Ron Luce was the legendary leader of Teen Mania. For over thirty years he has done stadium events around the world and taken thousands of teenagers on mission trips. He is driven with a passion to reach the Next Generation for Jesus. Today you will hear about his vision for Project 13 and for Jesus Global Youth Day. He also gives me advice as a parent for how to raise my teenager to love Jesus.
Learn more about Ron Luce: https://generationnext.me/
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:00):
Welcome to the Evangelism Podcast. I’m Daniel King and I’m excited about telling people about Jesus. Today we have a very special guest. He is a legend Ron Lu. For over 30 years, you have been passionate about reaching young people for Jesus. Thank you for joining me on the Evangelism Podcast.
Ron Luce (00:19):
Sure. It’s great to be with you, Daniel.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:21):
Well, let’s start at the beginning. How did you first get this passion from God for reaching the next generation?
Ron Luce (00:29):
Well, there’s nothing I asked for. I just got on fire for Jesus when I was 16. And even in my years right after that, at o u I started reaching out to young people. Cause I figured if God could get to me, I was the worst rascal of the bunch he could get to anybody. So I started in youth ministry while I was a student. And then right after I graduated from oru. My wife and I started in this ministry called Team Mania, which we developed a number of facets. One of them was acquired the fire conferences. And so by the grace of God, he let us stand in front of a lot of young people and, and our whole heart was let’s present the gospel in a fresh way. In maybe a way, even if you’ve been in church your whole life, that you’ve never understood it before.
And if you’ve never been in church a way that you’ve never, it’s never dawned on you. And then invite them to go on the, on a mission trip because we figured if we can get ’em for a weekend at a conference, that’s great, but if we can get ’em for two weeks, for a month on a mission field, we’ll wreck ’em forever in a good way. You know, we’ll wreck ’em for the American Dream and all that. So we took thousands of young people on mission trips over the years, thousands of thousands to some 80 different countries teaching them to share their faith and have quiet time and to, you know, all the, you know, discipleship kinds of things. And then they teach ’em to go back home and go change the world. So
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (01:51):
Yeah, team Mania had such a tremendous impact on so many young people. And I remember when I was about 14 or 15 years old, I lived in El Paso, Texas and you were doing acquire the Fire, I think here in Albuquerque. And so I was on a youth bus. We drove up here. There are thousands of people there and you just challenged us to live for God, and you gave an altar call and I was already saved. I grew up in a Christian home and my parents were missionaries, but I wanted to make double sure that I was going to heaven. And so I responded to that. Yeah. even as a, as a young person and just that, that challenge to, to give your whole life for God.
Ron Luce (02:36):
Well, and you know, we were, we’ve ki we kind of got branded as the Oh, you’re the radical guys. Cuz we would challenge people like read through the Bible in a whole year, like the whole Bible in a year kind of a thing. Or break up with your girlfriend or boyfriend and date God for a year. Like radical stuff. And other youth ministries are like, yeah, you don’t need to be that ra we want everybody to go on a mission trip, even if you’re not called full-time, just go one time. And, but think that’s how Jesus was. You know, he didn’t water anything down. He like, like, eat my flesh, drink my blood, or you have no part of me. And then people started leaving, he goes, anybody else wanna leave? Kind of thing. And so there, there is something to, I think the, what we found over the years is the more radical, the more you ask for, the more of their heart and their life they’ll give to Christ.
You know? And so if you ask for less, that’s what you’ll get. And you end up wa wondering why they respect their football coach more than they respect the youth pastor. Well, the football coach demands more out of them, you know, kind of a thing. You’re going to, you’re gonna sweat bullets, you’re gonna sweat blood, you’re gonna, you know, you’re gonna, you’re gonna, you know, in all of this Eat nails. And then the in mu usually in the youth ministry where they’re like begging people to come back. Coach doesn’t beg people to come back. If you don’t come, you’re off the team kind of a thing. So anyways we just, we found that like even the devotionals that we did, you know, to help young people grow in their faith, the tougher they were, the better kids came back and go, this changed my life, this changed my life. But it was like a whole bunch of memory, scripture, memory and things like that. So.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:02):
And so now your ministry is called Generation Next. Yep. And you’re really still focused on reaching the next generation. Right. How have things changed since you started? It seems like in some ways the, the young people today are dealing with even greater challenges than they were 30 years ago.
Ron Luce (04:21):
Well, there’s a lot of challenges and you don’t have to look very far to find them with technology and social media and pornography and all kinds of things. However if you look at data still, most people come to Christ before they’re 20. You know, the, and the closer you can get to 13 years old, the, the, the more likely, you know, we’ve had this, this thought in kind of youth ministry culture that if you get the cool football players saved at 1617, then he’ll influence the youngers. Well, we keep trying, but we don’t reach those guys that are not influencing. And so, but the data shows that the closer you get to 13, the more likely they are to come to Christ. So one thing that’s really beautiful that hasn’t changed is that sort of, that Bar Mitzvah age 12, 13, 14, the openness to the gospel, the openness to Christ.
