Why You Should Give The Gospel Every Sermon with Rick Long
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 30 | November 2023

Why You Should Give the GOSPEL Every Sermon with Rick Long

Are your ensuring that every person that attends your church hears the Gospel clearly?

In this podcast episode, Greg Stier welcomes his longtime friend Rick Long. They discuss their history together, including planting a church 34 years ago and their passion for youth ministry.

Rick shares his background, having been a pastor at Grace Church for almost 35 years and his involvement in various educational and ministry initiatives. The conversation touches on their early experiences in a youth ministry that prioritized sharing the Gospel, the challenges of starting Grace Church, and the commitment they made to prioritize the Gospel in every service, event, and ministry at Grace Church. The discussion highlights their dedication to ensuring that every person who attends Grace Church hears the Gospel clearly and has an opportunity to respond. They also touch on their ongoing commitment to mentoring and encouraging pastors and youth leaders.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

0:00:00.0 Greg Stier: 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, encourage you to subscribe to the podcast, rate it, review it, help us spread the word to youth leaders everywhere. It’s time for our revolution in youth ministry that will result in every teen everywhere hearing the gospel from a friend and that’s why I’m so glad to talk to my friend today, Rick Long. You’ve heard me mention Rick before because we planted a church together 34 years ago, Grace Church, and I’ve known Rick since I was in, man, middle school?

 

0:00:39.5 Rick Long: Yeah.

 

0:00:40.6 GS: And I remember when you first came in as a seventh grader, I was in ninth grade, and we became instant friends, started sharing the gospel together. Give you a little bit of background on Rick, he’s been the pastor at Grace for 34 and a half years. He’s master’s education from Trinity Seminary at Liberty University, Colorado Bible College, Rocky Mountain Bible College, as well as religious study certification from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The only reason he got that is ’cause that’s where Michael Jordan went.

 

0:01:07.2 RL: That’s right.

 

0:01:07.4 GS: He has served as Pastor Rick Warren, senior pastor, senior purpose-driven pastoral coach for 28 years. He’s now working with Pastor Rick to accomplish finishing the task, which is a strategy is developed to reach all 8 billion people with the gospel before 2033. Rick’s been married to his beautiful wife, Shelly, for 38 years. They have four children, three bonus children, and seven grandchildren. He’s the CEO of Forge Christian High School a new purpose-driven Christian school, built on 51 years of legacy at Faith Christian High School, where both my kids graduated from he’s also assisted, Greg Stier with Dare 2 Share for 10 years, assisted. When we launched Grace’s Church and then soon after Dare 2 Share. We were all in together for everything to advance the gospel. And although he’s the lead pastor at Grace’s Church he is a youth leader disguised as a lead pastor.

 

0:02:04.3 RL: Amen.

 

0:02:05.1 GS: He’s got a heart for the next generation. Rick, man thanks for being on the podcast.

 

0:02:09.5 RL: So good to be here, Greg. Just hearing you say those things, of course, you don’t like to hear stuff about yourself, but what resonates is how much I love you. And I think back to the reason that I became passionate about the gospel was your passion for the gospel. You poured into me, I mean when I think of junior high students, it’s not normal, we all know you’re not normal but it’s not normal to take a kid a year younger than you under your wings and start teaching them the gospel. But you were already so passionate about it.

 

0:02:43.8 GS: We used to go out to the mall.

 

0:02:44.8 RL: We did, we did.

 

0:02:45.5 GS: I think one time we dressed up black and camouflage.

 

0:02:49.9 RL: We did, and we’d get in trouble today.

 

0:02:51.1 GS: And went to the mall and share the gospel.

 

0:02:54.4 RL: We did.

 

0:02:55.4 GS: We just did whatever it took. And it’s… I remember the conversations you and I would have, ’cause your parents rent a halfway house and I would go over there and spend the night and we would talk about girls, and we’d talk about planting a church someday and we’d talk about reaching the world for Christ.

 

0:03:13.8 RL: We did.

 

0:03:17.4 GS: When we were like 14, 15, 16 years old and that’s never changed.

 

0:03:19.8 RL: Never died.

 

0:03:23.4 GS: Never changed.

 

0:03:23.5 RL: Never changed. If anything, it’s a much deeper passion today for both of us. I think we grow, you go through changes in life. God humbles you and he continues to humble us and we get to look and say, look what God has done, look at how He uses, I always say two knuckleheads to do his work and yet in the midst of all of that, again, I’ve been in the wings praying for Dare 2 Share, cheering you on, being a fan of everything that happens through the ministry, and I know you’ve been the same for us at Grace and our work. So this is a great honor and I’m looking forward to encouraging pastors, because that’s one of the great passions in my life has been the privilege of being a coaching pastor since it was actually 1997, and then teaching at Saddleback and now I was…

0:04:11.5 GS: I remember when we first went, we went to the…

 

0:04:12.1 RL: Yeah, ’96.

 

0:04:16.6 GS: Saddleback Pastors.

 

0:04:16.7 RL: We did.

 

0:04:18.5 GS: ‘Cause we had… This is back when we started the church, there was nothing but Elmer Town’s notes.

 

0:04:19.9 RL: Yeah, that was it.

 

0:04:23.1 GS: And we’re like, how do we do this? So it was basically the book of Acts and I think we used to get up early and go to, like, before even the church started, like 4:00 in the morning?

 

0:04:32.4 RL: Yeah, 3:30 in the morning, we went to Denny’s.

 

0:04:34.3 GS: And we would sit down and study Acts.

 

0:04:36.4 RL: And just study acts and talk and pray and we were gonna start The church. And…

 

0:04:39.1 GS: Yeah, we were gonna call the church originally, The church. Yes.

 

0:04:43.6 RL: Well, the philosophy behind it was good, we said if the Apostle Paul wrote a letter today, he would write it to…

 

0:04:50.2 GS: To the church.

 

0:04:50.3 RL: The Church of Arvada. So we’re like, we’ll be the church. And it’s funny ’cause I got a good friend in the community who’s a pastor, young pastor. I’ve been kind of trying to mentor and encourage, Justin McKay…

 

0:05:00.1 GS: The local church?

 

0:05:00.9 RL: At the local church and I tease him about that like…

 

0:05:04.2 GS: I thought about that same, I was like…

 

0:05:04.3 RL: The local church, yeah.

 

0:05:04.4 GS: Like where do you go to church? The church? You know? Like who’s on first?

 

0:05:06.9 RL: We were thinking that. But yeah, passion.

 

0:05:11.7 GS: So backing it up just a little bit.

 

0:05:13.0 RL: Yeah. Sure.

 

0:05:13.3 GS: I mean, talking to youth leaders, you and I were raised in the ultimate gospel advancing youth ranch…

 

0:05:19.4 RL: Without a doubt.

 

0:05:20.1 GS: Christian Youth Ranch is what they, it sounds like a boys home, but talk about what it was like for us as teenagers being in a church where the gospel was so central to everything.

 

0:05:31.6 RL: Yeah. Well, we’ve talked about this all over the world both of us. And I really have yet to hear anyone say that they had a youth ministry like it, not that there haven’t been much bigger youth movements or youth ministries, but when you got 800 teenagers come in every Thursday.

