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Battle Cry is more like Battle Screaming

Proesting Battle Cry

For a couple years now I’ve been increasingly disappointed in the direction Ron Luce and Teen Mania are going with this whole Battle Cry thing. I attended one of the first Battle Cry conferences with my youth group in Texas and I was okay with it then, but it just keeps getting more and more extreme, militaristic and almost hateful. I fully support standing against negative influences and dedicating yourself to God, but I don’t support condemning others who are just as sinful as I am. How does protesting homosexuality on a street corner and shouting, “Jesus loves you!” communicate Christ’s love? They made a lot of people very angry that day and then they have the audacity to return to that same spot a year later and do it again. If I was an unbeliever, that shows me that they’re more concerned with exercising civil rights than they are with loving sinners.

And what does that tell the kid in my youth group who quietly struggles with homosexuality? He/she will probably never talk about it with me or any other Christian adult when they see us picketing the very thing that tears them apart inside.

The “4% of evangelical Christians in this next generation” statistic is thrown around creating lots of fear and hype (and selling lots of books). I completely agree that our approach to youth ministry and spiritual formation needs an overhaul, but fear and desperation is not the attitude to approach such matters. The truth is, Christianity has always been one generation away from extinction. A couple thousand years after Christ’s death and we’re still here. What happened to the sovereignty of God? He’s kept His Word 100% inerrant through the ages despite countless attacks to alter its contents and even purge it from existence altogether. Can He not do the same with those who believe in Him? Somehow I don’t think this whole generation leaving the faith is a problem too big for God to handle. Maybe we should spend less time freaking out and reading “guaranteed strategies for doubling and even quadrupling your youth group” and more time in prayer seeking God’s heart for our ministries.

Last year my youth group in Texas ditched the Acquire The Fire tradition and attended Mark Matlock’s Planet Wisdom student conference instead. One of my former youth group students blogged about the experience. Her insights are very interesting as she compares her Acquire The Fire and Battle Cry experiences to her experience at Planet Wisdom. Definitely a thought-provoking journal entry. Her critical evaluation is right on target. This year my new youth group here in Minnesota is making the same switch.

Stuart Delony makes some great observations about the whole Battle Cry movement, too, along with a news video on the movement. I wholeheartedly agree with him. I couldn’t say it any better myself.

[tags]Battle Cry, Planet Wisdom, Acquire the Fire, Teen Mania[/tags]


Posted on May 17, 2007

  • Pingback: Attempted Philosophy()

  • To quote Rob Bell … “Love wins.”

  • There are two things that I can thank him for. In the mid 90’s, he had a 13-week ( I think ) curriculum that was challenging – w/ video and it was good. It “pushed” but not over the limit.

    In 1999, one of my teens did a mission trip to Haiti with his group and had a great time and a very good experience.

    With that being said, I have got a sour taste in my mouth about him – kinda like how my mouth feels after drinking a green apple jones ….

    Anyway, I do not support his ministry because I disagree with the philosophy. However, I think Marko did a good job sharing about his conversation with him.

  • When the whole BattleCry thing started I to was okay with it. But as I continued to watch and follow the BattleCry movement I became disappointed as well. There no longer seems to be any emphasis on teaching God’s Word and equipping teens to live and share Christ. It’s become a political platform and protest fest. Changing the moral dilemna in our country and apathy among teens is best met on our knees in prayer seeking God with our whole heart and following Christ. I agree with what you’ve said. Thanks for sharing what I’m sure many of us have been thinking.

  • Hey Tim,

    Battle Cry came through the San Francisco Bay Area a few months ago. Here is my post on it. http://sandyssayings.typepad.com/sandys_sayings/2007/03/battle_cry.html

  • Robin

    My fiance and i are youth leaders and we just took 13 kids to the acquire the fire in Pittsburgh, Pa. Him and I both were very uncomfortable while we were there. Ron Luce taught all about how the media is trying to “brand” them and the evils that come with that. Which I agreed with. But, then he turns around and tries to sell them his shirts, books, hats, bags, etc. with his brand on it. The other thing that left us feeling uncomfortable was that we never even needed to open our bibles. They very rarely quoted scripture. I dont know how our teens will learn if they are not grounded in the Word. I dont want to sound like I am bashing Ron Luce or his ministry but, I think he might need some time to reflect on where his ministry is headed.

  • Tim,
    I as well spearheaded the switch from ATF to Planet Wisdom in my current ministry. ATF is just so built on the emotional high and the production values that there is almost no room left over for grace, mercy or unconditional love. I feel that Ron is giving an incomplete message. He is focusing on the spiritual and cultural warfare aspect of the faith and not enough on the Sovereignty of God aspects. There is not even time left for critical thinking during the event, merely bam bam bam God bam bam bam SIn bam bam bam Evil media bam bam bam buy the battlecry brand bam bam bam!!! no room for redeeming the fallen culture. It is the “shock and awe” campaign of the church…

    Your student’s thoughts were well founded, and our small contingent truly enjoyed the PW experience much more than ATF, and they actually got more out of it than they did ATF…

  • Pingback: Fuel for the Battle? « Confessions of a Human Being()

  • If you are all interested, Rolling Stone Magazine did a hit piece on them recently. While it is hardly “fair and balanced,” is is eye opening none the less.