And so in fact, one of the things we learned as I, I spent several years studying churches around the world, Lord of the most remarkable at reaching and discipling the young generation. And one of the things that I found they have in common is, I found ’em mostly outside of America, was that they really focus on reaching them when they’re 12 to 14, like the, the sweet spot, reach ’em then, and then put ’em on a pathway of growth, of radical growth in their faith for the next seven years. So that they end up at 20, 21 years old. Like they want ’em like you would hope that they would turn out lot, lot like just get ’em saved and hope for the best or get ’em saved and just bring ’em to church. But they actually put them in a rigorous, we call it deep dive disciple making, like they’re really growing intensely and they’re helping other people grow.
So we call it Project 13 and helping churches to adopt these best practices that we found. Because, you know, we, I love big events. I’ve stood in front of millions of kids, but big events are not enough. You have to have a process that the church falls in love with because it’s a life giving process that takes a new follower of Christ in terms of them into a solid believer that’s then multiplying their faith. Most churches kind of would ascent to that. Like yeah, they’ll nod their head, but they don’t know how to, so this is what we learned from these churches, how to, and now we’re just trying to make it simple for churches to adopt it.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:27):
Okay. So let me ask you a question as a parent, last week, my son Caleb turned 13 and he’s already been acting congratulations, like a teenager for about six months. Yeah. And now he is a teenager. And so I’ve just been praying, God give me wisdom on how to raise this young man to love God. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> what advice would you give me as a parent to, to raise this 13 year old to be close to
Ron Luce (06:56):
First of all, I would encourage you to start right now a, a a a set of like a, a set of practices or a, a habit or almost fo like spiritual folklore where say, Hey, through your teen years, I want to see you become a better follower of Jesus. So at 13 we’re gonna do this, and at 14 we’re gonna do this. At 15 we’re gonna do this. Part of what that can be is taking discipleship tools and going through them together. So you don’t have to sit there, I’m so wise I’ll teach you. But like, hey, let’s go through this book together and then talk about it once a week. What’s the Lord teaching you? What do the Lord speak to your heart? So some of the tools we develop to help churches do this, and parents are using ’em as well, is like there’s a daily quiet time thing.
So they’ll write stuff down, what does this first mean to you? And then at the end of the week, there’s questions that you can discuss some questions. So what that does is it makes it makes first of all use a parent a sign of respect to your young person. Like, Hey, what did the Lord speak to you? What do you think that meant? You know, and you also get ’em in habit, like of having quiet times and talking about it, having quiet times, applying the scripture and talking about it. So if you do it all through their 13 year, and then they’re 14th year and they’re 15, this is part of what we
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (08:13):
Do. It’s by the time they’re 18, they’re, they’ve love
Ron Luce (08:15):
Jesus. All the fundamentals. They’re don’t just love Jesus, but they’ve developed character in their life and like they’re, they’re hardcore. You’ve memorized scriptures together, you did all, you’ve kind of been on a journey together. So that’s what I really encourage all parents take your kids on a journey with you.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (08:30):
That’s awesome. I’ll definitely do that. You also have the Jesus Global Youth Day. Tell me about that.
Ron Luce (08:38):
Well, we did our first one a couple years ago, we had about 50,000 young people come from 30 different nations. And it’s sort of a it was a global event that we signed Mal Casta to like a hundred thousand churches around the world and where they were gathering young people. And it was a kind of a, a stake in the let’s, let’s let a generation stand up for Christ and let the world see. But it also is a way to make the church aware the global church, like we need to, we, the church need to focus on young people and and let them know they’re important. Let them know they’re valued. And help pastors then have tools to go back to their nation, to their city, to their town and reach and disciple the young generation.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (09:21):
What do you see happening in this generation? Are there signs of hope?
Ron Luce (09:28):
Well, of course in the last few weeks we’ve seen this thing at Asbury and some other schools, and I think that can be a sign of hope a beginning of something. I would just encourage people you know, for a long time what we’ve heard is for a strategy reaching the next generation, just pray for another Jesus movement, Jesus revolution. Which is really not a strategy. I mean, it’s, it’s great that it looks like it may be starting to happen, but sometimes people look back at the Jesus movement back in the sixties and seventies and they see it with rose colored glasses. There were a lot of problems too, like a lot of churches didn’t want those young people and a lot of people got saved that didn’t get discipled. So this is the chance for us as a church to go, okay, if this is really the Lord breathing on a generation, let’s lean in and do our part. They’re coming to Christ. Let’s en welcome them in our church. Let’s make sure they’re growing in their faith. They’ve had an encounter with Christ, but an encounter is not enough. They have to have repeated encounters, but they have to grow deep in their faith. And so the discipleship side of this thing, really helping them grow deep in their faith is essential. And so that we don’t have some of the catastrophes that did happen in the Jesus movement in the sixties and seventies.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (10:38):
I have so much respect for you and just honor you for just giving your life for so many years, for, for young people, if someone’s listening and they want to connect with you and take advantage of your, your resource, I know you’ve written a bunch of books, you have a lot of material. What’s the best way for them to find out more about
Ron Luce (10:56):
You think? You just go to GenerationNext.me, me and you can find out all everything you’d want to know about our resources, discipleship Tools, project 13, Global Youth Day, all kinds of things.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (11:08):
Well, thank you so much.
Ron Luce (11:11):
Keep up the good work takes all of us doing our part
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (11:13):
Right. Amen. Thank you.