Of course Nate Schellhause was nervous to share his faith with his newfound soccer friends. Coming from a homeschool background and transitioning into a public high school, Nate didn’t know anyone.
That’s when Zach*, one of these soccer players Nate first met through a community league, started to introduce him to others at school. It was through soccer and his first connection with Zach that this group of soccer-loving high school guys brought Nate into their group.
“They didn’t even know Jesus, but saw someone who didn’t know anyone, like a lost puppy, and wanted to bring me into their group,” Nate shared. “I think it shows a lot of maturity for freshmen in high school.”
Nate wasn’t sure how they would respond, but knew he couldn’t just say he followed Jesus and not live it out every day.
“I can’t just go to church on Sundays and profess I know Jesus as the most important Person in my life and not share that,” Nate said. “I would ask myself, How could I talk about Jesus and the Bible in a way these guys would find interesting?”
So Nate got creative.
“Crazy” Bible Stories at a Bonfire
One night in high school, he and his friends had a bonfire where Nate shared crazy stories from the Bible, like the story of Ehud and King Eglon from Judges 3.
“I shared this Bible story and how Ehud stabbed Eglon and the sword went right into his belly, including all the details guys appreciate. My friends looked surprised and responded, ‘That’s in the Bible?!’” Nate laughed as he shared. “Yeah, it’s a crazy story from the Bible!’ Sometimes when it’s weird it appeals to guys.”
Nate didn’t want to water down God’s truth, but to meet his friends where they were, making the Bible relatable to their interest.
These friends heard more than a crazy Bible story from Nate, they saw a guy who made counter-cultural choices. His life spoke to them, too. But to Nate it seemed like very little was happening in his friends’ hearts.
Nate’s parents had modeled to him from an early age what it looked like to be an everyday disciple. They emphasized the intrinsic, infinite value of each person and reminded him to treat them as such.
Teaching Your Kids to Share Their Faith
“I was led to Christ my freshman year by a Navigators staff named Charlie Green. For the next four years I was not just taught how to walk with Jesus and minister to others, but Charlie did it with me,” shared Kent. “The ‘with Him’ principle based on Mark 3:14 was part of my DNA because of my involvement with The Navigators and Charlie’s example.”
Kent and his wife Jill both came to Christ through Navigators Collegiate and eventually had three kids, who all chose to be involved in Navigators Collegiate during their college years.
Kent constantly instilled in Nate what was important in life. It’s remembering those conversations that bring Nate back into focus when his priorities get rearranged.
“I think my dad’s biggest spiritual investment in me was instilling the value of spiritual investment in my own life,” Nate shared. “He always said we should be investing in the only two things that have eternal value on earth: the Word of God and people’s souls. This is such an important reminder as I get caught up in the complexity of everyday life.”
Kent and Jill allowed the “with Him” principle to guide how they discipled their children. Ministry wasn’t something they did solely as a couple. Their family was involved in ministry and they followed Christ together.
“We had quiet times with the kids; we prayed with the kids; we went on missions trips with them; and did Bible study with them,” Kent shared. “In most of our Navigator career, Jill and I made it a priority to include our children and their friends and those friends’ parents in our everyday life and ministry, primarily families who did not know Jesus yet. Hopefully our children saw an example of what a disciple is through my and Jill’s life.”
How To Take the Pressure off When It Comes to Evangelism
Fast forward 20 years later and you’ll find Nate and his soccer friends married and starting families and still an intentional community.
Today, this group seeks the Lord together and many of them have accepted Christ and been baptized. Nate was surprised at the change of heart that happened when he moved out of state.
“I remember asking God, ‘Hey God, I’ve been praying for these guys for 15 years and it’s when I leave and am not a part of their everyday lives that I see more fruit from their lives?’” Nate shared. “It was then that they started going to church. It was a good reminder for me that it is all Jesus. He’s the One who pursues and transforms their hearts, not me.”
With Nate back in the Cincinnati area now, the guys meet every other week and their wives on the opposite weeks. At times this involves Bible study and other times a discussion topic, while rotating facilitators. One of these friends, Bryan*, is even a part of the Navigators 20s which they now have coined the Nav 30s because of the group’s longevity.
“Ultimately, I come back to my dad’s advice of investing in the Word of God and in people. I know if I really believe this is most important then this is how I should spend my time,” Nate shared. “My dad has emulated this in his life and I have tried to copy his example in mine.”
Pray for The Navigators 20s ministry in Cincinnati and the Schellhause family who continues to invest in spiritual generations.