Progressive Youth Ministry Is Not Safe

Progressive Christians are kidding themselves in believing that their youth are somehow insulated from the influence of the more aggressive forms of conservative cultural Christianity (like this).

Teens’ disillusionment with Christianity will include its inclusive expressions too.

I know youth who have grown up in churches that have long welcomed LGBT persons into membership and leadership who nonetheless feel alienated from Christianity as an exclusive thing. These youth have been schooled in social justice in their Sunday school classes, and yet see the church as something that is at odds with their emerging sense of injustice in the world.

I wonder if our talk has come up short. I wonder if we’ve failed these youth in explaining how our church is different from the ones their friends go to, where you can’t be out and every word of the Bible is preached literally, while not demanding of them the kind of giving of themselves that characterizes Christian discipleship.

Faith, conservative or progressive, has to be lived in ways that stretch us to experience God’s heart for the poor and suffering and God’s thirst for justice in the world. Absent that, it won’t matter to anyone.

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2 thoughts on “Progressive Youth Ministry Is Not Safe

  1. This post reminded me of this parable:

    Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

    13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

    14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

    You said “I wonder if we’ve failed these youth in explaining how our church is different from the ones their friends go to.” IMO, the talk should be of God’s mercy and not of the shortcomings of all the other guys.

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