Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Gospel Changes Everything

Dannah Gresh: Sometimes we forget the value of church. Here’s Jaquelle Crowe.

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris: When you see that Jesus loved the church so much that He died for her . . . if we can just catch a little bit of that vision we will see, first, that we need the church. We need a local body.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Consider Jesus. It’s Tuesday, December 10, 2019, and I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy, I have to tell you, you are one of my only friends who revels in her age!

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Yes, because since I was a little girl, my goal in life was always to be a godly old lady. Our friend Holly Elliff has said to me over the years, “Nancy, it’s okay to be godly, but don’t try to hurry the ‘old’ thing!” 

So, I’ve found that being old comes; you can’t avoid that. Being godly takes a little more time and effort.

Dannah: It is true, it does. But I would say you were working on that a long time ago. Take us back to twenty-year-old Nancy. Where were you? What were you doing?

Nancy: Well, I was a weird kid, I’ve got to tell you.

Dannah: A weird kid?

Nancy: I was. I never really was much into childhood or teenage years. I was kind of like an adult from the time I was three years old. 

Dannah: An “old soul” is what they call that.

Nancy: An “old soul.” It’s not that I didn’t have fun, that I didn’t enjoy myself. But what I considered “fun” and “enjoyable” wasn’t quite what other kids did.

Dannah: What did you think was fun and enjoyable?

Nancy: I loved reading books. I loved going to school. By the time I was twenty (I don’t even know if I want to say this), I was out of college. 

Dannah: All the more reason to say it! We want to hear.

Nancy: Well, that’s weird. I was in my first ministry assignment—full-time vocational ministry, serving on the staff of a local church—as a young woman, just growing in my walk and learning. It wasn’t all easy, but I was intentional, let me say that.

Dannah: So I hear you saying you were in the church; you were active in the church; you loved the church.

Nancy: I did love the church. I’d been around enough churches by that time to know that no church is perfect. I had also been around myself enough to know that I wasn’t perfect, but I also knew that I needed the people of God and that the church was God’s plan, God’s intention. I’d also had some really wonderful church experiences.

I’d seen some things that are kind of the messy side of church, but I’d also experienced some of the beauty of it.

Dannah: The beauty. So contrast that twenty-year-old Nancy, who loves the church and is active in it, with the crisis of twenty-year-olds today: not loving the church and sometimes having some pretty harsh opinions about it. How does that make you feel?

Nancy: I think the really important question is, “How does it make Jesus feel?” You go to the book of Revelation, and actually all through the Scripture, and you see that God loves His people, messed-up as they are. Jesus loves His Church. In the book of Revelation, He wrote those letters to the first-century churches.

He knew their problems, their failures, their faults and flaws and warts and all, but He still loved them! He still kept His eye on them. He still had an intent and a purpose for them. So it’s kind of a glorious mess. On the one hand, it’s not totally surprising that younger people today are saying, “I don’t need this!” On the other hand . . .

Dannah: They really are! There’s a book out right now that’s titled How to Be A Christian Without Going to Church: The Unofficial Guide to Alternative Forms of Christian Community. It’s a book about, “Yeah, you don’t have to go to church. Don’t be a part of the church. The church is broken; it doesn’t work. Just be a Christian without it!”

Nancy: We are broken, but we can’t be a Christian without it.

Dannah: Nancy, we have in the studio with us today a twenty-one-year-old who gives us hope and who has actually written a book that gives quite a different message. It’s entitled This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years. She’s joining us here in the studio all the way from Canada. Welcome, Jaquelle!

Jaquelle: Thank you so much. It’s such a joy to be here.

Nancy: And, Jaquelle, you actually wrote this book when you were eighteen years old.

Jaquelle: I did.

Nancy: As a teenager you recognized the importance of the church and had a heart for it . . . which I think is kind of unusual today.

Jaquelle: I think it is. A huge part of that is my parents, and I will brag on them all throughout this show because their effect and influence on my life was just unspeakable. Right from a young age, they raised me in the church, they helped me see the church, know the church, love the church. 

Their own love for the church that was modeled for me is something that affected my life in a huge way!

Dannah: So you were the one that clued me into the fact that there was a book written by a young woman about how you could be a Christian without going to church. How did you feel when you came across that title?

