Ministry with Teenagers Who are Allergic to Organized Religion

I want to tell you about a ministry of spiritual exploration I am beginning here in midcoast Maine with unchurched youth. I know a lot of teenagers who have a kind of allergic reaction to anything smacking of organized religion and externally imposed authority. Meanwhile, they are facing all the same eschatological challenges that we adults are: nuclear armament, the memory of the Holocaust, environmental degradation, global warming, terrorism. And they are being seduced by the same media-hosted consumer/entertainment mania we all are, if not more so. And virtual reality is threatening to engulf any other form of reality they might perceive themselves to be part of. It’s pretty grimly seductive (or is that seductively grim?) stuff and no wonder many of them have adopted body piercing and black clothing, hair and lips in the face of it.

The churches generally seem clueless and basically rather alarmed that such figures might choose to inhabit them! I would like to find a way to explore questions of ultimate meaning and soul-growth with such young people without frightening them off by appearing to demand some sort of specific faith confession from them as the price of admission to the search. I suspect openness, laughter, listening skills and personal integrity are probably the key elements in this proposed work.

So thus far, the elements I’ve put in place are:

1) as an effort toward such integrity, I’m working to use our 66-acre coastal farm as a source of food and energy such that our family can minimize our need to consume such commodities produced elsewhere and maximize our potential for sustainability (not to mention discovering in it, daily, a renewable resource of joy in being!),

2) I’m convening a group of adults similarly curious to see if we can begin this exploration to meditate and share their sense of vocation to the work and see how it might lead us into action, and

3) I’m offering to do an extracurricular "taste of faiths" — individuals speaking to students about their Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Taoist, Islam, Hindu, or Pagan practice — at our local high school (we’ll see if anyone comes).

Hopefully, any and all of these things and more will lead me/us into relationship with young people and those young people will join us in discerning our way forward. Very open-ended. Frighteningly open-ended.


Any ideas? Pass them along to
The Rev. Holly Lyman Antolini
144 Mc Carter Pt., Cushing, ME.
Phone: 207-354-2263
hantolini@polar.bowdoin.edu

Topics: The Younger Generation. Resource Types: Articles.

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