November 20, 2017

Teenaged Faith

Teenaged Faith
Brad Lyons

s an Ottawa Rough Riders jersey
Brad Lyons—Junior year, spring 1988, at Opryland USA on a high school band trip. “Yes, that’s an Ottawa Rough Riders jersey.”

 

My family helped start the church I grew up in, so I always knew where I would be on Sundays. With its cliques and homogeneity, the youth group at New Covenant United Methodist Church in Edmond, Okla., reflected the upper-middle-class suburban school we all attended. My sister and I were among the most regular attenders, but I recall youth group being more fun than faith development; they were pretty sneaky about that. I didn’t realize they were laying the foundation for a life of faith. I knew Mr. Bartolina and Mrs. Lowery and Reverend Hart would keep us on track, take our good-natured ribbing, and make sure we knew our congregation loved us. When I broke my arm on a youth ski trip, they watched over me and brought me home in two fixable pieces. When I graduated from high school, the church gave me a study Bible I still use today.

Though I didn’t go to church much as a college student, my faith stuck with me, and I knew faith was important to me. My career and my faith have intersected many times over the last two decades, and half of my working life has been in support of college ministries, a key time when people make decisions about faith that can stick the rest of their lives. These days I run a small Christian publishing house (CBP/Chalice Press), and I likely would be doing something else if I hadn’t had that sneaky faith development back at New Covenant.

I am lucky that my faith in God and in humanity has never really been tested (or at least, it hasn’t felt that way). Individually, we all encounter faith-shaking moments that rattle us to our core, and in my case, faith has helped me persevere. I would hope–and I believe–Parkway UCC is giving our youth that perseverance, resilience, and trust in God, and that they answer the challenge to improve our world through their own lives.