Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Christian Education Rant

I was talking with a friend about issues within the church universal.  The subject quickly turned to the devaluation of young people in the church. Now I'm not talking about the need to have young adult representatives or youth representatives involved in church functions.  I've been there and done that, and most of the time I had to wonder, "Am I here because of my age or am I here because I can really help you out?" and the answer was usually that I was young. (Side note: Have you ever noticed that the younger you are at a church meeting, the more attention you get? It's usually not the kind of attention where people are honestly taking in your ideas, critiquing and incorporating them if they benefit the church, it's usually the "oh my gosh, someone under 40's actually here" kind of attention) I'm talking about the refusal of the church to do real Biblical studies with their young members.  Of course, the church has a hard time doing real Biblical studies with their adults, but that's why I think it's especially important to do them with the youngest among us.  Somehow we think that youth want to watch DVDs where random people talk to them about "issues" and maybe give them a piece of scripture to tie everything together.  Youth group often devolves into "Let's play games and do a morality lesson so we can be better people".  That's not going to grow our church or create authentic disciples.  Give the kids scripture, give them the conflicts of the texts. I think youth Sunday School should look a lot more like my Old Testament class and a lot less like goof off hour.  It should be engaging, they should be diving in, learning about conflicts in the texts, looking at extra-Biblical sources and trying to figure out what this God they worship actually looks like.  Of course that involves training teachers, so there'd have to be a commitment of the adults involved in our youth programs to study and struggle themselves, but there's no reason why they couldn't do that right along with the kids.  It would have to involve someone actually putting out a decent Bible study program or the priest/pastor getting involved and using the Biblical knowledge they accrued in seminary, but I think it could be beautiful.  Imagine if what was taught in the seminary classroom was commonly taught in our churches, in our Sunday School classrooms, to our teenagers and young adults.  What if people knew what modern Biblical studies scholarship actually said about the Bible?  What if it was actually relevant to how the church operated?
Now, I say this, but I'm not a youth person.  I don't know much about working with youth or anything like that.  Also, I don't think I'd necessarily be the most effective at implimenting a change in our Christian Educational system. All I know is that if we want to have effective and relevant disciples of Christ, we need to teach people about the God they follow and the Bible they read.  We might as well start with the young ones, because if they don't find relevance in the church in their younger years, they probably won't be around when they're older.

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