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?


About stepanana

just a girl writing about life through this lens.....
This entry was posted in Kid Stuff, Personal Reflections and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to denominations

  1. juliegvillo says:

    I remember growing up asking the question, “But what do Presbyterians BELIEVE?” I asked it over and over and over. I never really felt like I got answers. My friends were Baptist and Methodist … at least the ones with whom I was having faith conversations. The salvation piece was often coming up. I wish someone had put a Book of Confessions in my hands, though we recited the Apostles’ Creed every Sunday. Maybe the BoC wouldn’t have helped. I think the people who were teaching me thought that they *were* teaching me what we believed in Sunday School class, in Vacation Bible School, and in worship, which I attended every week of the world. It worries me that we teach it and preach it, and we still may not be speaking language our children will understand. It’s why I’m a HUGE proponent of the Multiple Intelligence, theological thinking, and learner-centered approaches. I want each child to leave with something they can *grasp*. Thank you for your dedication to teaching the faith to our children in the connectional church.

    • stepanana says:

      this is also helpful for me, who needs to compose an answer to the question, “what does it mean to be presbyterian?” yikes!

  2. jamie says:

    I love this… πŸ™‚

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  4. jamie says:

    I feel like I just had this conversation with someone at my church. I actually grew up in a Southern Baptist church that I sometimes think the pastors thought we were the only church that got it right, then I married into a Catholic family and now Mike and I are youth and young adult leaders in a Nazarene church – let’s just say I have a passion for young people and helping them seek God in their own way and I definitely think that we can all learn things from each other and should respect each other… that’s a whole other conversation…but what I especially loved about this is the way that your heart aches for teenagers already. Let’s face it, not everyone can love a middle schooler :), and the “I want them to know…”, those are awesome! πŸ™‚ Keep up the good work! God’s doing some cool stuff in you, and those kids are blessed to have you πŸ™‚

    • stepanana says:

      thank you so much for your thoughts! middle schoolers are definitely their own bag of tricks, hahaha πŸ™‚ sometimes they (like us, too) get caught up in the word of pre-teen gossip and aren’t seeing the big picture. i’m hoping that if we just keep plugging away at them, they might get something out of it eventually πŸ˜‰

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