Hi and welcome back! The self-serving pandering of toxic Christians will never, ever stop amusing me. A recent case in point: aspiring evangelist Greg Stier wrote a recent post on Christianity Today. It insists that today’s teens will totally for sure rescue Christianity from its decline. It’s such a hilarious example of a tryhard promoting himself that it becomes iconic. Today, let me show you one of the funniest examples of self-interest I’ve seen lately.
Naturally, Ed Stetzer’s Involved.
I wasn’t even halfway surprised to notice that today’s story begins with our old pal Ed Stetzer. This Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) made man has been on our radar for years. He’s been with the denomination from almost the beginning of his career. Somehow, despite having no real qualifications to do it, he talked LifeWay (the SBC’s printing and propaganda-creation division) into hiring him to lead their faux-research team.
That’s where Stetzer really made his entire reputation as a guy who totally understands kids today and totally knows how to do evangelism and turn Christianity’s decline around. Despite the SBC’s continuing decline and their continuing nose-dive in credibility particularly with younger adults, everyone there still thinks he’s the evangelism and numbers guy in the denomination.
He recently featured a guest post from fellow perennial evangelism failure Greg Stier. He’s featured this guy before in his space, notably for Stier’s last big teen evangelism blowout.
And hilariously, his guest knows even less about those topics than Ed Stetzer himself does.
Everyone, (Re-)Meet Greg Stier.
Greg Stier is a tryhard who super-duper-mega-really wants to be a big name evangelist. He’s set his sights on the evangelism of teenagers as his ticket to fame and fortune. But despite trying really hard, he still hasn’t found the big-name fame he craves.
Otherwise, he’s a standard-issue early-Gen-X fundagelical. He’s said for the record that “only the gospel can turn the latest suicide statistic around.” In a lot of ways, he seems like he’s locked in the late-1980s model of youth ministry — his antics really remind me a whole lot of the youth ministers I knew back then, and Biff as well. I wouldn’t even be halfway surprised if he suggested pizza blasts and lock-ins as a great evangelism tool.
And for years now, he’s acted like he can totally save Christianity by getting teenagers all on fire for Jesus.
We’ve talked about his business–er, sorry, ministry, Dare 2 Share, a few times around here (notably, in this post). He’s not only hilariously out of touch and incompetent but also self-serving to an extent I can only call laser-focused.
I doubt many teens have ever taken Greg Stier seriously or put his ideas into practice. That’s a good thing. All of his suggestions read like surefire ways to destroy a young adult’s social life forever. It’s impossible to read anything he writes without cringing.
But the aging authoritarian leaders of evangelicalism seem to like his ideas. He appeals to them. The success rates of his efforts don’t even matter. What matters is how far comparatively-younger evangelicals like him open the wallets of the older evangelicals paying the bills.
Remember, always, that Greg Stier isn’t selling anything to teenagers. Rather, he sells hope to teens’ parents and to church leaders. Teens are all but incidental to his business plan.
My Sides Are in Orbit:
Greg Stier Seriously Admires Cobra Kai.
All anybody really needs to know about Greg Stier is that this nutbar seriously admires Cobra Kai from those Karate Kid movies. I am not kidding. I am not exaggerating. Check out this tweet of his from September 18 (h/t to Carl on Twitter for linking me):
Naturally, Greg Stier doesn’t understand that Johnny Lawrence, the Cobra Kai karate instructor in the image, is very much the villain in the Karate Kid universe, nor that he lost hard to a kid who’d barely started to learn karate at all.
Worse, Stier seems to have no idea that the life philosophy that made his Little Greg gO aLL TiNgLy actually harmed the people who took it seriously. The Cobra Kai philosophy ultimately harmed everyone who lived by it almost as much as they in turn harmed their victims. Even in the modern day, Cobra Kai students haven’t learned a thing — they’re still almost all villains who use this mantra to compensate for their deeply-rooted personal issues.
Nor does Stier grasp — or care — that this terrible life advice directly and blatantly contradicts every single thing Jesus supposedly told his followers to do. That part doesn’t surprise me, though. Most evangelicals also ignore Jesus’ direct commands. If that stuff mattered to him at all, he wouldn’t have taken the life routes he did in the first place.
(Don’t worry. Lots of people replied to him to set him straight, not that he listened and certainly not that he cared. But do check out the replies if you have time. They are epic, and they come from Christians and nonreligious people alike. He doesn’t get much engagement at all on Twitter, usually, but people showed up for this one.)
You know, I suddenly really like the idea of Greg Stier as Cobra Kai. After all, Stier very obviously sees himself that way. When someone tells us who they are, it’s wise to listen — right?
“Mobilizing Teen Gospel Activists.”
Moving on, today’s snerk factory comes to us from Greg Stier on September 30, 2020. It’s called “Mobilizing Teen Gospel Activists.” His subtitle: “Generation Z is the secret to reviving the church and changing the world.”
His post begins with teens who have made big waves in recent history: Greta Thunberg (who seems nonreligious), Malala Yousafzai (who is Muslim), and, um, that’s it apparently. Those are all the teens he knows who’ve made a big difference.
