Undercover at Teens Encountering Christ (TEC)

The City Pages recently went undercover to expose the secret of Teens Encountering Christ, also known as TEC. If you’ve never heard of it before, that probably doesn’t sound like big news. But it is. TEC is a Catholic retreat weekend for teens. A lot of denominations have a variation of it, including my own church which calls it Teens Encounter Christ. But it’s all basically the same thing—a weekend where teens are supposed to, uh, encounter Christ. Think of it as Acquire the Fire minus the whole show biz feel and plus a lot of candles.

The reason it’s big news to expose TEC is because it’s supposed to be a secret. Attendees are sworn to secrecy and told they can’t tell others what happens at TEC (“The first rule of TEC is—you do not talk about TEC. The second rule of Tec is—you do not talk about TEC.”) Apparently it would ruin the experience. But on the upside it makes it all sound incredibly cultish. Just hope they don’t serve Kool-Aid.

It’s interesting to read about a complete outsider (and non-Christian) experiencing the whole thing, but they  don’t expose anything shocking. I just get a kick out of the fact that they did expose it. Whenever our youth group does it the TEC alums get all weepy and implore the newbies that they just have to go. “Why?” “Can’t tell you, but you just have to go.”

It’s the most cliqueish, cultish, creepiest thing. I’m sure great things happen at TEC and I know and trust some of those TEC alums when they say it’s an incredible experience. But the entire way it’s communicated is what drives me nuts. I’m all over how churches market themselves, and this is not one of the better approaches.

2 thoughts on “Undercover at Teens Encountering Christ (TEC)”

  1. Oh, honey. You clearly need a TECexperirnce in your life.

    “You ain’t seen nothing, yet!”

  2. When I made my first TEC, I knew too much, and it ruined the experience for me. I know the secrets make it seem sinister, but in a way, not knowing what is coming helps to focus on the here and now. Don’t anticipate, PARTICIPATE! And when you do, it will be a much greater experience.

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