    It can be found here: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/14021621/teenage_holy_war/1

  • How do you know they were protesting homosexuality at the rally in San Fransico?

  • Tim

    @ Heath: Because they said they were at the conference and all the news coverage said so, too. See these news coverage videos on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myycqBbLMk0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3ZiT1N5_lg

  • Jeanne

    I’m not a teenager, in fact I’m a 65 year old lady, and I’d never heard of Battle Cry or Teen Mania before CNN’s three-night segment of God’s Warriors, but please don’t immediately discard what I have to say. Here’s what us old Christians are seeing: our young girls exposing their breasts and body parts, teens involved in drugs and drunkeness, STD, disrespect to teachers and elders, gangs, violence in the media, videos and on the streets, support for abortions and homosexuality, flaunting their right to free speech (without a mediocum of concern for the rights of others), etc. etc. Last night I watched God’s Warriors, the Christian segment, and when I saw thousands of young people excited about reclaiming Christian rights back, I got tears in my eyes. I wish I could thank each and every one of them. I’m sorry to hear that they haven’t been learning the Bible but at least they now know that being a Christian doesn’t have to be dull, that telling others that Jesus loves them is their right (even if their style is questionable), a right that is being taken away. Knowledge of God’s Word, spreading Jesus’ love, and leading others to Christ will come for many of these young people, some will walk away when they’re distracted by worldly things, and others will decide that style of proclaiming Christ is too political for them. For now, I’m glad that they’re learning how to fight back. Their public displays give the rest of us courage to stand up for what we believe and if that’s ALL that comes of it, then it’s a job well done. We Christians have sat on our righteous butts in our safe little worlds way too long while people like Jerry Springer, Ellen DeGeneress and others of their ilk have leached into our children’s worlds. So, in spite of Battle Cry’s or Teen Mania’s warts, they are reaching and encouraging some people that wouldn’t be reached otherwise. Thanks for letting me tell you what I noticed and felt watching God’s Warriors-Christians. It made me want to get off my duff and take a stand. And that’s saying something for an old lady!

  • A Teenage Brother in Christ

    There have been many people from previous generations fighting against BattleCry. However, please listen to one from the generation we’re fighting to save. I’m fifteen and have been with Ron Luce and BattleCry since I’ve been saved two years ago. I have felt the pain that so many speak of with such lack of emotion in their breathe. I know that many of the boomer and buster generations have become as comfortable with the sin my generation is up in our heads to. Not all of the time were these evils here in America, not always were we so ignorant and callous to sin that we’re forgetting to fight. Love is our weapon, but does that mean that there is no battle involved in the weapon? Ron Luce is raising up those left in my generation who are ready to fight for this generation. I say that it’s those criticizing him who have blown his methods of building up Christians out of proportion. BattleCry rallies are held three times a year-that’s far from enough to base his entire ideals off as radical. Jesus was the greatest radical, the greatest rebel, we’re following in his footsteps. Where has Ron Luce specifically told us to stop bonding with unsaved friends because they’re sinful? He told us to teach the truth to others, he’s helped many of us grow up spiritually and become more loving and less sinful. All I’ve seen him down was teach us to be a revolutionary as Jesus was for the sake of our friends and for our generation.

    On the matter of their brand. My church sells t-shirts, worship CDs and recorded messages and so does probably everyone else’s church. Teenmania is none different, they simply have larger expenses and don’t have every week to collect a tithe from every member of the audience. How is supporting a Christian ministry even compare to a large corporation that uses ungodly messages and imagery to sell goods?

    Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, if you aren’t swayed even slightly by what I have said I sincerely pray that you come once again to your senses and see what tolerance has done to this culture and my generation. God has raised up that man to be a light to my generation and to help us see through the darkness of our culture.

    >A teen Brother

  • Tim

    @ A Teenage Brother: Thanks for sharing your story, man. I’ve been to many Acquire The Fire conferences and Battle Cry rallies, so I’m not a spectator on the outside looking in. However, most of my current perspective on the movement is from the eyes of those on the outside, the unsaved world we’re supposed to be reaching. What do they see when they look at the Battle Cry movement? I know the intentions and motives are pure and righteous and I completely support the objective they have in mind, but from an unbeliever’s point of view, it feels like it’s us versus them. It makes them feel like they’re the bad guys who need to be opposed. I know this because that’s what they tell me. When they hear about Battle Cry, they’re completely turned off. Just look at the hundreds of comments on my two Battle Cry videos on YouTube (one here and one here). That’s what the lost world sees and that’s what they feel about Battle Cry. Not one of them feels attracted to God through this. In fact, it turns them off. It’s not about us versus them, it’s about us leading them to Christ, and you’re not a leader if no one is following. Again, I think the goal of the movement is excellent and I support it 110%, but I question the strategy. I know there’s been a lot of fruit from it, but are we cutting off more people through these tactics than we are gaining? Fortunately, no matter what we do or how we approach it, we’re all imperfect people doing our best to serve a perfect Lord the best way we know how. Thank God He chooses to work in spite of us, not because of us.

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