Spiritual Disciplines in Youth Ministry (part 3 of 3)
Episode III: Raising Ancient Adolescents
Marjorie Thompson stated that, “There is a hunger abroad in our time, haunting lives and hearts. Like an empty stomach aching beneath the sleek coat of a seemingly well-fed creature, it reveals that something is missing from the diet of our rational, secular, and affluent culture. Both within and beyond traditional faith communities, a hunger for spiritual depth and integrity is gaining momentum” (pg 1). But why now? What is it about “our time” that is feeding the momentum Thompson speaks of? …
In Light From the East: Theology, Science, and Eastern Orthodox Tradition, Alexi Nesteruk says, “When all outward impressions of things and ideas given to reason are exhausted, interpreted rationally, and explained logically, reason comes to a clear awareness of its own limited nature, such that it cannot exalt itself beyond its own rationality and logical insufficiency” (pg 63-64).
The hallmark of modernity has been reason and logic. Perhaps postmodern thinkers are finding reason to be insufficient and instead desire to (temporarily?) set aside logical analysis of Christ and explore experiencing Christ as a path to depth and understanding.
“Unless we make a point of writing, we miss the discovery aspect of writing. When else do we stop to think about what we feel for someone? Taking the time to identify and express our hearts is profoundly important… Today, even though we are immersed in a world of words, we may never write thoughtfully ourselves. The speed and availability of electronic communication is radically changing how we keep in touch. While we are gaining efficiency, we are losing the regular habit of pausing to consider our lives as we write” (Luann Budd, Journal Keeping: Writing for Spiritual Growth).
Maybe the need Budd has recognized for the discipline of spiritual writing is true in a general sense for our spiritual lives as a whole. As everything becomes more automated and streamlined (and yet somehow more busy and time-consuming) we may find less natural opportunities for spiritual depth in our daily lives. I am aware of the fact that spell-check and the blessed delete button on my laptop give me the ability to write without carefully choosing my thoughts ahead of time.
For this reason, if I desire for my writing to have depth, I must have regular times of re-reading, re-working and re-wording. Similarly, our ministry to adolescents (or children, or young adults, or not-so-young adults, etc.) must also contain regular times for reexamining those things we believe, say we believe or proclaim we believe by our actions. Spiritual Disciplines are important now because we are living in a world of unexamined words and unexamined lives.
I would like to see us commit to raising ancient adolescents. I was talking with Nate Bostian at the intellectual Mecca known as Café Brazil and it was stated that as long as we continue to raise young people without a historical consciousness, then we should continue to expect to battle as Israel did in the time of the judges with generations coming up without knowledge of the Lord or what he has done for us. Spiritual disciplines provide a tool for aiding in the creation of a culture of young people who are connected to life in Christ, connected to life in the community and committed to seeing this continue.
Books Cited in this Post:
Marjorie Thompson – Soul Feast
Luann Budd – Journal Keeping: Writing for Spiritual Growth