Let's Talk About Deconstruction with Alisa Childers and Tim Barnett
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

The Greg Stier Youth ministry Podcast

episode 33 | February 2024

Why It's Important to Talk About Deconstruction, with guests alisa childers and tim barnett

How do you address deconstruction within Christianity? 

This podcast episode features Greg Stier hosting guests Alisa Childers and Tim Barnett. They discuss the concept of “deconstruction” within Christianity, emphasizing the importance of defining it clearly. Barnett explains that “deconstruction” is often misunderstood and can range from questioning secondary doctrines to outright abandonment of the Christian faith. Childers highlights the danger of promoting deconstruction as positive, as it often leads to rejecting core Christian beliefs. They propose using the term “reformation” instead, emphasizing the need to reexamine beliefs according to scripture. The conversation highlights the significance of biblical authority in shaping one’s faith and personal experiences with questioning and rebuilding their faith within the context of scripture.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

0:00:00.0 Greg Stier: Hey, welcome to the Greg Stier Youth Ministry Podcast. We believe in the power of the gospel and the potential of teenagers. We believe the best way to get a teenager to grow in Christ is to get them to go with the message of Christ to their peers. I’m so, so excited that you tuned in today because I have two authors and speakers that are going to blow you away. We have Alisa Childers and Tim Barnett. Alisa is a wife, mom, author, blogger, speaker, worship leader. She was a member of the award-winning CCM recording group, ZOEgirl. I remember them. Yes. She is currently a respected speaker at Apologetics and Christian Worldview Conferences, as well as host of her popular YouTube channel. Alisa’s story was featured in the documentary American Gospel, Christ Crucified. She’s been published at the Gospel Coalition, Crosswalk, The Stream, For Every Mom, Decision Magazine, and the Christian Post. You can connect with Alisa online at alisachilders.com. Really challenge you to listen to her podcast. It is excellent.

 

0:01:03.0 GS: Tim Barnett is a husband, father, author, social media content creator. He’s a speaker and apologist for Stand to Reason. In addition, his online presence on Red Pen Logic with Mr. B helps people access bad thinking by using good thinking or assess, not access, assess. Me learned how to read lately. Okay, sorry. Reaching millions of people every month through multiple social media platforms. Tim resides in the greater Toronto area with his wife, Stacy. Toronto is in Canada, for those who are watching from America, and they have three daughters and a Morkipoo. Is that pronounced correctly, Morkipoo?

 

0:01:42.8 Tim Barnett: You got it.

 

0:01:43.2 GS: Is that a type of a dog? I don’t know what that is.

 

0:01:47.2 TB: It’s more like a bunny, but it is a dog. It is a Maltese-Yorkie poodle mix.

 

0:01:53.8 GS: Okay. All right. But it’s from this planet, basically, right?

 

0:01:55.8 TB: It’s from this planet. Nine pounds of fur. Yeah.

 

0:02:00.7 GS: There you go. That’s awesome. And Alisa, I’m glad to have you back. I know we’ve been on each other’s podcast, and thanks so much for what both of you do. I’m getting to know more about you, Tim, and I’m liking what I’m getting to know. And Alisa, I’ve been a big fan for a long time, so thank you so much. We’re going to talk about your latest book that just came out. It’s The Deconstruction of Christianity, What It Is, Why It’s Destructive, and How to Respond. And I posted this online, said I was about to read it, and a progressive Christian misunderstood the title. They said, welcome aboard. We’re so glad that you’re here. And I’m like, I don’t think this book means what you think it means. So I am so glad. I’m about three-quarters of the way through it, and it is an excellent book so far. Highly, highly recommend it. And I just want to ask you guys a couple of questions. First of all, why did you write this book? Tim, tell us why you wrote this book.

 

0:03:02.7 TB: Well, we noticed a few years ago that this word deconstruction was being used by everyone from the progressive Christians to people who had left Christianity, to people who were inside the church, evangelical pastors. And there was so much confusion over what people meant by the term. In fact, if you consulted 10 different people, you’d get 11 different definitions, that kind of thing. And it’s really important that we understand what terms we’re using, especially as something as important as the Christian faith. And so people were using this term to mean everything from, hey, I’m deconstructing my view on creation. And so maybe they’re moving from young earth creation to old earth creation, something like a secondary doctrine, all the way to Joshua Harris.

 

0:03:55.9 TB: I kissed dating goodbye. He posted on Instagram, I’ve deconstructed my faith. And he said he defined his term. That means I’ve fallen away. That’s the biblical term. So you had these spectrums. And what Alisa and I noticed right away was there is massive confusion about this. And if we’re going to be able to have good conversations about people leaving the faith and using the word deconstruction, or that young person in our church who’s just asking questions and doubting, we need to be clear on what we’re talking about. And so that’s why it’s really important. And when terms are not clearly defined, confusion just abounds.

