An interesting article by Steven Argue at the Fuller Institute on faith – specifically the faith development process as a teen – caught my attention. Below is just a part of the article. You can read the article in its entirety at:
http://stickyfaith.org/articles/from-faith-to-faithing. faith path
Assistant Director of Youth Ministries / Wesley UMC
From Faith to Faithing
Could Faith be a Verb?
We do young people a disservice when we witness them questioning, struggling, reacting, even pitching the way they believe, and assume that they’ve lost their faith (noun).
In actuality, like Peter, they are walking away from more simplistic vessels of faithing, seeking to construct bigger, more faithful faithing through which to hold what they know and what they experience. In faithing, we’re constantly discarding and acquiring perspective that informs our meaning making.
This perspective helps us as adults hear (and respond) differently when we experience adolescents saying things like:
“I’m not sure I believe what I’ve been taught anymore.”
“Can the Bible really be true about that?”
“I’m questioning everything these days.”
“Maybe my view of God is different than I have imagined.”
“It’s not making sense to me.”
“My parents believe it, but I’m not sure I see it that way.”
Noun-faith perspectives find these questions sacrilegious, often evoking reactionary advice like telling young people to just read the Bible more. Verb-faith perspectives find these statements natural, even essential in the meaning-making process.
The challenge is to help students’ faithing versus having them hold onto a childlike Christian belief system. This may be why the National Study of Youth and Religion observes the inability of adolescents and emerging adults to articulate their beliefs.
If faithing is relegated to youth group apart from the other domains of life; if it is perpetuated with behavior modification that treats testimonies like Facebook statuses, highlighting only the positive and the fantastic; and if it ignores the Peter paintings by downplaying doubt, fear, struggle, and sinking as part of the faithing journey, then it leaves adolescents and emerging adults with a static faith of untested and un-integrated truth statements. This faith is relegated to church for safe keeping while the rest of life is wrestled with in other ways. Some say young people are leaving the church. Maybe they’re searching for real places to faith.
The reality is that, like Peter, young people will at some point want and need to step out of their existing faithing vessels in order to create truer containers by which to hold their meaning-making. This is a scary venture that freaks parents out and risks making local churches “look bad.” But the good news is found, shared, and proclaimed in each person’s struggle toward transformation.