Rethinking Youth Ministry
Follow Your Bliss and Your Doubts: An Open Letter to 2012 Graduates
Make Room for Doubt
Writer Madeleine L'Engle once wrote, "It's a good thing to have all the props out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet and what is sand." Life after high school can be a grand adventure in testing all that you have learned until now about life and faith. You can either choose to hold steadfastly to what you already think and believe no matter who or what you encounter, or you can trust what you believe enough to let it loose in the light of day and see how it lines up with the rest of the world.
Talk to people of other faiths. Listen to people who see Christianity from a different perspective than your own. Challenge your long-held assumptions. Read the Bible again like it's the first time and see what it might be saying to you as a young adult that it wasn't ready to say to you as a child and then decide if any of it makes sense. To be certain, allowing yourself to question your faith can be frightening, but it can also be like providing water to a seedling that is ready to burst into a vine. I have always told the youth I've worked with, "Don't take my word for any of this faith stuff. Be willing to challenge everything we teach you in youth group, in Sunday school, in church. God can handle our doubts and our questioning. God is small enough to hang close by while we try to figure out what we really believe and God is definitely big enough to resist any efforts on our part to think we might finally have all the answers."
So, best of luck to you graduates as you head down this new stretch of life's journey. As you walk that unexplored path, be sure to hold tight to your bliss, be open to taking some unplanned detours, and make some room for doubt and uncertainty. These are the sorts of provisions that can make for a life really worth living.
Rev. Brian Kirk is an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and currently serves an inner-city church in St. Louis, Missouri. He also teaches as adjunct faculty at Eden Theological Seminary, and co-writes the blog rethinkingyouthministry.com.