Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Voluntary Participation?

I picked up a book called
Youth In Exodus by Geraldine Witcher in the January sale at Wesley Owen. Its an attempt to address the issue of young people leaving the church. Its clearly a subject which the author is passionate about and that is to be admired. Indeed she says some good stuff about the need for parents to play their crucial role in passing on the faith. But some of it leaves me with some questions.
For example:
"In a sense, as well as natural laws of cause and effect which we take for granted -plants die without water, drinking too much alcohol causes pain - God's spiritual universe has 'natural' laws of cause and effect and the blessing of faithful children is the inevitable result of a life of faithfulness to God"
What?? "Inevitable result"? Not sure about that!

She also raises issues about the idea of voluntary participation. This is one of the core youthwork values that Danny Brierley has taken for youth ministry (in his book Joined Up he unconvincingly uses "openness theology" to justify it - but that's another story).
Geraldine's not so keen on this idea suggesting:
"one of the factors that seems to be significant for young people who continued in faith throughout their teenage years was the expectation and even compulsion that they would go to church" (p90)
I've been asked several times for ideas to teach/engage young people who don't want to be there and are therefore disruptive. Is compulsion ever the answer?

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