I'm honored to have my good friend with us today, Jason French. Jason is CIY's president. and for the few of you who are not familiar with PSI and what it stands for, it stands for Christ in Youth. Jason has been with CIY since 2002 when he started as the associate director of conferences before being promoted to the Director of conferences and then into his current role as executive president. Jason has a bachelor's degree in biblical literature from Ozark Christian College and a master's in organizational leadership from Hargrove School. Prior to CI, Jason was a youth minister at Central Christian Church in Carl Junction, Missouri. East Side Christian Church in Fullerton, California. East Tulsa Christian Church and Paramount Terrace Church, now Hillside Church in Armadillo, Texas. He and his wife, Janice, has have four children Justin, Levi, Sydney and Silas. Their family attends the church in Orinoco near Joplin, Missouri. Jason, my friend, welcome to the show.
Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jayson-french-a970a3185
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Larrie: [00:00:02] Welcome to another episode of Let's Go 360. Let's Go 360 is a podcast for listeners who want to know more about what God is doing around the world here, near and far. This podcast is sponsored by Christ’s Church of the Valley, also known as CCV, One Church with many locations across the Greater Phoenix area with plans to expand wherever God wants to go. And as always, our show notes will have links to helpful information discussed in each podcast episode, along with a complete transcript of every episode. Check out all episodes on letsgo360.org and be sure to check out CCV at CCV.church. My name is Larrie Fraley. I'm your host and lead pastor of the local and global missions here at CCV. Well, not very often does one get to talk with the president, but today that's exactly what I get to do. And it's very rare to be able to call the president your good friend. And I'm honored to have my good friend with us today, Jayson French. Jayson is CIYY's president. And for the few of you who are not familiar with CIYY and what it stands for, it stands for Christ in Youth. Jayson has been with CIYY since 2002 when he started as the associate director of conferences before being promoted to the Director of conferences and then into his current role as executive president. Jayson has a bachelor's degree in biblical literature from Ozark Christian College and a master's in organizational leadership from Hargrove School. Prior to CIY, Jayson was a youth minister at Central Christian Church in Carl Junction, Missouri. East Side Christian Church in Fullerton, California. East Tulsa Christian Church and Paramount Terrace Church, now Hillside Church in Armadillo, Texas. He and his wife, Janice, have four children Justin, Levi, Sydney and Silas. Their family attends the church in Orinoco near Joplin, Missouri. Jayson, my friend, welcome to the show.
Jayson: [00:02:28] Larrie, it's good to be here. I'm… I thought you're going to introduce President Biden there for a second. Man, that was it was a very warm welcome. It was big fan of CCV and honestly, big fan of you personally. So thanks for inviting me. Glad to be here.
Larrie: [00:02:44] Well, we're glad you're here for sure. And you know, our listeners always like to know a little bit more about the lives of our guests. I wonder if you could share with us a little bit about yourself, your family, maybe some hobbies and anything interesting?
Jayson: [00:02:58] Yeah. So my wife and I have been married now for 30 years. Coming up, we're trying to figure out what we're going to do for a 30th anniversary. I think we're we're looking at doing the it's called the N 500, the loop around the kind of the highlands up in Scotland. We're thinking about that right now. We got for kids like you mentioned, my oldest is 25. He and his wife, Emily, live up in Kansas City area. I've got a son, Levi. He and his wife Kim actually live in Phoenix. We're out there visiting them not too long ago. Got to attend service there. I've got a daughter that's about to graduate high school this year. She'll head off to Ozark Christian College to study communications and biblical justice. She's actually vying for your job someday. So just know that Larrie. She's coming after you. And then my youngest, we adopted my great nephew. And so my youngest is 11. And he is all things sports. So we're in travel baseball mode. Personally, let's see. What do I love? You know me a little bit. I I'm an avid fly fisherman. If I can get time on the water fly fishing, that'd be my first love. Equal to that would be on a hobby level would be. I love to hunt, to be honest with you. It's just I don't know if that's the thing your listeners want to hear, but I do love it, man. I love to hunt. It's just I live out in the woods in the country. And so bow hunting, gone hunting for me is just an avid thing. We live right on the water. So, yeah, I just. I love hobbies like I do a lot. It's just a major remodel of my home and so doing a lot of that work myself. So yeah, that's a little bit about me.
