Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Young People's Discussions

I seldom get nostalgic for my lost youth (not for any quantity of cash would I be 15 again) but now and then my teenagers make me reflect a bit on where I was then vs. where I am now.

Right now my children and their friends are "into" church issues. They get very fired up about The Rules With No Scriptural Basis, The Lack of Life and Vitality in our Services, The Shallow Values Among Some People, Why Aren’t We Reaching Out to the World, and so on.

Just like my friends and I used to. Only our parents didn’t know much about our Intense Discussions, because they occurred at Pizza Hut, fifteen or twenty miles from their ears.

I get in on more of my children’s discussions because some of them take place on their blogs. Maybe I shouldn’t say this, lest they quit being as honest, but those blogs are a wonderful window into their thoughts and lives.

So there they are, heatedly batting around the same ideas that we used to discuss. And, no doubt, they have a horror of ever getting as complacent and satisfied as all those 40-somethings in church (like me) who live their pleasant lives and don’t make a fuss about anything and never think or discuss any Deep Thoughts…just like I used to look in disdain at the older people at Believers Fellowship in Minnesota.

So, what happened? Well, a number of things.

1. Life got a bit more intense. It’s hard to get heated up about Complacency in the Church when you’re nearly out of money and your child needs to see a doctor and how are you going to afford it plus groceries besides?

2. The church became something that I desperately needed rather than something I could dangle at the fringes of my life, examining and criticizing at will.

3. I learned that only time and the Holy Spirit can change people and situations. All of my fine, yea, brilliant, logic makes no dent on people’s opinions. Once upon a time there was a Church Rule that I didn’t like. So I presented my case why it ought to change. But no, there was no way. So for six years I kept my mouth shut and prayed. And the rule changed without another word from me. Or, as a friend of mine said cheerfully, "Some of these things won’t change until the old people die off." Matt: "That’s a pretty callous way of looking at it." Friend: "Well, it’s true."

4. God took my focus off the church and how it should change and put the spotlight on me and how I needed to change. Aarrgghh. It was way more fun to criticize the church than myself.

I love the young people at Brownsville and their energy and ideas and fearlessness. When they become old and complacent like me, God will raise up a new generation of teenagers to spark ideas and light fires and inspire Long Deep Discussions.

Quote of the Day:
"Well, the Bible says, ‘No man can serve two masters.’"
--Matt, when the young people were discussing the absurdity of the Christian-Ethics-class hypothetical question of whether or not a guy should court two girls at once


  1. Dorcas...did you twist Matt's ear just a little for that comment about serving two masters??? Actually its very funny, sounds like something a guy would come up with..

    And yes, I recall the deep discussions we as the youth used to get into...but now my deep discussions consist of debating with my preschoolers, deciding who hit who, and who's turn it is to have the red cup for lunch!! LOL!!
    But the youth do have some valid points..its good to look at why we do what we do, its easy to get complacent.(at least for me.)~Arlene

  2. I appreciate this post, and I identify with the "deep discussion of weighty matters". I, even at 29, sometimes am frustrated at some things I see that need to change. However, I also see that while some things haven't changed as I thought they should, I have changed and those things don't bother me like they used to.

  3. Arlene--Matt came up with that comment with no prompting from me or anyone else. I wasn't even there...just heard about it later. He has a well-deserved reputation as a witty guy, not that I'm proud of him or anything.
    I agree that the youth are good for the rest of us. They make us laugh and think and even get a bit uncomfortable.

  4. The energy and zeal, the passion, of young people is precisely the reason to firmly ground them in the truth of Scripture and then turn them to the work of the church. There are so many ways that young people can serve God and make the difference that they claim they want to make. The thing we older people must remember is how we felt in our teens and twenties, and remember that young people are sometimes RIGHT, despite their lack of experience or "wisdom". Sometimes we older people need to swallow our pride and LEARN from our young people.

  5. Paul, You said it..sometimes the youth are Right. They can also see things from a fresh prespective.

  6. Dorcas...I didnt make myself very clear, when I asked you if you twisted Matt's ear...I meant did you twist his ear "because" he said that...??
    I totally believe he came up with that one on his own!!LOL!!

  7. Arlene, rest assured in the fact that the bigger your children become the bigger will be the challenges. Like now you're helping them to learn to sit still in church. Later you'll be helping them to choose which church, if any at all. Enjoy them now. Indeed, in each phase of life.

  8. Actually, that quote wasn't quite original with me. I saw it on an email forward a long time ago when I was like, 12 or 13.


  9. I once heard a pastor of 30+ years experience say
    "There aren't many problems I've seen in the church that couldn't be solved by a death or two..."

    Seems a rather Morbid (and too true!)way of seeing church probs!

    Lord, May I be willing to turn the scope on myself and not be the one others wait to die off!

  10. Grandma, Thanks for the advice...Sometimes its easy to get caught up in the day to day stresses, forgetting that these little ones will one day be gone!!

  11. Sheryl (Gingerich) Hooley4/27/2005 10:29 PM

    Great blog post - those Deep Discussion Topics are the same type of thing I remember discussing at deep and passionate length in the youth group - and on United Bethel's youth chorus tour bus last fall. I suspect that Mennonite youth across the country have hashed through these same discussion topics over and over through the years. (Imagine what all the walls of the RBI campus, or similar places, have heard across the generations!) At 32, I feel like I'm somewhere on the line between a Challenge the Norm Youth and a Loyal Adult Fixture. Dorcas, You were so right with your points Numbers 3 and 4 - Only time and the H.S. can change people (and it's really not my responsibility!) and - I'm the one who really needs to change, anyway!

  12. Sheryl, The United Bethel Youth Chorus. My fiancee and I were at the church in southern Virginia when your chorus sang there. She is Ab, and Rach, and Esther's cousin. I enjoyed that service.


  13. Dorcas, I can really identify with that idea of being 15 again! NO NOT FOR ANY AMOUNT! Unless I can retain the knowledge that I have gained at 56! But that would be so not fair to the world! ;-)

    I see my children's thoughts better from their blogs too, just like you see your children's thoughts. Me thinks this is a wonderful way to share such thoughts for when we are together we never get to them, the visual and merely being with them seems to over-ride the ability to share in these areas. Physical presence is a form of blindness of the mind that can stifle the sharing of thoughts.

    Discussions will go on forever about the need for changes in the church, the young will see things and want to know why, and do they need to remain as they have been? The older will see from experience, that only time can explain, and is not possible for the youth until they are among the older members and think that things are fine as they are. Such a circle we spin within!

    May the youth always question the past and traditions. For this will keep us fresh and alive as Christians, "what mean ye by these stones"? The future may not be lived like the past, by God's help they will help us continue on God's path and take with them the wisdom of the past and keep traditions that are needed to keep them strong in the Lord. May God be with all of our children as they increase while we decrease.

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