Teaching Teens Creative Extremism

I recently had the pleasure of attending FaithNet 2012 at Logos Academy in York, Pa. The forum was a collaboration between the City of York and the York County Council of Churches that brought together leaders from various denominations and religions to discuss how the faith community can break down religious, ethnic, and geographic boundaries.

The morning’s keynote speaker was Aaron Anderson, pastor of City Church York. (You can read Anderson’s message in its entirety here.) He urged the audience to consider creative extremism, a term coined by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Creative extremism has many faces. Four that Anderson focused on were as follows:

  1. Forgiveness.
  2. Tolerance.
  3. Civil Discourse.
  4. Hospitality.

I couldn’t help but think about how important it is that we teach our youth these four basic principles. Most teens don’t realize how incredibly empowering and freeing it is to be able to forgive one another. It’s more natural and simple to draw lines of hatred and misunderstanding. They certainly don’t understand how to be tolerant and patient with one another – in fact, most adults I know struggle with this most of their lives.

Civil discourse – the ability to listen, be willing to learn, and be willing to have your belief system critiqued – well, that’s a concept that all of us struggle with, as well. And for me, hospitality wasn’t a concept I fully understood until I had a place of my own, outside of the walls of my mother’s home.

So if these solutions are concepts that we, as adults, struggle to achieve, how much more important is it that we stop the cycle of ignorance and pass on these truths to the next generation? It’s imperative.

What strategies and techniques would you use to teach teens forgiveness, tolerance, civil discourse, and hospitality?

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18 South Youth Ministries
P.O. Box 472
Red Lion, PA 17356

18 South Youth Ministries

18 South Youth Ministries strives to create opportunities for caring, responsible adults with Christian values to build authentic relationships with youth. The nonprofit operates 18 South Youth Center in Red Lion, Pa., which has reached more than 1,000 teens since it opened in November 2007.