Nate Thiessen

Swimming Coach, and Youth Pastor in Training, Student in Prairie Bible College - BAM-YO

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Do you think Youth need to more spiritually aware for themselves? Why? And how do we do it?

I am finding more and more that Youth are looking for that "quick fix" in life to fill what is described by them (religious or not) that they have a void that they are trying to fill. they are trying to search for a meaning for their life. I believe that the majority of the answer for that comes from a lack of understanding who they are spiritually and where they stand. When asked if any of them have tried Christianity or any other religion 70% said that they have considered it but never wanted to get into it more, either because they were to busy with "quick fixing" or they did not want to follow in their parents spiritual foot prints and they wanted to make it their own (however being distracted by the "quick fix." I want to know what is the TED community view on how to get Youth interested in seeking out spiritual awareness for themselves. What works, What does not work, What do you wish you would have done in your youth to become more self aware?

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    Sep 24 2011: "One size doesn't fit all".
    Differet Youth community in different part of the world with different socio-cultural background may need different thing for there different needs.

    From your premise it sounds to be self aware one need to spirirtual, which I don't & can't agree......

    Youths of any century /decade were / are future of mankind. So after self awarness they need awareness about diversity with in mankind. Then they need to have better interpersonal skill to communicate & connect which is a must to be more inclusive to be the part of global mankind, instead of just being spiritual / religious, which turns one into more self centric or at best community centric.

    Then in this era of scientific development youths need have more scientific arwareness with a back up of what mentioned above.
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    Aug 30 2011: Hola,soy colombiano y tengo 19 años.
    Los jovenes de hoy en día, y entre ellos estoy YO, estamos encerrados en un mundo de mentiras. El mundo nos ha vendido ideales que son irreales y aparentes, estan totalmente alejados del amor verdadero y escencial. Nos vendieron la idea de que la felicidad esta en el ser exitoso... lo cual implica trabajar siempre duro durante mucho tiempo para que te valla bien en todo lo que hagas, ganar dinero y comprar mas de lo que necesitas, comprar el deseo y el placer. Entonces Yo vivo en una vida tan alejada de la realidad que solo hace que el tiempo se convierta en una carrera demasiado acelerada, hasta el punto de no entender que cada dia es un regalo y se puede vivir lenta y eternamente. Yo vivo para alcanzar una metas y pienso que esas metas que alcance me harán FELIZ, y entonces se pospone la felicidad para un futuro. Eso pasa desde cuando en las escuelas nos dicen "Ustedes los jovenes son el futuro de la sociedad", entonces YO me creo esa mentira y vivo siempre en un futuro incierto, sin saber que la verdadera y unica certeza esta en mi presente. En el Aqui y el ahora. Y lo confieso ahora con ustedes... he vivido hasta ahora en un futuro incierto que me produce angustia y en un pasado frustrado que me produce miedo. Dios en uno de sus mandamientos estipula "NO MENTIR" no mientas y seras feliz, pues como lo ven me he mentido durante todo este tiempo. Me he CREIDO las mentiras del mundo. Ahora digo con orgullo que yo soy un CREIDO y un MENTIROSO.Que concecuencias me han traido estas mentiras... pues todas aquellas cosas que se han dicho en la conferencia... vivir en mi propia mente loca, desquiciada y puerca, llena de mentiras... he vivido en Fantasias... he vivido en lo virtual. Tanto es La MENTIRA que me converti en un FALSO. SOY falso en todo lo que hago y lo que soy... soy FALSO en mi sonrisa... soy FALSO en mi expresion... soy FALSO en mi amistad... soy FALSO con mis ojos y en mi rostro.
  • Aug 29 2011: The school you are going to is obviously borrowing from psychological thought (many psycholigal reasonings I am sure they will reject, ironically) to explain childhood, and youth, and what happens during those time periods. Life isn't a model. You can't come in and fix anyone. If you want people to believe in themselves, believe in them. But why do you have to do it with a Christian organization? I have had teachers believe in me who weren't "Christian", I have had my parents believe in me and they aren't "Christian", I've had friends believe in me who weren't "Christian". They are just people who care about someone who means something to them. To try and explain that so simplistically, which is what your theology does, by saying it's God's love being shown, is damaging. It relegates those people to a lesser role in my life, if I was to join a youth organization and then become a part of your church. It says, "our church is better, our church loves and we know WHY" when actually, you don't. You don't know anything more than anyone else and I have heard the epithet of "who am I to judge" more times than I can count, and do you know what? I have been judged, under the guise of Christianity, for doing nothing, and I mean nothing, except for not believing in your faith and expressing why.
  • Aug 29 2011: Despite your best intentions to "spread the word", that word is so easily misconstrued because the Bible is a mess of politics, culture, laws, everything. Please read the Biography of the Bible. Don't use faith to excuse your belief in a text. And try not to label yourself, because it is really labels that are destroying our youth.
  • Aug 29 2011: And to add, what I wish I had done in my youth, and what I do know, is read. I read to become more self-aware. I read whatever I want. When I was in 6th grade and I first came to a "Christian" school, an evangelical school, a school that on the surface seemed to be concerned with changing the world, I was told not to read certain books by certain people because they themselves were afraid of what they would discover. That is dangerous. Ignorance is dangerous. Drugs and alcohol and sex can also be dangerous but they become particularly dangerous when adolescents don't know themselves, when they are concerned with fitting in, when they are concerned with being pretty and beautiful and normal. Evangelical Christianity as a youth movement fills people with the same concerns only they are expressed in different ways, such as materialism, photography, looking "cool" and super enlightened to your peers, talking about how meaningful God is etc. It's just another way to feel secure and confident about who you are, which is perfectly fine and the fact that you want to help kids feel confident is admirable. But when you also fill them with ignorance, you fill them with delusions. You fill them with delusion as they look out at the world from their Macbook pros in their American Apparel shirts and Toms shoes and Raybans, feeling so confident and secure that they are helping the world with their prayers and their ministry, when the suffering is everywhere. This suffering is economic, it is political, it is stratified, you can see it. It isn't because of some big spiritual warfare between good and evil. There is a reason. Pray with your feet, Nate.
  • Aug 29 2011: I am very familiar with the brand of spirituality that you pedal, Nate, having been surrounded by many of your colleagues for 7 years at a "Christian" private school in Calgary. Can you guess which one? I have seen your youth groups and your "happy" adolescents and seen the way that they are fearful of what they do not understand. This evangelical approach is damaging. Missionary work is damaging. How can you not see how it has corrupted so many cultures all over the world?