 

0:05:47.4 GS: And they only have 300 adults in the church.

 

0:05:49.9 RL: That’s it, in the church.

 

0:05:50.1 GS: 800 teens.

 

0:05:51.5 RL: And we were in a Christian school where when we started the school, you were there with my wife as the first 19 students. When I came along three years later what happened was I walked in, they said, hey, you’re part of the Christian school, when you come to youth group, you’re coming to serve. And so I started putting carpet squares on carpet and praying for the kids that would sit in there. And they said, when you hear the gospel act like you’ve never heard it before. Remember that?

 

0:06:16.9 GS: Yeah.

 

0:06:17.3 RL: We’d sit there and listen to everything…

 

0:06:18.8 GS: They’d also tell you when the youth leader tells a joke, laugh like you’ve never heard it before.

 

0:06:22.6 RL: Laugh like you’ve never heard it, and we did, and peak when they raise their hand. And all of that stuff really built in us that passion. And so when I look back, yes, it was your influence, it was the influence of Colorado Bible Church and, Youth Ranch. There are a lot of people, Mark Schweitzer, Tim Sanchez a lot of people that were instrumental in teaching us more about sharing the gospel and I just don’t know anybody else that was better at it. But I think what we were discovering in the midst of it is that the purposes of God worship and discipleship and fellowship and having a ministry in the church and a mission in the world are all critical to be a balanced Christian. But the only purpose that can only be done here is the gospel of Jesus Christ being proclaimed.

 

0:07:10.5 GS: Yeah. Exactly.

 

0:07:10.8 RL: So if that’s not predominant, then all the others are gonna fall short.

 

0:07:14.2 GS: It was so predominant. I cannot honestly think of a Sunday morning or a Thursday night youth group meeting where the gospel was not given.

 

0:07:22.9 RL: No.

 

0:07:23.2 GS: And an invitation.

 

0:07:24.3 RL: In an event, I mean a class, a concert, a play…

 

0:07:28.1 GS: Give the gospels for the Christian school.

 

0:07:32.4 RL: Always, always.

 

0:07:32.5 GS: Always. So kind of jump, we jump forward a couple years. You and I start Grace Church.

 

0:07:37.1 RL: Yeah. Crazy.

 

0:07:38.5 GS: And maybe just talk a little…

 

0:07:40.0 RL: March 12th, 1989.

 

0:07:41.5 GS: 1989. Do you remember I was gonna go to, I think Dallas…

 

0:07:45.9 RL: Yeah, you were gonna go to Dallas. We talked about going to Capital Seminary after that.

 

0:07:50.1 GS: Capital Seminary.

 

0:07:51.9 RL: I had less than a month left in my college and unfortunately it closed. And so I ended up having to further my education later.

 

0:08:00.1 GS: So, but we planted, we planted three, like was it 30 days later or three months later? I’m trying… We planted, no, it was in January during the Super Bowl.

 

0:08:09.6 RL: Yeah. We prayed that night…

 

0:08:10.9 GS: We prayed…

 

0:08:11.0 RL: For three hours after the Broncos got slaughtered for the third time.

 

0:08:12.0 GS: I remember that. Because you were like… I was like, I wanna go to seminary and you’re like, why don’t we just start one now?

 

0:08:19.8 RL: Yeah, I was really grateful ’cause we were youth pastors and I was in charge of evangelism, you were in charge of the junior high we both were just working together, Lane Palmer, other amazing people there.

 

0:08:30.8 GS: We had a different church. Yeah.

 

0:08:31.9 RL: Different church.

 

0:08:32.1 GS: Yeah.

 

0:08:32.8 RL: And we just saw, we had created, and it really was more your brainchild operation Arvada and we brought it to the pastor, the new pastor, and he was like, yeah, boys nice.

 

0:08:44.3 GS: He’s like, let me pray about it.

 

0:08:45.1 RL: Exactly. Exactly.

 

0:08:46.7 GS: So is it… Because we had seen as youth leaders, this we’re kind of jumping around here, but as youth leaders, we had seen the gospel take over the youth ministry, and we’re like, what if this happen church-wide? So we put this thing together, operation Arvada, presented it to him. He said, let me pray about it. Which is a death no. It’s like…

 

0:09:02.7 RL: Yeah. It was, that means no.

 

0:09:03.5 GS: And then, you were like, let’s start it.

 

0:09:05.4 RL: Yeah. Well, we had 10 kids in the youth group, surf side we called it. And within a month and a half, we had 130 and they were kind of all over the place doing what unbelievers and new believers do. And that was the first time I realized that there are actually churches that are not interested in leading the lost to Christ. And that blew my mind. And so I just said to you, man, it’s always been our dream. It’s my passion. I wanna do this. And you’re like, well, let’s go to seminary first. And I’m like, no, let’s do it now. And so we prayed March 12th, 1989. We launched Grace. We both had responsibilities. You preached predominantly I led the Worship and Youth Ministry and became the lead pastor because we already knew you were moving toward Dare 2 Share Warriors for Christ first. And so that was a unique challenge. I mean when I only preached maybe 20%, 30% of the time, I had to manage leading Yeah. While you’re communicating in your unique, amazing style. So all of that was great.

 

0:10:03.9 GS: We still have video of that…

 

0:10:06.1 RL: Oh gosh. Yeah.

 

0:10:06.8 GS: Service.

 

0:10:07.8 RL: Oh, it’s crazy.

 

0:10:08.6 GS: I’ll go back on The Grace Church website and just watch, just to laugh.

 

0:10:12.0 RL: Oh, it’s hilarious. I’m leading worship like this with both…

 

0:10:14.7 GS: Yeah, I’m with him.

 

0:10:15.4 RL: In suits. Well, I was in a nice shirt.

 

0:10:17.6 GS: Shelly’s got a synthesizer.

 

0:10:18.6 RL: Yeah. And she made a mistake. And I looked at her while leading worship, said, you ever do that again, I’ll never play. Yeah.

 

0:10:23.8 GS: But we made a commitment that Sunday…

 

0:10:24.9 RL: We did.

 

0:10:25.7 GS: That no matter what happens the gospel’s gonna be given. It’s gonna be given clearly. And people have an opportunity to respond.

 

0:10:32.4 RL: No matter who preaches.

 

0:10:34.4 GS: Since March 12th, 1989, that promise has been kept.

 

0:10:38.4 RL: It has been kept without exception. And we have 58 local and global ministries. And every night of the week, our church is filled with Celebrate Recovery, student ministry support classes, and preached to all of those.

 

0:10:53.5 GS: And it’s not because, it’s not because it’s the richest church.

 

0:10:56.5 RL: No.

 

0:10:56.7 GS: It’s not because it’s the fanciest church.

 

0:10:58.7 RL: No.

 

0:10:58.8 GS: It’s because the gospel is prioritized…

 

0:11:01.9 RL: 100%.

 

0:11:02.5 GS: And it’s given. People cannot…

 

0:11:03.6 RL: Nope.

 

0:11:03.7 GS: You cannot… Matter of fact, you can’t leave Grace without hearing the gospel…

 

0:11:07.5 RL: Oh, no.

