Some 10,000 evangelical Christian teens from around the state and region will descend on downtown Denver today and tomorrow for the annual Dare 2 Share conference at the Pepsi Center. They may even show up at your door on Saturday asking for canned goods – and wanting to talk to you about Jesus!
Don’t be frightened though. This season, Arvada-based D2S -- the subject of our July feature "Gospel Journey Teens Dare 2 Share" -- is all about being open-minded. You show me your God and I’ll show you mine.
That’s because D2S preacher and founder Greg Stier sees his teen ministry as a different kind of evangelism. Sure, the conference I attended last year used loud Christian rock, flashing lights and doomsday dramas to get the kids’ attention. But Stier also stressed that Christians need to learn how to share their faith without being obnoxious. They should try to engage in actual discussions about God with friends who disagree, and listen.
Last week, D2S released its newest evangelism training tool – a reality series called Gospel Journey Maui – in which Stier does just that. In Real World fashion, he put seven strangers together in a beach house. Only this group – whose members he found on Craigslist – included a Buddhist, Christian, Jew, Mormon, Muslim, New Ager and Seventh Day Adventist, who were all forced to talk about God with a Christian preacher and his Jesus-loving surfer sidekick, Zane, for a week. The series, available on DVD through www.dare2share.org, shows the teens bonding over mountain adventures and spiritual conversations until Stier eventually pops the question, "Why are there so many religions and can they all be right?" to get people to challenge each other’s faiths. On the last day, he asks everyone to read quietly from the Book of John and then talk about their reactions.
The result is actually refreshing. There wasn’t a single tearful "I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior" moment (though there surely will be at the conference tonight). Instead, the Jewish bodybuilder model Jonathan lashed out, respectfully, at Stier and Christians in general for pushing people to convert, emphasizing how insulting it was to Jews who had ancestors who went through the Holocaust and had been persecuted by Christians for generations. Jasser the Muslim likewise said he didn’t buy Christianity, but he agreed to read the Bible after Stier said he wanted to read the Koran in the next year. Regardless of whether they converted – which neither one expected – the two were going to stay friends.
Dare 2 Share was so proud of its ability to be open-minded that it sent out a recent press release touting how tolerant their group is – compared to radical Muslims. The release, titled "Gospel Conversation verus Indoctrinating Obsession," talks about the film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West; samplers from the documentary were distributed to newspaper readers here and elsewhere in the U.S., as pointed out in the September 17 blog "Complaints About the Obsession DVD Inserted into Sunday Denver Post." It states, "The film depicts undercover video of public celebrations on 9/11, secret jihad meetings, suicide bomber initiations and the indoctrination of young children into hate and violence. While only about 10 percent of Muslims fall into this radical category, there is an apparent push by this vocal minority to brainwash their children into a culture of hate for their beliefs. Showing a very different approach, Colorado-based Dare 2 Share Ministries is releasing a video reality series... which cast a group of young strangers from various world religions... with the purpose of engaging them in spiritual conversations... By the end of the week, everyone had spent considerable time together and learned to respect each other’s differences while maintaining their newfound friendships."
There was one convert, too.
Emma Blue Tummon was a Boulder Buddhist when she answered the ad for the show by sending in a topless picture of herself. She kept in touch with Stier after Maui and was still trying to figure things out when I talked to her last spring. In September, Stier baptized her. -- Jessica Centers