For a good portion of my youth — I was lost in the world of denominational Christianity.
I grew up in a Presbyterian church (USA) and my core group of friends were Southern Baptist, Nazarene, and Penecostal. Needless to say, I felt a little confused about some of things that would come up in even the most mundane of religious conversation. While we never directly asked each other about the sinner’s prayer, or being born again, or adult vs infant baptism — it was always at the background of certain conversations. …and I had no idea what to do with all of that.
I knew that they all considered themselves to be ‘saved’. I knew that the Presbyterian tradition didn’t use that term unless you were talking about the Jesus of 2000 years ago saving mankind. I never asked the question of what they really meant by it all — probably because I was afraid of their reaction to learn that I wasn’t ‘saved’ by their definition and because I thought it might be something that Presbyterians just hadn’t figured out yet and I didn’t have a clue how I was going explain that to my pastor as a 13-year-old.
Now, as I help lead the youth as an adult at my own church, I can’t help but wonder if I’m allowing these kids to think the same things about the Presbyterian traditions. There are things I want for them … things that I think would have been beneficial for me as a youth —
~~I want to encourage their questions, even the hard ones.
~~I want them to have an appreciation and understanding of their own traditions while also understanding and appreciating all of the other denominational traditions that exist.
~~I want them to understand that there are traditions in Islam, Judaism, and other religions that have beauty and meaning.
~~I want them to ask questions, and feel confident in answering them.
~~I want them to realize that this world is not an US vs. THEM — this world needs to be a ‘we’
~~I want them to be curious and critical thinkers about what it is they believe, why they believe it, and what that means for their lives.
It’s one of those things that adults wish upon kids — I want them to be better off than I was at ______. I prayerfully hope that I can encourage the questions and confidence in the hearts of these young people. It’s their world, after all.
What can you do today to help another grow in their faith?