Many parents are enthused that their children want to participate in religious services even if at another congregation.
Parents also want their children to have an "authentic" relationship to faith, and "if you don't choose it, it's not authentic for you," said Christian Smith, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina and director of the survey on youth and religion. Emily and her parents, who are evangelical Christians, say her decision to attend the megachurch, New Life, reveals the strength of her faith and the profoundly individual spiritual course each believer follows.
"I saw that my parents' relationship to Christ and my relationship to Jesus Christ were different, and my kids aren't going to relate to Jesus Christ the same way we do," said Emily's mother, Tracy Hoogenboom, 49. "And that's to be expected because Jesus Christ is your own personal lord and savior."Focus on the Family's director of teenage evangelism, Jose Zayas, also expresses approval for the trend: "[Teenagers] gravitate to where they feel a connection. They're more pragmatic than their parents' generation. They look at what works for them. I think it's healthy."
I have to count myself among those who, according to the article, decry this approach as consumeristic. I wouldn't expect the Times to cover this aspect but something I'm concerned about is how this growing trend might adversely affect teens' ability to construct coherent biblical/theological frameworks. When I was a new believer, eager to learn all I could about the faith, I listened to Christian radio every chance I could, sometimes for hours on end. I listened to teaching from a variety of conflicting theological perspectives and wondered how they fit together. I eventually came to realize that such integration was not always possible because the assumed theological systems (which are inevitable) were contradictory in many points. I fear that in many cases, participation in multiple congregations will only contribute to further splintering young minds that are already fragmented. I'd be interested in hearing others' reactions to the article so if you read it please share your thoughts.