By Bill MacLeod
When my wife and I were thinking of names for our children, she suggested we end the “Billy and Bobby” cycle that was so prevalent in my family tree. So, our sons were given masculine, first names we both liked, and middle names that had been close friends of ours, while our daughter’s middle name was my mother’s first name.
Our fascination with names reflects the fact that names have both meaning and carry weight. That is especially true with Bible names. Some Bible names signify origin, like Adam (“ground”) indicating where he came from (Gen 2:7); and Eve (“living”) as in the “mother of all living things” (Gen 3:20). Jesus’ name means “Savior” (as Joshua in the OT), and as described in Matt 1:21: “He saves His people from their sins…”
Each of us has been given a name of significance and meaning, so, in light of our theme, “Speak His Name…Jesus” we were curious to hear what each of our plenary speakers’ names meant to them. Greg Stier, the founder of Dare2Share (D2S), a ministry dedicated to training and mobilizing America’s teenagers to reach their friends for Christ, recently shared his name story with us:
Bill: Do you know what your name means? How has your name helped to shape who you are today?
Greg Stier: My name, Gregory, means “watchful one.” To be honest, this definition seemed a bit anti-climactic for me until I was reminded that this is exactly what Ezekiel 33:7 is all about, a “watchman.” God told Ezekiel, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” My job as a watchman is to warn others of the impending judgment of God coming for those who do not yet know and believe the Gospel. I pray I am able to live up to my name.
How did the power of Jesus’ Name draw you toward him into the work and ministry have now carry out?
Greg: When I was eleven years old, I heard a missionary story about a young boy in China who was called by God to reach his people with the Gospel. He risked his life again and again, to spread the Good News of Jesus. This story inspired me to say yes to the call God placed in my heart to reach teenagers. The pastor who reached my entire family focused especially on teenagers. He believed they came to Christ quicker and spread the Gospel farther than adults and that same spiritual DNA was passed on to me. Today I lead a ministry called Dare 2 Share that energizes the Church to mobilize youth to Gospelize their world.
Given the unprecedented, world-wide, circumstances facing us this year – what do you think speaking the Name of Jesus can do for the world you minister or have influence in?
Greg: The Name and message of Jesus have power that can transform the world from the inside out. Romans 1:16 reminds us that his message is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes….” When we speak the Name of Jesus in the context of the Gospel of Jesus we will always see the power of Jesus unleashed to convict, convince and transform. Henry David Thoreau once said, “For every thousand hacking at the branches of evil, one strikes at the root.” Only the Gospel can strike at the root of evil in the human heart.
In your plenary session, what do you hope those listening potentially from other parts of the globe will come away with?
Greg: I hope everyone walks away with a passion to reach everyone starting with that one someone. Every person listening has more influence and reach than they think. Dr. John Maxwell once said that even the shyest person has at least 10,000 others they will influence in some way over the course of their lives. So, if each person listening around the globe starts reaching their sphere of influence the world could be reached for Christ in no time.
Another prayer of mine is that everyone listening will see how strategic it is to focus on mobilizing teenagers for the Gospel in their own cultures and context. Every major spiritual awakening has had teenagers on the leading edge! God loves to use the young! According to 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 God loves to use “the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” He loves to use the underestimated, the overlooked and the under-resourced to advance his kingdom “so that no one may boast before him.” I’m convinced God wants to use an army of fully mobilized, Gospel advancing young people to speak the name of Jesus to a lost and dying world!
I can’t wait to hear you Greg, since you are a very successful “watchful” one, for youth, and for the Gospel!