 

0:11:07.6 GS: Clearly and have an opportunity to respond. And we even said, if we have guest speakers in and they don’t give it clearly, we’ll still perfect it.

 

0:11:15.6 RL: We do it after.

 

0:11:15.8 GS: And there were times…

 

0:11:17.3 RL: I still do that.

 

0:11:17.5 GS: You and I had to get up and say, let’s thank our brother. And anyway, let me just reemphasize what they were saying at the end.

 

0:11:25.1 RL: Well, let me tell you what we’ve done to even fix that. So, for instance, I had a good friend of mine, he’s an African-American pastor, Greg Rogers, he teaches at our school. Credible man lives in Aurora. He preached for me one weekend about six months ago, and I said, Greg, make sure that you’re prepared to preach gospel. Well, if you preach at Grace, except for some unique exceptions, you have to come and preach to the preaching team…

 

0:11:51.4 GS: Yeah. First.

 

0:11:52.0 RL: The week before.

 

0:11:52.6 GS: Yeah.

 

0:11:53.0 RL: Right? And in that time, we critique and edit and all that stuff. And then at the end we say, hey, we gotta clear the gospel up. Like, you’re using words and verbiage and this, and he was so grateful. Like he’s begging me to learn how to do that and to get a preaching team together. But that way you bypass all the struggles. Like when Danny Orley comes, I know it’s gonna be preached clearly, but some people you’re like… And so a lot of times I’ll say to a person, if you’re not comfortable, one of us will come out…

 

0:12:22.2 GS: Come up and do it.

 

0:12:23.3 RL: And present the gospel after.

 

0:12:24.9 GS: So let’s kind of dive into this because, I’m beginning a series on… The power of giving the gospel in every meeting and giving an invitation. And I wanna just talk about that. Like why is it important to gospelise your sermons? To make sure you give the gospel and also give people some kind of opportunity to respond. We’ll talk about how in a little bit, but why? Why is that important? Because a lot of pastors I talk to, they’re like, well, we have a lot going on in the service. And they won’t make it a priority ’cause they have you know, too much music or our sermons are too long or whatever. Why is it important? What would you say to youth leaders and pastors about why it’s important to give the gospel every week?

 

0:13:12.6 RL: Number one, you never know if people have come to know Christ. They can be in your church for 30 years. I did a concert at a church, up here, up north, I won’t mention. And at the end of the concert, I mean that we had this deacon standing in the back three-piece suit, 70-year-old guy, didn’t love the music. We were kind of rocking out at the end we’re, I give the gospel, he raises his hand. I’m in the foyer…

 

0:13:37.7 GS: A deacon.

 

0:13:39.0 RL: A deacon, and the pastor’s there, find out this guy’s a lead deacon. And he says, in a room filled with people like, we’re signing autographs, selling CDs. And he goes, “Pastor, pastor Rick, I just wanna say this, thank you so much for sharing the gospel. Tonight, for the first time in my 30 years in the church, I understood and became a Christian.”

 

0:14:00.1 GS: Wow. Wow.

 

0:14:00.1 RL: And the pastor’s like looking down. You never know who’s going to be…

 

0:14:04.1 GS: Did you turn to him and say, shame on you.

 

[laughter]

 

0:14:06.6 RL: Well, I didn’t need to…

 

0:14:06.9 GS: How dare you, sir.

 

0:14:09.8 RL: I didn’t need to because it pierced his heart.

 

0:14:11.4 GS: The Holy Spirit was doing that.

 

0:14:12.5 RL: Absolutely. So the why is very simple. There’s always a possibility that even people that have been in your church are not saved. But more importantly, if you’re doing ministry in a healthy way, there will always be people in your church who you don’t know. Who are guests. And the larger it gets, the more of those you have. In our church, we have something called the Soul Counter. And the soul counter, is a clock that sits in the back and it says, New Believers in 2023.

 

0:14:43.9 GS: Wow.

 

0:14:44.8 RL: And I don’t know if you can zoom on that, Jeremy, but there’s been 1,021 new believers in 2023 at Grace.

 

0:14:50.1 GS: That’s awesome.

 

0:14:51.2 RL: You can’t add to that clock unless… Or 1,021. You can’t add to that counter unless, one, you are a pastor, two, you have verification that they put their trust in Christ. Like, we don’t just count the hand. They text, they come out and get their new believer gift bag with a new Bible. And my book, Grace happens some other gifts. So that’s what happens when you preach the gospel.

 

0:15:18.4 GS: So also what happens, and I think this has been true since the beginning, is the majority of people at Grace Church have come to Christ as a result of…

 

0:15:30.1 RL: Absolutely.

 

0:15:30.4 GS: Either people hearing it from people from Grace, or people inviting their friends and then them trusting Christ, or them taking the lunch afterward and explaining.

 

0:15:38.0 RL: Yes.

 

0:15:40.1 GS: That the majority is new conversion growth.

 

0:15:43.7 RL: Without a doubt. It’s…

 

0:15:44.6 GS: Which is so rare.

 

0:15:46.2 RL: It’s rare. I was just with pastors from churches in the community yesterday in a prayer meeting. And of all of them, one pastor, Kyle at Revive is seeing that kind of exponential growth. And a lot of times…

 

0:16:02.5 GS: He’s a gospel guy.

 

0:16:03.8 RL: He’s a gospel guy. He’s a great guy. And what you’ll find though is that there is a philosophical issue that’s become supported in the minds of certain pastors theologically. And that is that salvation is more than a gift from God, excuse me, received by faith. It is a actual, you need to repent. And the repentance is defined unbiblically. Repentance never means to change your life. It’s change your mind.

 

0:16:31.7 GS: Yeah. They define it as a turn from sin. As opposed to a change of mind that should lead, once…

 

0:16:38.1 RL: To a change of…

 

0:16:38.7 GS: You’re transformed to a change of life, right?

 

0:16:40.4 RL: Change of life.

 

0:16:40.7 GS: If not, something’s broken need to change, but there’s this, number one non-clear gospel, oftentimes, and it is given. And then answer this question, ’cause I think this is something I get a lot from pastors is like this philosophy that… Well, it’s just believers in my church that if an unbeliever comes in, it’s a rarity at all, so we’ll save the gospel for Friendship Sunday or Easter or Christmas. In your experience beyond the deacon at Grace Church, how many weekends a year are there unsaved people that come and visit Grace Church?

 

0:17:21.3 RL: Every single weekend. Every single service.

 

0:17:22.1 GS: So 52 weekends of the year.

 

0:17:23.2 RL: Every single service, like we have four services now three, because we use our lodge and some satellite, but the…

 

0:17:32.7 GS: People come to Christ.

 

0:17:33.4 RL: People come to Christ in every service because, one, you’re training your people to bring the lost. Two, you’ve created an environment that is friendly and conducive. And I think when you look at the philosophy that we’re talking about here, there are actually pastors, they will tell you this because I’ve trained over 10,000 pastors when I taught it at Saddleback and then nationally through trainings, inter, excuse me, globally, I’ve found that there are pastors who actually believe church is only for the believer. And if you are focusing on the lost or evangelism, you’re being unbiblical.

