How might we engage our young people in God’s mission?
So I thought…why not ask them?
At our confirmation retreat at Camp Calumet April 24-26, 2015, I did.
(Our St. Paul, Old Saybrook, CT confirmands combined with the confirmands from Bethany, Cromwell, CT during our learning sessions, giving us an opportunity for wider conversation. It was great to be with new friends! Thanks guys.)
Here are those questions and responses:
- If Jesus came back today, what challenges would he find in the world?
- People not loving each other
- Materialistic culture
- Pop culture dominates
- People’s priorities and values are selfish
- Electronics hold more attention than “real” life
- Religious wars
- Ongoing poverty
- People treated unfairly
- Not caring for the environment
- Who do you think Jesus would look for to help?
- Justice seekers
- Those who believe in the mission
- Those willing to risk for the mission
- Those who can teach others
- Those who can negotiate
- Those who are honest
- Those with charisma
- Those who can stay focused and on point
- Those who don’t get distracted easily
- Those who are knowledgeable
- Those who want to learn more
- Those who can care for others
- Those who are non-violent
- Those ready to commit time and effort
- Who did Jesus ask to help?
- Those who were sick
- Those who were excluded
- Those who had little or no power
- Those who had no money
- Tax collectors
- Religious zealots
- Women (in male dominated world)
- People that didn’t follow him
- People that rejected him
- People afraid of what he meant to their power and status
- If you were the last Christian, what would you do?
- I don’t know (probably the most honest answer!)
- Use media / social media / mass communication to spread message
- Do small acts of kindness
- Form a small group with friends or family
- Run for office
- Use multi-prong approach
- Engage in public demonstrations
- Help the sick
- Find the vulnerable
- Find the right audience
- Find the right support
- PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!
- Why don’t you do those things?
- I’m scared
- I’m not sure how
- I’m too busy
- I have other things going on
- I think other people should do it
- I forget
- I need help
A few observations:
- Even though we were asked to draw a picture of our church community as an opening large group exercise (see the above image), in our conversations NO ONE mentioned the church, saving the church, the future of the church or getting more people to church. (READ THAT AGAIN SLOWLY.)
- The conversation centered on living our faith in the world, looking to our neighbors, and caring for the vulnerable.
- These young people have a great grasp on the world’s challenges and what we could do about them.
- These young people want to follow Jesus and are searching for good examples how.
A few questions:
- Youth – What are we missing? How can the adults in your life help?
2. Adults – are we ready to Listen? Engage? Learn? Change? Meet our kids where they need us?
3. What new thing might God be showing us?
Maybe we can figure out how to faithfully follow Jesus together.
“In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk – better yet, run! – on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline – not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.” (Ephesians 4:1-7 – The Message)