At the national in-service last week I led a session on youth spirituality, revisiting some previous material - five metaphors for spiritual growth and five questions to ask about young people with whom you are in ministry. This started with my interest in how and why people look at spirituality differently when they research it, so the full session (I did a truncated version)
The sessions starts with some quotes playing on-screen with video images - Download Spirituality Quotes
We heard Ephesians 1:3-14 and then looked at and discussed a Wordle based on it - Download Ephesians 1-3-14 (not sure why I originally chose this text. Next time I think I'll try a different one.)
We then started to explore the nature of spirituality for Australian young people - with some data from the 2009 Australian Communities Survey. Responses from 15-29 year olds:
There is something beyond this life that makes sense of it all.
Which philosophies of life most influence how you live today?
8% Non-Christian religion
11% Secular / humanist
18% Other philosophy
39% Don’t know/ nothing
I think we should just believe and not question our beliefs
Jesus’ resurrection was an actual historical event
26% Very important
24% Little importance
49% No importance
Followed by this movie clip:
What is Spirituality? from Craig Mitchell on Vimeo.
Which led to the question - What is spirituality?
- something that only people of a particular belief or religion have?
- something that only some people have as part of our ‘higher’ or best nature?
- something that all people have but with different expressions or maturity?
Discussion about this included reference the the "Spirit of Gen Y" study done in Australia a few years ago.
The intent behind the five questions is for people in youth ministry to consider where individuals or groups are in their spiritual growth, and what kind of support/experience/guidance might be most helpful for this or the next phase.
Who is ready for the next level?
Who needs a companion on the journey?
Who seeks deeper connections?
Who desires a transforming moment?
Who needs a discipline to follow?
Each of these corresponded with a particular lens or metaphor that we used to describe spirituality and spiritual growth. These lenses are not alternatives, or categories, or mutually exclusive. They are different ways of understanding what growth might mean or involve.
Level Up = steps / ladder, faith development. Leader as Teacher, Revealer
Journey = shared pilgrimage, purpose. Leader as Companion, Guide, Mentor
Web = connection, integration, being, interdependence. Leader as Host, Role Model
Encounter = transforming moment, inspiration, empowerment, refreshment. Leader as Priest, Performer, Midwife
System = discipline, habits, practices. Leader as Director, Master.
Each metaphor/lens had an intro video, then a clip of an interview with a young person at NCYC2009 to help people unpack it.
On this occasion we were a bit limited in time to explore strategies/approaches, and as a result I've decided to make an additional handout listing some possibilities.
I have a subsequent set of 'postmodern' metaphors for youth spirituality, but they need a bit more work.