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