And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight… – Philippians 1:9
This weekend, wrapping up almost nine months of preparation, seventeen of our 8th-grade young people made the decision to be confirmed in their faith and join the church. Rebekah had the privilege of baptizing three of them. It was a beautiful day.
Learning the Faith:
Teaching these teens is an interesting process. In a way it is similar to the study I’m doing with my adult Sunday morning class. The challenge is to balance instruction with facilitation, to lay out the foundation of “this is what Christianity is” while at the same time engaging difficult questions honestly, with the goal of coming to an authentic belief.
This is a bigger question than the content of the studies I lead or even the confirmation class – this is about how we as a church offer living faith to the world, a presentation that is at once both “correct” within the framework of Christianity, and alive with authentic truth.
Too often, honest faith journeys are met with, and even repressed by, a strict orthodoxy – especially when teens have good questions. Instead of exploring faith together, such a response tends to say, “This is exactly what and how you must believe, period!” and, “Don’t you dare color outside of the lines.” (Our lines, that is.)
Listening to many of the faith statements written by our young people it is obvious that they understand what it means to accept the saving grace of Jesus and to follow as intentional disciples. But it is also evident that they are engaged in a thoughtful, interactive journey, not simply swallowing then regurgitating a set of rote answers.
My question is what kind of a message do we present to the world? Do we tell people they are going to hell if they don’t believe exactly like us? Or does the way that we live effectively demonstrate a vital, life-changing walk with Jesus that is authentic and invitational?
Sunday morning, at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church, seventeen amazing young people promised to trust in God and walk with Jesus and live in response to Christ’s light and love. Their authentic, growing faith is an inspiration and an encouragement to all of us on this journey.
So again, building on yesterday’s post about people people who abandon the Christian faith, why not focus instead on positive stories like this one and these beautiful young people so full with faith and at the very beginning of their journey?
below: 30 photos that tell the story
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.