0:04:37.0 GS: So that’s really good. And you guys, I mean, there was a large portion of the front, I think the first two chapters or somewhere in there that you talked about the importance of defining deconstruction very, very clearly as not just changing your mind about the creation account or this or that or the other, but saying, you know what, I am abandoning the Christian faith. Alisa, why is that so important? I listened to you and Sean McDowell talk a little bit about this, and you guys came at it from a little bit different perspective. I love Sean McDowell. But why is it important to really define deconstruction as abandoning the Christian faith?

 

0:05:22.5 Alisa Childers: Well, I think it’s really important to understand it that way because that’s the broadest manifestation of it in culture. That’s what’s happening in the broader culture. And so what Tim and I noticed as we were researching this is that there seemed to be this small bubble of evangelicals that were defining it in a very different way than the broader culture was because the broader culture was seeing historic core Christian doctrines surrounding the gospel as being, “toxic theology”. And so in the deconstruction movement, it’s virtuous to leave those doctrines behind, things like being told you’re a sinner or being told that you must go through Jesus to be saved or that the Bible is your authority, your authoritative standard for truth, or that Jesus is coming back to judge the living and the dead or that a place called hell exists. These are seen as toxic doctrines in the deconstruction movement. And so what we noticed is you have this kind of small bubble of evangelicals saying, no, it really just means tearing apart everything, making sure what you believe is true, and then having your Bible in your hand and making sure that what you believe lines up with the Bible.

 

0:06:27.6 AC: Well, there’s been no time in church history where the church has used a word that has such a manifestation in culture and a connection to postmodernism, which we can get into in a bit if you’d like to, but to mean something that Christians should be doing all along. We should be testing everything we believe, holding fast to what is true. We should be like the Bereans, testing how they wanted to make sure that everything Paul said lined up with the scriptures. And we want that. We want people to press hard on their faith and engage their doubts and ask hard questions. But we’re just saying, why are we using a postmodern word that has such a specific meaning and culture to describe that? There’s no biblical mandate to get saved, get baptized, and then deconstruct your faith. So why have we adopted that word? And that’s kind of the question we’re asking in the book because we’re saying this is really what it means. And so our main concern, especially with youth who maybe haven’t developed the critical thinking skills yet to be able to engage with this, is that if we start promoting deconstruction as something positive, they’re going to go online.

 

0:07:33.2 AC: And the only thing they’re going to find online under that hashtag is things that undermine the Christian faith, undermine their confidence in the Bible, undermine their confidence in core historic Christian doctrines. And it really works a lot like propaganda. It’s like, we’re not afraid. And we talked to Sean about this too. We’re not afraid to expose kids to these things. In fact, we think that’s part of really important part of discipleship is to maybe take one of those videos and show it to your kids. And in the safety of your home and your protection, you can walk them through how to think through that. But if we just throw our kids into this hashtag, there is a very strong possibility that they are going to become completely shaken and maybe walk away from their faith. So that was kind of a huge concern for us.

 

0:08:19.1 GS: You guys, you know what, you guys changed my mind on this because I come from a construction background. So whenever I think of deconstruction, I think of reconstruction. So you tear it down to the base as a roofer. So you tear it down to the sheathing and then you build it back up. This kind of deconstruction, though, never builds it back up. They just tear it off. And so when you guys were talking about this and the fact that they really own the hashtag, they’re owning that conversation, that maybe there’s a better word. And the word, Tim, that you guys chose is, I believe, reformation. Tell me why you think that’s a better word.

 

0:08:56.6 TB: Yeah, reformation. And people immediately think, I think, of someone like Martin Luther, because what he saw going on was there was a lot of beliefs that were being held by the church that weren’t biblical beliefs. They were beliefs that needed to be, and I don’t want to use the word deconstruction here. I want… They needed to be removed. They needed to be examined and rejected. But the important piece was according to the word of God. Okay, so we define deconstruction as this postmodern process of rethinking your faith without requiring scripture as a standard. And we contrast that with what some have called disentangling, but we like the word reforming your faith, reexamining, but according to the word of God. This is the main difference. When you go into the deconstruction hashtag, what you find is there’s an absolute rejection of scripture as an ultimate authority.

 

0:09:57.0 TB: This isn’t just like something you see here and there. This is overwhelmingly a part of the methodology. This is how you go about doing deconstruction. And as you said it’s… In deconstruction, it’s not about rebuilding or reconstructing. In fact, man, you follow some of these influencers. One notable would be the Naked Pastor. Now, nobody Google Naked Pastor, okay? But he’s got a massive platform on Instagram, 120,000 followers, and then he’s on TikTok, and he talks a lot about deconstructing. And he says, don’t reconstruct, because when you reconstruct beliefs, new beliefs, you’ll only have to deconstruct those beliefs. And so it is a never… Deconstruction is never ending, tearing down of beliefs, but never actually rebuilding. And of course, this is self-refuting, and we can kind of attack this logically, but we want to be sounding the alarm Bell so that the church understands when someone goes into the deconstruction hashtag, or they start to read the deconstructions themselves, that’s what they’re going to find. They’re not going to find Bereans searching the scripture to see if these things are so. That’s a different methodology. That’s a different process. That’s the process that Alisa and I are advocating for in the book.

