There’s a storm brewing.
Depression, teen suicide, substance abuse, juveniles charged with violent crimes. The headlines hit like gut punches.
“There’s no question our young people are hurting. They desperately need hope,” says Greg Stier, founder of Dare 2 Share, a ministry that equips students and youth pastors to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ.
“This has been called the first post-Christian generation, Stier notes. “And the numbers seem to back that up. More young people claim to be agnostic, atheist or simply unaffiliated with any faith than at any time in the history of our nation,” he says.
A Pinnacle Moment
But Stier isn’t panicking. In fact, he sees this as a pinnacle moment of opportunity for more young people to come to know the real hope of Jesus than ever before. They may not be religious, but in Stier’s eyes, today’s middle and high school-aged students have all the characteristics to create a perfect storm of revival.
“Our young people are passionate about making the world a better place. We see them getting behind worthy causes, such as fighting poverty and homelessness. They crave community,” Stier notes. “The kids I talk with want to be part of a posse or tribe.”
Stier is especially encouraged that today’s youth are open to spiritual conversations. He says they are smart and asking some big questions about their purpose here. And that excites him because he sees it as the perfect opportunity to have life-changing, Gospel-centered conversations.
“The Gospel … offers everything young people are seeking,” Stier says. “It’s a beautiful story that just happens to be true.”
He Understands Messy
This generation lives in a world with blurry lines, questionable lifestyles, confusing debates from wildly differing viewpoints. Stier says teenagers recognize that life is just plain messy, and they have questions for church youth leaders. But Stier has a ready answer for their questions.
“Jesus understands messy. If church youth leaders won’t answer the hard questions, talk about the tough issues with these kids — abortion, LGBTQ issues, pre-marital sex — they are going to look for answers somewhere else,” Stier says. And it’s our job as the church to show them what the Bible says about these things.”
Tsunami of Busyness
When he refers to the church, Stier isn’t talking about a building. He’s talking about people — church leaders, Sunday school teachers, youth pastors — who shoulder the responsibility of reaching this generation in ways they understand. Having conversations that help them understand the Gospel and encouraging them to share it with their friends. The very heart of Dare 2 Share’s mission is to equip youth pastors and students to have these conversations in a frontline, visceral way.
Stier says youth pastors are a key link. They communicate directly with students and lead relationally. But youth minister burnout is a major issue, with many succumbing to overwhelming responsibility by the end of their second year in ministry.
“They’re consumed in a tsunami of busyness: Sunday night, Wednesday night activities, parent meetings, emergency counseling sessions, regular staff meetings on top of camps and student events,” Stier, who has been in ministry for 30 years, relates. Sometimes youth ministers feel completely unprepared for it all.
Tyree Sterling, a youth leader in the D.C. area agrees.
“I love working with young people, especially urban students. I can relate to their struggles, having made some bad decisions before getting back on track and eventually going into youth ministry,” Sterling says. “But all my ministry was on the job. I wasn’t confident or equipped.”
Reigniting a Fire
The responsibility staggering, and Sterling is thankful he stumbled on a valuable resource: Dare 2 Share.
“I was underpaid, overworked and overwhelmed when I happened to find Dare 2 Share’s online resources for youth leaders. It was a game-changer,” Sterling says. “I learned more about how to pray, how to teach kids to share their faith than I had in years working in ministry.”
Since finding the website, Sterling has attended a Dare 2 Share conference with his students, has become a certified trainer in the Dare 2 Share Gospel Advancing Ministry, and started an anti-bullying ministry that he takes into schools nationwide.
“That burning ember, the passion I had for reaching students, went from being gospelized to institutionalized. But seeing students I work with falling in love with Jesus, turning their lives around and sharing that hope with their friends — that’s reignited a fire in my soul,” Sterling says.
How We Change the World
Michele Field uses Dare 2 Share Gospel Advancing resources with teens in Firestorm, the traveling drama ministry team she directs.
“Firestorm started as a homeschool class with a mission to take the stage by storm with a passion for Christ,” Field explains. “We typically put on dramas and musical skits on topics from purity and substance abuse to anti-bullying and suicide prevention. We tailor our shows to themes and needs of the communities and venues into which we’re invited,” she explains.
It quickly became clear that the drama students were from such a wide array of church backgrounds that Field needed tools to help them clearly articulate the Gospel. She discovered Dare 2 Share when she attended a conference in the D.C area back in 2011 with her two daughters, both of whom are involved with Firestorm — one is even the director.
“(The conference) was phenomenal,” Field states. The most useful takeaway for her team? Her students learned how they could share the Gospel using just six words. Field says her teens grabbed hold of that concept immediately.
“Before, these kids saw the Gospel as something that was taught from the pulpit, not something they owned as their own story. This is a tremendous turning point — when it becomes personal,” Field explains. “What an empowering moment for these kids to share about not just a savior, but their personal Savior with their own friends. That’s how we change lives. How we can change the world,” Field says.
Praying for a Perfect Storm
Dare 2 Share’s goal is to see students mobilized until every teen everywhere hears the Gospel from a friend.
“It can be overwhelming to think about what it will take to reach 26 million teens — not any one person, church or even denomination can reach them all. But if we work together we have a chance!” Stier concludes.
Dare 2 Share’s live national simulcast event was a huge success last year, and they will bring it back on Oct. 13, 2018. Tens of thousands of students and their youth pastors from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Puerto Rico will be encouraged and receive real, relatable tools for advancing the Gospel.
What can you do? Set your alarm for 10:13 each day and join the prayer force to pray for a perfect storm — one that brings renewal and revival to a generation desperate for hope.