Evangelist and author Nick Hall is ready to see God do amazing things this summer.
He’s expecting more than 50,000 young people to gather in Dallas, Texas, for TOGETHER ’22, a free event at the Cotton Bowl Stadium held June 24-25.
“We really do believe we’re on the dot of a new Jesus movement,” Hall told The Christian Post.
Inspired by Explo ’72, a 1972 evangelistic conference held at the Cotton Bowl and hosted by Billy Graham, Hall said TOGETHER ’22 will be the largest evangelistic training event in history. There, attendees will be trained in sharing their faith along with millions more watching online.
Young Americans from all 50 states are expected to be there, along with a lineup of notable Christian speakers and artists including Jeremy Camp, Chris Tomlin, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Dick Eastman, Paul Eshleman, Ebony Small, Jonathan Evans, Josh McDowell, Preston Perry, Shane Pruitt, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Miel San Marcos, Evan Craft, Israel Houghton & New Breed and more.
The event is happening precisely 50 years after Explo ’72, which featured Graham, Bill Bright and other leaders, along with the music of Johnny Cash, Keith Green and Larry Norman.
Even though it took place a decade before he was born, Hall said Explo ’72 had “ripple effects that have impacted my life from childhood all the way until today.”
Some of those young people who attended Explo ’72 brought the Gospel back to Hall’s home state of North Dakota and planned outreach events, including one event featuring a young Josh McDowell.
It was at that event Hall’s dad gave his life to Christ.
“That changed my dad’s life, it eventually changed his marriage, it changed our family,” he said.
Eventually, it changed Hall’s life as well. Explo ’72 inspired him to start planning similar events on college campuses, and before long, he was receiving mentoring from the likes of Graham and McDowell.
Now, he’s praying for TOGETHER to have the same impact.
“Our prayer and our hope is not for an event, but our prayer and our hope is to change generations,” he said. “That’s what happened in ’72 and we believe that’s what God can do again today.”
Hall contrasted today’s culture with the social tumult of the 1960s and 70s, and says he sees “massive parallels” between the two eras.
“There was a war happening that people were pretty upset about, there were riots happening in the streets, cities were being torched and looted, there was division around race, there was division around politics, so much so that President Kennedy was assassinated,” he said.
Citing the infamous 1966 Time magazine cover, which asked, “Is God Dead?” Hall said that the Church was seen as aging out and yielding to a younger generation that didn’t “want Jesus.”
Just five short years later, another TIME magazine cover signaled a shift in the cultural winds with a headline reading, “The Jesus Revolution,” above an image of Christ.
“There had been a massive cultural tide of young men and women in the midst of chaos seeing Jesus not as a religious figurehead, but seeing Him as a revolutionary who modeled life a different way,” Hall contended.
Today’s generation wants a movement of their own, Hall believes. He cited the “rise of the nones” among Millennials and Generation Z, those Americans who say they have no religious affiliation.
“I don’t think they want a faith that doesn’t call them to action,” Hall said. “I don’t think they want a faith that is just about rules, and they certainly don’t want a faith that is just politics.”
Through PULSE, the millennial prayer and outreach effort he founded in 2006, students have been leading events for 15 years, fasting, praying and emptying their bank accounts to see their friends come to know Jesus.
“We really believe that it’s time to rally behind this generation, it’s time to unleash them, to commission them,” Hall added.
Acknowledging the apparent demise of cultural Christianity in America, Hall said evangelism has always been adopted into contemporary language regardless of cultural norms.
When his mentor Graham started out as an evangelist with Youth for Christ, Hall said, his slogan was “Geared to the times, but anchored to the Rock.”
“In other words, the message never changes, but the packaging needs to change,” he said.
But now, with the onset of the digital revolution, tech and social media impact every sphere of culture. Hall believes the Church has yet to see Gen Z — which he called an “incredibly spiritual generation, the most cause-driven generation maybe ever” — unleashed for the Gospel.
Even with numerous surveys indicating young people are fleeing Christianity in droves, Hall said he isn’t buying it.
“I would argue they’re leaving things that haven’t been effective for a long time,” he said. “They’re leaving things that’s a club and not a movement, things that have become more political than Jesus-focused. … They want something that’s supernatural. They don’t want something that’s safe.”
The lack of cultural pressure in a seemingly post-Christian America just might be a blessing in disguise, Hall said.
“I think we’re living in an age where if you want to follow Jesus, you’re going to be ridiculed for it, and you’re going to be ridiculed for it by many religious people, because they would rather have safety and comfort and power than the things that Jesus actually calls for and invites us into,” he said.
“So many people speak without hope, they speak as if this generation is doomed, and I would say those people are not speaking with the heart of Christ … because God never dooms an entire generation, there’s always hope because God is on the throne.”