 

0:11:20.5 GS: So it’s interesting because when, and you guys talk a lot about the importance of biblical authority, which I preach to teens all the time, that God’s word is inspired, therefore it’s inerrant, therefore it’s in charge, right? And that it’s about the Bible’s authority that we need to really bring it down to. But when you, literally, it feels to me like everything is up for grabs as long as you keep scripture as the ultimate authority. You can evaluate everything, but as soon as you take that away from the foundation, like you could tear down to the foundation, right? But then you build back up on it. I know for me, I come from a very legalistic background. My whole family was reached by a hyper fundamentalist, kind of Jack Hyles, Bill Gothard-type church. And I started rethinking things, but scripture was my authority. I’ll never forget my pastor at the time when I was 13 years old on a Sunday night service, he said he held up his King James old Schofield reference Bible, and he said, I want you to know this book so well that you rebel against me if I’m wrong.

 

0:12:24.5 GS: And when I left that church five years later, he said, why are you doing this? I said because you told me to. You told me to know this book so well to rebel against you if you’re wrong. Well, I read Galatians and this church is a legalistic church and I’m out of here. Thanks for reaching my family. Thanks for the basic foundation of doctrine. I’m gone. So I think it’s really it’s a challenge because you want people you want these young people to wrestle through their theology, but not abandon God’s word. So, Alisa why is it so important for youth leaders in particular, and parents to really help their young people understand biblical authority to wrestle through all this stuff?

 

0:13:08.5 AC: Because it’s the anchor that we can stand on. It’s this unshakable foundation that we can stand on. I know you and I, Greg, have slightly different backgrounds, but I’ve done similar things like that, where I’ve had to look at people I respect, who I really trusted a lot and even still respect and love as brother and sister in Christ, but say, I disagree with you because of this book. And I think that’s because the people in my life who discipled me taught me that that that everything comes down to scripture and what God has revealed to us and everything gets measured against that. And I think that is such an important message for youth, especially in this culture, cancel culture, where things are constantly changing, what you were supposed to think five minutes ago will get you canceled. If you think it today, people feel like they have to jump on social media to find out what they’re supposed to think today. And that is a very shaky foundation to stand on.

 

0:14:02.9 AC: And I think that what I have found even in speaking to students is letting them know like you can stand on the eternal truths of God’s word. Now, sometimes those truths are going to be okay with culture, but sometimes they’re not. But they don’t change. And it doesn’t change what’s right or wrong, depending on what culture does. Culture is the one that’s changing and shifting and all of these things. But you can have stability standing on the word of God. And a fun little thing for your audience, Greg, is if your audience does end up getting the book and they turn to page 96, they’re going to find the story of Greg Stier featured in our book. And so I want to thank you so much for letting us use your story because we wanted to highlight the fact that we know people have trauma. You had a lot of trauma growing up with a very violent inner city home. And then you’re reached by this hyper-fundamentalist, very legalistic type of church. And a lot of people you would be a candidate for deconstruction, but you didn’t. You reformed. That’s the word we like to say is let’s reform our faith according to scripture. And that’s exactly what you did. And because you’re such a great example of that, we were very honored to be able to feature your story in the book.

 

0:15:09.6 GS: Yeah. It’s… It was a tweet I sent out and you contacted me like, hey, can I use that? I’m writing a book on this. I go, yeah, that’d be great. And I just want to say this because I’ve talked to some guys who deconstructed. I’m like, tell me your story. And it’s usually a trauma, like you say in the book, something that happened. And I’m like, well, you want to compare trauma? Because let’s talk a little bit about I was raised in a fatherless home, a very violent family, saw so much violence before I was five years old, abandoned my father, almost aborted, almost died four different times before I turned like 10 years old. And then I got reached by a legalistic church that I’m grateful for. But then there’s the burden of legalism and that church trauma and all that stuff. And I’m telling you, yeah, you can choose to go one way, but you can choose to go the other way. And I mean, I just challenge anybody watching this that is really struggling through stuff. You don’t have to choose the path of deconstruction.

 

0:16:04.4 GS: Please don’t. It’s the weak way. Choose Christ. He’s the strong one. Lean into him. Let all the trials and the trauma and the problems and like, guess what? Welcome to life. Life is hard. And it’s hard as a Christian because we’re going to… We have Satan ticked off at us now. Yes, there’s going to be problems. Yes, there seems to be things that are unjust suffering. But God can redeem all of that stuff and use it for his glory. I tell you what, if I could go in a time machine and go back, I wouldn’t change a thing about all the trauma and the abuse and everything I’ve suffered because God used it to draw me close to him. And it’s been worth all that pain. So don’t buy the lie that you have to deconstruct because you don’t. You can reconstruct. You can reform. Let’s talk about this. Tim, one of the things that I love to read in the book is the importance of really training our young people, not just in biblical authority, but in basic Bible doctrines. And this is something I really struggle with with youth leaders is guys, please don’t just play games and have fun and do a little 10 minute talk and then pizza, but dive deep, kick over the bucket, deal with the tough stuff.

