Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A few months ago I was working on my sermon while eating lunch at a local burger place when a person approached my booth and began talking with me. They had seen my Bible on the table and used that to start conversation. Upon learning I was a pastor their comments went “gloomy.” I was really saddened by their sour tone which centered on the church needing younger families (agreed), and today’s youth are worthless (whoa!!!). It was the 2nd comment that really got me. Sadly, I hear this refrain much more than I like.

With 13 years of youth work, seven youth mission trips to Mexico, and currently as the guardian parent of a 15 year old, I did my pastoral best to keep my tongue in check. Instead I countered by sharing some of my delight-filled youth stories. (Toward the end of his semi-rant I did want to ask this person: How do you think youth might view you?)
Presbyterians Today has a great article Faith Formation Starts During High School which includes the following:
“When asked what led the survey participants to develop relationships with particular adults, several characteristics emerged as important: The adults were kind, caring, friendly, and interested in conversation and dialogue. As youth, the survey participants appreciated when they could bring questions to the adults and when adults brought questions of their own. They desired to feel as though they were not being judged, and appreciated being treated as equals. Trust was important, in two senses: trusting the adult but also feeling that the adult had trust in them.”

The 3 biggest factors cited by youth for their “home-grown” faith formation: going to church with parents (92%), eating meals regularly as a family (87%), and praying/saying grace as a family (63%).

As this guest left, I had a couple of questions dancing around my mind: what kind of  family life and church life did they experience as a teen; and where they might see themself in relation to the above survey results...or the following from Luke:
Jesus called them [people with babies] back. "Let these children alone. Don't get between them and me. These children are the kingdom's pride and joy” (The Message Bible).

The article is an easy read and you can find it here:

Together We Serve,
Pastor Mike