My Thoughts on Soul Searching...

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I read Soul Searching recently as well as Hurt. Both are good reads. If you haven't read them, go ahead and spend the money. It is money well worth it.

Here are my two cents on the book:

Soul Searching

I don't claim to be the authority on eccelsiology, ministry, theology, youth ministry, or even parenting. However, in recent days a book that has really caught my attention has been Soul Searching, which reports the findings of the NYSR several year intensive study of youth religion. I'd like to share some of their findings to match them with you out there in ministry are seeing.

I want to start with the importance of parents. Scripture has long taught that the spiritual/religious education of our children should first and foremost come from the home. Moms and dads are the single most important influence in the lives of our kids. Sure there are times they don't admit it, appreciate you, or even want to be near you, but the NSYR's findings indicate that our kids become what we as parents are.

Secondly, religion is important in the lives of American teens. The vast majority of teens aren't hostile to religion. Most devoted religious teens are being persecuted or even tormented for their faith. Almost an overwhelming majority of kids though are unable to articulate their faith. They aren't sure what they believe, and why. For teenagers, this study indicates that religion is just furniture in their lives. A neat little category that sits along with other categories.

Third, there is emerging in our society a moral theraputic deism. The majority of Americans in most surveys seem to report that they believe in God, but this statistic does little to explain what God they believe in. So, the bad news for the churches is that we aren't doing a good job teaching the deep truths of Scripture, doctrine, belief, and practice to our congregants very effectively. But on top of the bad news, there is this startling finding: Most teens aren't leaving their religious heritages when they get older and start families of their own. Most religious teens adopt their parent's religious congregations. Which one again demonstrates the importance of parents in the spiritual upbringing of their children.

Fourth, many places in our culture paint teens as alien creatures and see the problems they face as teen problems. This isn't fair to teens. Teenagers are real people too, and need to be treated and ministered too like they matter. Also, these supposed teen problems, drinkking, somking, STD's, pornography, etc., are really adult problems that teens have learned from significant adults in their lives. So, again, more startling proof of how powerful adult influence is in the lives of teens.

These four assessments are not the totality of the book, Soul Searching, but just some of the general findings that have impacted me the most since I have read it. As a youth worker I want to more than ever partner with parents to raise healthy committed families. As a parent I have renewed vigor in being an authentic disciple of Jesus, one that my own two girls will see as real expression of faith. I want them to grow up knowing that their daddy loves Jesus with all his heart, soul, mind and strength.

3 Responses to “My Thoughts on Soul Searching...”

  1. Blogger Brian Eberly 

    Parents...truly the most important and impacting force in the lives of students, fathers in particular during the adolsent stage of life.

    "For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory."
    - 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

  2. Blogger Gman 

    Glad to see others are reading the same books as myself. Smith's conclusions are definitely worth the read

  3. Blogger thedougout 

    Good summation of the book, Jason. You definitely hit on the key points I took home from that read.

    So much of what our kids are learning are caught and not taught. "Renewing the vigor" to be a better parent is exactly what is needed...and we need the church to be better aunts, uncles, grandparents,etc., as well.

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