We welcomed our second group of KIVU campers at our place in Durango. It’s always interesting when one group takes off and another comes in. The work done through 14 days is so dramatic, that when a new group starts the process it’s pretty eye opening. Some of the staff struggle a bit with the idea that they’ve seen a group go through the 14 day experience, and then welcome in brand new friends. They expect the new students to understand everything the old ones knew. So it’s been a bit of a struggle helping our staff embrace the process and trust that each student will individually find their way.
Yesterday, I started asking our new students “I hear that 30% of you and your friends really don’t have any desire to engage in faith issues.” citing the study I’ve written about a few blogs ago. And it happened again!
They looked at me in dis-belief and one student raised his hand, “I’m sorry to dissapoint you.” and I thought he was going to say 30% was way too high, “But my assessment of my own group of friends would probably show more like 70% of my community doesn’t want anything to do with faith.” he corrected me.
One girl from a Christian school said, “40% of her friends didn’t want to have anything to do with faith.” And that’s in a CHRISTIAN SCHOOL!
So here I sit again, wondering if conversations about faith are even worth talking about. Sure, I could throw on some guilt and shame and manipulate students into wanting to confess their worldly lives, but what good is that? It seems like youth groups all over the country are mastering that way, and the studies are coming back that we’re not actually inviting students to a conversation about how they can practically live in world that embraces conversations that may seem controversial.
I wrestle with the practical.
Instead of reducing faith down to “If you died tonight…” what if we start asking “what if you wake up tomorrow?”
I find faith a compelling conversation, but yesterday I heard students fearful of beginning the conversation because they were worried about being rejected or made fun of by someone who thinks a different way than they do.
It’s almost like we’re a people who don’t have a place where we can live in a viable paradox of faith without the fear of being labeled. There doesn’t seem to be a place where students can wrestle with their thoughts about God, Purpose, Truth, and what it means to engage in the world as a whole person. Questions like, “Is there a God” or “What is my place here on earth?” are simply reduced down to the lowest common denominator where faith is irrelevant or made to be some sort of “after life decision.”
For my friends in other cultures, I know that seems foreign. But even here in a pluralist culture like America, we still see the seeds of fear when facing the most important question of self development.
Conformity is the law of the land, and in the student world; insecurity is the master of behavior.
I guess we can keep doing what we’re doing, and we’ll keep seeing this lathargic reaction to faith.
OR, we might engage with students in a way that propells them to think about ways they can see various facets of the faith diamond, and then let them decide. What if we helped them with what life looks like as a faith person? Or what if we helped them integrate their faith positions in ways they can interact with the rest of the world?
I’m confident, if given the chance to examine the tennents of Jesus’ teaching and his interaction with the culture of his day, there will be at the very least, conversations of hope, justice, freedom, and healing. So today, I’ll continue on.
I’ll keep asking the questions. I’ll keep inviting students to the table of conversation and paradox. I’ll keep believing that if given the chance, faith conversations will be compelling and interesting. And together, our staff here at KIVU will build a safe place for students to become fully whole in the way they view life. After all, if we believe Jesus came to give life and life more abundantly, why wouldn’t we want to afford that life to our friends.
I’ll let you know how it goes.