Larrie: [00:04:33] Yeah. Jayson and I and the former president of CIY, Andy Hanson, went to Target shooting or clay, target shooting few years ago. And I'm still convinced to this day that they they let me outshoot them.
Jayson: [00:04:53] And you can shoot, man. Let's just be honest. I was a little blown away that a guy from the metro region of Phoenix could could not clays down that quick and that accurate.
Larrie: [00:05:05] So tell us a little bit about CIY, maybe its history mission vision.
Jayson: [00:05:09] Yeah. So we've been around since 1968. It's quite a long time. And our our heart has never really changed. I'd say first and foremost, we love the local church. I tell our team all the time here at CIY, we're the bridesmaid, never the bride. And so we wake up every single day looking to serve her. And the way that we serve her is we call young people and call this current generation. I call them wonderful, deeply in love and committed to Jesus to is we call them to what we call kingdom work. And I could get into the details and ask questions later on, but a little bit of a teaser is we think that part of the gap in faith with a young person is this tension between attendance and activation. And if we can figure out how to engage a generation and activate their faith to where they're doing something that your percentage of of one seeing them have a faith that James describes a faith with deeds. It's your percentage of keeping those kids attached to the church long term greatly increase. And so we love raising Kingdom workers. You know, when Paul talks about we're not a works based organization, we know that's by by grace you have been saved your faith as Paul talks about Ephesians 2. But me and Larrie, he goes right into this next verse and that, and he says, “We are therefore God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good work.” And so part of we, what we think is an organization is how do we get kids to activate their faith? So it's a it's a lifelong faith. And then the next part is we do everything through the church. We really don't like to elevate our brand, our logo, our name. We want the hero of the story to be Jesus and his church. So that's a little bit about CIY, Yeah.
Larrie: [00:06:55] Well, I don't I know there's not another youth organization like yours out there that does such an excellent job at reaching the, the, students. You have a very specific, targeted approach. And in fact, you have you have several different, I'll call them channels that you can reach kids with. I know there's a there's a super start program. There's a mix program… move. Tell us a little bit about those different kinds of programs.
Jayson: [00:07:29] Yeah. I mean, for your your business leaders that might be listening to this, you can get in that conversation of of output versus outcome. You know, those are conversations we're all used to having. I mean, we want our outcomes to be kids following Jesus. We want our outcomes to be kids committed to kingdom work. We want our outcomes to be, you know, their deep connection and their love for their local church. But part of the outputs that we use, what we use to accomplish that is we found that live events have been a fantastic way to have those conversations. Then honestly, I don't know that this podcast is the time to get into the theology of of crowd, but when you look throughout Scripture, there's, there's time and time again where people come aside, whether it's for a Passover or a Feast of Tabernacles, you know, just over and over again, whether it's Jesus bringing people to the side of a sea or the Old Testament, them coming together to read or hear the Word of God read that there's something about when you gather believers and even non-believers, when you gather people together, especially with a student, and I can maybe get them, not me. I don't mean that person. It was a wrong use of a pronoun. We can get them together, maybe away from an abusive home, maybe even away from a boyfriend, a girlfriend taking a break from gaming, whatever it’s going to be, that all of a sudden in that space, God, who's been calling them day in and day out over and over again, he gets a clear shot at their heart. And we've just found that pulling students aside for either a weekend or maybe a four or five day event, amazing things take place in that space for us. I'd say that the method is a means to an end. By no means are we cared about events. What we really care about is calling people to Christ, to Kingdom work and to love the local church.
Larrie: [00:09:14] Well, I noticed you have one way to do that with a with something called wilderness. And as you know, we talked a little bit before the show that Mark Moore and I lead a hike every year in the Holy Lands from Nazareth up to Capernaum, staying in hostels with a group of 12 men. There's a something happens on that trip. This is our fourth year. And every trip so far, the lives of these men have been transformed. I can't imagine what it would be like for a student, a high schooler, let's say, to go on this wilderness event, five days in the Rocky Mountains somewhere discussing things that matter most in life. Wow. Is that a new program?
