Do you feel shut out of the conversations of teenagers today? It’s not just that you’re not on the social platforms where they spend most of their time, but even when you overhear them they’re using language you don’t understand and discussing topics largely foreign to you. How do we reach a generation with whom we can’t even communicate? It is not effective to offer answers to questions they’re not asking, so what are the questions they ARE asking?
Mary Jo Sharp is a former atheist and host of Confident Christianity, an apologetics ministry intentionally seeking to develop tools that reconnect us to the conversation. She’s part of a project called Darkroom, a new, 14-episode original video series which provides a safe and engaging context for teens to explore key issues of faith before they turn away.
Mary Jo shared what teens are saying, “I have a secret. I’ve had questions. I’m going to tell you my questions, my struggles, my doubts. I hope you can handle the truth.”
Can we? Are we even listening?
If you think you can handle the truth and you’re ready to listen, Darkroom provides a window into the reality of today’s young people and conveys to them that doubts and questions are a normal and healthy aspect of faith development.
The goal of the project is to reach teens but Darkroom is also a great resource for educating and equipping parents and other Christian adults interested in the real questions real teens are really asking today. Viewers are encouraged to seek clarity when challenged, talk openly with trusted adults, and dig deeper into their faith.
Each eight-to-ten-minute episode of Darkroom explores a different topic and follows a unique journey of faith. The topics include doubt, love, church, sin, science, religion, suffering, the Bible, purpose, identity, justice, the afterlife, mission, and the supernatural.
In one episode a student talks about his experience of growing up in church. He confesses to loving the church and to loving God. But somewhere along the way the church lost the narrative. He longs for the church to be the church – a God glorifying, Word centered, Gospel living, community that can provide a real family of faith, a place and a people to whom he can belong, be discipled and disciple others.
In another episode a student clicks on a video testimony of a person who de-converted from Christianity. “Before I could fully process what that even meant, it started autoplay,” the student in Darkroom episode 1 recalls. The videos shook him. Afraid he’d lose his faith he closed the video. But the questions persisted. “If God isn’t real, if Jesus isn’t real, then my faith isn’t real and this life is all there is and after that, there’s nothing. How dark. How hopeless.”
The student offers us a window into the life of the teenage mind today. And, for other students, the presentation of the content opens a window for conversation. Real conversation. Real questions. Real doubts. And yes, real faith.
Deconversion from forms of Christian religiosity is happening, but so too is conversion to real life and real hope and real faith in Jesus Christ. If you want to understand the darkness – and the Light – check out my recent conversation with Mary Jo Sharp about Darkroom.