My basic point in this series of posts is that when students grow into their “true selves” in Christ, they are likely to remain steadfast in the faith.
But when spiritual engagement and church life feel artificial, boring, obligatory or moralistic, there’s a good chance young people will check out (or just drift away).
They will look to discover their true selves elsewhere.
Wouldn’t it be cool if, say, hockey-kid learned from parents and church that the elements of skating, puck-handling, teamwork and camaraderie are created and given by God to be enjoyed, cherished, appreciated.
And when the kid says, “hockey is in my blood,” and thinks of it as part of his true self, he believes God is right there with him, not waiting impatiently for hockey practice to finish so that he, the kid, can get back to “real” spirituality consisting of Bible study, prayer, tithing and singing worship songs.
But in my experience it would be the rare church that teaches anything like all that. Here’s why:
Church leaders often lack a theology of vocation and human flourishing. Slap shots and agile skating* don’t seem to have a legitimate place in the kingdom of God, certainly nothing like memorizing Scripture or other religious activities.
My recommendation: The church needs to recover a theology of vocation and human flourishing. This begins with a strong view of creation and imago dei.
But for many evangelicals, creationism and all its rich resources have been diverted away for a single purpose: soldiering in the creation-evolution wars.
Too bad. While boomers like myself are fighting these wars, we starve our own kids of the spiritual nutrition they need to discover their created, crafted, intended, called true selves, made in the image of God.
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Okay, assuming the church recovered a theology of vocation and human flourishing, how would we teach it to young people?
*And later in life: selling real estate or running an antique shop or playing in a band.