 

0:17:17.5 GS: And if you don’t have the questions, go find… If you don’t have the answers, go find them and let it be messy in the midst of your youth ministry. So teens can wrestle through this stuff now so they won’t… They can see the answers that are in scriptures. So why is it so important to really train our young people in basic Bible doctrines?

 

0:17:40.2 TB: Well, Jesus gives a parable, Parable of the Soils. And one of the soils is the rocky or stony soil. And he says that the seed that fell on this rocky soil, and it actually springs up initially, and then the sun comes, scorches it, and then he says something like it falls away. And then he interprets this passage. And he says the seed that falls on the rocky ground, it’s like the one who receives the word with joy initially, but then when tribulation and persecution come, they arise on account of the word, they end up falling away. I think there’s that kind of thing is happening all over the church right now, especially evangelical church, because what we’ve done is we have young people who grow up in the church, they sing the songs, they do the youth group, they do the Sunday school.

 

0:18:33.0 TB: But the problem is they have no root in themselves. They have no root, and because they have no root, they end up falling away. Now, we didn’t put this in the book, but there’s this parable we like to tell, okay? And I heard this from actually AJ Swoboda. He wrote a book called After Doubt. We couldn’t find a source on it. So lemme just call it a parable, there is a biodome or biosphere in Arizona, it’s a real enclosure, it’s the largest kind of enclosed structure ecosystem that man has ever created. And the idea was, we’ll create this ecosystem with plants and animals, and we’ll put humans in it, the right oxygen, temperature, light, all that stuff to see if they could survive, and potentially this biosphere could be put somewhere like on Mars and people could survive there.

 

0:19:23.2 TB: Well as the parable goes, the trees would grow up in this biosphere, reach a certain height, and then fall over. And the scientists were baffled. They didn’t know what was going on. Why were the trees just falling over? We did the right, we have the right water, soil, all these different things. The one thing they forgot to account for was wind, because it’s a enclosure, completely blocked, it blocks all the wind. But it turns out the wind pushing against the trees causes the roots to grow down deeper, and as they grow deeper, it’s able to support the tree as it grows higher. Now, this’ll preach, okay, if you’re a youth pastor here, this is like, this is your sermon on Sunday, we need to be introducing wind into our youth groups and into our Sunday school classes.

 

0:20:13.7 TB: What’s the wind look like? We’re pushing against our students with the challenges and the tough questions. And as you do that, it’s almost counterintuitive, what we wanna do is isolate our students, many pastors, many parents, like, don’t teach them those ideas. Why? Because we might lose them if they learn about X, Y, and Z. Here’s the truth of it, if you don’t talk about those things now, you’re going to lose them outside the walls of your church. So, within the safety of our church, let’s start introducing the big questions, let’s talk about the problem of evil, let’s talk about the God of the Old Testament, let’s talk about suppose Bible contradictions. We are not saying just blindly believe, Alisa and I are both professional apologists. I mean, our kind of full-time day job is to go around teaching people, especially young people, how to defend their faith.

 

0:21:06.4 TB: Not just what to believe, but why to believe it. And the why is really essential. I think one of the problems in our churches, and I don’t like to beat up on the bride, I know there’s so many great youth pastors out there, I get to meet them every week and God bless you guys and gals. Here’s the thing. We need to be teaching our young people how to defend what they believe, what’s the why? What’s the why? So we talked about biblical authority a second ago, we’re not just saying blindly believe the Bible is the authoritative word of God, we have good reason to believe it’s the word of God, let’s look into those. So you’re questioning that. Okay, let’s do apologetics, I’ll show you, here’s the reasons why. But if you’re a Christian, you believe it’s the word of God, then everything needs to be based on that foundation.

 

0:22:00.2 GS: This is really good. So I’m gonna push you a step further, Tim, because I really believe one of the challenges, is that we don’t teach it in the safety of our youth ministry, and we don’t mobilize students for evangelism. I have seen one of the benefits, we do a thing called Dare 2 share live. We had 20,000 teens in 42 countries trained equipped and go out, they actually go out to share Christ. They share Christ with their friends.

 

0:22:27.8 TB: Wow.

 

0:22:29.4 GS: And then they go out and share Christ with strangers, they come back with questions like, Hey, I just talked to a Mormon that, how do we know the Bible is the right interpretation, I just talked to a Muslim, why do we believe in the Trinity? I just talked to an atheist how do we know God created everything. And it sparks questions. We do a thing called Go Share Day last Saturday of every month, hundreds of youth groups around the world take their kids out to share Christ. What I have found is when you, yes, in the room, but also outside the room, mobilize them to have those hard, not theoretical, but real conversations with lost people, they come back hungry for apologetics. So I think the dividing wall, not between the Jews and the Gentiles, yes, that needs to come down, but between apologetics and evangelism needs to be torn down, and we need to mobilize a generation for the gospel. I believe what I call street apologetics your best apologetics truth comes from actual conversations in the streets.

