So I’ve been reading up a bit about youth culture in a book called “Engaging the Teenage Soul” by Walt Mueller and he makes a statement that says if the church is not willing to listen to the questions our young people are asking then they will go to people and places where they will be listened to. Often where they go comes as a surprise to the church. To make matters worse when we do answer them, often the answers we respond with, which we believe are biblical and evangelical, and are well-intentioned, many times misses the mark. Why? Because we have cookie-cut answers, a one-size-fits-all response to questions being asked and often these answers are not even applicable to the questions being asked. The questions being asked are changing, as a matter of fact it has already changed, so how can we have answers for questions that we don’t know are being asked?
What I often wonder is, “what is more important? Is creating a platform, a space, for them to ask questions more important than the answers themselves?” Is by allowing them to ask questions enough to show that they are taken seriously?
Is Christianity not revelation? A process, sometimes even immediate, where Jesus Christ reveals himself to us through the written word, the spoken word and creation, through a life-long process where we work out our salvation in relation to this revelation of God. Should youth ministry not be more than just wanting to give our young people answers, answers we think they should know but a journey, a life-long one of learning and experience the God who was always actively involved in the lives of his people?
I am not purporting that we base our understanding of God merely on experiential knowledge but I think often times this learning experienced is removed and only factual and head knowledge is sought after by those who seem to posses the answers.
So how do we engage young people with the gospel of Jesus Christ?
- Create a platform, a place, that is free of judgement so that they would have the liberty to ask questions and to speak their hearts and minds;
- Listen to their questions without wanting to give them the answers which we believe are the correct ones, instead allow God to speak into their lives;
- Walk with them through this enigma called life and allow them to experience what God has done in your life in theirs.