Spiritual Growth Agendas, Topical Curriculum

Being Authentic Online

Main Point of Discussion: To show the importance of being authentic online

(Optional)The Movie Clip: “Home Life” from Napoleon Dynamite

Love it or hate it, Napoleon Dynamite was one of 2004’s biggest movies. It remains very popular with kids today. No sleepover, lock in, or movie night is complete without having Napoleon Dynamite playing in the background. The movie centers on one high school boy’s endeavor of being elected class president at his school.

Introducing the Clip:
If you are a teenager, I know you have seen this movie! I’m going to show you a short clip from the cult classic, Napoleon Dynamite. In this famous scene, Napoleon’s brother Kip talks about how he has spent his day online, surfing for beautiful girls. Let’s take a look at his tactics as he “chats with babes.”

Scene Script:

BEGIN CLIP AT 9 minutes and 37 seconds (in Chapter 4).

    Kip: I love the way your sandy hair floats in the air. To me it’s like a lullaby, I’m just flying by, oh so high, like a kite tied to a stake.

    Grandma: How was school?

    Napoleon: Worst day of my life. Whatdaya think?

    Grandma: Well I want you to go see if Tina wants some of this.

    Napoleon: (Sighs.) Kip hasn’t done flippin’ anything today.

    Grandma: Look, tonight me and your—Kip, listen!

    Kip: What?

    Grandma: Tonight me and your aunt are gonna go visit some friends and we’re not gonna be back till tomorrow. We’re getting’ a little low on steak, so I got Lyle comin’ over tomorrow to take care of it.

    Napoleon: Well, what’s there to eat?

    Grandma: Knock it off, Napoleon. Make yourself a dang quesadilla!

    Napoleon: Fine!

    Grandma: I’ll be back tomorrow.

    Napoleon: Stay home and eat all the freakin’ chips, Kip.

    Kip: Napoleon, don’t be jealous that I’ve been chatting online with babes all day.

END CLIP AT 10 minutes and 47 seconds.

Transitional Statement:
Maybe Kip was on Facebook or MySpace, and maybe he wasn’t. But in this scene, he was doing what a lot of us do online…looking for real people. But there’s a problem: In the world we live in today, many people do not represent themselves honestly when they go online. Tonight we are going to discuss several reasons why we should be authentic when we go online.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we begin, let’s all take a moment to share our names and our favorite thing to do online.
  2. ASK A FEW: What are some of the things many of your friends enjoy doing online?
  3. ASK A FEW: Do any of your friends use the Internet like Kip – to meet girls/guys?
  4. ASK A FEW: If you use an online social network, like MySpace or Facebook, what is the number one thing you use it for?
  5. ASK A FEW: Do you think most teenagers honestly represent themselves in social networks, chat rooms, email, or instant messages? Why or why not?
  6. ASK A FEW: Is anybody here brave enough to share whether there is anything about your MySpace page or Facebook account that’s not true? (For instance, your age, your interests, your “friends” list.)
  7. ASK SOMEONE: Do you think that our online “virtual life” ever impacts our “real life?” Why or why not?
  8. Authenticity Test
    Hand each student a lined index card (or half sheet of paper). Also, make sure each student has a pen. When everybody has what they need, ask them to number their card 1-5. Then tell them that you are going to ask them a question, and they are to write out their answers on their card. Remind them that this is “for their eyes only” and you will not collect them afterwards.

      Question #1: Finish this sentence: I believe authenticity is….

      Question #2: On a scale from 1-10, how authentic are you in person, or real life? (1 is not very real, 10 is very real)

      Question #3: On a scale from 1-10, how authentic are you online? (1 is not very real, 10 is very real)

      Question #4: Do you have somebody on your “friends” list online that would not be a friend in real life?

      Question #5: Finish this sentence: For me to be more authentic online, I….

  9. ASK A FEW: How important is it for us to be authentic and honest in our lives?
  10. ASK A FEW: Do you think God is concerned with whether or not we are honest and authentic online? Why or why not?
  11. Read the following passage:

      1 Peter 2:1-2
      Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

  12. ASK SOMEONE: What are some of the things God tells us to get rid of in this passage?
  13. ASK A FEW: Define some of those terms: malice (cruelty), deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander (insult or talking bad about someone).
  14. ASK A FEW: Think about your online behavior. In what way(s) would the words “deceitful” or “hypocritical” be words that describe you?
  15. ASK SOMEONE: What does God tell us to crave in verse 2? And why? (Hint: the verse answers why)
  16. ASK A FEW: How can we get rid of hypocrisy and, instead, crave spiritual nourishment from God? In other words… what does that actually look like?
  17. God seems to be pretty serious about His followers being authentic. Let's find out exactly how serious He is.

    Read the following passage:

      Matthew 7:15-20
      15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

  18. ASK A FEW: In this passage he talks about good and bad trees. He says that good trees produce good fruit. What does that mean?
  19. ASK A FEW: What kind of fruit would your friends say that you produce?
  20. ASK A FEW: If someone was able to see all your online behavior, what kind of fruit would they say you produce?
  21. ASK A FEW: In the last verse of this passage, Jesus says that a person can be identified by their actions. How should someone who has put their trust in Jesus behave online?
  22. AROUND THE CIRCLE: In what ways would our MySpace pages or Facebook accounts change if we used these two passages as our guide for being authentic online?

Wrap Up
Tonight we talked about being authentic online. So many of us know people who do not represent themselves online in an authentic manner. Maybe they lie about their age; maybe they lie about their interests. Maybe they spread lies about someone else when they logon. Whatever it is, they are not authentic, they are not real.

Unfortunately, when people aren’t real online, it can affect our real lives. What if you spread a rumor about someone on your MySpace blog? Doesn’t that hurt the other person’s REAL feelings? What if you write something cruel on a person’s Facebook wall? Oftentimes, there are consequences IN THE REAL WORLD for our actions online. That’s why it’s so important for us to be authentic, not just in real life, but online, too.

Most of us have MySpace or Facebook accounts. If you do, let me ask you a question: Who is helping you maintain your authenticity online? In other words, who is holding you accountable? Do you have anybody in your life that is looking at your MySpace or Facebook pages to make sure you are representing yourself, and God, appropriately?

Just by show of hands, how many of your parents know your password for those pages? (Wait for a response.) I ask that, because your moms and dads are a GREAT source of accountability. The only person that wants your authenticity more than your parents, is God.

Speaking of God, we found out that He is definitely concerned with how we represent ourselves online. When He looks at your MySpace and Facebook pages, your blogs, your instant messages, your emails, does He see truth and authenticity, or does He see lies? When He looks at your “friends” list, is He happy with the influences you have chosen for yourself?

God’s Word tells us to “rid ourselves of every kind of slander.” In other words, we should rid ourselves of everything that is not authentic. God’s Word also tell us that bad trees cannot bear good fruit. If we claim to be Christians, we must act like it in every part of our lives, online included!

You need to live just as authentic online as you do in your real life. If your real life and your online life look different from one another, one of them is a lie. One of them is fake. One of them is not authentic. God wants you to be authentic online. You don’t only represent yourself, but Him. So remember that the next time you log in.

If you want to talk more about this before you leave, grab one of the adult leaders or myself and tell us what’s on your heart.

Close in Prayer


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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