“Our kids in youth group from Christian schools are spiritually fat.” These words, uttered by a youth pastor at a recent youth ministry consultation, while not pleasant to hear, gave me pause to reflect. I would rather have heard a comment to the effect of “those Christian school kids really seem well equipped and can be counted on for leadership in our youth group.” To be fair I have heard both statements in the past year. The speaker however was referring to a sort of spiritual apathy because the students had “head knowledge.”
However I began to wonder what the responsibility of the Christian school was related to the “fatness” issue. Is this fatness a problem for our kids, making them lethargic or “easily winded” followers of Christ? Is this fatness perhaps demonstrated in the church setting or in the school setting by an arrogant attitude of “I already know all this stuff and I am therefore superior to the rest of you?”
As with physical fatness, it seems to me that the answer to spiritual fatness is exercise. In this case, we need to allow our kids to practice, to exercise their spiritual muscles. It is also in the process of exercising that one realizes how far one needs to go yet to achieve what is necessary to be “fit.” One effective way I have seen this exercise happen in the setting of the small church my family attends is to have students from grade 7 on up function as assistant teachers with adult mentors in our children’s worship program. Through this they are engaged in a real life setting and articulating what they believe – and at the same time learning and growing in their faith.
So in a school setting what could happen if we paid more attention to some differentiation in the spiritual development realm? I wonder how we could increase the involvement of youth in school settings through the practice of their spiritual gifts in authentic ways? Any new ideas out there that address this issue?