I have recently been working a lot on an upcoming series for the youth here at Mulberry, and I am focusing the series called “My Generation!” on Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church by Kenda Creasy Dean. The book is an incredibly interesting one, and has created many questions I must ask myself and my ministry.
One of the things that this book is grappling with is how the faith of adults in the church models for our students. Are the conclusions in the books pointing to a lack of growth in the faith of young people or are our churches modeling faith that is not truly world changing. One of the questions that popped up for me about not only my setting, but the settings I have been involved in over the years is the idea of modeling grace.
We are given a biblical model for grace in the life of Jesus, and we are told to model that grace in our lives and interactions with our neighbors. I know that growing up I was surrounded by an environment and community of grace. I do still sometimes get met with the memories of my self in my formative teenage years, and that at times causes me pain because I am no longer the person I was.
How many of us do not model grace in our interactions with other people around us? Do we hold a grudge, do we remember the sins that we forgave however many years its been? That is something that stuck out to my mind while reading this book, is how do we create a community of grace with teenagers?
Teenagers are passionate, impulsive, and often feel the cut of slights more deeply than older people. How do we teach and model the living out of grace between our students. How can we improve not only our churches, but also our daily lives to show that grace is extended between not just those close, but those further away from ourselves.
Modeling grace is incredibly tough, but I think what might happen, and Dean would say is happening, is that we do not place enough focus on the costly nature of our religion. What the National Study of Youth and Religion informs us that our faith is not nearly costly enough for our students to see how it truly changes us. If we are serious and intentional about modeling grace I think our children and students will see how much our faith means to us.