"I want to be a doctor."
"I want to be a teacher."
"I want to be a clown."
"I want to be a lawyer."
"I want to be a scientist."
"I want to be an archeologist."
"I want to be a police officer."
"I want to be a chef."
Can I ask where the theologians are?
I have a secret; I know where they are.
They’re in your youth group.
They’re in your church.
They’re in your schools.
They’re in your neighborhood.
They're in your family.
Maybe the reason why you can't find the theologians is that we're not listening to them. But, I believe that a big part of the reason why you can’t find them is that they don’t have the “right” words.
It’s about the words.
So often, we don’t trust young people with the words that would allow their theological ponderings to make verbal sense. We fall into the trap of thinking that, “Young people are not capable of doing theology”. We (young people) are more than capable of “doing theology”.
Youth workers – in my experience – assume that young people are not (often) interested in anything other than being entertained. We assume that youth groups that “work” are those groups that have large numbers of attendees and crazy games; of course, we don’t want to scare the kids away by going too “deep” on them!
That’s where we are so often wrong.
Youth are deep. We need to trust them with the words and with the space to use those words in conversation.
Everything we (as people) do is a statement of our theology, of how we interact with, and what we believe about, God.
Theology is not something that should be accessible only to academics in ivory towers. Theology is for us all, young people included. We need the words that will help us to make sense of our stories.
When we don’t explicitly discuss theology with our young people, we are in effect telling them, “You’re not good enough, or capable of thinking about God. You are not a whole person.” Now, of course, this is perhaps understood subconsciously. But it is understood nonetheless.
I dare you to trust your young people with the words. I dare you to give space for those words to be used. And see what happens.
Perhaps then we’ll hear:
“I want to be a doctor, and a theologian.”
“I want to be a teacher, and a theologian.”
“I want to be a clown, and a theologian.”
“I want to be a lawyer, and a theologian.”
“I want to be a scientist, and a theologian.”
“I want to be an archeologist, and a theologian.”
“I want to be a police officer, and a theologian.”
“I want to be a chef, and a theologian.”
Or maybe, just maybe we'll hear:
“I’ll always be a theologian.”