Over the next few months I will be switching gears and diving into theological conversations with our high school students. One may argue that everything we do is in fact theological, but over the next 8 weeks I will be systematically working through core doctrines of the Christian faith.
We will be using the book Clear by Chris Folmsbee. Here is a list of the topics:
- The Holy Spirit
- The Church
I see myself much more as a practical theologian, however I still do appreciate systematic theology. I was raised with that kind of thinking and approach to faith and do believe it has its place in our faith formation. Over the next few weeks I will attempt to chronicle how my view of these “foundations” has changed or become clearer (or more confusing)
This whole year on Sundays we have been journeying through practical theological questions with our students. Here is just a sampling of them:
How can a loving God allow such evil in the world?
Can it be proven that God exists?
Does God still create stuff today?
Why should I pray when God doesn’t answer all my prayers?
Do I have to believe Jesus performed miracles in order to be a Christian?
What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
Why is there so much hate, violence, and intolerance done in the name of Christianity?
Can we find truth in other religions?
Is war ever justified?
How should Christians react to bullying?
Can we still love and include those we disagree with?
What does it look like to be a loving and inclusive community in our society?
At first glance I am sure you can tell how different those questions are from the ideas presented in Clear.
I believe that a combination of the two can be a very healthy approach in the spiritual formation of today’s adolescents.
What I appreciate about Chris’ book is that rather than attempting to present concrete answers and definitions, he offers ideas and suggestions and allows freedom for students to express their own thoughts in creative ways. Structured within the book are intentional moments of reflection. Here are two examples under the “Immerse” and “Pray” sections of chapter 1: God
“Take a moment to quiet your place. If it helps, close your eyes and take two or three deep breaths. After you feel you’ve established a quiet place, take a few minutes to write in the space provided as many truths about God as you can bring to mind from this interaction.”
“Draw a picture that illustrates how you see God using his attributes around you each day. After listing the attributes, take a moment to pray using very few words.”
“As you move through your day, find a place where you can sit and view as much of the sky as possible. You won’t be able to view the entire sky without moving your eyes, so each time your eyes move, repeat this simple phrase” ‘God, you are amazing! Nothing can contain you, for you are spatially limitless.’
As a youth pastor, I am thrilled to see such a resource out there for students, and as a help for my own teaching. I am excited to see how this series sparks conversations and transformation with our teens.
This book is an excellent tool to help equip students in spiritual formation for the mission of God.
I intend to write a few more times updating our progress and how my students are interacting, tracking, and engaging with the themes. It will also be interesting to see how and what I teach this time around differs from when I did a similar series almost 8 years ago.