In much of the Church, there’s a cultural divide, a kind of gap between adults and adolescents. Psychologists suggest that adolescents are undergoing a process of identity formation — figuring out who they are and what they’ll stand for — that causes them to question their parents, their friends, themselves. Sociologists suggest that these questions — something we often label “doubt” — make us uncomfortable, that they can create conflict.
Here’s the issue; doubt is dangerous. First, because it’s disconcerting. The right question in the wrong place can throw everything and everyone off rhythm. Second, it’s deviant. People who challenge the status quo identify themselves as not fitting in. They’re outsiders. They’re weird. They don’t belong.
But these questions — these doubts — reveal something important about the young among us. Many of them simply want a first-hand experience of Christ. Their faith isn’t going to be (can’t be) based on someone else’s beliefs.
What, then, might happen if church were a different kind of place, a place where questions could be asked openly, a place shaped by freedom not fear, a place with plenty of room for doubt?
My sense is that God has been shaping us into just that kind of community for a long time now. My sense is that it’s not just the young who have questions. My sense is that we’re in this together.
People who challenge the status quo identify themselves as not fitting in.