Monday, March 12, 2007

Teen Girl Squad

I seriously need to get caught up on writing about my lessons. Bethany says that the blog thing is a nice forum for writing about something because you only need a little discipline at a time. She's right...but you still need some discipline.

So, on Wednesday, I taught Teen Girl Squad. Summer, a recruiter from Ohio Valley University, was passing through, and I invited her to come to our class. I'm glad the girls got to talk with her. Some of them are thinking way too much about college, and missing out on what little fun high school has to offer, but more are thinking too little--not sure that it's worth going. Summer's a good recruiter, though, and by the time they finished talking to her a few of them were starting to say, "I'm still not sure I want to do more school, but I'm excited thinking about it."

A number of the girls are very young, of course, and college shouldn't be filling their thoughts just yet. A few of them, though, really ought to be thinking about it. Amanda told Summer, "I'm not sure I'm going to go to college, but if I do, it will probably be Freid-Hardman. My mom went there, and she really liked it."
"You might not like a school just because your mom did," Summer said. "You and your mom are different people. Of course, you might like it, but going to a school just because your mom went there isn't a good idea." That can be a harsh thing to say to a fifteen-year-old, but Amanda needed to hear it. Later in the evening, Amanda came up to me all excited because a family from church is going to some sort of singing event at Harding University (a lot of our kids end up there) and they said she could come with them to visit the campus.

Although I was glad that Summer was there, she made me a bit nervous. I'm not used to teaching with other adults (besides JC) present, particularly not ones who were raised in the church and then went to a Christian university. Sometimes, in answer to the girls' questions, I have to admit ignorance (often, to things that I know most of the adults in my church should know) and have them help me look things up. Other times, I play devil's advocate, which I think is a good way of teaching them, but I'm never sure how other adults will take it. I think we all did ok, though.

We talked about baptism--where in the Bible it says to get baptized, why (especially, why immersion in water rather than, say, jumping naked through a bonfire or something?), and when. Only a handful of these girls--the youngest ones--are unbaptized. We devoted a lot of time to a discussion about how you know it's time. That's a hard question, actually. We baptize adults in our church because every example in the Bible is of an adult hearing, believing, and needing baptism rather fast. No babies are baptized in the New Testament accounts. The difficult thing is that only Jesus, who was baptized at around thirty years old, grew up knowing the Gospel message, right? Everyone else in the New Testament hears it as an adult. We don't have any examples about growing up in the church (nor, for that matter, being a parent in the church). The arguments for an "age of accountability" are pretty vague. We decided, as a group, that it must have something to do with developing an understanding of sin, and an understanding of empathy. We talked a lot about how children sometimes behave badly, but adults sin, and there's a difference.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Amanda, whom I've often thought of as very sheltered, knows a great deal more about the other types of Christianity than most of the other girls do. She goes to a Christian high school in town, where most of the students, from what I can gather, are Baptists or something. She's in a pretty serious minority, being Church of Christ. Because of this, she is very aware of the aspects of our practice that make us different from others--she doesn't know the historical origin of the differences, but she knows the scriputural reasoning backwards and forwards. She's also very aware of what other churches do. The rest of the girls hadn't even heard of the sprinkling vs. immersion debate (although we have at least one sermon each year on it--but maybe they just didn't follow that). Many of them were unaware that other churches baptize babies. Amanda knew about all of that.

We have a campaign coming up (it's called "We Care," which makes me giggle, since there was a daycare center in my hometown called "Wee Care.") to invite new people into our church. Apparently they've done this other places and added sixty or more people to each of those churches. What that means is that we are going to have a lot of people coming in who maybe grew up in a different church, lapsed, and now they'll be coming to us with many different religious backgrounds and understandings..and we have to be able to explain ourselves to them. We expect that some of them will have or be teenagers, so I really need to work on preparing my girls for the kinds of questions they'll be asked. Of course, one trouble is that some of those questions have terribly unsatisfactory answers--places where scripture says one thing in one place, but implies another in a different passage (example: Paul asks women to keep silent during worship and not have authority over men...Which means that, in our church, women don't lead prayer, read Scripture aloud, serve Communion, etc....but Paul also says that women should keep their heads covered or have long hair when they are praying and prophesying in public, which implies that they are expected to do these things. Uhm...?). I'm not sure how to handle these things, or how much I have to prepare my students to face them, but it's time to start thinking about them. So we start with the ones that have a really strong Scriputural basis, like our take on baptism. Maybe I'll figure something out from there?

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