Rethinking the Life View Education for Teens
(2009 July Newsletter)
Faithfully fulfilling parenthood, Christian parents strive to take their children to church every Sunday, disregarding any adversity. Throughout the years, their children attended Sunday Schools and Youth Fellowship Activities as parents look forward to seeing them grow into mature Christians who will live a life that glorify God and benefit the human race. Sadly, quite a few of them begin to skip church as they enter into college, or even give up their childhood faith all together. Parents’ hearts ache at these scenarios, while they struggle to understand the sudden twist!
As a matter of fact, a majority of young people start to question their faith during their junior high school years or even at sixth grade. However many of them did not get answers to satisfy their inquisitive minds, and they continue to drift on in their lives still perplexed. When they have transitioned to High school, the thought of abandoning the faith starts to creep in. Meanwhile, the rebellious inclination of teenage development accentuates the suppressed dissatisfaction about their parents and the “traditions” that churches are holding onto. It would not be a surprise when they go off to college, they just leave their cage and never return.
Why are the second generation young Christians losing their faith? Some stipulate the failing of parenting efforts, some point their fingers to the insufficiency in the church’s teaching; others blame the atheistic propaganda in the public schools; still others resort it to the intoxication from the media. All these sounds sensible, or may be such situation is the accentuation of all the factors. However, personally, I propose that something is not going right in our spiritual view: Christians have long abandoned our role in impacting the society’s cultural environment; neglect the responsibility of upholding the healthy culture. That leads to suffocating our next generation in the toxin of the post-modern culture!
Impact of Immigrant’s Mentality within the Church
Chinese assimilate into the American culture in varying degree. A lot of immigrants bring the mentality of an outsider into the Chinese American church. When immigrants face frustrations as one begin to settle in this land, for those who do not have a good grip of the local American culture, they might withdraw and isolate themselves from the society. Others may tune themselves into the mainstream ideologies without examining the culture first. Another group may feel inferior of being Chinese. Many take the course of separation of churches and state, and begin to distant themselves from politics and societal culture all together.
Needs of Teens growing up with the mainstream Culture of the Society
Chinese remains the minority in the mainstream culture. The next generation of Chinese descent encounters tough times in finding their unique identity in the local cultural environment. As parents and churches vehemently defend to preserve the traditional culture, they overlook the needs and struggles of the younger generation, who actually are thrown out into the society to survive. Meanwhile, as the next generation receives education in public schools, they are bombarded by the banner of individualism, liberalism and human rights. Gradually, they are pulled away from the traditional principles and the truths of the God’s sovereignty. Currently, the general American people are drifting from the Christian faith. It leaves an unending and narrow journey for the next generation Chinese Christian to sojourn as they search for their identity and their faith.
Urgent Need to Equip Teens with Apologetics
Sunday schools emphasize a lot in the teaching of the Christian life style. The curriculum aims at applying biblical truths to our daily living. Fourth grade Sunday schools students are very familiar with the teachings reflected in the stories of various Bible characters. Parallel to their cognitive development, these kids start to ask rational questions and enquiries as they begin to solve the many puzzles and doubts in life, the existing Sunday school materials are not enough to provide them with sound and solid answers. Turning from inquisition to doubt, shifting from perplexity to disbelief, a sharp and undesirable turn in their vulnerable mind occur among the 5th and 6th grades. The pure and simple trust inherited from the parents and Sunday school teachers gradually give way to the void of anything solid and convincing for the growing brain to confirm their faith. To make the situation even harder, these teachings do not correspond to those ideologies and values taught at schools, among the peers, on the TV and movies. Which side should they stand? Whom should they trust? I see an urgency to equip the young people with apologetics before they leave home for college. When they know the truth, have a solid foundation of the truth, and armored with the tools of counteracting the challenges of a Godless-culture, they can withstand all odds and stand up for their faith to win the spiritual battle for the Lord.
Walking Together Through the Emerging Culture
When we talk about passing on of our faith, parent should not dump the responsibility to the church youth ministry alone. Parents’ communication and discussions with your own children are of utmost importance. Parents are on the frontline raising children and mentoring them as their children struggle to make a stand and to find their identities in the society. It takes both generations working together to meet the challenges of the world. The unique scenario of having different languages and generations within the Chinese American churches, close cooperation, mutual respect and understanding, open and constant communications are indispensible among church leaders, pastoral staffs and the among different congregation. We are to reclaim the once lost spiritual realm for our precious children and to set the stage again for our next generation to explore the truth, to commit their lives to the loving and almighty God who promised to protect and guide those who obey Him, from generations to generations.