4 Stars Out Of 5
Outbreak: Youth Book Review
June 6, 2012
Greg Stier is the executive director, president, and originator of Dare 2 Share Ministries International as of 1991. Stier has instructed over 30,000 Christian adolescents around North America in how to live out their faith in confidence and with boldness. In 1997 he was the guest speaker at the Youth for Christ's DC/LA events, and he revisited that speakership at Y2K the Fellowship of Christian Athletes forum. "Youth ministry became his full-time focus on April 20, 1999, due to the Columbine High School massacre." Stier has written such published works as â€˜You're Next!' and â€˜Dare 2 Share: A Guide to Sharing the Faith (Focus on the Family)' as well as several curricula on evangelism preparation. According to Stier, "[he doesn't] come from a church going_ religious family. His was a tough urban family filled with bodybuilding, tobacco chewing, and beer drinking thugs. He recounts how seeming through a lifetime (although not quite that long a time), his tough and thuggish family was led to Christ in one way or another. The impact that Jesus had on his extended family, that from the time he was 11 years of age, he just knew that he was going to be a preacher!" He and his wife Debbie have two children, and currently reside in the Denver area.
What if an outbreak was about all which was positive instead of filled with the usual negative connotations? What if the outbreak began with change toward a positive direction in the churches' youth groups; and entered into the local communities in which the churches exist? If the outbreak occurs in this manner; is it not possible that the world might become affected by the outbreak as well? This is the model presented by Steir; and he wants to see just such outbreaks as described above. He writes, "I can't think of better candidates to be courageous carriers than teenagers_ fear and trembling and the prerequisite for the ultimate extreme_ - sharing your faith."
While it is fair to say that Steir presents a colorful description of an outbreak among teens; he advertently does not present such appraisals for the unsaved within the same age group. He goes on to show that ministers must come to the realization that presenting the Gospel to today's culture is "when we arrive at the â€˜proof' that some [become a customized] to it, and others will reject it;" therefore we must not quit at the first indication of resistance. Much of the negative connotations of the gospel, he surmises, are the result of the consumerist culture in which we live. Societies at large have for all intent and purpose become a replacement for the church. The days are well past when the churches are considered a driving force of moral influence; therefore, what we experience today is an indifference exhibited by many in the church pews; and a general manipulation by the populist segments of society to the extent that the Ecclesia is viewed as impotent in the engagement of that society.
Although Stier gives a negative picture of bringing the gospel to the lost, he does give a plan for revival. He writes, "Throughout the history of revival and reasons behind it, God will inevitably raises up masses of teenage workers to spread His message." Many without religious upbringing or Scriptural knowledge would bring question to Stier's use of examples regarding revival and the like. Yet his examples do imply the means of how to cause an outbreak. "Increasing the Velocity of the Virus" gives seven "outbreak indicators" which provide examples from the Book of Acts on how to cause an outbreak of the virus. "Don't take your Antibiotics" gives many excuses for not sharing the gospel. At the end of the day, what it comes down to is that youth ministers must evangelize the unsaved, just as much as their students do. Evangelism is not an option; and the youth minister cannot expect their charges to witness if they themselves treat it as a non-essential. He writes, "When the pure message of God's grace is doctored in any way the results are less than optimal. Numerous gospel lectures are transferred with vagueness and confusion instead of with clarity and power."
He leaves this point and goes into the effects of legalism and Armenian theology; their disastrous effects; along with consideration of the refrain postulated by this group, that
[Y]our father has the right to leave you someday.' Grace is here seen to be the back room door left so that either the Father can leave you regardless the reason; and that eternal salvation remains in effect, so long as you do not sin against Him.
Stier goes on to note that in broken relationships abounding within modern culture; abusive and absentee fathers; as well as an escalation of reports of suicide among the young, the theology of the Armenians do not provide peace but rather more heartache. He further states that,
When we have communication contaminated with the â€˜Daddy reserves the right to leave strain, we take away the non-negotiable assurance of Eternal Life which is found in Scripture, which find its grounding in the Covenants of God Himself_ unconditional love.
Stier gives practical aspects for infecting postmodern teens with the age-old views of the gospel. He covers topics like the postmodern student, infectious invitations, the dead Christian, and putting it all together. It is obvious that Stier sees and understands how the teenage mind operates and works.
There are inconsistencies of which the youth pastor should be aware. Stier explains in detail:
Simple faith in Jesus Christ is the only pre-requisite in the whole book of John. It is nothing more and nothing less. Some people think that the way of salvation is to easy_ It is so easy that a child can do it, and it is so complex that the religious individual cannot swallow it.
Steir talks about a boy named Doug. What he does, says Steir, is that after his friends "preached about the person of Jesus Christ and the purpose He offers to those who follow Him_ he dedicated his life to follow Jesus and help keep others out of hell." In this instance, Steir does not differentiate whether the decision is for Salvation or to enter into discipleship; though according to the reading it is clear that the young man understood the Gospel as presented. When Doug evangelized a group of kids, he told them, "I hope you trust in Christ as your Savior!" Although some of what Stier writes at certain points is unclear concerning the gospel, most of what he writes is very clear and easy to follow.
Unfortunately, concerning Phil 1:6, he summarizes that, "the development of â€˜infection' begins at salvation and will not cease until the â€˜victim' is completely under Christ's control_ The gospel is efficient for it transforms everyone and everything it touches." He interprets correctly that Revelation 3:20 is often used wrongly in evangelism; yet he doesn't discuss Phil 3:20, which leads me to believe that as Christ instructed the Pharisees that "no one has gone into heaven, than the Son of Man who came down from Heaven" [Jn. 3:13], so here is instruction that it is from Heaven whence salvation comes, for "Salvation is of the LORD" [Cf. Jonah 2:9]. I do not believe this to be any small oversight, as it is critical in the understanding of exactly who Jesus Christ really is.
This is a well written book which should be very instructive for the youth pastor. The presentation is focused on the way youth think and act. The idea of youth ministry being a virus which youth "catch and spread" to other teens is a concept which should resonate with the teenage mind. The title of the book is the same title of a movie a few years old; yet he applies it to a plan which was set forth within the early church. To quote Steir, the outbreak, "spreads like an epidemic. It infected the general populace so quickly that no one was safe." With a few emendations of word choices and phraseology, this is indeed a unique way of viewing and considering how to do youth ministry.
Draper, Electra. "Rough Youth was a Path to Teen Ministry." The Denver Post. November 25, 2007. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_7550860 (accessed April 4, 2011).
Stier, Greg. "My Story." Greg Stier. April 3, 2006. http://www.gregstier.org/mystory/ (accessed April 4, 2011).
â€”. Outbreak: Creating a Contagious Youth Ministry through Viral Evangelism. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2006.