Thursday, October 19, 2006

Teens in trouble?

A recent article in the New York Times comments on a seeming downward trend in the number of teens who are "Bible-believing Christians." (However, the article writes entirely about evangelical Christians. Are our Catholic and Orthodox brothers not Bible-believing Christians?) Having spent a year teaching high school and hopefully beginning soon a career in science education, this is of no little importance to me. Tons of questions swirl in my mind regarding what I can do, what churches and pastors ought to do, what teens are seeking, etc.

I was blessed to have known some people in my own high school who invited me to their youth group, and in a few of them I saw something different: being a Christian meant something. But even then I couldn't help but be involved with this youth group simply because I felt good to be doing something "right" and to be part of something that others were involved in. Not to knock Teen Mania, Acquire the Fire, or many youth groups, but it's no secret that teens (like most adults) seek approval and inclusion. They want to be popular and liked. But is some hip, cool youth group meeting the answer? How many teens are involved in big gatherings like "See You at the Pole" simply because others are there and they want to show that they, too, are "good kids"?

I thankfully don't lose much sleep over the future of today's teens regarding Christian faith. I don't take it lightly at all, but wherever the sacraments are administered and the Word of God is preached in truth and in such a way that no one is left thinking that she can stand upon the law and her own goodness, but Jesus' alone, there the Holy Spirit will create and establish faith. (Though it is worth considering that in many such evangelical churches, baptism is a mere "ordinance" pushed off by students until they believe they have enough faith or personal merit to warrant it. How can the Spirit use that to promote the message of grace?)

And if by some random chance you're reading this, Carly, Alison, Emily, and Tim -- keep the faith and keep running (literally). I'm proud of your devotion to the Lord and rejoice in the evidence of his redeeming grace in your lives.

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