 

0:18:07.6 GS: But you know what? And I think it’s unfair to categorize that because Grace has always been a church that does focus for the believer…

 

0:18:17.7 RL: 99%.

 

0:18:17.8 GS: But always assumes there’s unbelievers there.

 

0:18:19.8 RL: Absolutely.

 

0:18:20.0 GS: And at the end, we’ll say, maybe you’re here today and this day… But you turn it toward those. And we’ve always did that and turn it toward those. Maybe you’re here and you’re wondering… Whatever you’re talking on. So I remember, I don’t know if you remember this, but there was two weeks in a row, I think it was the first time at Grace church…

 

0:18:40.6 RL: Yeah. Nobody…

 

0:18:40.7 GS: Nobody came to Christ.

 

0:18:42.4 RL: Came to Christ. Yeah.

 

0:18:42.4 GS: Ann Smith, one of the elders, got all the elders together and the staff and said the sin of…

 

0:18:47.9 RL: Their sin.

 

0:18:48.2 GS: In his voice, “The sin of Achan is in the camp. Nobody is come to Christ for two weeks in the Sunday morning services. Which one of you is living a secret life of sin?”

 

0:19:00.9 RL: Sadly, I was preaching, so I was not kidding.

 

0:19:02.5 GS: Yeah, I was like it’s Rick. We all know it’s Rick, [laughter] but it was so rare…

 

0:19:05.7 RL: It was so rare.

 

0:19:06.5 GS: For someone not to come to Christ. So let’s talk about like, ’cause a… I’ll be doing more on actually how the technical…

 

0:19:19.5 RL: You bet.

 

0:19:19.6 GS: How do you do this? But how do you do this? Like, so ’cause a lot of pastors may be wanting to do an invitation give the gospel, but how do you take your subject and then turn it toward the gospel and then give people a response? What is the Grace way of doing that?

 

0:19:36.9 RL: Well, first of all, I think it’s critical to understand that if my message doesn’t point back to the cross, it’s probably heresy. Because there’s nowhere in scripture from Genesis to Revelation, it doesn’t point back to God’s redemptive plan to save mankind. So, you know…

 

0:19:55.8 GS: So it should be in whatever text or text you’re preaching on.

 

0:19:58.4 RL: Let me give you an example. Like, I just, I taught a generosity series. We’ve been in this massive fundraiser to buy a building and start a new Christian school. It’s been mind blowing. In the midst of that series, I’m teaching on generosity and I had one of my, one of our old teachers put me to the test one time in front of the whole church. He’s like, well, Rick can get to the gospel from anywhere, any subject. And so they just started throwing subjects out. And I would draw the parallel. With finances, you finish up and when you’re in 1 Corinthians or 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, you see the generosity, you talk about the believers and then you say something like this. And you know what? Jesus paid our debt. He is erased our debt. And you’re right into the gospel, the elements of the gospel acrostic that’s been created and that you guys do such great job teaching are necessary. So no matter what we teach, you don’t have to get up there, I don’t say there’s anything wrong with it, but I don’t just go through the gospel acrostic, I tie all those elements in and it’s very…

 

0:21:01.7 GS: But anybody who’s been trained in it, like every sermon I’ve heard you preach, even though you’re not going through the G-O-S-P-E-L, like, it’s like, gee.

 

0:21:08.5 RL: They’re all there.

 

0:21:09.2 GS: They’re there.

 

0:21:09.9 RL: That’s right.

 

0:21:10.0 GS: The story of the gospel message. So you make a segue. You share the gospel. So how do you give the invitation? And it actually may have changed since, you know?

 

0:21:21.2 RL: Yeah. Well, I find myself like you do in different denominational churches, different places where they do invitations differently.

 

0:21:30.2 GS: Yeah. Some do like the altar call.

 

0:21:32.0 RL: Call them to the front or…

 

0:21:33.0 GS: Texting…

 

0:21:34.0 RL: Texting or stand up. What we do is we still do what we’ve always done, which is we have them raise their hand. We actually count from the…

 

0:21:42.4 GS: Do you have them bow their heads?

 

0:21:43.7 RL: Yeah. Bow their heads. Close your eyes. I’m gonna close in prayer. We do the same thing we’ve always done. But when it comes to the number, and this is what I try to explain to pastors, well, numbers don’t matter. Numbers do matter.

 

0:21:54.9 GS: There’s a whole book in the Bible called Numbers.

 

0:21:56.2 RL: It’s called Numbers. I’ve said, I said…

 

0:21:56.6 GS: That’s nothing to do with my point. [chuckle]

 

0:21:57.3 RL: That’s one of my favorite. But when you say something matters, then if it can’t be measured, it doesn’t matter.

 

0:22:05.4 GS: Yeah.

 

0:22:05.9 RL: So if we’re not counting and we’re not trying to understand the fruit that God is bringing then what are we doing?

 

0:22:12.9 GS: Yeah.

 

0:22:13.2 RL: Every number represents a soul. So we count from our cameras. We have greeters who are placed strategically throughout the room. So they’re seen both from the back and the front. I don’t count anything. As a matter of fact, I removed myself 20 years ago from counting because it’s easy as a evangelistic counter to go, well, I see 20 hands. Right? And then we have some worship people that count. So while they’re doing that it’s exciting to see the believers going. Yes. Yes.

 

0:22:41.1 GS: Yeah. Because you’re saying, God bless you, God bless you, God bless you.

 

0:22:43.7 RL: God bless you, God bless you. God bless you.

 

0:22:45.7 GS: If you see a… So when you, just to clarify. So bow your heads, close your eyes, if that message made sense to you and you put your faith in Jesus today for the very first time, I’d like to know who you are so I can pray for you. Can you raise your hand?

 

0:22:55.0 RL: Yep.

 

0:22:56.5 GS: Something like that.

 

0:22:57.1 RL: Yeah. I say that. I say, listen, if you’re here and for the first time, that message made sense, just like you said. Then right now in the quietness of your mind, just between you and God, you don’t have to say a prayer, you don’t have to raise your hand. It’s by faith, just like the thief on the cross. But if you’re putting your trust in Christ, I’d like to know, just slip up your hand, put it right back down. I say, God bless you. And then I follow it up with, listen, might sound strange, but if you became a believer, number one, when we finish this worship song, you can step out in the foyer and at the connection center just have like a new believer bag. And I stand by that strategically. Second, I say, but if you can’t and you’re watching online or you’re here and you’re not able to get back there, just text the church number at 720-895-9000 and follow the prompts. We will come back and this week a pastor will call you wherever you’re at in the world will get you these gifts.

 

0:23:52.7 GS: Because that’s, so that’s important because a lot of the criticism I’ve received over the years, I’m sure you have received. I know you’ve received, is what about follow up? What about, so you have, you have new believer what, what’s in those follow up bags? Like a Bible? Your book? Instruction…

 

0:24:10.6 RL: QR, QR codes for our membership classes, which are discipleship heavy.

 

0:24:15.8 GS: So I’ve taken them through the 101, 201, 301…

 

0:24:16.3 RL: Yep. 101, 201, 301, 401.