Jaquelle: I felt sad first of all. I felt confused because it seemed pretty antithetical to the message of the Bible when we look at the New Testament and we see what Jesus’s plan for the church was. And then I also just felt disappointed and kind of upset that this is being spread among my generation, because we need the church!

Even though this author thinks that she’s being helpful and relevant, what it’s really doing is only harming my generation.

Dannah: And how has thinking like that, how have books like that, blogs like that (lots of bloggers with messages about you can be a Christian without going to church or how you should leave the church or how the church hurt them), how is that impacting your generation?

Jaquelle: In one sense I think it plays to a sinful tendency that we all have toward isolationism. We want to withdraw so that we don’t get hurt. We are afraid of being wounded by any of the shrapnel of anybody else’s pain. 

We see church splits, we see hypocrisy in the church, and we think, I don’t want any part of that! But as I said, I think that is a sinful tendency, because God made us for community. And you see this throughout my generation. My generation loves to be with people. So what’s so interesting about that book is that it is not a call to get away from community.

It’s a call to find community in other places that are not the church, which is not what God ultimately designed. Of course we can have other communities and friends, but He created every Christian with a desire and a need for the community of a local church!

Dannah: He created every human with the desire and the need.

Jaquelle: Exactly!

Dannah: That’s what draws them to these other communities. What kinds of places are they going to, to find that community, other than the church?

Jaquelle: I think school is a big one. All these places that young people tend to go and find their identity . . . social media . . . there are so many places online you can go . . . work, clubs. Often there are groups that are united around a shared interest. So, yeah, it could be books. It could be sports. It could be food. It could be simply that they’re all the same age.

What I think, again, is that this misses the beauty of what the church is. It is so diverse! It is multigenerational, multicultural, that it is abounding in differences. That’s really what my generation needs.

Nancy: It has messiness in it. That’s part of what is ultimately the beauty of a body of people that God is redeeming and making new. But I think if we’re going to address this problem of young people—not just young people, but young people in droves—leaving the church, it’s not enough for those of us who are Dannah’s and my age to lob criticism at your generation.

I think we need to have some honest conversation about some of the reasons they’re leaving, that may have something to do with our generation. 

Dannah: Because there’s a real problem. Sometimes what I hear them saying are legitimate concerns. So what are some of the things they’re complaining about that you think, Ah, yeah, we need to fix this. This is broken.

Jaquelle: I want to be really careful with how I say this, too, because I don’t want to put unfair guilt or pressure on parents and churches that are seeking to be faithful to their young people. And young people still leave. Because you can do all that you can, and at the end of the day, your young person is responsible before God.

Nancy: Right. The goal here is not to make anybody feel guilty. It’s to say, “What’s happening, why is it happening, and what can we do that is constructive?

Dannah: And perfect parenting can still result in rebellion. If that were not true, Adam and Eve would have never eaten a piece of fruit that they shouldn’t have eaten? Right?

Jaquelle: That’s very true. One thing that I see, consistently . . . This is a little bit of a buzzword, but I think it’s accurate. My generation craves authenticity. So we want to see authentic faith. We want to see people who have a faith that is active and passionate, but that it actually changes their lives.

So, connected to that, I see hypocrisy as something that is very repulsive to my generation.

Nancy: So put some handles on that for us, because we hear that word used a lot. We’re not throwing criticism at anybody, but give us some examples of what younger people may see in my generation that would ring hollow or untrue for them.

Jaquelle: What is a beautiful thing that I see in your generation is that you have so much knowledge to share, and I love that! But I think some people in your generation, we see the knowledge, but we don’t see a change in their life. 

We see them sing the words on Sunday mornings, we maybe even hear them teach a lesson, but we don’t see any real change—or joy, even—in their life. They just go through the motions. We hear them complain. We see them be bitter. We see them be unforgiving. We think, Wait! There’s a disconnect here.

Because you say all these things that we want to believe and we think are true, but if it doesn’t change your life—if it doesn’t change what you do Monday through Saturday—then maybe we don’t really want to be a part of that. Maybe that doesn’t really have as much meaning in our lives.

Dannah: And that’s not just your generation, that’s everyone of all ages is saying, “If you’re as depressed and as anxious and as lonely as I am, why would I want the gospel?” And so that means there’s something . . . Our faith might be getting stuck in our head and not making a transforming difference in our heart.

