A Vital Faith
Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Article for January 1, 2015 Our Youth & Families Ministries Team is so excited about an “experiment” in worship and learning that we are offering to the congregation during this year’s season of Lent. An article on page two of this newsletter explains it in more detail, and there will be more information shared in the coming weeks, but let me offer you one reason to be excited about it – at least my reason to be excited about it.
My greatest concern about the future of the Christian church has to do with how many young people have drifted away from the church, and if recent surveys are accurate, many of them have also drifted away from the Christian faith. While this has almost always been the case — that young people tend to drift away from involvement in a congregation — scholars like David Lose (Preaching at the Crossroads, ©2013) suggest that our society today is more post-modern, more secular and more pluralistic than has ever been the case in our history. The combination of these three influences, added to the reality that young people are more connected than ever before with every imaginable system of belief (religious or not) through the internet, leads to the concern that fewer of them may naturally “return to the fold” as they often have in the past, when looking for meaning in life, or for support in raising a family.
Church leaders are in the early stages of grappling with these issues, and there is no clear consensus yet about how to move forward, but one promising suggestion is that if we can share with our young people a vital faith — one that is both experienced and understood — one that connects deeply with their lives — then they will be more likely to stay true to their faith, even as their peers are moving in other directions. Studies show that the young people who are most likely to experience such a faith (1) have parents who experience and model such a faith, and (2) live in homes where this faith is practiced, discussed, explored and celebrated.
If this is true (and I am convinced that it is), then the best gift we can give to our young people is to help their parents (and other faith community members!) become more aware of their own faith, more consistent in practicing it, and more articulate in sharing it. At Saint Peter, we want to provide opportunities for this kind of growing, modeling and sharing to take place with family members, as well as with other caring adults in the community. My expectation is that taking some extra time for studying the Bible during worship, and providing opportunities for families and other multi-generational small groups to explore the faith together, could be a strong first step in helping our young people towards a vital faith.
So we are going to try to do this during our second worship service during the season of Lent. I hope you will come. More so: I hope you will come with high expectations, that our study and sharing will lead us to a deeper place of faith. I can guarantee you that we’ll do our best to live up to those expectations, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, perhaps we can all take a step closer to a more vital and meaningful faith; a faith that is worth sharing with others!
Faithfully yours, Pastor Dave