 

0:24:18.8 GS: Okay.

 

0:24:19.7 RL: We also have information for our Christian education. We’re the only church in our community that has a full-time Christian education department overseen by a Pastor Vic who’s been in charge of our family ministry. But Pastor Mark Schweitzer is our…

 

0:24:35.8 GS: Yeah. Who was our, who was our teacher, Bible teacher and basketball coach.

 

0:24:39.7 RL: Yeah. Extraordinary teacher. Extraordinary teacher. I mean, yeah.

 

0:24:43.4 GS: So you give that opportunity to respond. You have them, you know, text in if they’re offsite or go back and grab one of those new believer bags and that begin, and then invite them into the 101, 201, get ’em baptized.

 

0:24:57.7 RL: Yep. And we strategically trained our staff. So the group that are back at the table…

 

0:25:04.1 GS: That are watching.

 

0:25:05.4 RL: Are ready.

 

0:25:06.1 GS: Yeah.

 

0:25:06.4 RL: And it, oh, you like a new believer bag, here you go. You know, would you like to talk to a pastor?

 

0:25:11.5 GS: Yeah.

 

0:25:11.5 RL: Would you mind filling that card out and giving it to us right now?

 

0:25:14.2 GS: So there’s that, there’s also the friendship factor.

 

0:25:16.4 RL: Oh man.

 

0:25:16.8 GS: So anybody who’s invited. So anybody who invites anybody to Grace invites them because they know the gospel’s gonna be given.

 

0:25:24.4 RL: Yep.

 

0:25:24.9 GS: So those for this doesn’t even take into account those friends that invited their unbelieving friends, and usually when you have heads bow and eyes closed and it’s their friend, they’re probably peeking to see if they trust Christ, then those believers also have the opportunity to follow up and are expected to follow up, those friends that they brought out, invite small group.

 

0:25:43.2 RL: Exactly.

 

0:25:43.6 GS: Get them involved. Yeah.

 

0:25:44.5 RL: They’re trained to do that. And in our ministry that’s what we do.

 

0:25:48.3 GS: So that’s the secret sauce of gospel advancement in and through Grace’s Church. Every Sunday morning, every single, and Saturday night, every single person is excited for the invitation.

 

0:26:04.2 RL: And equipped.

 

0:26:05.2 GS: Yeah.

 

0:26:05.6 RL: And equipped.

 

0:26:06.0 GS: So what about…

 

0:26:06.5 RL: Well, let me add one thing, Greg, ’cause I think this is really important for pastors to hear. I think the problem comes philosophically when a pastor begins to disciple a lost person. Think of it this way. Churches go, well, we’re all about discipleship and we’re teaching expository, which by the way, nobody can define that. And so this is how we’re teaching. And then you start teaching the depth of scripture, at least what you call the depth of scripture to a lost person. You’re not taking into account 1 Corinthians 2:14 and 15 that says, “The natural man cannot perceive the things of God. They’re undiscerned to him.”

 

0:26:43.1 GS: You have get them the Spirit.

 

0:26:43.8 RL: Gotta have the Holy Spirit. That comes according to Ephesians 1:13 and 14, “In whom you also trusted after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having believed you were sealed by the Holy Spirit.” So you’re putting the cart before the horse.

 

0:26:56.1 GS: You gotta get the Holy Spirit inside.

 

0:26:57.8 RL: Absolutely.

 

0:26:58.4 GS: The ultimate teacher. Who will coach them. So…

 

0:27:01.1 RL: Yep.

 

0:27:01.7 GS: Talk to the pastor, and I know you have a story ’cause I’ve heard you share this story that is nervous about giving the gospel ’cause number one, they’re not convinced they know how. And they’re nervous that if they give the gospel and give an invitation, unlike Grace where everybody’s trained. I mean, everybody’s trained to bring friends that they’re putting themselves out there, or the youth pastor that no teen or no adult or whoever’s in the audience is gonna respond. Because you talked about this once and there was a pastor, I think in Philadelphia.

 

0:27:32.3 RL: Many times. Yeah.

 

0:27:33.0 GS: Is that Phil? Yeah.

 

0:27:34.7 RL: Phil from Philadelphia.

 

0:27:35.4 GS: Yes.

 

0:27:35.6 RL: Well, and it’s interesting ’cause when I go and preach at other churches like Capital Community Church in Capital Christian in Seattle. And I do the same thing I do here that they’re not used to maybe that approach. Like every single week. And when you’re done and you see people come to Christ, man, you see these pastors light up. They’re like, man, we could do this. Well, I was teaching at a conference, Saddleback conference, and I was teaching pastors how to share their faith. And I saw this guy sitting over on the right side, older guy, older gentleman, probably in his late 60s at that point. And this was 20 some years ago, 24 years ago. And when we got done, tears are running down his face. Well, everybody leaves and they’re handing out my team’s handing out sermons so they can hear how I do it, how to share the gospel. And that was what I was teaching on. And all of a sudden I go up to him, I go, “Hey, I’m Rick.” And he’s like, “I’m Phil.” “Where are you from?” “Philadelphia Presbyterian Church.” I go, “Awesome.” I go, “You look as passionate about the gospel as I am.” He goes, “I am, pastor, but in the nine years since I took over this church, I’ve never led one person to Christ here.” I said, “So you’re telling me nobody’s come to Christ?” He goes, “No. Student ministry, children’s ministry.” He goes, “Some of our other ministries.” But he said…

 

0:28:50.9 GS: But no adults.

 

0:28:51.6 RL: “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” And he said, “I hear you deliver it and I think I’m delivering the points.” And so we went back through it, basically back through the gospel acrostic for him to help, help him understand the gospel journey. And then at the end of that, I said, “Phil, you understand all the elements, but you’re not making the most important one clear, which is there is no salvation apart from the cross. You can’t say, well, you believe in God and you believe God loves you, and you believe in Jesus…

 

0:29:21.9 GS: Gotta drop the punch line. Yeah.

 

0:29:22.5 RL: You gotta drop, you gotta go there, man. And he goes, okay. And I said, and then we used to use this term, Greg, we don’t probably use it as much now, “You gotta close the deal.” And closing the deal is actually saying, will you? Will you? That’s the most important words you ask as a preacher anyways? Now that you heard generosity, will you be generous? Now that you heard reading the Bibles…

 

0:29:42.5 GS: Today is the day of salvation.

 

0:29:43.5 RL: Exactly.

 

0:29:43.7 GS: Yeah.

 

0:29:45.4 RL: And he goes, “Okay.” Three weeks later, I’m, I had six services at the time and I went back to the modular to get my feet up. And this back when the instant message and bing it pops up and it was Phil. He said, “Pastor Rick, I wanna share this with you. Today was the greatest day in my 34 years as a pastor.” He said, “Two people came to know Jesus as their savior in the service.” And he said, “This has transformed my life.” And I just said, “Brother, as you do this, you’ll see a harvest.” And his church began to grow. And about six years later, we were one of the top 100 fastest growing churches in America. We were honored with that, again, this year, he was in there. He was in there.