 

0:23:26.7 GS: And I remember by the time I was 15 years of age, I was not gonna be dissuaded at a college with the smartest philosophy prof, because I already had those conversations a thousand times, and I was able to go back to my youth leader and say, why do we believe this? And that learning as we go with the gospel is so, so important. You want to comment on that really quick?

 

0:23:52.2 TB: I think, you’re exactly right. And by the way, this is one of the reasons we will sometimes role-play as an atheist and come into a youth group, and it’s because we know that’s what motivates students to get a taste of what it’s like to talk to someone, at least in the role play, it’s like they think I’m the atheist, you know? And then I do the big reveal. And of course, in that moment they’re thinking, man, I don’t have answers, but I want answers. And now they’re ready to go. And, we have friends, Brett Kunkle, he’s got a ministry called Maven. Maven Truth, he takes young people to Berkeley to Utah, and they do a theological mission trip and an apologetic mission trip. And you better believe I’ve been on them. I’ve been at Berkeley with these students, and they are so pumped to learn because they’re actually on the campus talking to students who hold these real beliefs. It’s not theoretical, it’s not abstract, it’s not, those people are out there somewhere. No, these are real flesh and blood people that you are face to face with, and they wanna know what they believe and why they believe it so I’m with you, amen, all the way, I’m glad you guys are doing that.

 

0:25:03.4 GS: Where it’s really prominent, what Adam and Eve didn’t struggle with, what the apostle Paul with Demas fleeing didn’t struggle with was social media. So how has social media accelerated the deconstruction movement? And here’s another question, how can we place some offense and use social media to accelerate the truth? So that’s a part A, part B. So Alisa, and then maybe, you want to comment on that as well, Tim?

 

0:25:33.0 AC: Yeah. This may seem like an overstatement to some people, but I truly believe it’s true, and that’s that the deconstruction movement, as we see it exist today, does not exist without social media. So of course, people have always been leaping the faith, we trace it all the way back to the Garden of Eden with the serpent’s question, did God really say? In fact, we say the devil was postmodern before postmodern was a word that we knew, right? And so I think what we have to understand about the nature of social media is it’s like a digital tower of Babel, right? The world once again speaks with one language, but as we know from scripture, that wasn’t a great idea the first time, and of course, God scattered everybody. And, then they spoke with different languages, and so that type of unity, unity for nefarious purposes is not necessarily a great idea.

 

0:26:22.0 AC: But that’s what we see on social media, and it does operate because of algorithms, it operates as an echo chamber, and very often those echo chambers can be filled with propaganda. In fact, a friend of mine called the deconstruction, hashtag conspiracy theories for progressives because there’s so much misinformation. I just wanna recommend to your audience Tim’s social media, because what Tim does on TikTok and Instagram is he will take the video of a deconstructionist or a progressive Christian, and then he’ll pull out his red pen and correct the errors of it, but so much of it is in the realm of truth. And I think this might be a good place to bring in the postmodern element of the whole thing. Because really, when the devil asked, did God really say he’s really questioning and especially when he appears to Jesus in the wilderness when he tempts Jesus, he actually quotes scripture to Jesus.

 

0:27:12.4 AC: But he tries to twist the interpretation, and one of the hallmarks of postmodernism is the idea that words don’t have meaning, that there’s no objective meaning in the text, and this is what we see all the time when we post about deconstruction or we post our definition of deconstruction. Many deconstructionists will come on and say things like, well that’s just your interpretation of scripture. You’re just defending what you think scripture says, and what it really gets to the bottom of is that they don’t believe the words have objective meaning. Because I’m sure, there’s three of us having this discussion right now, I’m sure that we don’t all three believe, this, exact same on absolutely every passage of scripture, we might have some disagreements over secondary doctrines, but that doesn’t mean we think that there’s not objective meaning in the text.

 

0:28:04.4 AC: In fact, the reason we have disagreements is because we disagree about what that objective meaning is, and we’re trying to get to the bottom of it. But if I just said, oh, you know, Greg, you believe whatever you wanna believe, Tim, you believe ’cause it, you know, just it’s all interpretation. Well, then I have conceded to the idea of postmodernism that words don’t have objective meaning, and I think that is a huge element of social media, is that it has convinced people that there’s really not, not just no objective meaning in words, but no objective meaning in reality, there’s no grand meta-narrative that anybody can claim to know about reality. And that’s what Christianity is, it’s a grand meta-narrative. It’s like, this is how we started, this is where we’re going, this is why everything’s broken, those big worldview questions. But people don’t think today in a postmodern culture that those questions have knowable answers, and so that’s really what deconstruction is all about.

 

0:28:50.5 GS: Yeah, you gave that, you guys gave that illustration of the, it brought me back to my how then should we live Francis Schaeffer college classes, the lower level and the upper level, the upper-level things, there is more the arts and things that you can’t really know and the lower level things you can know. And we put Christianity and worldview and religion in the upper level when we should keep it in the lower level. It’s interesting to me though, I sent, I don’t know if you got that article I sent you last night about Francis Schaeffer, but Francis Schaeffer, went through a time, some would say deconstruction. We would say reformation, where he went in 1951, kinda like a legalism angry church back, he went to a barn for a couple months and rethought everything over the course of a couple months.

