Exilic Faith in a Babylonian World (Part 2)

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The book Faith for Exiles has been an interesting read. A big part of the authors’ research focused on a newish reality that finds us living in a place they call “Digital Babylon.” 

In Part 1 of this article I reflected on the implications of this new reality for the church, and specifically for those of us who minister to and with youth and young adults.

As I continued to digest this book, a few significant learnings made me think about the following questions.

How do we as a church embody vocational discipleship?

I’m not talking about offering career advice to help people get the most lucrative jobs. The church is not called to preach career success, but we are called to connect with the next generations when they are young to help them develop godly imaginations for what they might accomplish. What an opportunity that is! Imagine if we could awaken in all God’s children what resilient disciples say about their own lives. For example, they might say,

  • I can see how my work and faith are inseparable.
  • My work is a vehicle for glorifying God, rather than myself.
  • I know how to help others discover who God made them to be.

This feels like a Jeremiah 29:11, a Psalm 139, and a 1 John 3:1-3 “moment” all packaged up for us to better understand who we are, doesn’t it?

How do we as a church embody mission?

Youth and young adults are eager about mission. About rightness. About justice. A statement like “I want others to see Jesus reflected in me through my words and actions” must mean something in our church communities. Vocational discipleship connects with this too.

Our convictions as a Christ centered community must reflect a heart for mission. That mission may be local, meaning in our neighborhoods, but it is specifically about being outside the walls of the institutional building of the church. It is us living and breathing how we can be communities of faith, thirsting and hungering for a righteousness that can only be filled by God. We must be a church on fire for the redemptive action of Christ in our local and global communities of God’s creation.

How do we as church members mentor one another?

Faith for Exiles, the Canadian research called “Renegotiating Faith,” and Fuller Youth Institute’s book "Growing With" all point to the importance of mentoring.

In my work as the CRC’s Youth Ministry Catalyzer, it has become abundantly clear through conversations with many churches and leaders across the U.S. and Canada that we are congregations who want to mentor those in our church, but many of us don’t know how or have tried with little success.

I am reminded again and again of mentoring stories in the gospel. Eli and Samuel, Moses and Joshua, Paul and Timothy. These are but a few of the mentoring relationships we find in Scripture. Faith Formation Ministries and Youth Unlimited have begun a pilot project aimed at developing healthy mentoring practices in our churches. For more information about this, contact me at [email protected].

The Deuteronomy 6 Vision

For me, I find myself landing on Deuteronomy 6. This text is about more than a parent’s role. It is also about congregational life. It is about mentoring, vocational discipleship, and mission. Here we read, 

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

I would love to hear your thoughts: In what ways are you experiencing exilic faith in this digital Babylon world?

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