 

0:30:30.6 GS: Yeah. That’s awesome.

 

0:30:31.0 RL: And it was just, I mean…

 

0:30:31.9 GS: The church, his church?

 

0:30:32.8 RL: Yeah. His church. So I mean, he was seeing people come to Christ.

 

0:30:36.2 GS: Because it was gospelised. And what’s cool is…

 

0:30:38.3 RL: Power of the gospels.

 

0:30:39.1 GS: Here’s what, I remember, Ritz Sullivan once, back when I was pastor.

 

0:30:44.3 RL: Yep.

 

0:30:44.8 GS: Gave the gospel, he told me he led some UPS fellow driver to Christ. I go, “What? Did you go through the evangelism training?” He goes, “No.” I go, “Where did you learn how to give the gospel?” He goes, “I hear you giving it.”

 

0:30:56.3 RL: Exactly.

 

0:30:56.6 GS: You were Rick giving the gospel every week. So in the process, you’re training the people to have those natural gospel conversations.

 

0:31:03.1 RL: Yeah. I wanna say the same thing, because I know the question is that pastors ask is, well, what if they’re all believers and it just becomes redundant? Well, one, you have to train your people that the gospel should never become redundant. I mean, if I don’t wake up every day, it reminds me of John Harper who was on the Titanic. This is now, what? 110 years ago, 105 years ago. John Harper was on his way to preach at DL Moody’s Church. And when the boat went down, he refused to get on any of the life boats. Of course, they were taking women and children because he wanted to preach the gospel. And he’s preaching the gospel, believe in Jesus and you will be saved. He’s preaching straight from Acts 16. Right? “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” The ship goes down, he ends up in the water, he’s floating in this frigid water.

 

0:31:56.2 RL: And he floats past a man, I forget the man’s name, you can look this up. And he says, “Are you saved?” And he said, “No, I don’t think so.” And he says, “Believe that Jesus Christ died for you and trust in him and you’ll be saved.” And the man said, he floated off his, you could hear his teeth chatter. And it was so cold. And moments later, the current, as the ship went down, pushed him back to the man. And he said, “Are you saved?” And he said, “Yes, because I believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” And that was the last time John was seen. He went under. And this man said, “I am the last convert of John Harper.” Well, for us as Christians, as pastors. We want our legacy to be, if this is my last sermon, if this is my last moment on earth, I wanna proclaim Jesus Christ dead, buried and raised to new life.

 

0:32:46.9 GS: So, so good. I mean, it’s, I want to open it up for our guests, but Rick, this has been gold and it’s, I can’t imagine standing before God and looking back and seeing that I missed opportunities.

 

0:33:03.2 RL: Yeah.

 

0:33:03.6 GS: Those one-time shots of people coming to Christ because I didn’t give the gospel. And a youth leader too, I mean, this is not just pastors, this is youth leaders and youth group. And I wanna transition to our guest.

 

0:33:14.2 RL: Yeah.

 

0:33:15.0 GS: Chris Bartley’s, discipleship pastor at New Beginnings Fellowship Church in Pikeville, Kentucky.

 

0:33:21.0 RL: Yeah.

 

0:33:21.0 GS: He served full-time in youth ministry for 16 years, 26 years, total time in ministry. He and his wife Billy, who is awesome, by the way, have three children. Devin, Caden, and Abigail. Were in college. He has a heart for gospelising young people of Eastern Kentucky. He loves Giordano’s pizza. Good man. The Kentucky Wildcats good man. And wearing his red Converse. Yes. So, Chris, welcome. Welcome to the podcast. And I’m just gonna turn it over to you to connect with Rick, ask questions, make comments, and for you for the next 10 minutes, you guys can interact.

 

0:33:55.3 RL: Hey, Chris?

 

0:33:55.9 Chris Bartley: Yeah, man. So this has been so good for me. I mean I’ve took four pages of notes.

 

0:34:01.8 RL: Oh gosh.

 

0:34:01.8 CB: And I’ve loved it. And I hear a lot of the things that are happening here echoed through some of the things that you’re saying, especially man, just the importance of youth pastors sharing the gospel every week with this gospel acrostic. So it makes it so clear, you’re able to present a very clear gospel. I know here in our region, this context we run into times that people have been given, and I don’t wanna say a false gospel, but just not a clear gospel. A lot of times it’s based on so much more than just faith or just, just believing in Jesus understanding that Jesus did die for you, he died for us as a group, but yet he died for you as an individual. And that acrostic just makes it so easy.

 

0:34:57.7 RL: Amen.

 

0:34:58.6 CB: And I love hearing your guys’ stories about growing up in a youth ministry that really fueled who you guys are today. You said the why that you did it, that you do it is because you never know who is sitting in the room who hasn’t believed and you shared that story of this lead deacon. That’s the importance for me of sharing the gospel. And, so do you keep going back to that story or what keeps fueling you over and over again…

 

0:35:34.6 RL: Great question.

 

0:35:35.5 CB: To just continually share the gospel.

 

0:35:38.9 RL: Yeah, man, Chris, thank you. And thank you for your dedication to the Lord for as long as you have been to students. Man, I got great respect for that. And Greg’s right, I love students, I mean so much I bought a Christian school this past year and started one, and it’s been refreshing to be with them again. When I go back to tell that story, that’s one of literally thousands of stories. I mean, literally. We baptized 10,137 people over the years. And each one is a story. So every one of those stories is motivation. But Greg shared something and we can talk about those who come to Christ. Those are the miracles. That’s why we do it. But I think of Donnell Lee Peter, who I was asked to do her wedding in 1994 by a man named Pete Voris, who’s still in our church. And he was just single guy working with her. Well, real quick, she was an atheist. And her fiance, he was an atheist. And I’m like, I don’t do atheist weddings, but I’ll agree to one thing, I’ll meet with him for one reason, as we all know.

 

0:36:53.9 RL: So they come in my office and I led ’em both to Christ that day. They both came to know Christ as their savior. Now I, in my back of my mind, I’m thinking, yeah, they just came to know Christ so I do their wedding. But it was such a transformation. They stayed in our church for 18 years until they moved to Idaho. And Donnell Lee tells the same story Greg heard about Ritz Sullivan. She said, every week I hear you give the gospel. And I never tire of it. But she said, I was at a MOPS conference. There were 350 mothers there. And one of the ladies came up and said, “You go to Grace’s Church, right?” And she said, “Yeah.” She goes, “Well, then you’re probably an expert on giving the gospel. Would you go ahead and do that?” And Donnell Lee said, “I’m scared to death, but I’ll do it.”

 

0:37:38.5 RL: And this is her text to me, “Pastor Rick, I sounded exactly like you.” And I’m like, “Well, I hope not,” but I knew what she meant. What she meant was all of that Grace acrostic, all of those elements that are biblically given, were included in her talk. And she saw many women raise their hand to trust in Jesus. That’s the why every week. And when someone doesn’t come to know Christ, we don’t manufacture it. We don’t try and make it happen. I can’t remember a time that it has, I’m sure it has in the last 25 years or so. But this is what motivates me because I see our church and I see them literally worshiping God when the gospel’s being given. And I hear them in the foyer say, thank you. Thank you for preaching the gospel. Thank you for having a church that makes salvation predominant. So those are all the whys. I mean, there’s many more, but that one story is one of literally thousands.

