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Birmingham teen shares apologetics-type message with peerscomment (0)

December 9, 2010

By Ben Birdsong

Kyle Neeley knows all about church — all the routines, songs and Bible stories. The Alabama Baptist teen has been in church all his life and a Christian since he was 10 years old, but this past July, he faced a crisis of belief and realized his Sunday School answers about his faith were no longer enough.

And Neeley’s journey to find deeper answers has inspired other teens to do the same.

A senior at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham and member of North Shelby Baptist Church, Birmingham, in Shelby Baptist Association, Neeley began his search after he straightforwardly shared the gospel with an adult in his life. But instead of accepting Christ or discussing the information calmly with him, the adult attacked and mocked him for his beliefs.

When the adult began asking questions challenging Neeley’s faith, he did not have the answers. So he did what any teenager would do — “I did a Google search on the Internet.”

There Neeley discovered apologetics, the study of the defense of the faith, and sought out leaders knowledgeable about the field.

“I read every book I could locate from Christian apologists, such as Josh McDowell, C.S. Lewis (and) William Lane Craig, to proponents of the new atheism, such as Richard Dawkins,” he said.

Neeley wanted to know how to defend the truth against the arguments of a secular, post-Christian world, where Christianity is no longer the popular civil religion.

He had to have an answer to give for the hope he had found in Christ. And he felt God leading him to share what he was learning with his peers.

He wanted to encourage Christian students by instilling in them the fact that “religion can be an intellectual idea, too.”

John Murphy, an adult leader of Neeley’s youth group, loved the idea and scheduled him to lead a month of Wednesday night youth services.

So in late September and early October, Neeley taught on the existence of God, the proof of Scripture, the validity of Christianity and reasons why people don’t believe. He ended the series by sharing his testimony.

The youth group’s attendance doubled from 50 to 100 during this series, Murphy noted.

Maggie Cox, a junior at Oak Mountain High and member of another youth group who attended the services, said, “[Neeley] helped me realize that you should learn the facts because you never know what you will face.”

For information about using apologetics-type studies with youth groups, contact the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions office of collegiate and student ministries at 1-800-264-1225.

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