Wednesday, June 27, 2007

    Sharing Faith

    Summer is such a busy time. Our youth are always attending various mission trips, summer camps, or family vacations. So, until last year, the church I serve did not offer summer Sunday School—it was difficult to find teachers, attendance was erratic, and the curricula was somewhat inconsistent. But, all of a sudden, we realized that not only could we offer summer Sunday School, we could do it in a way that involved the entire church.

    For the past two summers, Sunday School (for the youth group) has consisted of combining grades 6th-12th and inviting guest speakers (members of the congregation) to come and share their faith journey. The format is incredibly simple. For the first fifteen minutes, we simply hang out. Then, we spend fifteen minutes listening to faith stories of various individuals. Some of the stories are long, some short, some heart-wrenching, some humorous, and some strange. Once a story has been shared, we divide into three groups (based on age groups), discuss what he heard, and think of questions for the speaker. For the final fifteen minutes, the youth are able to ask the speaker any questions they want.

    Overall, we’ve received positive feedback from both the youth and speakers. As adults, I believe it is hard for us to clearly articulate our faith. We want to share our faith with others, but we don’t want to be intrusive. And, often we’re not even sure that people want to hear our faith story. But, the youth are a very welcoming crowd. When sharing their story with the youth, most people are relaxed and honest. I’m not sure you could find this type of environment anywhere else.

    At the same time, our youth love hearing the stories of adults. They’re always amazed that adults experienced (and experience) the same struggles that they face today.

    I hope that by having such conversations between adults and youth, we can create relationships that will not only last a lifetime, but also reinforce the notion that the church is composed of many age groups and that an imaginary barrier does not need to exist between youth and adults.



    doug said...

    What a great format;
    what a great way to begin to have intergenerational interaction and bring the whole faith community together
    what a wonderful way to help students see they are "becoming" just as all of us are "becoming" (we are work's in progress)
    what a great way to help students see faith in the flesh

    Brian said...

    Jacob, great idea. I'm definitely going to give this a try in the fall. I guess you have to be sort of thoughtful to pick folk who can engage the youth without going into so much detail that you lose their attention.