 

0:38:41.1 CB: Yeah. I remember we had this youth event, this I don’t even remember what it was, but we are very pointed to give a clear gospel. And we do it for a lot of reasons, you know, and one of the reasons is for me, I’m reminded of my need for this gospel.

 

0:38:58.2 RL: Amen. That’s right.

 

0:39:00.1 RL: That we never outgrow it.

 

0:39:00.2 RL: That’s right.

 

0:39:01.5 CB: And, but this particular time everything was over and we’d cleaned up and this student was hanging around. And this was many, many years ago. And my wife was giving this student a ride home, this girl. And she said, I want you to pray for me. And I was like, okay. And she said, I’m gonna go in here and I’m gonna tell my dad about Jesus.

 

0:39:24.0 RL: Wow.

 

0:39:25.5 CB: And so she went in and shared the gospel with her father, and she said, I want you to go to church with me. And she brought him to church the next week. And then as soon as the early service was over, she said, all right, now you go to Sunday school and send him to Sunday school. Well, you fast forward till today for about the last seven or eight years, he’s been one of our best volunteers.

 

0:39:47.1 RL: Oh, love that.

 

0:39:48.7 CB: And so we need to remind these students of the influence and the power that they carry.

 

0:39:54.8 RL: Yes.

 

0:39:56.1 CB: Not just with their friends, but in their homes, on their teens, in their schools…

 

0:40:01.0 RL: Yes.

 

0:40:01.1 CB: Just everywhere they go, they carry this influence. And so I loved when you said there’s an expectation. I love that word, expectation for everyone to follow up. And I’m gonna add even to share the gospel. You know? He says, go and make this [0:40:16.3] ____. He didn’t really say, go bring ’em to church, he says, go and share the gospel. And my wife, she says, if you give somebody Jesus, they’ll find a good church.

 

0:40:27.1 RL: Oh. So good. Well, and you know, Chris, you’re reminding me of something too, that everything obviously flows from the crux of the gospel, right? From Genesis 3:15 on is the salvation through the sacrifice of Christ. When pastors and youth pastors say, well, I’m all about discipleship, right? Sometimes that becomes an excuse not to preach the gospel because it’s really easy to go to breakfast or coffee with a believer and just talk about the Bible. But what is being deep? What is actually teaching the word of God? According to James and according to the scripture, it’s when you’re a doer of the word, not a hearer only. So depth in preaching isn’t about how great I exegete or parse the Greek or know the Hebrew. It’s about whether or not when I communicate to my students or my congregation that God’s placed me in, are they now able to apply what they’ve learned and go and live it? And you’ll find, yeah.

 

0:41:27.2 GS: Just to jump in, I was, two weeks ago, I was doing a chapel down at Dallas Seminary.

 

0:41:32.8 RL: Yeah. That’s right.

 

0:41:33.1 GS: And I said, are you guys here just to learn how to exegete the text or execute the great commission?

 

0:41:38.8 RL: Oh, that’s good.

 

0:41:39.8 GS: You know? And yeah.

 

0:41:40.6 RL: It’s really good.

 

0:41:40.9 GS: Learn how to exegete the text, but if you guys aren’t executing the great commission, what good is all this? And I had the student body president came up afterward. He goes, “Man, we’re doing this. I’m gonna start picking students out and sharing the gospel and hitting the streets.”

 

0:41:55.2 RL: Oh, that’s awesome.

 

0:41:56.1 GS: Because when you activate what you learn from scripture now everything becomes exciting. And when somebody sees a person, a student, or an adult, they see somebody that they’ve led to Christ, there’s not a class you can take them through that’ll give them more excitement.

 

0:42:14.7 RL: Right.

 

0:42:14.8 GS: It’s changed their lives, they’ve experienced that…

 

0:42:16.2 RL: Well, you don’t… You know what, Chris? We don’t know something until we can teach it, and we don’t understand something until we can do it or execute it. And I think…

 

0:42:25.4 GS: There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, what I hear I forget, what I teach I remember, what I do I understand.

 

0:42:33.1 RL: Understand. Exactly.

 

0:42:33.7 GS: And that activation, and Chris, you’ve seen that with your students, ’cause you guys gonna lead the causers and Dare 2 Share live and you…

 

0:42:42.2 CB: Yeah.

 

0:42:42.3 RL: So good.

 

0:42:42.8 GS: Go share a day and you mobilize your students for action, and that transforms everything.

 

0:42:47.7 CB: Yeah.

 

0:42:48.3 RL: Yep.

 

0:42:48.8 CB: And absolutely. And so each time you see the students gain confidence in what they’re doing and what they’re sharing, and so they get even more bold. Just a couple of weeks ago, this girl who’s new to our youth group text us, me and my wife, and she said, “I did it. For the very first time today, I prayed with somebody and it was my teacher.”

 

0:43:12.7 RL: Oh, wow.

 

0:43:13.5 CB: And so now… Yeah, right. She’s like, “My teacher’s been struggling, and I just,” she said, “I didn’t do it the first day, but I couldn’t sleep all night long. And so today, when I went in, that was the first thing I did.”

 

0:43:27.3 RL: Wow.

 

0:43:27.9 CB: And so you start to see that become contagious.

 

0:43:31.6 RL: Yes.

 

0:43:33.7 CB: And you see like we got a guy that helps us with youth who is the tennis coach. And now the whole tennis team is coming to youth grouping.

 

0:43:42.1 RL: Oh wow.

 

0:43:42.5 CB: And starting to come to church and stuff. And so you’re seeing these things start to become gospel advancing. And it’s not just a gospel advancing youth group, there’s a gospel advancing tennis team.

 

0:43:51.3 RL: That’s great.

 

0:43:52.2 CB: And I love that. And you’re starting to see these tennis players lead other students who they’re around. Here in our youth group, we’re small, Eastern Kentucky kind of town, but we have seven different schools that come to our youth group.

 

0:44:06.0 RL: Wow.

 

0:44:06.5 CB: And they’re fierce competitors on the court or the field or the rink or whatever they’re doing, but yet, whenever they come together, they’re under one banner. And it’s so fun that after the football game, they go eat together, or the volleyball game, they hug each other. And that’s an example of just Christ’s grace lived out because they’re taught that to win at all costs. And they’re like, we’re going to, but we’re gonna win souls for Jesus.

 

0:44:35.7 RL: Hey, Chris, could I ask you a question?

 

0:44:38.4 CB: Yeah.

 

0:44:39.6 RL: When you look at your youth group today, since you’ve become gospelised, since you become gospel advancing, does it look a lot less traditional than it used to? And a lot more are baby believers and a lot more of those challenges today? And what’s that like?

 

0:44:56.9 CB: Oh, absolutely. I tell people we’re a mess, but we’re God’s mess.

 

0:45:01.3 RL: That’s right.

