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Finding Faith: Today's kids just need some care

Devlyn Brooks writes: "Having the privilege of participating in discussing how complicated these young peoples’ lives are today, we had it easy. These kids face daily pressures and circumstances that force them to grow up way faster than previous generations."

Devlyn Brooks 2021
Devlyn Brooks
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Young people seemingly always get a bad rap. Teenagers, especially today, are depicted as lazy, rude and disrespectful. Mass media does little to dissuade that opinion.

I just don’t buy it.

Reminds me of 1 Timothy 4:12: “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

Our church’s confirmation classes resumed for the year this week; our classes are once a week for three years for junior high students. This year we are blessed with eight students from five schools, with Wednesday nights at church our common ground.

The students are more diverse than one might suspect in a small, rural parish. City and farm dwellers. Big and small schools. Those interested in sports, ag activities, the arts.

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They tumble into class Wednesday nights like a force of nature, the events of the week visible on their faces. No masterful facades like adults. If one has a tough week, it shows. If one is elated, it shows. Regardless, the kids show up for each other; the olders setting an example for the youngers.

You might have guessed it: I love our confirmation nights!

No matter how challenging my own week has been, these kids make the difficult life of bivocational pastoring worth it. They pour as much of the Holy Spirit back into me as any other clergy duty, save serving communion.

Having the privilege of participating in discussing how complicated these young peoples’ lives are today, we had it easy. These kids face daily pressures and circumstances that force them to grow up way faster than previous generations.

They have access to everything in the entire world through technology at their fingertips without the wisdom of age to properly wield that power. They live their lives in fishbowls, with the potential of every youthful indiscretion or foible being digitally recorded for all time. The expectations placed on them by our schools, parents, friends, athletics and activities are inhuman.

And yet weekly something divine unfolds during our short Wednesday night classes. Differences face and a mutual support group blossoms. The mystery of how the Holy Spirit works unfolds before my very eyes in a short 75 minutes each week.

Because our confirmation cycle lasts three years, I see and get to know these kids over many hours in their young lives. They’d have to be pretty artful deceivers to hide all of those awful teenage traits that are so quickly attributed to today’s youngsters.

No, our kids are not bad; no different than previous generations.

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They just need some adults to show them they care, and a safe place just to be young. God will help them with the rest.

MORE FAITH NEWS:
"Church worship now competes with everything from professional sports to kids activities to household chores. ... we can either have a frank conversation about what church can be, or we can continue to watch the pews empty in cherished houses of worship across the country."

Related Topics: FAITH
Opinion by Devlyn Brooks
Devlyn Brooks is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and serves Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minn. He also works for Forum Communications Co. He can be reached at devlyn.brooks@forumcomm.com for comments and story ideas.
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