Jayson: [00:10:03] Well, this it's a little different than than what it might look like on our website or what might have been described to you. Actually, wilderness is really targeting the adult leader. Oh, yeah, it is. Because part of what we found is we're finding so many young pastors getting themselves into trouble that they would run themselves ragged and they would be pouring themselves into students, but never really turning aside to listen to the heart of Jesus. And so we said, Man, we need to be preventative here, and we don't want to wait until a guy gets in trouble for him to retreat. And so we created a space where we pull aside, you know, some some men and women who are engaged in student ministry and say, we don't over program this, we want to pull you aside and let you re-engage the heart of Jesus. It goes into that old adage, First of all, I'm a little bit weird. I heat my whole house in hot water year round with wood. And yeah, I'm a little old school and I love it. But what I've learned in life is you never waste time when you take time to sharpen an axe. You never waste time when you take time to sharpen a chainsaw. And you never waste time when you take time to sharpen your own heart with the father. And so wilderness really is investing in the heart of youth ministry and turning leaders aside to meet with Jesus in solitude and in conversation.
Larrie: [00:11:31] Wow, that is so wise of you, Jayson. Does the CIY operate outside of the US?
Jayson: [00:11:37] Yeah. In fact, I just got back. We're back from Scotland just. Just just a few days ago. So, yeah, we've got a lot of work that we've invested in over the years. Specifically, I'll talk about one right now among the many we could talk about. One of those is Ireland. So we've got, we're fully set up as a as a charity within the Republic of Ireland and running events there. And then we just got back and we're probably going to expand our CIY Europe offices to go into Scotland as well, if the Lord allows in 2023. So yeah, those are those be two of the areas we've got currently three staff members, one, two based in a one based in Dublin and two based in Belfast.
Larrie: [00:12:21] Wow. Okay. So now we want to hear about some success stories. Tell us about Transformed Lives.
Jayson: [00:12:29] Yeah. I mean, we can tell you a few stories. It's kind of like you guys at CCV when somebody asks that question, your mind races to like how many of these great ones do I have? Because you could just tell, we could we could write a book on them. I'll tell you some of my favorites. We do a thing where any student that comes to to one of our events will never allow a student to leave without an action plan. We just desperately want kids to be activated. What are the action plans we did a few years ago was we encourage them to invite ten kids to Move and to pay their way. Move is an event we do for 4 to 5 day event for high school students. We'll typically run 40 some thousand students every summer, and that's just we have another one for junior high, like you mentioned, called mix. So we're running 40 some thousand high school students coast to coast. You know, we'll run, you know. So many things. I can't even explain to you how many we around. But across the nation we asked kids, would you be willing to pay for ten kids to come to Move? Well, just a couple of years ago. I walked off stage and there was this young black kid that was in ministry that had come to our event. And he walked up to me and he goes, Hey, man, I want to tell you thank you. And I was like, Yeah, what are you saying thank you for? And he goes, several years ago, you gave a challenge for kids, two to pay for another kid to come to Move.
Jayson: [00:13:57] And he says, and I had a kid choose me and I met Jesus at this event. I came back and heard the call to ministry event at this event. And now I am in full time ministry. And so when you go through and you you trace the lineage of a conversation we're having Joplin about what if, and it goes all the way to me standing there talking to this young man who's now leading a group of students in the room. Those are the kind of stories we love to tell of of seeing kids transformed. You had another another example last year or two years ago when I was in Cedarville. Those last year at Cedarville University. No, no, no. It was doesn't matter where it was. It was in Ohio. Bowling Green. Bowling Green. I wanted to remember and one of the challenges we gave kids in their quiet solitude time was to really think deeply about God laying on your heart, the Holy Spirit in your heart, a message that someone, your group needs to hear. There's a kid sitting off by himself and he's literally writing in his journal at that moment. God, I don't even know if you see me. I don't even know if you even know who I am. What he didn't realize is walking across to him within I mean, just a few seconds, him writing that sentence was a kid handing him a note that just said, God sees you, God knows your name.
