For those not aware of the Conquer Series, please check out the following link: www.soulrefiner.com.
Many of our congregations have taken their young men through this ten week course, designed to bring awareness of and provide tools to combat pornography. We recommend an approach to this series that takes full advantage of the CS platform to provide additional and needed teaching on important life principles to our young men.
First of all, let’s have a look at setting the stage and logistics. Keep in mind that every group of young men will have a little different dynamic. These are common questions we field and suggestions in response.
- Group leaders – Who qualifies as a group leader? In our experience, and from what we’ve heard in many congregations, an interested brother or two have taken their youth men through the series. I’ve heard of deacons taking this role in other places. In one congregation the ministry is planning to conduct the series. Whoever conducts it needs to ensure the young men feel safe and secure to share their deepest questions and struggles.
- Group size – We don’t feel size matters a lot, although dynamics obviously change between a group of five and a group of 30. The bigger the group is, it may be good to consider more than one group leader. Also, if a group is larger than, say, 5 or 6 youth, open discussion is perhaps not as easily elicited. In this case, we highly recommend break-out sessions: separate into age groups, for example, and have a group leader take each group into another room for a 30 minute sharing session. Reconvene afterwards for a group debriefing and evening conclusion.
- Age difference – In our experience we have included all youth men, age 16 and up. We included two young married men. The breakout sessions were divided into ages 16-18 or so, and 19 and up. This has worked well.
- Single men versus married men – The dynamics between a 16 year-old and a 45 year-old married man are quite different and we don’t recommend that sort of interaction. However, in our experience, including two recently married young men has worked very well. They give added perspective from a married standpoint that the rest of the group has found valuable. They are also peers with the rest of the group.
Setting the Stage
- Confidentiality – before the first film is shown, on the first evening, a lecture or talk on the importance of confidentiality is paramount. Inform the young men that the room is now considered a safe spot, a sacred space, so to speak, and anything shared here cannot leave the room. In order for them to share their hearts, they must be assured that you, and everyone else, can be trusted. This can be nuanced – family and friends are interested and will ask them about it. They are encouraged to tell their experience, as much as they are comfortable with, but to never reveal anyone else’s “story.” Another nuance is the young married men; their wives will also be interested in what their husband is learning. These young men are encouraged, again, to share their own story only, respecting their fellow attendees.
- Vulnerability – group leaders are encouraged to share their story and struggle, setting the foundation for the level of openness to be expected. The only caveat that attendees need to be informed of are young men revealing things in their lives that may need to be reported: we cannot guarantee that anything of legal or “death sin” importance will not be reported, although we would encourage them to share with the proper authorities and staff.
Following are some thoughts and recommendations on various subjects that can be piggy-backed onto the series. These are only suggestions and you may need to tailor it to suit your group.
- Manly vulnerability – becoming aware of emotion and the need to be openhearted and vulnerable.
- Masculinity – what constitutes a true man of God. We use the four masculine archetypes of the warrior, lover, healer, and king from a Biblical perspective to inspire and inform men of their God-given traits.
- Resources: John Eldredge books such as Wild at Heart and a short Audible version called You Have What it Takes.
- Masculine archetypes PowerPoint – Available upon request.
- Integrity – seeking wholeness; being honest with yourself and others.
- Same-sex attraction – Bring awareness to this disorder through a concise but full explanation of what it is, how it presents, and what treatments are available.
- Resources available upon request.
- Relating to females – what a girl needs and wants. The dangers/risks of courtship and premarital emotional connections.
- Digital drugs. Initiate and facilitate a discussion with the young men regarding their phones and its many addictive properties.
- Premarital teaching – this theme works its way into the series throughout the ten weeks. It comes up in the films but also in the general discussion. It could also be the subject of a more intense lecture at some point.
Use this series to the advantage of our young men. It is becoming more apparent that there is a lack of important teaching and preparation done at this level and this is too good an opportunity to miss. If you have questions regarding the series and suggested topics please don’t hesitate to reach out. We also want to invite you share your Conquer Series experiences and inspirations that have arisen through your work with young men.
Note: The Conquer Series can be helpful to anyone struggling with pornography and sexual addiction (it provides helpful information for any addiction, really). However, it is perhaps more educational in nature and those who are truly suffering an addiction may benefit from something more intense, or at least a smaller support group in addition to the series. More information is available to address this.
This post will be updated occasionally as more information, topics, and suggestions come in.