.::How Much Faith? vs. What Do They Have Their Faith In?

Last week at Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention, Reggie Joiner got me thinking about this idea that I wanted to tease out a bit more.  There are two distinct ways of looking at the outcome of our youth ministries:

One is “How much faith do our students have when they graduate?”  The way many of our ministries measure this generally looks like this:

  • Did they graduate without getting drunk (too much)?
  • Are they still virgins?
  • Have they been immersed for the forgiveness of their sins in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
  • Did they go to camp, retreats, Wednesday night, etc. Enough?
  • Do they vote for the correct political party?

Now don’t hear me saying there things are unimportant.  What I am saying is that these things are not accurate measuring sticks for the success or failure of our youth ministry, parenting or church.

Unfortunately what happens with many of our students as some of the best research shows is that these measuring sticks for faithing only breed contempt and stress in our young people.

The other way to is to ask, “What do our students have their faith in when they graduate?”  Here are just a few of the ways that this might be measured:

  • Do we graduate students whose hearts beat for what God’s beat for?
  • Do they choose a college, job, career, city to live in, life choice based on what they have heard God tell them to do and not on a glossy slick promotional brochure?
  • Do we celebrate our student’s choice of a major that is dependent on a calling from God and not a calculated choice that is based on the level of income they expect to receive?
  • Have we created a culture where our students have been given space to voice doubt and witnessed other adults taking risk for the Kingdom of God?
  • Are they generous to a fault?
  • Would they stop and help the beaten up traveller on the side of the road?
  • Do they work on loving their enemies?
  • Are they dispensers of grace? And mercy?
  • When people describe them, do words like patient, humble, joy, peace, and kind come immediately to mind rather than successful, accomplished, good looking, etc.?
Think abou the ways we could really encourage this kind of development.  Instead of looking at outcome based methods, we are able to encourage and affirm deep, spiritual, holy developmental characteristics that are being formed with in them INSTEAD of creating arbitrary hoops for them to jump through in order to gain approval.

What might a student who has their faith in the right thing look like?  Chime in in the comments…

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