Jayson: [00:15:13] And this kid just just basically collapsed right then into the heart of Jesus going how in the world? And we love creating space where we encourage students not only to to fall deep in love of Jesus, but to figure out how they can encourage in a power one another. And it was just one of those transformations. It's so small, it's so simple, but it just radically changed that kid's life. I mean, we've seen everything from moments where people have been physically healed at our events. That's been crazy. Just seeing kids break cycles of generational cycles of divorce and addiction. I mean, we see so many stories coming of kids just being set free. And then for me, everywhere I go, I meet somebody. Even people in your staff who say I made the decision to go into ministry out of CIY event. And so the tens of thousands of local church pastors that are in the field today preaching at churches on stage, leading worship, even at the amount of your staff that made CIY at an event. And it's not anything we did, it's what the Holy Spirit did. We just carved out space. There's so many of your own staff who made a decision at one of these events, and you multiply that all over the nation. And man, there's thousands upon thousands of men and women who today have served the Lord domestically and internationally, who made a decision at one of these events. So, yeah, those are those are a few of the stories I love.
Larrie: [00:16:34] Well, we just had our 40th year anniversary this past weekend and Ashley spoke about the future of CCV rests in our youth. And one of the things that we did to to encourage parents to send their kids to camp because camp is so impactful. And of course, that's what you do. And in some senses that you have these different camp like events. That we rolled back the prices of our sending our kids to camp to the price it was 40 years ago. He found the first newsletter of our program of CCV. And in that program, on our very first weekend back in 1982, which I can remember, it talked about sending kids to camp and the cost was $50. And so Ashley made an appeal to our congregation to help supplement that. And we were going to roll back the price of every kid going to camp this year to $50.
Jayson: [00:17:44] That's amazing.
Larrie: [00:17:45] Celebration of the 40th anniversary. And so the emphasis on the importance of investing in our youth today is not like any other time in history. I mean, kids today face… mean, they faced the single parent households. Of course, there's this drug and alcohol abuse there. They're growing up way too fast. I just noticed it in my own grandchildren, how fast these kids seem to be growing up. Of course, there's violence and stress and and of course, the political stuff, materialism, health issues, education, inequalities, the economy is kind of crazy right now. So all of these things these kids are going through right now. They need us to come alongside them so that they are firmly their foundation is firmly in Christ. So any other stories?
Jayson: [00:18:44] You know? Yeah. I mean, I could tell a lot of the stories. I think if I were talking to your listeners and when you think about this younger generation, something to consider in when you when you look at students, one is they are they really are a special group and their potential is is immense. Barna had a survey came out recently saying that this will be probably the most evangelistic generation we've seen since boomers. They're not afraid to share their faith. They're not afraid to talk about who Jesus is in their life. But we're still running the stat, Larrie, if you've seen it that's come out lately, is 75% of church kids between 18 to 29 have left. And and we're trying to figure out, like, how do we close that gap? How do we get more kids who come to CCV to stay connected to CCV years after they've graduated high school? And it really boils down to some essentials that we're trying to work on, some of those we can't touch. That's not our part of the organization. You know, one of those is is healthy families that spend time together. And I know that's a passion to CCV. And we hear that coming through that you guys care deeply about the family.
Jayson: [00:19:59] But another big part of it is that we look at as your listeners think about and how do we how do we rescue this generation? How do we save? Because you're right, it is. If I were to ask you and your listeners, would you want to be a high school student when you grew up or today? Well, we'd love the technology, but man, I think most of us would admit it's pretty tough today. And one of the things you didn't didn't mention in that list was even things like pornography, you know, when you were when you were a kid, Larrie, and when I was a kid, you had to go and pursue it. These kids wake up every day with pornography, pursuing them, actively hunting them down. You think about the amount of debt and student loans and everything they've got facing them. And so we want to help create and work and partner and serve the church to say, man, let's raise that stat of keeping our kids engaged with gospel, keeping our kids engaged with church and kind of the wheelhouse that we live in is, is how do we serve the church and making sure that these kids have a deep spiritual experience that connects them with their local church, not with CIY, not with our speakers, not with our stage, not with our bands, not with with our lights.
