Greg Stier: Gospelizing Youth Ministry—Part 1

The key to discipling teens is teaching them to share their faith.

Greg Stier is passionate about the gospel. As pastor and church planter, he discipled adults by equipping them to share the gospel. But it’s youth that God has called Stier to specifically. As the founder and president of Dare 2 Share Ministries, he leads a team that has equipped more than a million teenagers and youth over the last two decades to relationally share their faith.

Late last year, Stier and the Dare 2 Share team released their newest evangelism project, a polished and intuitive app called Life in 6 Words. It aims to equip a tech-centric young generation (and adults, too) to share the good news with their friends while simultaneously strengthening their relationship with Christ. In Part 1 of our interview with Stier, he talks about the source of his interest in evangelism and youth, and how the path to discipling teens lies in their ability to share the gospel with their friends.

You have a heart and passion for sharing the gospel and discipling new believers, especially youth. What is the origin of that?

I was raised in a very poor, urban, violent family in the inner city. I never knew my biological father. My five uncles were street fighters and bodybuilders who were in and out of jail. My mom was the only girl in the group, and she fought, too.

Then a preacher called Yankee who spoke with a Southern accent planted a church in the Denver suburbs. On a dare, he reached out to the city and shared the gospel with my toughest uncle. Uncle Jack had once spent time in prison for the criminally insane for choking unconscious two cops who were trying to arrest him on assault charges. He was a tough guy. But when Yankee knocked on his door and explained the gospel to him, it totally revolutionized Uncle Jack’s life.

One by one, my family members came to Christ. I started going to Yankee’s youth group. He believed the fastest way to reach the city was through the youth, so he trained and equipped us to share the gospel.

Evangelism changed the trajectory of your entire life.

It fundamentally changed everything in my family and in my life. As an older elementary student and as a teenager, I knew I had a heavenly Father. I had a mission: to make and multiply disciples. And I was equipped. I was taken seriously by this youth group. We all were. I got serious about evangelism because somebody believed that we could make a difference as teenagers. We didn’t have to wait until we were adults. That’s why I’m super passionate about equipping young people to share the gospel. Teenagers come to Christ quicker and spread the gospel further and faster than adults. The average teen has 425 online and face-to-face friends. When they share their faith, they own their faith. And when they own their faith, they grow in their faith and they are more likely to keep their faith.

From Outreach Magazine  The Right Kind of Excellence

Talk about how you disciple teens by equipping them to evangelize.

When you look at the way Jesus discipled his followers, it was not in a classroom. It was on mission. It was a three-and-a-half-year mission trip separated by things along the way. I’m convinced most of his disciples were teenagers when they began to follow Christ. When you look at Matthew 17:24–27, Peter, Jesus and the disciples travel to Capernaum, but only Peter and Jesus pay the temple tax, although all the disciples are there. You cross-reference that with Exodus 30:14, which says that the temple tax (which was originally the tabernacle tax) was only for those at least 20 years old. If I’m reading that right, Jesus was a youth leader, with one adult sponsor, one really rotten kid named Judas, and hardly anything in the ministry budget. How did he disciple? He connected evangelism and discipleship. Follow me and I will make you fishers of people. I’m going to mobilize you for the gospel. I think the Western mindset is to do the opposite. We make evangelism the 401 class, but believers are already institutionalized by the time they get there. We need to make it the 101 class, because the first thing a new believer wants to do is tell somebody.

What does it look like when teens embrace evangelism?

When a teen shares their faith with their friends, they’re putting something precious on the line: their social equity. Abraham was willing to put what mattered most to him—his son, Isaac—on the altar, and his faith was matured. Well, when teenagers put what means most to them—their social equity—on the altar, their faith and their actions work together, and their faith is matured. The call for discipleship that Jesus gives is to pick up the cross, die to yourself and follow him. That first death is not a physical death—it is a social death. It is the same social death that the disciples experienced when they followed Christ and were rejected by the Pharisees. When our kids are willing to share their faith and risk rejection, they’re picking up their cross, dying to themselves and following Christ. In the process of sharing their faith, they’re dependent on the Holy Spirit. They’re praying because they’re terrified. They’re studying God’s Word so they know what they’re going to say. They come back to fellowship with stories to share. They’re engaged in theological discussions and in all these things we want them to be engaged in, but if we weren’t on mission, they wouldn’t be interested. I think we’ve got to flip it. We call it “gospelizing” your youth ministry, and that is literally leading with mission and filling in the blanks as you go.

In Part 2 of the interview, Greg Stier explains how leaders can play a role in galvanizing stagnant youth ministries and shares details of Dare 2 Share’s new evangelism app, Life in 6 Words. Read more at OutreachMagazine.com/Greg-Stier.