Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of 30 Stories that appeared in the 100th edition of Youth Leaders Only. Make sure you check out the other great stories from this special edition celebrating 30 years of YLO.
We had enjoyed a strong relationship with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association dating back to EXPLO 72 the historic gathering of 85,000 Christians in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Our work in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s centered around collaboration with Scott Lenning and Gary Cobb who initially coordinated the youth ministry component of the work with the city-wide Graham Crusades. In 1992 Scott approached us with the idea, “I know that interlínc has a special relationship with DC TALK. Do you think that they would be willing to do a video that we can use to promote our Saturday night youth nights at the Crusades?” I took the idea to Toby, Michael and Kevin and their managers Dan Pitts and Laurie Anderson and they were up for doing the video entitled ‘DC TALK TALKS ABOUT BILLY GRAHAM’. Scott would write the copy from the Graham perspective and then Toby would translate it into pop-culture student-friendly language. The four sections of the video would be “Who is Billy Graham?” “What happens at a Billy Graham Crusade?” “Why should you get involved in a Billy Graham Crusade?” “How do you get involved in a Billy Graham Crusade?”
The shoot was a very low budget two-camera shoot directed by Eric Wyse in Nashville. All was in place. The script had been written and “translated”. There was a problem though: the DC TALK boys had just finished a major TV appearance with Arsenio Hall where production was world class and now they walked into this shoot. Toby pulled me aside, “Bro, I don’t think this is going to work. It is going to turn out cheesy and not be good for Billy Graham, student ministry, or DC TALK.” Dan and I pulled together the three guys and somehow in that conversation God convinced Toby and all of us that He was in this idea and that we should move forward.
I can’t remember what happened in that meeting but I am so thankful that the Lord convinced Toby that we needed to move ahead. The shoot was full of DC TALK fun – one interesting insight, while all three guys obviously knew who Dr. Graham was, none had ever been to a Crusade!
Scott used that video in promoting “Youth Night” to over 5000 churches in crusade cities. Then the big one came from Scott and Rick Marshall who was in charge of the North American Crusade Ministry with BGEA. “The only way people know that our ‘Youth Night’ is a youth night is because we call it ‘Youth Night’. No young people are coming. We would like to do a real rock concert and have Dr. Graham speak at the end of the concert. Would DC TALK be open to doing the first of the new ‘Youth Nights’ with Michael W Smith at the Cleveland Crusade (June 1994)?”
That began an amazing approximately ten-year run of youth nights (Cleveland, Atlanta, Toronto, Sacramento, Minneapolis, Charlotte, San Antonio, Oakland, Ottawa, Tampa, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Fresno, Cincinnati, Dallas, San Diego, Oklahoma City, and maybe a couple more) that were historic in response to the Gospel.