Honoring an active faith

I don’t know about you, but I’m the sedentary type. Here it is Labor Day, and I have spent most of the day at the computer, because that’s what I wanted to do with a day off.

Being the sedentary type is one of the reasons I fit in very well both at school and at church. I liked sitting quietly and reading. I liked going to quiet places and contemplating. But I have realized as I’ve gotten older that often we in the church tend to mistake people who like being quiet and sedentary for people who are more spiritual. The wigglers, the active ones, the loud, the lively, the social, the athletic – there is nothing in any of that which makes one inherently less faithful. But often, in my experience, it was the quiet, sedentary, and often academic activities that were equated with the spiritual, and those who did best in these pursuits were considered more Godly.

I’m not saying that I haven’t been involved with youth programs that involved activities – games and skits and boisterousness. But I realized upon reflection that these active activities seemed to me to be the Things To Keep Us Engaged while the quiet devotionals and prayers were the Things That Were Really Spiritual. At least it seemed that way to me.

Now, perhaps I am wrong.  But I’m wondering what would happen if we took some time to really analyze this in the youth programs we offer (and adult programs as well, for that matter). How much time is spent in action, in interaction, in reflection? How much is loud, and how much is quiet? How is each part of our program introduced: as the fun part, for example, or as the time to get serious?

And what is our own perception as program leaders of what’s going on? As we plan, are we telling ourselves that certain parts are fluff or filler, and certain parts are what we’re really about? Do we honor some parts of our programs more highly than others? And if so, why?

Because what I do not want is to have youth (and adults) receive the message that only certain types of activities – and by extension the certain types of people who enjoy them – are the spiritual types. God has created all things good, and faithfulness comes in many different forms. Our communities of faith need to be places that accommodate all kinds of faithfulness, and all the faithful people who serve God in the way that suits them best.