A review of Greenhouses of Hope: Congregations Growing Young Leaders Who Will Change the World, Dori Grinenko Baker, Editor (The Alban Institute: Herndon, VA, 2010, 212 pages).
I recommend this book to everyone! Ministers, congregation members, those who are spiritual but not connected to a faith community, everyone! Six different people consider and reflect on six different churches that in various ways have created greenhouses of faith. These communities have all found ways of nurturing their young people so that they become young leaders within their communities.
I appreciate that there isn’t a quick fix or an easy answer but rather that there are concrete examples of how different communities, with different cultures and understandings, have found ways of supporting their young people so that they can grow in their understanding of faith and faithful living.
What resounded for me in all the stories was the importance of having a community where everyone could articulate why their faith was important to them. Can you explain in simply language why you go to church? Why it’s important to you? What difference your faith makes in your life on a daily basis?
If yes, please share that message! Tell your story to those you worship with, to those you gather with, to those you serve with.
If not, you are not alone! It can be hard to explain quickly and precisely why your faith matters to you. Why do you go to church every Sunday? Or volunteer every Wednesday? Or pray every night? Think about it and start practicing articulating why these things matter.
In the age of “spiritual but not religious” it is more important than ever to express and share why the religious part is important. That isn’t to say you need to start preaching from a soap box. Rather, why does corporate worship matter? Why is it important to discern within community? How does contributing to The United Church of Canada matter to your personal expression of faith?
For me, I have been nurtured by this church. There have been times when my doubts or sorrow were too much to carry on my own. In those times, my fellow members held me up, sang the songs my heart couldn’t comprehend, prayed for me when I wasn’t sure I was worthy of God’s time. Because of these times, I know that my spiritual needs are better met within a congregation than they could ever be in isolation. And this is just one small example of how I know that church matters.