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I Need Advice About Meeting With Christian High School Students


prplfox
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On Sunday I am meeting with a small group of Christian high school students at a local church. Their youth group leader is the preacher in my 6th video at 21:02 who said, "The whole point of the gospel is that people are horrible." He showed them my entire deconversion series this spring, and we are going to get together to talk about it. I'm posting this because I want your wisdom. If you had a limited amount of time with a group of high schoolers who are about to begin their adulthood as followers of the idea of Christ, what are some of the most important things you would want to tell them? What are the things you wish someone had told you?

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As they say in certain recovery and 12 steps groups, give your experience, strength, and hope.   When I was in the trenches, nothing would have convinced me. They will rip you apart if you try too hard.   They can't say much if you keep it personal and just give your story and your whys for leaving.   Plant a seed, don't try to bring down the house.

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Tell them to believe you when you say Obama is Chinese.  When they cannot believe you ask them why?  After they answer, summarize their answers to their life's experiences that keep them from that belief.  Tell them to believe you anyway.  When they admit that they cannot believe you. Tell them, "See, you cannot completely control what you can and cannot believe in.  We are influenced by circumstances and experiences that come our way without our approval.  This is true for unbelievers as well... A set of circumstances they may have no control over may have convinced them that there is no god.  How is this their fault worthy of punishment?"

 

Or just say the bible is full of shit.  Psalm 121 says he will keep us from harm.  How many Christians have died of disease or in tragic car accidents or natural disasters?  Rich Mullins is a good example.

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That's a tricky question. Really when I was deep in my belief as a teenager nothing would have convinced me but. I wish someone had  told me how the bible as we know it came to be and why we accept the things we do as Christians. When I started learning about these things it really opened  doors for me.

 

secondly I loved your series man it was actually what led me here :) and also really helped put things in perspective with my own life and deconversion  thanks so much for posting what you did it really touched me man. It also helped my wife understand more about what I was going through since she is still a believer.

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First of all thank you for posting your videos.  I found them very encouraging when I was deconverting.  You were a huge help to me.  Thank you for that.

 

 

I think the most important thing with Christian teens is to try to prepare them for the shock that typically happens when real life collides with the expectations of Christian parents and Christian leaders.  Right when people leave their folks and go off on their own there is often a huge culture clash.  It varies from person to person.  Some discover they are gay and it's not at all what they had been told.  Others discover they don't believe that stuff anymore.  Sometimes people start having sexual relationships and also find it was not at all what they had been told.  There are all sorts of conflict points but the results are usually a big family drama that can turn ugly.  Then the parents call in pastors to have one of those heart-to-heart talks and set the teen right.

 

Let the kids know:

 

-this is common.  Millions of families go through the same thing.

 

-it's not your fault.  It's a result of the religion.

 

-they have to believe in their own self worth.  Some parent are so fundie they hurt their own children during such times.

 

-we make our own meaning.  Go ahead and find your own life.

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As they say in certain recovery and 12 steps groups, give your experience, strength, and hope.   When I was in the trenches, nothing would have convinced me. They will rip you apart if you try too hard.   They can't say much if you keep it personal and just give your story and your whys for leaving.   Plant a seed, don't try to bring down the house.

I agree 100% about bringing down the house group polarization theory shows that when you push against one groups ideology it only reinforces the belief structure.

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The important thing is not to put them on the defensive.  When shields go up, the ears will close, but if you are sincere and respectful to their beliefs you might be able to plant a seed. Tell them the basics of why you deconverted, and to seek both sides of the story. If Christianity is true than it should hold up to scrutiny. I wouldn't go any farther unless they ask, but keep it light.

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Perhaps you should just be encouraging them to realise that non-believers are still often nice people with morals. May be useful for them to hear the message about how former Christian friends drop ex-ers over the course of time and to challenge them to think about whether they would do that if one of their friends left the fold.

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Don't be an asshole, don't be judgemental and treat everyone with kindness. Don't believe things because your parents do. If someone stops believing, don't stop loving them. God is love, duh.

