In his recent guest post at Gathering In Light, Chad Stephenson concluded:
Often Quakers lament the way teens or young adults drift apart from their Meeting. In our school [San Francisco Friends], it is in middle school when choice and freedoms to decide that meeting is “boring” is met not with an “oh-well, that’s adolescence” but with a call to better engender education. Practice through using silence as an opening to class, to meetings, and even actually teaching what good worship feels like and what good ministry sounds like articulates what Quakers believe in an accessible, developmentally appropriate way. Curiosity, scaffolding, and engagement will build the muscle of worship.
I am encouraged by the possibility of education as one way to stem this tide among Quaker youth. Young people who have learned well and practiced regularly will know its value, whether they choose to use it now or later in their lives. One teacher colleague spoke in ministry recently of how a student who grew up going to Quaker schools years ago but hadn’t attended a meeting since leaving had asked her to share silence with him when they met just to have the experience again.
Quaker meetings provide the element of faith and practice which schools can only touch upon. The power that we are offered in Meeting should be offered to youth in developmentally significant times, so they feel included and valued. Roles for them in leadership, finance, care for other children, and other capacities bring them into closer practice and ownership of the Meeting. As we hold them closer, they will take a closer look at how Quaker values of “that of God” in everyone is a both unique and powerful way of worship that they can join us in.
This morning, as I was hiking on a local hill,
“Further Along” by -Wink-, courtesy of Flickr.com/Creative Commons.
I thought that if meeting is a muscle and Chad has suggested some exercises for its development, then what would the workout be for the full body of Friends practice and faith? Please excuse my stretched metaphor. I’m a teacher of physical activity and fitness.
Indeed, recent reflections on several blogs about teaching Friends’ faith have touched a resonant chord for me. I’ve been seeking ways to initiate youth into Quakerism since it was opened to me last Spring that, “We have no coming of age ritual in Quakerism. No first confession and communion, ba(r)t mitzvah, or vision quest. Perhaps our older children need an experience that marks that.” Continue reading