A somewhat isoteric title this afternoon…
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we share faith with the young people that we work with. It seems to me that there can be a few approaches (although I’m sure there are actually many more than this) that appear often.
First is the idea that faith is about rules and morality. We equip our young people to make the right decisions, to know right from wrong, to live well, and to stay away from nasty things. This requires the youth worker to be the ‘keeper of the faith’ and defender against heresy.
Second is the idea that it’s more about entertaining our kids…about keeping them busy, having fun, making Christianity cool (note I don’t use the word relevant!). Exploration of faith is tacked on in small spots so that we don’t ‘bible bash’. This requires the youth worker to be the game show host…all wacky and fun but not much more else.
Third is the idea that we help the young people to see who Christ was and is, and help them to journey with him. This requires the youth worker to be a modeller, that following Christ is a way of life, not just a list of rules.
Now, I don’t think for a moment that these three approaches are always separated. In fact, one could certainly argue that you couldn’t take the third approach without the first, and that the second approach is crucial in building community and so on.
However, perhaps what I’m thinking about at the moment is the danger of the first idea of being little more than tantamount to preparing kids for their SATS or GCSEs. The right knowledge remembered for the exam means a pass…but actually doesn’t mean all that much for the lives that they’re living. The second approach creates a really cool group but does little to really explore what “it” is all about. The third approach acknowledges that God is already at work in the kids’ lives and our job is to help them see that, especially through the way we live our lives.
If I’m honest I think it’s about (to borrow Archbish Rowan’s famous phrase!) a ‘mixed economy’ – a little bit of everything.
I was listening to a podcast on the way home from work today where the speaker said something that’s sticking in my head. His words were something like this: ‘faith isn’t about right knowledge, but about living right’.
I’m just trying to process all of this at the moment, and would be really interested in hearing what you had to say on this.
(NB – those who have read ‘Contemplative Youth Ministry‘ by Mark Yaconelli will recognise where I’ve started to frame these thoughts from)