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One thing I've observed in Christian philosophy is an attitude that accepting Christ has somehow altered their spirit or made them spiritually actualized so that they are in some way more able to discern scripture correctle, or that their good deeds are somehow better than a non-Christian's good deeds because they are not tainted by sin-motivation.  As if Christians are capable of True Altruism while a non-Christian's altruism is secretly or subconsciously tainted by self-interest.  It's a very subtle practice of de-humanization; by thinking non-Christians are somehow less human, it erodes their own internal barriers guarding how they will treat a non-Christian, it encourages an Us versus Them mentality.

 

I have no idea how this would come up during the course of a discussion with them, but maybe just something to keep in mind.  :shrug:

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Hi Eli

 

It's nice to see you here again.  I've watched through your videos again since I last spoke to you - Part 6 always makes me feel so emotional - it's very beautiful.

 

 

I have had a think about your question, and much as it might sound obvious - just be you.

 

Be the you that comes across in your series.  Be kind, gentle and genuine.  Perhaps the best thing you can do is to show people that a non-believer, a deconvert no less, is not someone who is hateful and angry; but someone who was broken and humble.

 

Show them that atheism is not about the pride of being right, but of the humility of saying "I don't know", even when it's scary to not know.

 

If there is anything I have learned, it is that one cannot be reasoned out of the gospel - deconversion has to come from the heart.  This is something that you reflected well in your videos.

 

If there are two things I might say if it were me it is that:

 

1) To a great extent, a person has to want to deconvert.  So ask people to consider whether they believe because they feel that they have to or because they want to.  Do they want to believe in the type of God they see in the Old Testament?

 

and:

 

2) Read everything.  Read atheist authors.  Read scientist authors.  Broaden one's knowledge of world history.

 

 

Please let us know how the meeting goes.

 

SQ

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1) To a great extent, a person has to want to deconvert.

 

I have to disagree. I didn't want to deconvert; instead, I wanted to hold onto the only worldview I had ever known as "truth." I hated the thought of leaving it all behind. My deconversion was a result of the facts before me, not a desire to deconvert.

 

 

 

prplfox, good luck with your meeting. I'll have to check out the video you linked with I get some extra time. Are you going to do another video after Sunday's meeting?

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1) To a great extent, a person has to want to deconvert.

 

I have to disagree. I didn't want to deconvert; instead, I wanted to hold onto the only worldview I had ever known as "truth." I hated the thought of leaving it all behind. My deconversion was a result of the facts before me, not a desire to deconvert.

 

 

 

prplfox, good luck with your meeting. I'll have to check out the video you linked with I get some extra time. Are you going to do another video after Sunday's meeting?

 

I agree I didn't want to deconvert either it just was sortof something I could no longer ignore was happening. It was not fun...

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prplfox, good to see you! You've helped me so much in the last couple of years. Thank you so much for those videos.

 

I personally would start at the very beginning of the bible in Genesis. Once you show them the 'silliness' of this so called 'Master's plan' along with the talking serpent, that might be enough to get a couple of the kids thinking. If you can show them the foolishness of Genesis, along with all the other  contradictions and silly stories of that one book..it helps for the whole bible itself to totally fall apart. Show them how the so called powerful Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient god of the ancient times, was just a fable. He was a very dumb god to say the least. Show them all those points.

 

Best wishes as you take on this very difficult belief system. hug for you today.....

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Emphasize that all people are individuals with their own needs, emotions, and perspectives. Christianity tends to be very One Size Fits All, and (like seeker001 said, above) any overt attack on them or overemphasis on why you are right and they are wrong will only put them on the defense. If you present them with the possibility that not everyone will experience Jeebus (or deconversion) in the same exact way, they may understand that the generalities of Christianity forced on them deserve to be questioned. 

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If Jesus is real then he will not be concerned if you fully investigate any doubts you may have. If Jesus is real he will not be concerned if you read atheist authors to get a more fully rounded perspective.

 

Jesus, the Lord of all ought not have any fear if you question Christian culture or bible scripture.