Nancy: I know one of the characteristics of many in your generation is a lot of passion. You hear the passion movement, and there’s just something about youthful energy. You’re a passionate young woman, but you’re not alone in your generation about that. Even nonbelievers, you hear a lot of passion about whatever they’re passionate about.

Does it impact your generation . . . And I don’t want to make an “us” and “them,” because we’re believers together and we need each other. But I think it’s helpful sometimes to see through each other’s eyes.

Does your generation sometimes look at ours and feel like, “This faith thing, this church thing, this Christian thing, they’re not making it credible because it doesn’t seem like it really matters to them!”

Jaquelle: Yes, I think so. As you said, we are very passionate. We want to go; we want to do; we want to change the world . . .

Nancy: . . . tomorrow!

Jaquelle: Yes, maybe today even, if we can get a flight! Sometimes when we look at those older than us we kind of wonder, Well, where has the spark gone? Why aren’t you as excited about this message? Why don’t you have the same passion for life, to seek and go and change?

So I think that is a criticism, and that also kind of sows some confusion in our lives, because we wonder, Well, hey! Is this going to be us in thirty years? In that case, is this even worth pursuing right now?

Nancy: Wow. Now, you love the church. You love your church, which is a small church. It’s not some big megachurch with humongous programs. What have you seen through your childhood, your teenage years, in the people in your church (make it really visible for us) that made Christianity and the church desirable to you? Can you think of particular people, old folks?

Jaquelle: Yep!

Dannah: Any godly old women in that church?

Jaquelle: We do have some godly old women.

Nancy: Paint a picture for us of what has made this attractive to you.

Jaquelle: One thing that is amazing about my church is that my church is very authentic! We can use that word because they don’t really put on a facade. We are a messy bunch. 

Nancy: And “the church,” when you say it, you’re not talking about the building where you meet.

Jaquelle: No, no, no. I’m talking about . . .

Nancy: You’re talking about the people.

Jaquelle: We have about fifty people in our church, so we are a family; we know each other very well. We know what’s going on in our lives. We know the messy and hard times. We have a foster mom in our church. She’s a single mom, a single parent, and she fosters special-needs kids.

We have two older women in our church—one is a mom, one is her daughter—who have gone through many struggles of a variety of kinds. They have just continually been faithful! We have so many young families in our church. We have our third family that have just gotten pregnant with their fourth kid.

So a very small church, but so many young moms, so many young dads trying to be faithful in their work and also care for their kids.

Nancy: So how do they get ministered to, lifted up, encouraged by the body there?

Jaquelle: We have lots of babysitters in our church! That foster mom that I mentioned, she goes and she does stuff with our young moms. We just had two young moms and this foster mom who last week went to our local Discovery Center, and they took all of the kids!

Nancy: So they include her. 

Jaquelle: They include her. Something that I love so much is that we have our older members who seek to include our younger members in all sorts of stuff. 

Dannah: So they’re getting rid of the barriers that some of the other churches are experiencing, where, “Here’s where the Golden Year people go,” and “Here’s where the single people go.” They’re blending, which I think is so authentic. When you say they’re messy, does that also include freedom to talk about sin and temptation?

Jaquelle: Yes. Something that you mentioned earlier that immediately made me think of my church is that sometimes my generation looks at your generation and sees them going through disappointment and struggles, but they really see them dealing with it in ungodly ways. They see them caving to bitterness.

Something that my church has fostered pretty well (imperfectly, but we’re seeking it to foster it better) is being open with our struggles, but seeking to be faithful in the midst of them. So I have seen members of my church go through cancer diagnoses. I have seen them go through seeing their children walk away from the Lord. I have seen them go through infertility and miscarriages. 

And I know those things. I knew those things as a teenager because the members of my church asked for prayer. They talked to me.

Dannah: Nobody was putting on a mask of perfection.

Jaquelle: No masks, no airs!

Dannah: I feel like a mask of perfection is like the last accessory many people put on before they go out the door to go to church on Sunday morning. Why are we showing up for a Savior if we don’t need saving? I think that excites me, because that is one thing the generation is complaining about that needs to be fixed! 

We need to be more authentic. We need to be taking that mask of perfection off and saying, “This is why I need Jesus!” I always go to that verse in Revelation that says we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (see Revelation 12:11). And I pray that there’s always a testimony!

