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Q After 30 years of youth ministry, I see so many young people leaving the church and even the faith. Have we let them down by failing to adapt our faith formation practices to their changing world?

A Our cultural and societal landscape is shifting radically; we're not in Kansas anymore! And we're in a season of significant discernment concerning how our traditional faith formation practices might be translated to our "non-Kansas" context and what new practices we might be called to explore.

But the struggles you describe have left many of us with a sense of shame, and the significant discernment that our changing context requires can become paralyzed by this shame.

How do we deal with shame? Perhaps these observations may help. We need a worshiping/faith formation community in which we are led to

  • trust in our Lord's sovereign leading and faithfulness in a challenging season.
  • be honest and transparent about the confusions we experience.
  • grieve our sadness about our children's faith struggles (without comparing ourselves to "perfect" families).
  • humbly confess our dependence on the Spirit's leading for discernment.

In other words, grace-shaped wisdom brings healing to our shame. Novelist Louise Penney identifies four phrases that embody wisdom: I don't know; I need help; I was wrong; I'm sorry. Shame tends to leave us hiding behind smiling masks, easily prone to anger, and suspicious. Humble vulnerability builds capacity for communally following the Spirit to the place he leads.

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