 

[laughter]

 

0:45:04.1 CB: And you know, we get a lot of questions from students just about how do I, and then fill in the blank, like even how do I learn more? How do I pray better? How do I become, and it comes back to a word that we really live around. And that’s being intentional. And even in sharing the gospel, we have to be intentional.

 

0:45:25.6 RL: Yes.

 

0:45:26.6 CB: And like if I’m with students and we’re at a restaurant, like this has happened before, and we’d be at a restaurant and they’re like, “What are you guys doing here?” You know? “Well, we’re part of this youth group and stuff.” And then I say, “Do you know who Jesus is?” And they’re like, “Yeah, I used to go to church.” And I say, “Oh.” You know? And we start this gospel conversation and I’ll say, “Here’s my friend, Andrew. He wants to tell you about Jesus.” And I set them up to share the gospel, and to put them into play because I want them to feel that growth and that excitement and…

 

0:46:00.3 RL: That’s so wise.

 

0:46:00.4 CB: That encouragement.

 

0:46:01.0 RL: So wise.

 

0:46:02.6 CB: Well, and also to know that I believe in them, that they have a clear understanding.

 

0:46:04.3 RL: Well, that’s what happened to us. We were putting those situations and teachers and older mentors said, “Hey, this is Rick. Go ahead, and he wants to tell you something.” And then Greg and I started doing that with our students, and he’s so wise.

 

0:46:19.5 GS: What’s crazy about it is it leads to all those theological conversations you wanna have.

 

0:46:25.5 RL: Yeah.

 

0:46:26.1 GS: But your kids are bringing ’em up. Like why do we believe in the Trinity? Because Jews don’t, and I have a Jewish friend I was sharing Christ with, or how do we know, how can we trust the Bible? All those questions get answered in the midst of evangelism and discipleship.

 

0:46:39.7 RL: We used to say the greatest form of discipleship is evangelism.

 

0:46:43.4 GS: Yeah.

 

0:46:43.8 RL: And we still live that. When you are evangelizing, what Greg said is absolute fact. You will go deeper into the word of God, deeper in your reading, in your studies, you’ll talk to your pastors. You’ll go to small group because you wanna be able to know the truth. You wanna get closer.

 

0:47:00.9 GS: Not questions.org.

 

0:47:01.5 RL: Yeah, exactly. And I think of this, our youth group is a mess too. You know, we always say your mess is your message, you know? That your greatest hurt becomes your deepest ministry. In Brooklyn, our student pastor and our student staff, they’ll get students that’ll come over from our new Christian school or from another youth group, and if those students don’t have the vision of reaching the lost, they’re out of there. They’re like, I’m gonna go back to, there’s a big youth group in town that a lot of kids go to, and it’s just made up of believers. They have amazing worship and there’s nothing wrong with it. But we’ve had to have those, they have those conversations and say, listen, if you come here, you’re gonna see students whose lives are a mess, who need Jesus ’cause we’re all broken, but they got broken homes, they got drug addiction, they’ve got a parent in prison. Those are who we need to be reaching.

 

0:48:00.3 GS: But that’s the price tag for gospel advancement.

 

0:48:03.2 RL: That’s right.

 

0:48:07.1 GS: It’s like…

 

0:48:07.2 RL: It’s all that you needs.

 

0:48:07.1 GS: You’ll hear f-bombs in the foyer.

 

0:48:07.2 RL: Exactly.

 

0:48:09.3 GS: God’s so blinking awesome. You’re like. Oh yes, but no.

 

0:48:10.0 RL: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.

 

0:48:10.2 GS: But wait. You know? But it’s exciting. It’s got that new believer smell that excitement. I hate to draw this. We have to kind of wrap this up. Any final comment, Chris?

 

0:48:22.1 CB: You know, I’m just thinking about exactly that, man. How you find yourself in these precarious situations and people even questioning why do you even do this? Look at ’em. And I’m like, right. Watch ’em, and you’re gonna want exactly that. I think about Rick Lawrence and he said one time, taste and see what Jesus is saying, you know, what God’s saying is this is an appetizer, and if you get just a sample, you’re gonna want the whole thing.

 

0:48:47.5 RL: Amen.

 

0:48:48.2 GS: Amen.

 

0:48:48.9 RL: Rick, 60 seconds look in the camera and tell any pastor, make your best case. Any pastor, youth pastor listening right now to give the gospel an invitation every week.

 

0:49:00.9 RL: My friend, I know as a pastor how hard it is. I know how hard it is. It’s the most demanding job, I’m convinced, in the world, and I know that every week you’re working hard to develop messages. You’re working hard to lead your staff, your family’s sacrificing. You may be feeling burned out. Maybe you’re wondering at times why you’re doing this. Preach the gospel. If you share the gospel and you see lives changed, it will energize your church. It will energize your life. It’ll energize your family, your marriage. You cannot measure how much impact it will make, and more importantly, you’re now the conduit for God saving somebody from hell and placing them as Ephesians 1 says, “In him for eternity.” So believe me when I say that preaching the gospel will make your message stronger and the impact deeper and your life sweeter.

 

0:50:01.8 GS: Wow. Drop the mic. You have the gospel. Chris, thank you so much for being a part of this, Rick.

 

0:50:07.8 CB: Thanks, man.

 

0:50:10.2 GS: How would anybody that wants to know more about you, what’s… Is it Instagram, is it Facebook?

 

0:50:17.4 RL: Yeah, GraceChurchco.com. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok. I’m the Peloton pastor. I’m also on, somebody in my church has created something called the Jesus TikTok and they’ve used my edits from my sermon. You can reach out to us. I would love if you’re a pastor and you need some encouragement, you need some help, regardless of my schedule, I’ll set things aside to help you and to encourage you. I won’t have all the time in the world, I’d love to meet with you every week, but I’ll definitely have a moment to just encourage and pray for you and answer any of these questions that maybe you need unpacked or others. So just know this, I’m praying for you, and as a pastor now for 38-plus years, youth pastor, student pastor, worship pastor, and everything in between, I know how hard it can be and I want you to thrive, and I want your marriage to be healthy and your family to be healthy, and that’s what God wants. So let us help. Okay?

 

0:51:26.3 GS: Awesome. Website for Grace Church. Grace Church…

 

0:51:29.7 RL: GraceChurchco.com.

 

0:51:31.5 GS: GraceChurchco.com. I encourage you, if you’re wondering, like how do I do this? How do I tie in any subject to the gospel? Drop in, listen to a couple of sermons, listen for the salvation segue, and then watch how Rick or whoever’s preaching that gives the gospel…

 

0:51:47.8 RL: Absolutely.

 

0:51:47.9 GS: So, Chris, thank you so much. Rick…

 

0:51:50.2 RL: Thanks Chris.

 

0:51:50.7 GS: Buddy?

 

0:51:51.3 CB: Thank you guys.

 

0:51:52.5 GS: Thanks for being a part of this.

 

0:51:52.6 RL: Thanks brother. Love you, buddy.

 

0:51:53.1 GS: And thank you for tuning in. Hopefully you’ve not been turning in to sleep.

 

[laughter]

 

0:51:58.5 GS: Tuning in, and remember that a thriving youth ministry is a gospel advancing one.

 

0:52:02.6 RL: Amen.