Jayson: [00:21:07] And none of that stuff. Connecting with a leader like you connected with a leader like Dustin Tappan, connecting with a leader like the different people you've got in your campus so that when they go through those crisis moments, they've got somebody to go back through. So if I can tell a story, the story I would tell is of the 2000 churches who bring students to our events and the volunteers who show up in those rooms with probably the 4000 kids CCV is going to bring, it'd be the story of one small group leader who sits in a circle with ten kids and says, Tell me your story, tell me your struggle. Tell me what's going on. Because when a kid finally gets to open up and say, I have an addiction, I'm dealing with depression, I'm struggling with mental health, I'm dealing with anxiety. And for that adult leader to say, I hear you, I know your name and I care about you, man, if I could tell any story, Larrie, that's the story I would tell.
Larrie: [00:21:58] Wow, wow. Well, how can our listeners find out more about CIY?
Jayson: [00:22:04] Definitely go to CIY.com. Christ in Youth is our organization and that'd be a great place to start. They're welcome to email me questions. Reach out to me. That is Jayson.French@CIY.com and then honestly, there's a lot of your staff at CCV who know a ton about us. If you were to have conversations with Mark Moore or Jordan Howerton, Dustin Tappan, yourself, I mean, there's so many people and I'm not even mentioning all the names there. They just know a ton about who we are. And they can tell you all about our ministry.
Larrie: [00:22:39] Right. Well, we'll be sure to include all that information in our show notes with links to CIY and along with your email address. So how can we pray for you?
Jayson: [00:22:52] You know, I would say a couple of things. There's a lot of things I could mention. I'll mention two. Number one, pray for us in a season. We are in a season of crazy growth. As you know, Larrie, we went through COVID. We do live events. We lost 100% of what we do. And physics tells us if for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction and in what we're seeing in terms of growth is unprecedented. And we have got to expand the amount of events because we're turning so many people away. And so if we could add another tour, we could reach another 8000 kids a year, every year in perpetuity because our model is self-sustaining. But for us, we need to get to get another tour launched. The other thing, honestly, is, is a major gap that you and I realize that in terms of kingdom workers, if we don't raise up about another 30,000 vocational ministers in the next seven years, that we're going to have a compounding reaction that's going to be devastating for the church. And I love what you guys are doing in that residency program. I love what's happening in a lot of our colleges. But we need to be one source among several streams flowing in to fill this void. But organizationally, we know that we need to raise up about 10,000 full time kingdom workers in the next seven years. We really probably need closer to 30,000 because of the gap and the void of churches who need to make hires but cannot find qualified candidates. And so you guys are helping with that. You're filling that gap in your residency programs. You're serving it. But that would be another thing that's kind of keeping me up at night is the harvest is plentiful, the workers are few. And we need to ask the Lord of the harvest to help us all with that right now.
Larrie: [00:24:40] Jayson. Well, we'll certainly keep those requests in the forefront of our minds. So thank you for being with us today.
Jayson: [00:24:47] You bet, Larrie. Thank you. And thanks for the support that CCV has given. You guys have encouraged us, sustained us and loved us so well. We just love your church. We love your students, and we're just honored to consider you guys really just premier partners in our ministry. And so thank you so much.
Larrie: [00:25:08] Well, as we wrap up today's show, we want to thank you for listening. You can follow us on your favorite podcast app and leave us a five star review if you like what you've heard today and want to hear more. That way more people can hear about what God is doing around the world. Also, you can follow us on our website at www.letsgo360.org. You can also check out CCV at CCV’s website CCV.Church. Thanks for joining us. And as we talk with those living out the great commission inspired by the Great Commandments so that we might stand before the great multitudes, before the throne, when the mission of God is complete. May God bless you as we go and send those here near and far.