If teenagers lack an articulate faith, maybe it is because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way conversation. Maybe teenager' inability to talk about religion is not because the church inspires a faith too deep for words, but because the God-story that we tell is too vapid to merit more than a superficial vocabulary...
If the God of Jesus Christ is a missionary God who crosses every boundary -- life and death and space and time -- to win us, then following Jesus is bound to be anything but convenient. Jesus Christ doesn't tinker; he tears down walls, draws up new plans, makes demands... (Dean 36-7)
Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda…Here a great number of disabled people used to lie — the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.
Charles Campbell, in his outstanding book, The Word Before the Powers, wonders that if one of the ways the Principalities and Powers, the Systems of Domination, keep us under their thumb is by keeping us busy, tired, and diverted. Kyle Childress
My poor kids go to church every sunday (that they are with me.)
They have learned John 3:16 and 17, the 23rd Psalm, The Beatitudes in Matthew and are working on the 10 Commandments.
But aside from going to church I don't think they see me put what I believe into action enough.
How does knowing the verses and the prayers invade my normal life, make me different and challenge me to follow Christ and share the gospel.
This is one of the growing edges for my church. We have lots of outreach ministries; clothes closet, oil program that provides heating for struggling families, food closet, Summer Lunch Program, lots of really good things. But most of these things are ministries of a few. We need to find ministries for many. But it is not just a matter of participation. It is a matter, I think, of getting out of our normal routines and comfortable lives to be immersed in ministry that serves others and allows us to gain a new perspective on our own lives, ethical and spiritual.
In order to lead my church there, I've got to accept the challenge myself, so here are three challenges for me:
First a simple daily practice (outside our devotions)
We wash the dishes by hand. This gives us an opportunity to talk about conserving water, caring for creation, and pray together to the God who created all things...
Second, an occasional practice
Go through all the toys and cut them in half (at least). We will sell these in a yard sale and use the money for a ministry. Throughout we will talk about what Jesus said about possessions, being satisfied with less, the effects of the production and shipping of all these toys on the environment, a local or global ministry we want to be a part of, whether the local food closet or Kiva.org which others in our church highly recommend. The point is to interrupt the process by which my children and I are being transformed in Consumers and intentionally open ourselves to be Christians, who are transformed by a giving and sacrificing Christ.
Third, Direct Action
The boys are 9 and 7 there aren't a lot of ministries they can volunteer at. I can't take them to Rhode Island Food Bank, they can't have volunteers that young for insurance reasons. The same with many other such local missions.
But we will start, with others in our church, to clean the trash from a piece of public land in our neighborhood. Again, we can talk about caring for the earth as God's creation. We will also research some volunteer projects for the family that are fairly close to home. Although someday we might plan a 'volunteer vacation'.