Friday, May 20, 2011

Bad Dreams About Teen Mania

Here's a post from the heart.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately...on my life, where I've been, where I'm at now...things that normal almost-30-year-olds tend to think about.

I think about my relationship with God, and the church--and I just keep coming back to Teen Mania. So much of the way I see the world, faith, God, and even myself was instilled in me through my involvement with Teen Mania Ministries.

Because of all my reflecting, I've been having dreams about my experience in Venezuela on a short-term Teen Mania missions trip. The dreams aren't exactly "nightmares," but they certainly aren't pleasant. They usually involve me being "trapped" somehow in a foreign country and trying desperately to get home, but ultimately being unable too. I often wake up feeling extremely "shaken" from these dreams, and I certainly don't sleep well on the nights when I have these dreams. As many of my readers know, I am a participant in the Recovering Alumni forums, and many folks there who have been involved with Teen Mania are still having bad dreams about their experiences years (and even decades) after their participation in the group.

I was never an Honor Academy intern, so my direct involvement with Teen Mania only consisted of a handful of Acquire the Fire conferences and a month-long Global Expedition. I would imagine that bad dreams tend to plague Honor Academy participants, some of whom spent years of their life at Teen Mania, even more than they bother me.

From a purely "common sense" perspective, it would seem to me that if you have a ministry running multiple programs that many participants are having nightmares about years later, that should serve as a major warning sign of serious problems.

One or more of these must be present in the victim: flashback memories, recurring distressing dreams, subjective re-experiencing of the traumatic event(s), or intense negative psychological or physiological response to any objective or subjective reminder of the traumatic event(s).
This isn't sensationalism. I know of at least a few people who have received confirmed diagnoses of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of their experiences with Teen Mania Ministries.

If I were a parent, I would never let my child attend an event (or year-long program) where there was a potential for him or her to walk away with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder! As a former Teen Mania participant, it bothers me that my experience with the group continues to haunt me to this day, and it makes me want to shout from the rooftops that "Teen Mania is dangerous for teens!"--and to encourage others to join me. Safe programs with solid reputations don't tend to inflict psychological trauma on those who attend. Cults and high-control groups do, though!

For now, the bad dreams continue. But hopefully not tonight. Sleep well everyone!


  1. I couldn't agree more. I've had bad dreams about TM on and off for over a decade!

  2. I myself, am an alumni of the HA. I find myself agreeing with most of what is posted on your blogs(in also speaking to RA). But i never feel at peace about contributing 'my story' though i have one.
    The thing that keeps me so reluctant to share, is simply that: No, Teen Mania is not perfect by any means, and yes some(not the majority) people suffer traumatic experiences on campus and surely after their tenure at the ministry. But with all that being said, Teen Mania is part of the same Body we are called to support and stand up for. This division between you and I, and you and TM, is not of God.
    I pray for you my friends. hear my heart please. thank you

  3. I'm sorry....I was never called to support or stand up for an organization that routinely lies, abuses people, and preaches a false gospel. Thanks for the prayers though!

  4. I just feel so much bitterness when I read blogs about Teen Mania. I have grown severely discontent of said ministry, that I am STILL a part of. But that gives me no excuse to take my own selfish offense to the pages of the web. Even in my disdain for Teen Mania, I refuse to tear them down because of how I feel. You're all selfish.

  5. Anonymous, no...those who expose the truth about Teen Mania are NOT selfish. Rob has not started this for monetary gain. He has not started this out of a desire to feel important. He is stepping up against an organization that is doing things that are psychologically and spiritually damaging to youth. That's not selfish...that's brave.

    The Bible does NOT command us to turn a blind eye to those who do wrong for the sake of "unity." it commands is to love the truth and seek it out.

  6. I live abroad and travel a lot, and I can say that I have had a lot of stuck in the wrong country dreams, so I wouldn't worry about that. On the other hand, I do also have a lot of dreams involving me finding myself back in Army basic training, usually feeling as though I'm late for something. So I could see how you might have dreams connected with this group.