 

But if Jesus isn't real and exists only in the imagination of fearful and manipulative people then you will be told that you should avoid questioning God, investigating the church and reading secular materials. And why would they tell you that? Are these secular materials more powerful than God? :-)

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It boggles my mind that he has showed the kids that kind of videos. He doesn't seem like a moderate christian in the excerpt you provide. I wonder if you are gonna be used. But even if you are, I guess you'll get over it and all it eventually will be is an interesting experience. *shrugs*

Interesting to me, anyway. Looking forward to hearing from you again after the meeting.

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It boggles my mind that he has showed the kids that kind of videos. He doesn't seem like a moderate christian in the excerpt you provide. I wonder if you are gonna be used. But even if you are, I guess you'll get over it and all it eventually will be is an interesting experience. *shrugs*

Interesting to me, anyway. Looking forward to hearing from you again after the meeting.

I asked myself the same question. What is point of the meeting? i hope he is not trying to make a bad example out of your story or get you back into the flock.

I agree on what squareone and everyone else already said. Be yourself. If they start quoting the bible prepare some verses that they might not like. Advice them to read the bible, the whole bible and not just the nice parts that are presented to them.tell them that they should start thinking for themselves and should allow themselves to ask unpleasant questions.

And tell them that they should watch videos by NonStampCollector . GONZ9729CustomImage1539775.gif

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prplfox, thanks for sharing your story in the videos, which I just watched through. Parts of your experience parallels my own. I hope today went/goes well and that there isn't an underhanded motive with why they wanted you to visit and chat.

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I'm too late to offer advice, since it's now Monday.

 

I too have to wonder why you were asked to come and speak. If they have seen your videos, really... what more is there to say?

 

My advice would have been to introduce them to the word "apologetics." I just learned this word in the past several months, and I am in my 40s. Give them examples of two books that discuss similar topics (like evolution, for example, or the ethics of violence in the Bible or whatever), one from an atheist point of view, and one from an apologetics point of view. Let them know that if they have questions about faith issues that don't make sense, it is good to look for both points of view, not just the apologetics book(s) recommended by church leaders. Chances are, they don't even know these other non-apologetic authors exist.

 

Anyway, too late now, sorry... But please let us know what went down!

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Hope it went well!  I'm sure that some of the kids must have related to your story.

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I just saw this today, but I hope the meeting went well! Please post about your experience when you have the time. 

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I also just now saw this, but I would have suggested that you ask a lot of questions. What is truth to them? How does one know what is true? Are personal experiences reliable sources of truth? What does atheism mean to them? Etc. In other words start a dialogue that plants seeds. Be prepared to answer those questions yourself too. At the end I might also give them a way to reach out to me in case they had questions or comments that they felt they could not share in front of the group. Please update and let us know how it went!

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On Sunday I am meeting with a small group of Christian high school students at a local church. Their youth group leader is the preacher in my 6th video at 21:02 who said, "The whole point of the gospel is that people are horrible." He showed them my entire deconversion series this spring, and we are going to get together to talk about it. I'm posting this because I want your wisdom. If you had a limited amount of time with a group of high schoolers who are about to begin their adulthood as followers of the idea of Christ, what are some of the most important things you would want to tell them? What are the things you wish someone had told you?

 

Something doesn't seem right here.

 

This youth group leader someone who you would not want them talking to you is inviting you to do so? Why are you invited to do so? He is ok with you trying to shake the very foundation of what I am guessing is a faith he is trying to build in them?

 

Are you sure that this is not some trick to try and attack you on what you believe by them?

 

Something doesn't add up here or there is something missing from your post.

 

 

If you are serious you might try asking them this:

 

If you are serious about your faith why are you serious about it? With no more proof of god than any other thing that we cannot physically touch or look at why do you believe?

 

I would try to counter their points on the fly becuase no matter what you say my guess is this youth pastor has prepared them for what you are going to say and maybe he wants to see how they will react to you in order to better indoctrinate them.

 

 

This youth leaders idea of what the gospel says is a load of shit by the way. He can keep it and I am unclear why you have agreed to this? Could you clarrify please?

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