Recently, it seems almost every week or so an article will appear stating that there is a crisis in religion. It doesn’t single out one religion over another. It speaks more to the shrinking of numbers attending church across the board.
This past week the topic was about young people questioning passages from the Bible. Much of what they are saying needs to not be scoffed at but needs to be treated with respect. They should not be treated like an anomaly, for the future of all religious faiths depend on the young to keep our church doors open and and church life vibrant.
Much has changed since the days when Mom, Dad Or Grandma said “you have to go to church.” Now, lots of Moms, Dads, and Grandmas are not the faithful churchgoers they were in days past and their unquestioned example of attendance every Sunday is no longer the norm.
I remember when my Sunday School teacher, Margaret Schwiekert, taught us the importance of saying grace before meals and saying our prayers before bedtime. She told us grace before meals need not be long – eating is on everyone’s mind. She taught us the simple prayer, “God is great, God is good and we thank him for this food.” She also told us that if we didn’t want to kneel at night to say our prayers, to stand by the window, look at the stars and say, “Thank you God for giving me this day.” She said what matters is not the length or breadth of your prayer, or not what it means to God, but what it means to you.
She wanted us to question that which we did not understand. It never annoyed her and she told us to always be curious about things we thought did not make sense. Therein lies one of the present day problems.
Today’s young people are smarter and getting smarter everyday. They no longer take the written word as absolute; they want answers and instead of always being honest with them and admitting you cannot give them definite, proven answers sometimes, we can inclined to fluff them off.
One young man quoted a passage from the Bible word for word and quite truthfully, it did sound ridiculous. He asked who in the world would believe that actually happened. I did not think less of this young man, because at least he was reading from the Bible.
Maybe it is time we consider that the days of making your children go to church, sit still and make no waves is a thing of the past. I don’t think we will see that passive obedience to any degree again. It might be time to emphasize faith, love for our fellow man, and the belief that if one person is in pain, we all hurt. Young people who seldom go to church are often more caring and concerned for their brothers and sisters than many older people who never miss going to church.