my part, I’m gonna continue to do my part, and God will cover it. [chuckle] He’ll fill in the gaps, but there’s a lot of good content… I meant it before. You’re gonna wanna re­listen to this one, just on one of those days you’re not feeling it anymore. ‘Cause you’re gonna get something that you didn’t get the first time.

0:38:31.1 Greg: So encouraging. And I think it also… What Shane shared really elevates the position of youth leaders. I think youth leaders are oftentimes super discouraged, but we’re saying, No, you’re super strategic, and you’re really, really important to the kingdom of God. And so, Tony, thank you. On behalf of somebody who lives in the city you live in, thank you for grinding to reach every teen and make a difference in Arvada, Colorado. Thanks for your investment for the last 11 years. So, love you, man.

0:39:04.3 Tony: Yeah, I got something for them. I wanna through a challenge out to your listeners. You probably know a youth leader who could hear this. They need that encouragement. Send it to them. I know that we talked about the Who’s Your One for our students to reach and pray and reach them for Jesus. Youth leaders, who’s your one youth leader right now that needs a little bit of encouragement in this. This is simple, this is the basic stuff, but we need fueled again, and strengthened. So that’s the challenge God just put in my heart right now; send that to a youth leader, because we’re better together and we’re on the same team.

0:39:38.8 Greg: I love it. We need… Like a water boy, we need tackling fuel. A tackling fuel is encouragement to that what we’re doing is making a difference, so… Well, hey, thanks again, everybody, for tuning in, being a part of this. We wanna see every teen everywhere have every last chance to put their faith in Christ. And remember a thriving youth ministry is a gospel advancing youth ministry, so keep advancing the gospel.

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