I am working on a Spirituality Assessment to take each of our kids through.  It is intended to be an instrument to help us find out where youth are as they enter our care.

Then, yesterday, a colleague had a conversation with one of our youth.  This youth had no idea how to answer the question: “Describe your spirituality.”

In the context of the alleged increase in the “spiritual but not religious” category of self-identification, what does it tell us that people cannot even identify what spirituality is?

The youth who had no words to describe his own spirituality had asked for help in learning about the bible.  It seems this youth’s social worker, a person he really respects, seems to quote the bible with ease.  As a result, this student wants to learn how to do the same.

I think that what this youth really wants is the peace, composure, and maturity he sees in the social worker.  I think he wants these things more than the ability to quote scripture.

However, learning scripture well enough to quote it the way the social worker does is probably a good thing.  Whether or not this young man ever learns how to describe his spirituality, becoming more like this social worker is a goal worth pursuing.

In so doing, I have no doubt he will be deepening or strengthening his own spirituality.

4 thoughts on “Spirituality

  1. I am compassionate to your dilemma. I too work with students who seek to do Christian things and they think it is about knowing the books of the bible, memorizing Jn3.16 and going to youth camp, because that is what has been modeled for them.

    I think a response could be to demonstrate and teach the concept of formation as opposed to information, on being rather than doing. we are such a functional society, we judge and define people by what they do (what is your job, what school do you go to, what sport do you play). Jesus teaches that we are to be in relationship with God, to be vulnerable before him so that we can be changed from the inside out. What so many of our students are taught is to use things to get what they want. They try to do some sort of “do and don’t” list in order to get what they want from God.

    Basically what I am trying to say is we cannot control God by memorizing scripture for our purposes. We are to be vulnerable before scripture in order to be transformed into Christ-likeness. We are to be in relationship not do things for God so he will like us more. I think if we can get this across to our students across this country they will be drawn to true faith rather than a faith built around misconceptions and poor models of spirituality.

  2. I am suspicious of a spirituality that seeks to be disembodied, i.e., unentangled with public practices like ingesting scripture, worship, camps, fellowship, etc. I try to not even use the word unless I really have to since it is so commonly (on my take) misunderstood.

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