Thursday, July 21, 2011

Soccer, SAT prep, and Sunday School

I'm in the midst of reading Kendra Creasy Dean's book, Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Tennagers is Telling the American Church, and I just finished a short section about how "highly devoted" teenagers (according to the survey on which Dean bases her book), also tend to be happier, have greater success, are more compassionate, have closer relationships with their parents, and healthier lifestyle choices than their peers. She singles out Mormon teenagers as an example of this (most likely to be "highly devoted" in the survey), and also points out that they are required to go to seminary to learn about their faith every day before school, waking at dawn to do so.

Hm. I'm not sure the youth I work with would do that. It's sometimes tough to get them here for youth group on Sunday nights. They generally do not attend worship Sunday mornings, considering our meetings their "church." What if we told them they had to come here every morning before school to make sure they had a good theological education?

And yet I know some of them get up early to do sports (ahem, hockey). Or stay late for the same. Or add music lessons, SAT prep courses, and other commitments to their schedule for the purpose of being "well-rounded" and prepared for college.

Here I could go off on a tangent about sports. I will refrain, for the moment.

Instead, I wonder if parents aren't seeing that regular, devoted involvement with a faith community is one of the paths or tools to help raise a happy, healthy, successful individual. Maybe sports and music and clubs and SAT prep help too, sure. But I get the sense that those are seen as the steps to a goal, whereas church is a nice side item. Almost like classes in school vs. extracurricular activities.

And I'm not saying that church should be used simply as a tool to help reach an end goal (because Lord knows we'd never reach it), but that acknowledging the tangible influence such involvement can have on young people might nudge parents--and therefore their teenagers-- to move church a little higher up on the priority list.

Just a thought.

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  1. Having been a Mormon teenager and still a practicing Mormon today, it definitely helps to have a faith community where everyone, or almost everyone, sets church/service/spirituality high on their list of priorities. In my church, there is a strong emphasis on sacrifice, generally of time and tithing, and I think that this helps to build religious devotion and character.

  2. I think that idea of sacrifice is interesting, because I think many of the parents (and their kids) I know make lots of sacrifices for activities, but not church. In fact church is one of the things that gets sacrificed. I absolutely thought of you, Nancy, when I read about the Mormons going to seminary in the early mornings, because it brought up a vague memory of you doing that!