25 June 2004

Ask your young people some questions

I grew up in an atheist family and never experienced Christian education until after my adulthood conversion. So it is hard for me to judge what makes for effective Christian education for children and young people, despite the fact that one of my life passions concerns communicating faith.

To write about Christian education for Quaker Life magazine, I sent the following list of questions to my sons, one 17 and the other 19. Their totally fascinating answers will appear elsewhere, if they choose, but here I simply wanted to suggest these questions. I was very impressed by my sons' answers, and amazed by the fact that Judy and I were permitted to have so much influence on their spiritual development; I imagine that other parents will also have an eye-opening experience.

Do you identify yourself as a Friend?

If you do, or ever did, can you remember when you became conscious of it? If you don't identify yourself as a Friend, do you have any memory of "dropping out"?

Can you remember times when Sunday school or Christian education generally helped you be more clear about being a Friend (or not being a Friend) and can you remember times when it was more confusing than helpful? If you can remember an incident or two, that would be great!

How much of what the Sunday school teachers and youth leaders presented was based on secondhand materials - Bible, curriculum, books, etc. - and how much was based on their firsthand experiences, stories from their own lives, and how much was based on what was said by others in the class? If you could have, would you have changed these proportions?

If YOU were a Sunday school leader or youth leader, what would YOU emphasize about being a Friend? What things would you do differently from what was done by the teachers and leaders you had growing up?

Do you picture yourself being involved with Friends ten years from now. When/if you have children, will you encourage them to be in the Quaker community?

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