(Alert blog readers are asked to note where the author of this article teaches–KSH).
A recent study on youth and discipleship by Slavic theologian Jana StrukovÃ¡ suggests that the key to this sort of formation is in renewing a sense of Christianity as a vocation. A vocation is a calling, a “voicing” of the gospel into language that speaks directly to the reader or listener. As Martin Luther argued, the gospel is nothing until I hear it addressed to me; once my ears are trained to hear it, I can begin responding, “working with words” to live out an answer to its call.
Reframing Hollinger’s concept of acculturation as vocation shows us that gospel words are irreplaceable in the formation of Christian youth. If they are brought up constantly hearing God’s loving address, they will grow to love the gospel like they love their friends and family. And this is not just due to the nostalgic familiarity of the “big black book on the shelf.” No, it is the message, the content””the very voice of God in the words of Scripture””that inspires devotion. The challenge of Christian education, according to the early 20th-century theorist George Albert Coe, is to “lead each one to adopt” the words and teachings of the faith “as his very own desire, purpose, and practice.”
How well are we meeting this challenge? A quick survey of adult classes and Sunday sermons does not paint a pretty picture….