Saturday, June 06, 2009

Black Flies, Sleep Depravation, and Jesus

Last evening a group of seventeen "tweens" from St. Paul's made their way to the country home of Rev. Cathy and her husband John. They are hosting the group for roughly twenty four hours as a camping trip/sleepover (do they ever actually sleep?) This is the second time in two weeks that I have written about Cathy's work because I believe she and John deserve considerable credit for the work they are doing with our young people. Youth are an endangered species in many mainline congregations and while Cathy's work is not always readily visible, from my perspective it is hugely important. I have been on many a youth weekend as a leader and know how demanding the organization and execution can be.

Earlier this week I came upon a pastor on one of the religious television stations from an evangelical background. He gave a very thoughtful and illuminating presentation on the state of youth work in evangelical churches. He offered a statistic which surprised me because we often think that these denominations do a much better job at keeping their kids. His graphic showed that only about 10% of evangelical teens continue with a meaningful faith into their twenties. He suggested that the secular society we live in does not nurture faith and he was mildly critical of the entertainment model for youth work which grabs teens now but doesn't sustain them.

At St. Paul's we are working diligently and sometimes desperately to pay for what we hope is a balanced picture of ministry. As an insider I am constantly aware of the good things that are happening, but I'm not sure everyone gets what we are committed to accomplish.

Any thoughts?


wwefreakjon said...

That statistic doesn't really surprise me because I'm always around my friends who have given up faith. I have been called brainwashed by some "friends" for having faith so the statistic is not surprising. I do think that non Christians preconceptions about Christians are one of the problems. You have a teen that doesn't really go to church but whose parents do. He (or she) has friends who show links from popular television shows or movies that display Christians in a bad way and poof, the interest in church is lost.

Deborah Laforet said...

I do think religion is perceived negatively in our culture. People are seen as strange if they go to church Sunday morning. Young people are just trying to fit in and don't need to be looked at as strange.

When you have a group of seventeen young people gathering, it can create a community of belonging and acceptance. Kudos to Cathy, and I celebrate the young people who are gathering and nurturing their spirituality in this way.

lionlamb said...

Thanks Jonathan for the perspective of a teenager who is a person of faith. It must be rather lonely at times!

Deb, you "paved the way" in the role that Cathy now holds in a full-time position. It must be encouraging to hear about the positive work that is unfolding.

Laura said...

ditto, ditto, ditto to the work of Deb and Cathy! Just finished telling someone how lucky we feel as parents that our kids have such full lives...and that is full of good things like campouts and choir lunches and Sunday School Services. And I know our kids feel it too. (Stay strong Jonathan. As you get older, if you don't already feel it, you'll be the "lucky" one to have held on to your Anchor. The other "stuff" is fleeting.)