 

0:29:34.6 GS: And he came back on fire, with the gospel started L’Abri kind of this Christian think tank and gathering place for young people. But that came through him wrestling, through a lot of the stuff we benefit from on a Christian philosophy level, really started back in that barn with Francis Schaeffer just working it out. So, Tim, social media a big part of what you do, you play offense, why is it important that we use social media, to defend Christianity, but also to win people over, to the good news of the gospel?

 

0:30:11.3 TB: Yeah. For better or for worse, social media has a huge impact on what we believe, it’s incredible how a 60-second reel or a 60-second short can actually send someone into a spiral of doubt and even deconstruction. I get sent videos every day, like, as we’re recording this, someone is likely sending me a video either on TikTok or Facebook or Instagram or YouTube saying, Hey, can you respond to this? And the reason they’re saying it to me is because they don’t feel equipped, they don’t have an answer to the challenge. Now, what’s frustrating a little bit is a lot of the stuff that gets sent to me is actually pretty easy to respond to, the problem is, we haven’t been equipped as a church to think critically about these things, to ask the right questions. Oftentimes things that get sent to me it’s just assertions, they’re not even arguments.

 

0:31:15.1 TB: But because the way they’re couched, Hey, hey, it’s me, the Bible scholar, and here’s what you need to believe. And all of a sudden, wow, that gravitas that like, wow, he’s a Bible scholar and he believes this, therefore he must be right. Although all he did was give an assertion, with nothing to back it up, and I’m just thinking my response would be, so what? I could say the exact opposite thing, and with no argument, and we’ve gone nowhere, you know? So social media this is what’s new about deconstruction, it’s Demas deconstructed, or he fell in love with the world, we know about Demas from the first century. Now, what’s different about Demas and today is he didn’t have Instagram. But if Demas had Instagram or TikTok, well he may have 200,000 followers or half a million followers, like some of these guys do in this world, and which is why it’s, this is such a dangerous thing, it’s not just that people are deconstructing and leaving that’s been happening.

 

0:32:15.7 TB: It’s that there’s this almost evangelistic aspect to it. I am gone, and I’m gonna take you with me, and here’s how I’m gonna do it, every day, I’m gonna post a video that either ridicules that mocks or talks people out of their faith. And so what we did with Red Pen logic is we said, Uh-huh, we’re not gonna sit on our hands here, what we’re gonna do is we’ll take one of your videos, we’ll play the entire thing if it’s a minute, sure and then give me two minutes to respond. And usually, it’s like that’s all it takes is two minutes to just kind of tease this thing out, here’s what they’re doing, don’t fall for this logical fallacy. Don’t follow for this misstep here, and here’s what the Bible really says about this, and it really took off.

 

0:33:04.7 TB: I mean, here’s the thing, Greg. We need more people doing this kind of thing on TikTok, that’s where young people are by the way, I don’t want TikTok. When I’m on there, I post and ghost, I post a video, and then I’m gone, so if you’re messaging me on there, don’t bother, ’cause I don’t wanna be on there. But here’s the thing, that’s where young people are, that’s where some of these challenges are, are showing up. I started a TikTok account called Original Mr. B, within like six months, it had 200,000 followers and the reason it, it grew so quickly wasn’t ’cause Mr. B is something fancy, no, all it was was there’s someone out here now responding to this stuff, and we need more people doing that. So I think that’s kinda the difference, these deconstructionists have a platform now, and so some of us need to get out there, get a platform, and respond.

 

0:33:53.6 GS: Well and get our, I mean, I’d encourage the youth leaders have your students follow Mr. What’s it called? Mr. B?

 

0:34:01.1 TB: Well, Red Pen Logic with Mr. B is all the accounts.

 

0:34:07.4 GS: Red Pen, logic is on this account?

 

0:34:07.6 TB: And then on, TikTok, we don’t have a red pen Logic, it’s just my kind of personal original Mr. B.

 

0:34:16.5 GS: Original Mr. B. And also mobilize your students, to use TikTok, and Instagram as a way to share the gospel and to bring these conversations up. I love the story of Benaiah, who was David’s bodyguard, who goes up against a seven-foot Egyptian, with nothing but a club and takes the Egyptian spear and uses it against him, and kills him with his own spear. Man, I love the thought of taking Satan’s tool, and using it against him and advancing the gospel, of Christ, and mobilizing our teens to do the same. I wanna bring in a youth leader now again, this is the Greg Stier Youth Ministry podcast. So I’d like to bring in actual youth leaders to interact with our guests. Today we have Bill Freund, affectionately known as Mr. Bill, who’s been in youth ministry for well over three decades, I’ve known him since college. He’s a youth pastor right in my hometown, Nevada, Colorado, a large church, faith Bible Chapel. And, Mr. Bill, I want you to interact with Alisa and Tim about any questions or comments you had about this podcast.

