I have been speaking to teenagers since I was a teenager. In all that time (25+ years) I have NEVER seen teenagers respond to anybody like they have to my buddy and fellow preacher, Zane Black. What’s funny is that he started stuffing outreach bags as a volunteer at the Denver Dare 2 Share conference years ago.
We saw something special in him and used him as a mountain guide and activities director in the original GOSPEL Journey. Over the course of seven full days I got to see the way he interacted with the teenagers and twentysomethings. I couldn’t help but notice that his personality was a unique and powerful combination of pure joy, genuine compassion and child-like wonder mixed in with a strangely compelling “surfer dude” kind of eloquence.
It has been a pleasure to see him bloom over the last two years traveling, first as an emcee, and now as a full blown speaker with the Dare 2 Share conferences. The thing about Zane is that he is still on an accelerated tragectory as a speaker and is getting better and better with each event.
Sometimes people ask me how I feel about Zane’s popularity among the teenagers at Dare 2 Share. I think they think that I may be self conscious about how well the teens receive him. I think they think I’m nervous that Zane is more popular than me.
To be honest I am relieved. My goal is not to be popular but to be effective. And with speakers like Derwin Gray (another unbelievably solid and motivational preacher) and Zane I feel more than effective. It’s like having two UFC fighters backing you up in a street fight against the school bully. And that’s what these events are, a street fight with Satan for the attention and souls of these teenagers. I’m also relieved because I feel fully confident that if I ever went down due to illness or whatever that the show would go on without skipping a beat.
Last week as I was standing on the stage during the Saturday night portion of the conference our stage manager came out to me during a movie clip. He whispered in my ear that my flight out that night (to another speaking gig) had been cancelled and that my only option was a 9:30 pm flight that night. It was 8:15pm when he told me that. In a moment’s notice Zane was ready. I quickly wrapped up that session and in between movie clips gave Zane a quick pep talk. He just looked at me, put out his fist and said, “One team. One dream.”
He did the final talk in Phoenix and wrapped up the entire evening. I called our director for the program from the airport and asked her how Zane did. She said, “I don’t want to make you self conscious or anything but he was absolutely incredible.”
Guess what? I’m having Zane wrap up the Saturday night portion for all the rest of the Invincible events. I thank God for Zane, Derwin and the entire crew that pulls off the conference week in and week out. They are all incredible and they all love Jesus.
One team, one dream indeed.
Here’s a little sample of my buddy Zane’s speaking style taken from some teenager’s phone at a D2S conference. Enjoy.