I don’t think I’m quite as carnal or as fleshly as I was when I was fifteen, but the Lord is revealing new sins and new areas where He wants to . . .

Nancy: It’s not just a thirty-year ago testimony, but a fresh one.

Dannah: Yes. Exactly. A fresh testimony. We need to be sharing our fresh testimonies in the church.

Nancy: I’m thinking, Jaquelle, as we’re having this conversation . . . Your last name is Crowe.

Jaquelle: It is.

Nancy: You have written a book, This Changes Everything, under the name of Jaquelle Crowe, because you were eighteen. But by the time this program airs you will have a new name; you’ll be Jaquelle Ferris

Jaquelle: It’s true.

Nancy: You’re about to get married. As we think about the church, and you going from teenage years to young womanhood into being a young wife, how do you anticipate needing the church when you move into that new season of life? What will your church mean to you and Joe? I know it’s premature to ask you this, but I’m sure you’re thinking about it already.

Jaquelle: I am. In one sense, I think it will be the same because teenagers need the church, twenty-somethings need the church, young moms need the church.

Nancy: Old folks like us need the church. 

Jaquelle: Older ones need the church. Yes, everyone needs the church. I think it’s really beautiful that my church family has served me and loved me all throughout my teen years and that will continue as I transition into this new season. I know that I have so many mentors there who will come alongside me, who will take me for coffee.

I will go over and hang out with them and their kids, and we’ll talk about things related to being a young wife: new challenges, new struggles that I will face, new blessings. And I know that they will rally around me in a way that they consistently have through my teen years. They will pray for me!

Nancy: And I think that’s a key, is that you already have those relationships. You don’t start those when you become a new wife and need somebody to help you with this new season, or once you have kids and say, “How do I do this?” You started those relationships when you were younger, so there’s a continuity there. 

But as we’re having this conversation, I’m thinking about people of any age who may be listening to us and thinking, My church is not like that. I feel alone. It may be large or small but, “I don’t feel like anybody really knows me. I don’t feel like anybody really cares about how I’m doing.”

How can we encourage somebody who is in that situation? To say, “You still need the church. And here’s how you can become a part of the church being different.”

Jaquelle: Right. Well, I think it starts with just capturing a biblical vision for what the church is. When you see that Jesus loved the church so much that He died for her, if we can just catch a little bit of that vision we will see, first, that we need the church. We need a local body.

And then, I think you can take initiative to pursue relationships in a church. So if you’re a younger woman and you want to be mentored by an older woman, there is nothing wrong with going to a woman that you respect and admire and say, “Hey, would you grab a coffee with me?” You don’t have to stick the scary label of “mentorship” on it.

But just ask, “Hey, look, I see in your life that you’re ahead of me. You’re godly, and I just have some questions. I just wonder if you would come into my life and help me with that?” I think we do, sometimes, put the pressure on the older woman. 

I think it’s amazing when older women go to young women and say, “Hey, do you want to grab a coffee?” But I think young women can do it, too.

Nancy: And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a lifelong commitment . . . at least at first. Maybe just the grabbing a cup of coffee and a conversation. Or a conversation standing in the aisle of the church that could lead to more. We’re talking relationship here.

Jaquelle: Absolutely, right.

Dannah: Let me ask a question for the mom who’s listening, and their child is eighteen/nineteen/twenty and full-out just doubts the church, their faith, God, all of it.

Nancy: Has no interest. 

Dannah: No interest whatsoever. How should she be responding? What does she need to do for her child?

Jaquelle: Pray. That’s often our last response, and I think it should be our first. Talk to other people that she knows, maybe, who have gone through it. Like I mentioned, we have many parents in our church who have gone through that, and they have encouraged each other in countless ways.

Dannah: Don’t do it alone! You know, that’s a really big one, because oftentimes when I’m talking to moms whose children are going through that, they’re embarrassed. They’re ashamed of it. And I’m saying, “Oh, my! You can’t pray alone for your prodigal!” Maybe they’re not even a prodigal; they’re just kind of saying, “I don’t know if this faith thing works!”

You cannot pray alone for that. Your prayers with someone . . . “Where two or three are gathered . . . there [I am] in the midst” (Matt. 18:20 KJV). I don’t know about you, but when my kids are doubting Jesus, I want Him in the room counseling our hearts about how to pray for them! So pray, tell someone, what else?

