Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teens

This NYT article still rings true a year later.

While I don't think the plight is as problematic as our statistically based alarmism shows, we are running on old models of what American teens want and need and how to reach them. They are exploring questions of truth and meaning, reading Nietzsche and Sartre, inoculated on music and video games, and they are not getting answers (nor are many of their youth workers equipped to offer them).

I believe more than ever, we need to start taking teen questions seriously. With a vacuum of literature that honesty address their questions on their level, we need to be sharing what IS available.

Evangelicals have limited our social justice issues to economic issues. We often overlook the soulish suffering and the preventative care that keeps kids of the street and engaged in healthy community. Legitimizing and helping them to live with questions is a place to start.


Philip said...

This reminds me of "Fit Bodies, Fat Minds" by Os Guinness. I help lead "worship" every week for our youth group and this past wednesday we were playing an powerful song, musically, and it was amazing to see the congregation. Girls on the first row would raise their hands and close their eyes while they sing and when there was a break from lyrics they would look around and talk to each other. Once we started singing again they lifted their hands and closed their eyes again.

It is the leadership's fault (me included at times) as well as the kid's fault. I know that this is where I need to be though and I am actually working to try and start a class for senior's in high school to deal with their questions head on before they reach college and hear more honest alternatives. They have been putting me off for about six months though, but I think it is needed and I am needed more there than in a church that better fits my "ideals" of church.

One thing I wouldn't mind doing for the rest of my life is going to youth groups all over the country and teaching or giving seminars to students and teachers both in order to teach them how to better deal with their questions. That along with having a place like L'Abri to focus on as well. Bottom line is, the church needs someone to come talk to them and discuss with them serious questions instead of pushing them aside.

Sorry, I'll get off my soap box now. I've just been thinking a lot about this lately.

I got that book on religious humanism yesterday. I've only been able to thumb through it but it is great so far. Cheers!

Dale Fincher said...

I'm with ya, Philip. I'm with ya.

I guess we just keep talking about it, not merely for the sake of criticizing our practices, but to breathe life into them.

We had a great three days this week with high school leaders. They were 'getting' it by the end... and many want us to go to their schools.

From what I'm seeing on the road, it is educators, not youth workers, who are catching this vision!