As a high school teacher, I have seen thirteen classes of seniors graduate. It is a great joy in my life to see them grow and move on to bigger and better things. I have kept in touch with many and have become close friends with several. I thank God for the memories I have collected over the years.
Every year, around graduation time, I become reflective. I know what I have taught them, but what have they learned? I know what I gave them, but what are they taking away? I see how they have grown, but are they where they need to be?
After all I have said to them, have I said everything that needed saying?
My answers to those questions are more satisfactory in some years than others. Yet, there are things that I hope every student takes away every year. In all the things they have learned, I hope they know these.
Continue reading “6 Things I Hope My Graduating Students Know”
Asking why is a habit that is near and dear to all our hearts. It’s one of those things that is simply a part of being human.
At every age level, we ask why.
My six-year-old son, like every six-year-old, asks why about everything just out of sheer curiosity. It never gets old…to him.
I’ve noticed the teenagers I teach ask why about everything. However, it is out of a genuine concern for understanding and with a pure commitment to respect for authority. (They also often ask me why I’m so sarcastic.)
We adults look at teenagers and ask why. Just why?
By the way, teenagers need not resent that statement. Every adult has had that moment where they looked back in time at themselves. We remember something we said, something we wore, something we did, or something we did to our hair, and we ask ourselves why.
Many why questions we have in life are much more imperative in nature. These are the questions about who we are as people, what we ought to believe, how we ought to live. Perhaps the most important questions we will ever ask concern our identity as Christians.
But, here’s the thing…
It is precisely those questions of eternal importance which we so often avoid. We hear a why brought to conversations about our beliefs and we fall back, not willing to see where those conversations may lead.
The Bible, however, exposes this as more than a bad habit. It is disobedience of the most dangerous sort. We are commanded to “be ready always to give an answer” to every why. Continue reading “Why: A Short History”
Previously, we have considered the cultural and spiritual realities that our young people face. In this final installment, I would like to suggest some personal considerations when talking to our young people about their worldviews.
So, how do we go about the task of talking to our young people about their worldviews?
We must study and pray for preparation, and we must teach and live for application Continue reading “Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 3)”
Previously, we considered the generational realities facing our young people and how those realities affect the way they view the world. Next, I would like to discuss two spiritual realities that should shape our conversations with our young people regarding their worldviews.
What is the ultimate nature of the problems our young people face, and what should we consider the solution to those problems to be?
It is easy to get bogged down with all of the statistics and studies being done regarding our young people. What is often overlooked is the spiritual nature of all that they face. As different as their world is, the ultimate problem has not really changed. Nor has the solution.
Continue reading “Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 2)”
In a previous post, I discussed the need to engage young people where theology and community intersect, namely their worldviews. In next three posts, I would like to address generational, spiritual, and practical considerations for doing so.
How is the youngest generation among us different from preceding generations?
The generational composition of the U.S. population has changed dynamically in the past twenty years. The two youngest generations have grown to make up nearly half of the population, the ubiquitous Millennials and the newly-named Generation Z. Up until recently, the lowest age brackets have been grouped together as Millennials. However, it has become clear that these two generations are distinct in many ways.
Continue reading “Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 1)”
What keeps young people in the church as adults? What are those who leave missing? What must we do to keep them?
Statistics for young people who leave the church after becoming adults have been haunting pastors, teachers, and parents since the early 2000s. As early as 2005, the Barna Group found that 61% of young adults who had been raised in evangelical homes and churches described themselves as “spiritually disengaged.” Similar statistics have been rising steadily ever since. Depending on the scope and demographics being studied, research has found that the current percentage of churched young people turning from the faith as young adults is well over 70%.
On a personal level, I see these statistics as a glaring reality. Growing up in a vibrant youth group with scores of teenagers at any given meeting, I can attest to the accuracy of the statistics. A large portion of the people I grew up with has moved away from any active involvement in church. For many, the personal connection diminished as we grew up, or else was decimated by church scandal. Many, facing the harshness of life, found few answers to the questions thrown at them by circumstances and doubts. Now, as a youth worker and high school teacher, I have seen young people who are heavily involved in our church as teenagers go off to college, never to return. Many have found homes at other churches in other parts of the country, for which I am deeply grateful. However, at least an equal number have simply not allowed church to remain a meaningful part of their lives. A significant portion has walked away from the faith altogether.
Continue reading “Talking Young People and Their Worldviews”
How important is theology, what we believe about God? What happens to a culture when there is a breakdown in theology? What can we do about it?
The Theology We Had
In 2005, sociologist Christian Smith, leading a project called National Study of Youth and Religion, released the findings of a monumental study in a book titled Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Eyes of American Teenagers. The book was the culmination of the project’s five-year study, interviewing over three thousand teenagers ages thirteen to seventeen from across the U.S. regarding their personal religious beliefs. Of all studies done on all the aspects of American teenage life, religious ideas have usually gone unnoticed. This study, however, left no stone unturned.
Continue reading “The Necessity of Theology”