Two years ago when we kicked off our first Dare 2 Share LIVE event, we had no idea if it would work. Nobody had ever attempted a live, coast-to-coast youth ministry event designed to mobilize a generation for the Gospel.
The movie Rocky captures the spirit of a lone fighter with the odds stacked against him who prevails in the end. What's interesting about this film is that the same caliber of courage depicted by Rocky is what it took to actually make the movie.
Someone once defined insanity as "doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results." Isn't this what typical youth ministry is doing? We have the same basic strategies as we did 30 years ago and we are getting the same basic results (maybe even less!)
It's easy to see teens as the "necessary evil" that you, as a pastor have to put up with when leading your church. After all, they are often the ones texting, SnapChatting or just plain old chatting during your sermon. They roll their eyes when you make your best jokes and don't at all look interested in your most insightful sermon points.
It's easy to write teenagers off...but don't.
Throughout history teenagers have been unleashed as primary change agents in almost every significant spiritual awakening. From the early church (the disciples were most likely teens when they began to follow Jesus) to St Patrick and his young posse of preachers to the Reformation to the Great Welsh Revival to the Great Awakening, teenagers have played a central role to advancing the kingdom of God and reviving the church in the process.
Jonathan Edwards, the chief historian of the Great Awakening and preacher of the awe-inspiring "Sinners in the hands of an Angry God" wrote these words about this unparalleled spiritual movement, "the revival has been chiefly amongst the young."
These hormone-filled young people who take risks, break rules and drive us crazy at times can be used by God to accelerate his kingdom forward in fresh and exciting ways. And when this movement comes alive in your church your congregation will never be the same!
I'm tired of all the school violence and I'm sure you are too
My heart drops every time I hear about another school shooting. Twenty years ago my heart dropped when the news came about the Columbine High School massacre.
I was in a room with six youth leaders promoting Dare 2 Share's "When all hell breaks loose..." conference on spiritual warfare and evangelism. That's when the pastor of the church we were meeting at interrupted our small gathering and informed us, "All hell has broken loose at Columbine High School. You may all want to stop and pray."
Just 30 minutes across Denver all hell was breaking loose as two teen killers walked into Columbine High School and reeked unholy havoc in the cafeteria, classrooms, hallway and library. 13 lives were lost that day before the shooters turned the guns on themselves.
Last week all hell broke loose again in the Denver area as two armed teenagers entered the STEM School in Highlands Ranch (7.5 miles away from Columbine.) These two hate-filled young people injured 8 teenagers and killed one before they were finally stopped.
When school violence like this erupts so do all of the proposed solutions. Some chant "More gun control!" and others "Arm the teachers!" But neither of these solutions will ultimately work in my opinion. There are almost 400 million guns in the hands of civilians in the United States.
It's already out of control.
And arming teachers could work in some situations but backfire in others.