Monday, April 27, 2009

Young People and Spirituality

Most of my blog readers know that I am intensely interested in helping young people find a meaningful faith in Christ. I believe faith helps young people have the strength they need to face the difficulties of life. I think faith gives young people meaning and purpose. Obviously, as a Christian minister, I think faith leads to eternal life in heaven with Christ. But not everyone shares my interest in reaching young people. Many churches seem to be having a difficult time reaching young people in our post-modern world and this has led some churches to conclude that young people are no longer interested in spirituality.

However, when I recently conducted a poll on my blog about this subject, I was surprised by the results. Twenty-one percent of the people who responded said they thought young people were more interested in religion than in the past. In a culture that often seeks to marginalize faith, many young people are crying out for faith. They know something is missing in their lives and they are seeking spiritual answers. Though they may disagree with some teachings of the Bible, they view spirituality in general as something positive in their lives.

My poll also revealed that forty-seven percent of the people who responded thought young people were more confused about religion than in the past. Churches that use complicated language or that rely heavily on rituals that lack clear purposes, may find young people drifting away simply because they don’t understand what it is all about. This does not mean that young people cannot learn theological terms or that rituals hold no meaning for them at all, it simply means that churches are going to have to have a clearer message about these things if they are going to help young people overcome their confusion about religion.

The last thing my poll discovered was that thirty percent of the respondents felt young people needed to “experience” God before believing. Post-modern young people are not interested in just “hearing” about God, they want to experience Him. That is why they enjoy a more energetic and interactive worship experience. That is also why they are more likely to believe if they have had a specific prayer answered or “felt” God in some spiritual ritual they underwent. Once they have experienced God, they are ready to believe, even if they are still confused about Him.

My poll may not have been the most scientific poll in the world, but I do think it accurately reflects what is going on in the spiritual quest of the young people that I interact with. Despite popular myths that young people no longer want God in their lives, my poll shows that they do want to know Him. They just want churches to be less confusing in explaining God and want to experience Him before making a commitment to following Him. If churches can grasp these concepts, they can help young people find meaningful faith in Christ.

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