Jaquelle: Don’t neglect your own spiritual disciplines. You may not feel like going to God’s Word; you may not feel like going to church on Sunday; you may not feel like worshiping. Just do it anyway.

It’s not a “fake it ‘til you make it.” We’re commanded and called to do these things, and we know that God works through these things. He is faithful, and He is good, and you can trust Him. At the end of the day, He is the One who will change your child’s heart, so just go to Him.

Dannah: Let me throw out a really important one, and that is: Don’t be afraid of their questions. I think many times, as adults, as parents, as church leaders, we have an “allergic reaction” to the doubts and questions of the younger generation.

Nancy: Which may only push them further away.

Dannah: It does! There’s a Pew Research survey that asks some of these twenty-somethings why they left the church. One of the top six reasons is, “Because people were afraid of my questions. They wouldn’t sit down and answer my questions.”

Nancy: And I think maybe the fear is that, “I don’t know the answers. I don’t know how to answer those questions.”

Dannah: Yes. Sometimes I don’t know the answers when I’m talking to one of those young people. And I have no trouble saying, “I don’t know, but Jesus knows. He’s not afraid of your question. So let’s ask Him.” Then I use that as an opportunity for both of us to dig into God’s Word.

I’m like, “You’re not going to find out what the answer is if we don’t dig into the pages of this Book, so let’s dig in together and see if we can figure it out!”

Nancy: Jaquelle, you’ve written a book a few years ago when you were Jaquelle Crowe (you were still a teenager yourself). The book is called This Changes Everything! What is “this?” Well, the subtitle says How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years.

It’s a book that calls teens to be intentional and serious about their faith, and to see how the gospel really does make a difference—not only in teens’ lives, but in all of our lives. I’m thinking that I would love every one of our listeners to have a copy of this book!

They may say, “Why would I need to know how the gospel changes the teen years? I’m not a teen, I don’t have a teen.” Revive Our Hearts is committed to ministering to women of all ages. And, Dannah, you and I and our generation want to be passing the beauty of the gospel, the beauty of His church, down to the next generation and the next.

All of us have teens in our sphere of influence. We have teens in our church, teens in our extended family. I’ve got teen nieces and nephews. I would love for every one of our listeners to have a copy of this book to make as an investment in the life of some teen in your life.

Dannah: Nancy, as you know, I have spent most of my adult years investing in teen women and even preteen girls. We should never underestimate what God can do when He gets hold of a young woman’s life!

Nancy: And, Dannah, you never, ever let me forget that! I’m so grateful. And that’s what our partnership with your ministry—True Girl—is all about. 

So if you’ve supported Revive Our Hearts, did you realize that you are part of investing in the next generation? This ministry can’t continue without the support of listeners like you who pray and who give.

Dannah: Thank you so much for that! We want you to know that when you support Revive Our Hearts right now, not only will you get Jaquelle Crowe’s book as our thank you, but you’ll be helping the ministry take advantage of a huge opportunity!

Nancy: Yes, I’m so excited about that, Dannah! We’ve been sharing over the last several days how some friends of Revive Our Hearts have watched how the Lord is using this ministry in the lives of women of all ages. And they want to encourage our listeners to give, so they will double each gift as part of a substantial matching challenge. 

It’s the largest matching challenge we’ve had in the history of this ministry! Your gift of $50 will become$100. A gift of $500 will become $1000 . . . and so on. So to enter 2020 in a healthy position, we’re asking the Lord to work through our listeners to meet this entire challenge . . . and beyond!

Would you ask Him how He would want you to get involved in helping us reach forward and extend this message into the lives of these next-gen women? You can make your gift online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959. When you make your gift, be sure to ask for Jaquelle’s book, This Changes Everything!

Dannah: Tomorrow, we’re going to come back, Jaquelle, because I have overheard you talking about one of the really important missing elements that convinces not just teens, but all of our hearts, that the gospel changes everything! Will you come back with us tomorrow?

Jaquelle: I definitely will!

Dannah: I hope you’ll join us as well on Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you stay centered on the gospel. This program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speakers

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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Jaquelle Crowe

Jaquelle Crowe

Jaquelle Crowe is a twentysomething writer from eastern Canada. She’s a graduate of Thomas Edison State University and co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop. She is author of This Changes …

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