 

0:35:17.1 Bill Freund: Oh, man. First of all, I wanna say thanks for doing what you guys do. And I’m being challenged in so many ways today, so thank you all for, just, wanting to help students understand what they believe and why they believe it and being in student ministry. So I have a question for you, I wrote down notes here. We talked about if we’re somehow we promote deconstruction it’s gonna be dangerous for our students, but we get them two hours a week, the parents, that’s where their number one influence is how can we as youth leaders, ’cause there’s a lot of youth leaders are gonna watch this podcast, how can we as youth leaders help and better equip our parents as well?

 

0:36:02.7 AC: Well, I think honestly not to be self-promoting but encourage parents to read our book, first of all, because it, we really hit on defining terms. And for the youth leaders who have students two hours a week, teach them about the nature of truth, that truth is what is real, you don’t make truth within yourself, you don’t create it, you discover it, it’s outside of you. And talk to the kids about what truth even is, because I think that our culture is so confused on that, in fact, there was some research done by Impact 360, and I believe Barna in conjunction with Barna about the worldview of Gen Z. And the dominant worldview of Gen Z is moral relativism in other words, that definition of truth, that truth is just relative to each person’s cultural context, environment, maybe ethnic background or whatever it might be, but also in the realm of morality.

 

0:36:54.6 AC: So for Gen Z, they truly believe that morality, what we should and shouldn’t do, it’s just a matter of opinion, it’s just a preference and nobody could tell somebody else that they’re right or wrong about that. I mean, hitting on those topics with your youth for the two hours that you have is such a great idea. But also, I think it’s good to talk about deconstruction, I think it’s good to bring that word in and say, Hey, have you guys thought about this word? What do you guys think about it? And you’re probably going to have some kids in your youth group say that they are deconstructing, well, don’t panic they might just be defining it as they’ve heard it in some evangelical circles of they’re like in a construction terms of tearing down and building back up. But maybe encourage them to think through why, why are you using that word to describe, that kind of process. ‘Cause chances are, if they’re coming to youth group, and they’re probably not deconstructing as it’s, happening in culture. And so they’re just misusing the word. So I think having those conversations is super important, but also for the parents to really equip them about what this is and how they can prepare to disciple their kids every day about it all comes down to what you’re gonna do with that word truth.

 

0:38:02.8 BF: That’s good.

 

0:38:06.6 GS: So I would lemme just… I know you don’t wanna be self-promoting. I’m gonna promote, get this book, get it for your parents, have the discussion group about it, bring it up, maybe consider bringing Tim and Alisa in, but bring it up. Have this conversation because we don’t want our kids to abandon their faith. We want them to not only embrace their faith, but live their faith and share their faith for the rest of their lives, Satan is attacking Gen Z and so we need to fight back, and this is a very simple way for you to fight back. Sorry, to interrupt Mr. Bill.

 

0:38:41.3 AC: Well let me, let me also add to that, Greg, for your audience. There is a curriculum that’s coming out in March Tim and I recorded six videos. So it’s a six-week study curriculum that comes with video. And then each, person gets a participant guide. So we would really encourage you to get the book, but also get the curriculum when it comes out in March and do a small group, maybe get all the parents of the youth together to do a six-week small group, and we will walk you through it on the videos and then you can do the participant guide yourself as well.

 

0:39:07.8 GS: That’s a great idea, that is a great idea.

 

0:39:11.0 BF: That’s excellent.

 

0:39:12.0 GS: Mr. Bill.

 

0:39:14.9 BF: That’s excellent. I just got the book, it just came out, so I haven’t read it yet, but I’m excited about getting into it. A couple other things. So you talked about, helping students to know what they believe and why they believe it, and using things like role-playing, using things like taking them out and sharing their faith, any other ideas that you can give us as youth leaders in addition to that?

 

0:39:35.1 TB: Sure. I’ll jump in here and Alisa can add one thing that people have been doing, which I think is so cool, is they’ve taken the stuff we do with Red Pen Logic and they’ll play. So my videos are typically short, like three, four minutes, and at the very beginning, I just play the TikTok video that, by the way, has gone viral. I select videos that already are reaching millions of people and have hundreds of thousands of likes oftentimes. And so typically your students have seen these videos or videos just like them, and what they do is in youth group play that video and stop it right when they’re done.

 

0:40:13.5 TB: Okay, there’s their 60 seconds. Alright, kids, alright, students, what would you say to this? And now you’re getting them to think, so it’s like, again, the students have to know what they’re learning is relevant, this is like the big question, right? When it comes to youth pastors, how do I make this relevant for my students? Well, this is as relevant as it gets because they’re pulling out their phones and they’re scrolling, right? And so they’re seeing this stuff, it’s showing up on their feed. Now after you’ve had the discussion, then you don’t have to worry about having a response. ’cause you can just play my response and that’ll get things going as well. So that’s one thing.

 

0:40:49.9 GS: Hold on, hold on Tim.

 

0:40:51.8 TB: Go ahead.

