Teens today face a host of challenges that were unimaginable to past generations, especially as the culture now even calls into question what it means to be male or female. But one Colorado evangelist is not deterred and is empowering tens of thousands of them with the Gospel.
"Henry David Thoreau said that 'for every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, one strikes at the root,'" Greg Stier, founder of Dare 2 Share, told The Christian Post. "What I tell people is that it really is a sin issue, and we need to attack that and the only thing that can attack that, just as in our lives, is the Gospel of Christ."
"And so if I meet somebody who is transgender, I share the Gospel. I don't deal with the transgender issue" right then, he said.
Stier believes Christians oftentimes "do it backwards" by dealing with and trying to fix the issues in trying to "win our culture back." But it can't be done through "polemic debate or through politics," he stressed.
"The way we are going to win our culture back is we're going reach the next generation, and we're going to disciple the next generation, give them a renewed heart and renewed mind," he said. "And then, guess what? That will filter down into the moral fiber of our nation and it will filter into our politics."
And that's what Stier has been doing for the last 25 years through Dare 2 Share. Thus far, through training events and resources for youth ministers, Dare 2 Share has empowered over a million teens to be bold in their faith.
Stier, who resides in Denver, started the youth organization with the belief that teenagers are powerful and can change the world. They just need to be unleashed.
Stier was raised in a troubled home in a rough urban environment, never knew his biological father, and had an extremely dysfunctional family. But a preacher from the Denver suburbs reached out to one of his toughest uncles and after that his family "fell like dominoes" in coming to Christ. Stier got involved with the youth ministry led by this pastor who saw it as essential to raise up teenagers to share the Gospel.
"They believed that teens came to Christ quicker and shared the Gospel faster," he recalled, noting that even as a young teenager he felt equipped enough to navigate any Gospel question.
"And it wasn't because I was exceptional, it was because we were all equipped and trained and inspired by this pastor and our youth leaders to share the Gospel now."
That same vision and passion to evangelize would give birth to Dare 2 Share. Because he saw his local community transformed by the Gospel he dared to dream bigger, believing that this could happen all over the nation and the world.
On September 23, Dare 2 Share will host a simulcast event called Dare 2 Share LIVE and dozens of churches across the U.S. have already signed up to host local gatherings.
The day-long event will include local worship bands alongside recording artists Tenth Avenue North and rapper Propaganda.
In each city, teens will have outreach to do that day — including collecting food and sharing their faith with social media utilities — and will learn how to open discussion about their faith. Dare 2 Share LIVE will allow the organization to reach more teens in one day than they typically can in a whole year. They are aiming for 50,000 teens to begin at least 300,000 faith conversations, all while serving their communities in a practical way.
Already, Dare 2 Share LIVE is being saturated in prayer and Stier is asking as many people as possible to join in intercession "that God would strike the nation with revival on September 23." He has his clock set for 9:23 a.m. and 9:23 p.m. every day to pray.
"What I tell people is that we can't manufacture revival but we can put in the plumbing and ask God to turn on the faucet," he said.
Stier's efforts to raise up youth to minister has several precedents in American religious history.
He explained to CP that the First Great Awakening with George Whitefield and John Wesley, the Second Great Awakening with D.L. Moody, the YMCA, and The Salvation Army were all heavily comprised of young people.
In fact, young people being on the edge of great moves of God goes back even farther.
"If you look at Jesus, I'm convinced that most of his disciples were teenagers," Stier said.
In Matthew 17:24-27, Peter, Jesus, and his disciples all go on to Capernaum but only Peter and Jesus pay the temple tax.
"If you cross-reference that with Exodus 30:14, the temple tax was for those 20 years old and older. So if I'm reading that right, Jesus was a youth leader with one adult sponsor."
And once empowered by the Holy Spirit, that group of young people were unstoppable, he said, a theme he unpacks in his book Gospelize Your Youth Ministry.
When Stier speaks with postmodern teenagers who do not know Christ they find the Gospel intriguing, especially when it is framed as a relationship with God and not a dry religion; it is a love story of God taking our sin upon Himself in Jesus that we might know Him, he says.
And when people come to the Lord and the Holy Spirit begins to dwell in them, they are regenerated and He begins a process of transformation, Stier explained. Followers of Jesus have to allow time for that process to unfold.
Stier added that it is vitally important for evangelistic efforts to be coupled with discipleship and the best person to disciple a new Christian is the one who led him or her to Christ.
"The one that leads them to Christ is the one who grows them in Christ," he explained.
Yet he believes an even larger shift needs to take place.
"We've taken the onus of evangelism and discipleship from the people and we've put it on the professionals," he said.
"And the work of youth ministry is evangelism and disciple-making."
The Reformation transformed the world when the Word of God became more widely accessible and got into the hands of common people through the Gutenberg printing press, he said, and another reformation will occur when the work of God gets into the hands of His people.