2017 was the year of ultimate transition and transformation for Dare 2 Share. We stopped doing conferences (burnt the ships), doubled down on launching 130,000 Gospel Advancing Ministries around the world (building greenhouses), launched Dare 2 Share Live in 68 cities across America and hired our first ever Global Director of Outreach
..and, by God's grace (along with the hard work of a world class team), survived.
God is making something new of Dare 2 Share. Here's a glimpse into a few of these new things and how they can impact you and your youth ministry:
1. We have moved from doing tightly controlled events to launching strategically scalable movements.
The Dare 2 Share conferences were renown for their to-the-minute, by-the-second, every-skit-and-movie-cue-and-sermon-point-nailed precision. Our goal was the best conference experience for every teenager in the auditorium or arena. Our producers and production team ran the conferences like a major Broadway production and pulled each one off with exactness and excellence.
Although we still do events (and seek to run them with precision and excellence) we have exchanged some of the control for the potential of scalability. For instance, Dare 2 Share Live (our live simulcast event on September 23rd, 2017) was not just Zane, Prop, me, Tenth Avenue North and the Skit Guys piped into 68 church auditoriums with a bunch of teens watching. No, we had local worship bands and emcees/trainers (whom we had pre-trained to train), leading teenagers in every auditorium. That way every satelite site felt like a live event...because it was! And the goal was not just 10,000 teenagers trained in 68 cities, it was 68 Gospel Advancing networks launched or re-energized in those communities!
Our goal with Dare 2 Share Live (coming up on October 13th, 2018) is 100 movements started in 100 cities! Our prayer is that, in years to come, we will be able to train hundreds of thousands of teenagers in hundreds of cities across the nation simultaneously! Talk about scalable! Dare 2 Share Live is just that!
But it's not just Dare 2 Share Live that is scalable. We have built Lead THE Cause, our Gospel Advancing youth leader trainings, our online digital training platform (coming soon), our training tools and all of our global efforts to be strategically scalable as well.
Saying "goodbye" to the Dare 2 Share conferences was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. But saying "hello" to a model that has the potential of reaching every teen everywhere is a deep joy and an overwhelming honor, not just for me, but for all of us at Dare 2 Share.
2. We have moved from just training "seed chuckers" to training "greenhouse builders" as well.
Sure, we still train teenagers to chuck Gospel seeds (and, by God's grace, always will!) But, over the last few years, we have discovered that if youth leaders don't know how to build greenhouses then, soon, the seed chuckers will stop chucking seeds.
Youth leaders must be trained to create a context where Gospel seeds germinate and grow. Youth leaders must be equipped to multiply disciples and disciplers! This is what Gospel Advancing is all about.
That's why we followed up Dare 2 Share Live with a four week webinar series for youth leaders on how to "Gospelize" their youth ministries. That's why we have early morning break out sessions for youth leaders during Lead THE Cause. That's why we launched gospeladvancing.org and the Gospel Advancing Ministry app. That's why I almost never take a speaking opportunity for teenagers unless it's accompanied by an opportunity to train youth leaders.
I don't want to just equip teenagers to share their faith. I want to train youth leaders to build Gospel Advancing ministries so that faith-sharing is a year-round habit, not just a once-a-year event.
3. We have moved from using a handful of speakers to unleashing an army of trainers.
For the last 12 years we have had two speakers + one at our conferences. We've had Zane Black and myself plus Propaganda or Derwin Gray or Jose Zayas or another. I've never opened it up for the latest flavor-of-the-month speaker. Instead, I've looked for preachers who get it and are willing to work with us on content, delivery and program.
For decades the Dare 2 Share conferences thrived with this as our primary strategy. But that time came to an end in 2017.
Now we have 55 Certified Trainers. Of those, we have 11 Master Trainers and 4 Master Communicators. Instead of getting into all the distinctions of what these titles mean all you need to know is this...Dare 2 Share has moved from a handful of speakers to a growing army of well-trained trainers who can inspire, equip or coach youth leaders to build Gospel Advancing youth ministries.
I don't want to die. But I do want to be able to die and still have the ministry impact of Dare 2 Share keep surging forward. That's why I didn't name this ministry after myself. That's why I'm investing more and more of my time into equipping key leaders who can energize more youth leaders to mobilize more teenagers to gospelize more of their classmates, teammates and friends.
4. We have moved from a national focus to a global obsession.
While our feet are firmly planted here in the United States our hands are open across the world. We have trained key global leaders (like Donovan in South Africa, Stefano in Italy, Livia and Lorenz in Switzerland, Callum in Australia, Gustavo in Puerto Rico and many more) to adapt and adopt the Dare 2 Share philosophy and training tools to reach their culture for Christ.
In 2017 we put our money where our heart was and hired our first time ever Global Director of Outreach. His name is Dr. Mark Andreson. He is, not only an expert on Global ministry, but a 12 year Dare 2 Share youth leader veteran! He has lived in three countries and has been training Dare 2 Share material around the world for years.
Our vision now is "every teen everywhere hearing the Gospel from a friend." There are one billion teenagers worldwide and we believe that there are enough churches (or soon will be) to mobilize enough teenagers to reach this exciting goal.
As Mark always reminds us "The United States is part of the globe." So, having this global obsession doesn't take away our focus on the US, but enhances it. As a matter of fact we have seen that by keeping our feet firmly planted in the US and our hands opened globally, we have been "forced" to equip country leaders to adapt and adopt our materials.
That's why we say we are "growing global" not "going global." That's why I'm not planning on jetting all over the world launching Dare 2 Shares in every country.
Instead, we are looking for leaders with the right DNA to inspire, equip, license and unleash. We are looking for core youth leaders in every country who can adapt and adopt our philosophy and tools through their own ministries so that every teen in their nation can be reached with the message and mission of Jesus!
5. We have moved from trying to do it all ourselves to becoming interdependent on key partnerships to make it happen.
I used to dream of stadiums full of teenagers that I've trained to share their faith. Now I dream of teams of key denominational and parachurch partners who are working together to energize churches to mobilize teenagers to Gospelize their world!
Instead of us trying to do it all ourselves, God has given us a "roundtable" approach. Sure, we polish the roundtable and steward it. But we are actively praying for and searching for the right ministry leaders to sit at this roundtable.
Instead of us sitting on the CEO end of a long conference table trying to dictate and control everything, we are bringing together key ministry partners who have a vested interest and passion toward seeing the vision of "every teen everywhere hearing the Gospel from a friend" accomplished. Each of these ministry partners bring outstanding resources, tools, strategies and ideas to make this vision happen!
This is one of the reasons I'm so thankful to God for my long-time ministry co-hort, Debbie Bresina (the President of Dare 2 Share!) She has shed blood, sweat and tears to bring all of these ministry leaders together for this divine cause and God has rewarded her efforts with massive momentum!
Yes, 2017 has been a year of massive change for Dare 2 Share. It's been exciting and, at times, nerve-wracking. But we KNOW that this is the direction that God has called us to go. That's why we have "the peace of God that surpasses all understanding" ruling in our hearts as we go on this exciting journey.
And we want you to come with us.
If you're a youth leader become a Gospel Advancing one. It's time to start building greenhouses as well as raising up seed chuckers.
If you're a teenager then congratulations on finishing this extremely long blog post. And start sharing your faith right away! Download the Dare 2 Share app to get trained to do just that!
2017 has been a massive year of change for Dare 2 Share. Pray with me that 2018 is a massive year of momentum toward the vision of reaching every teen everywhere with the hope of Jesus Christ!