 

0:40:52.2 GS: Let me just say this. You just won a whole generation of youth leaders because they’re thinking free curriculum, this is just showing a video, having a discussion, you know, what would help, just as a side speaking for the youth leaders.

 

0:41:07.1 TB: Sure.

 

0:41:08.0 GS: If there was a couple key passages, just even references that they could take the students to after that, to have more of that discussion. Because you’re talking about a whole youth group night and a fun one, because there’s interaction and blood’s boiling and people are talking, that’s great.

 

0:41:22.5 BF: Well and hopefully.

 

0:41:23.4 TB: It’s a blast.

 

0:41:24.8 BF: Yeah and hopefully youth pastors know enough and they can find those scriptures as well. ‘Cause we’re dealing with it, I run a network here and wherever I’ve been, I’ve been running networks of youth leaders, ’cause I want us to say, Hey, it takes a team to reach a city. And so, but I, literally having lunch with a youth worker and I was talking about the Lord. And he says, well, I don’t think you can really say that Jesus is the only way. And I looked at him, I said, “you’re joking, right?” And I go, so he goes, I go, so what about when Jesus himself said, he’s the way, the truth in the life, and no one comes to Father, but through me. He goes, well, John was writing to a hard audience.

 

0:42:04.7 BF: And I said, whoa, whoa, whoa, time. I said, John was inspired, you believe in the inspiration of scripture, ’cause God wrote this. And he goes, “‘yes. And then I thought, I thought, okay, do you believe in Errancy? And that’s when he goes, well. And I said, and I literally, I said, “dude, I’m gonna pray for you that you’ll come to know the Lord, and if you don’t come to know the Lord, and that God will move you out of our city.” ‘Cause we cannot be confusing our students in our city with different teachings. And as, literally, a month later, he was gone from his church. And you gotta have those hard conversations sometimes and it’s, I mean, I feel like at CCU, I was, taught how to stand for my, what I believe and why I believe it, really well, but I never knew I’d have to do it so much in the church, that’s the thing that I think has gotten hard for me.

 

0:43:00.8 GS: I hate to close the conversation but we’re just wrapping up now, Mr. Bill thanks for bringing that stuff up. Tim, Alisa, any final kind of challenge to youth leaders in particular that you’d like to give in 30 seconds each what would you say?

 

0:43:21.0 AC: Well, I think, just kind of piggybacking on what was just said, um, I think one of the things that we’ve observed is that a lot of times it’s the youth pastor who’s deconstructing, and that can be very confusing. So what I would really encourage every pastor who’s watching this, every youth pastor who’s watching this, I know it might sound tough what was just said, but it’s so important that we not just sit back and let it happen, because my primary area of research has been progressive Christianity and progressive Christianity typically doesn’t plant churches, they take over churches, it’s a slow drift, a slow and subtle drift where one person, maybe a pastor changes their mind, or maybe it’s the youth pastor that starts deconstructing and questioning things and they’re not held accountable. And listen, I’m not saying that you go throw somebody out on the street, but come together confront like, pastor Bill just was talking about confront lovingly offer to help and to disciple that person through that. But if they need to be removed from the youth for a while, protect the sheep, please, pastors protect the sheep. And I’m not saying you throw people away if they start asking questions, but make some tough decisions. And those tough decisions do need to be made, and that would be my encouragement.

 

0:44:35.7 TB: And, there’s, I bet there’s a bunch of youth pastors, listening to this who have someone in mind who’s in their youth right now, who is in on this road to deconstruction. And I just wanna encourage you to get the book and go to the, I mean, if you’re busy, just flip to the last chapter where we talk about well the, the last two chapters we talk about advice that we think will be really practical for the kinds of situations that you’re dealing with, like really practical on your day-to-day, kind of, ministry. But the last chapter we talk about is hope, we call it Saturday, we have a lot of students who are, we say living in the Saturday and we’re talking about Peter’s, the experience Peter went through Friday denying the Lord three times.

 

0:45:28.2 TB: And then of course, Sunday coming back, Lord, meeting the risen Christ, but that Saturday, what was that like? Was there questions? Was there doubts? Was there, all the things that come to mind, of course, that for him was a 24-hour Saturday. For our young people, it may be, through youth group, man, it may be four years of Saturday, it may be that it extends on beyond that, it could be decades of living in a Saturday. Here’s the message though, don’t give up, it’s not hopeless, there was hope for Peter just around the corner, and it could be that for those students in your youth who are going through this season, that there’s hope around the corner for them. So keep praying, keep hoping.

 

0:46:09.3 GS: Boy this has been so good. Mr. Bill, thank you so much for those excellent questions and insights. Alisa, I really encourage everybody listen to the Alisa Childers podcast and, it’s awesome Alisachilders.com. Tim, I’m just getting to know you, I’ve heard about you. But again, red Pen logic, get to know, stand to reason, and all the excellent resources that they have, and let’s reach and disciple this next generation with and for the gospel. And remember, youth leaders that a thriving youth ministry is a gospel-advancing one, thanks for tuning in.