He does not mention the TikTok teens derailing Donald Trump’s campaign, nor the teens protesting gun violence like Emma González (a school shooting survivor herself), nor teen inventors helping with the fight against cancer like Jack Andraka, nor the teens organizing social support for the poor like Amika George. Maybe he doesn’t approve of what those teens — and many like them — are doing.
In fact, none of that stuff matters to Greg Stier.
Who cares about the poor? Or global warming? Or gun violence?
“No cause is greater or more compelling,” Stier earnestly informs us, than getting teens on board with evangelism.
But weirdly, he names not one single teen evangelist active today.
Who Cares About Real Problems? Not This Guy.
Yes. Teens’ greatest mission is making 100% sure that everyone they know understands that the Lord of Love will set their ghosts on fire forever after they die — if they don’t accept his “free gift” (which is neither free nor really a gift). That’s way more important than climate change and whatnot. They need to quit activism-ing over that other stuff and start evangelizing!
See, Greg Stier is one of those tiresome evangelicals who believes, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that if everybody Jesus-es perfectly (like he does as Cobra Kai Jesus) then obviously everything else will fall into place.
As he writes:
Of course, this doesn’t mean that they have to forsake other good causes. The ripple effect of the Gospel is that it deals with issues of justice, poverty, equality, creation care and so much more.
Seriously, Greg Stier is the absolute stone-cold worst. It’s like he’s saying Yes, yes, kiddo, but don’t forget what’s REALLY important here. You need to focus on appeasing my imaginary friend and validating my intense terror of death.
Any teen who saw that quote above would be perfectly within their rights to immediately offer unprintable replies to this disgusting display of heartlessness. But his brand of rancid horseshit plays very well with middle-aged evangelical leaders like Ed Stetzer.
The Very Most Important Thing, Ever.
Indeed, Greg Stier repeats a very common error in evangelicalism. For many years — decades, even — their Dear Leaders have insisted that only Jesus-ing correctly will end racism and drug abuse and suicide and everything else that’s wrong in the world.
In a very real way, this error allows evangelicals to push their wackadoodle agendas without fear of criticism from the tribe.
Nobody can possibly subsidize all causes. We all have to prioritize. That’s normal. However, evangelicals’ product (membership in their own groups) is completely, utterly useless to most people — and even counter-productive to humanity’s progress. So they need to lie extra-hard about how necessary it is.
Their very favorite way to make their businesses–er, sorry, ministries seem more essential is to insist that they bring about greater and more correct levels of Jesus-ing, and everyone knows, RIGHT, that Jesus-ing correctly and amply is the foundation stone that allows progress to happen everywhere else.
So give till it hurts! Make your kids attend his seminars and read his dumb books! Buy his stuff for your church youth groups!
That Self-Interest Always Shines Through.
I love the wide-eyed innocent act that evangelicals put on after they’ve very deliberately created an artificial need through marketing, as Greg Stier does here.
Why golly gosh, lookie there, this evangelical huckster just so happens to offer a product to help fulfill the great need he’s just identified!
My goodness! What are the odds?!?
Indeed, Stier takes this moment to plug his own youth ministry thing, Dare 2 Share, for the last 3 or 4 paragraphs of his post. In fact, as we speak today he’s holding some big streaming shindig aimed at firing teens up for evangelism. Hey, Jesus won’t fire teens up by himself! That takes some very serious — and earthly — rah-rah from an expert huckster (or at least, one claiming to be expert).
I guess nobody told him, either, that if Jesus really wants teens to remain Christian, it should be easy for a god to arrange that without human help.
Making Christianity agree with objective reality would be a very nice start. I mean, a real live god could definitely arrange that. Unless he’s a jerk.
Or, ya know, nonexistent.
Preying on Teenagers.
The Dare 2 Share website is an absolute laugh riot. But it’s also infuriating. Greg Stier links every negative thing teenagers today face to a lack of correct and ample Jesus-ing on their own part.
Even aside from the victim-blaming here, there’s no valid reason at all to think evangelicalism would solve teens’ problems. Worse, his brand of Jesus-ing actually causes a lot more problems for everyone than it solves, and that goes double for young adults still figuring things out.
Indeed, I was one of those teens myself. I knew maybe one evangelical my age, ever, who seemed to have her act together. Everyone else had major issues, which Christianity only made considerably worse.
Evangelicalism stresses conformity, obedience no matter what, and tribalism. It demands that adherents agree that black is white, hate is love, lies are truth, and shackles are freedom. It pushes people into a childish mindset and keeps them there forever.
In Greg Stier’s own case, it’s convinced him that Cobra Kai offers laudable and valid life advice for Christians. In turn, he’s made a living insisting that pushing unwanted sales pitches on others represents the very most important thing teens could possibly ever do with their fleeting youth.
And we can definitely trust that Greg Stier isn’t just saying that because he makes a living selling rah-rah to pastors and teenagers’ parents. Yep yep. Tooooootally.
NEXT UP: Speaking of which, we’ll look at exactly how Greg Stier thinks teens will totally save Christianity’s bacon. See you next time, for an exciting Die Hardest Times Infinity post!
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