    Missionary work only reinforces negative Western thought regarding many topics, the first of which sexuality. "Don't do it" contributes to "don't know your body" which contributes to ignorance, which harms people. It especially harms women when men (and then more women) do not respect or know anything about how women's body functions, and then tries to give them purpose in childbirth, or family. It especially harms people who are looked at as "not normal" by society, and then by you, as you try to offer them a solution. There is no such thing as normal, or balanced, or perfect here on Earth. Even in the deep recesses of your mind I am sure you will see that. When you turn to "God" for an answer, you effectively demonize everything else. It's this kind of extremism that is harmful. Extremism leads to war, and while you may say you are waging a spiritual war, many other religions say the same and have said the same and it leads to hatred, and ignorance, and ultimately a lack of compassion and understanding. Saying you have compassion is not the same as having it.

    Many youth today have problems because of how society has evolved, and if you look at how society has evolved, you will see that the primary forces are colonial. Colonization and evangelism have gone hand in hand for centuries and now you are perpetuating that pattern. If you want to be a force of change, stop attaching your beliefs to an ancient text, and maybe people will listen.
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    Aug 25 2011: emm...thats a big topic.what we think they need dosent matter too much untile they realise thats what they need . so i would think respect where they are now.

    Or what about engaging them in a debate about self awareness?
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      Aug 26 2011: Amily, looking back at your adolescence what do you wish you could have told yourself? What would you have liked to know to make yourself more self aware back then? or even Today?

      In a simple model from ages 6-12 are building up a cake of all the morals and teachings that their parents and other influential role models pour into them.
      Age 13-15: That cake is smashed and all that they once new lies on the floor in ruin ready to be inspected and challenged

      16-21: You put your cake back together but with your own modifications from challenging the old ideas, morals, ideologies and view points.

      21~death: These years are spent putting more on to the cake and hardening up your cake so that it can not be smashed again.

      that is why it is so important for youth support groups such as Big brother/Big Sister, Church Youth groups, Organized sports, to come up alongside them to help them to be better future leaders who will be more understanding of the world and its ways. Basically a simple formula against future abuse of drugs, alcohol, physical and emotional abuse.
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        Aug 31 2011: Nate I appreciate your heart and passion for young people and i can see the value of being self aware.what i was trying to say is that they need to know why it is important to them.
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    Aug 24 2011: spirtuality < any bible

    and is this the same youth that had to go to church every week when they were younger without a choice until they were old enough to say no? i bet.
  • Sep 24 2011: Nate, in answer to your question, no, I don't think that youth need to be more spiritually aware. I think that youth need to be more reality aware. As we mature we all graduallly acquire a set of beliefs that color our view of the world. As children we are quite credulous, and readily incorporate into our sets of beliefs whatever our authority figures tell us. We believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, or we believe in Vishnu and Krishna, or in Yaweh and Jesus Christ, depending upon what those authority figures taught us. Some children are taught that supernatural entities are real but gradually discard those beliefs, and some are taught that supernatural entities are not real. Others grow up to be youth pastors who pass the belief in supernatural entities on to other children. It's a shame that children are taught to believe in fairy tales. If you can believe in an all-powerful deity, then you can believe in anything. If god is all-powerful then he could create leprechauns and goblins,so you might as well believe in leprechauns and goblins. Please Nate, don't infect any more youth with supernatural beliefs.
  • Aug 31 2011: No, it is not spirituality that is missing, it is meaningful social relationships. You adults have left us hanging without a valuable and productive culture to grow into and contribute to, and instead have boredom to escape, and far-too-powerful means for shallow escape in our grasp. We need family, friends, and time for real-world interaction. I've lived across America and Mexico, in rural towns, cities, conservative, closed, boring places and hyper-intelligent and creative places, and let me tell you-- the happiest places were those where the families were able to spend time doing interesting things together, and youth learned how to live--climbing trees, swimming, bicycling, dancing, learning crafts like knot-tying and cooking, dancing and painting, hiking and how to grow plants. Cooperation and originality were valued, not high-performance and un-constructive competition. God is not a regimen to follow, it is the wildness, freeness, creativity of spirit and free will. When we do as others design for us, we sacrifice our soul.
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    Aug 30 2011: Ojala opinen, critiquen y digan lo que sus corazones y sus mentes puedan decir sobre el texto...
    Lo que acabo de escribir sobre mi vida es la Verdad
    Cuando sea el momento hablare mas de mi experiencia... y como logre llegar a entender y comprender...
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    Aug 25 2011: Watch the Demise of guys by Philip Zimbardo (link is above) now I am currently going to college for youth ministry and seeing the demise of guys is nothing shocking to me. What is shocking to me is the affect that being apart of a youth group (or even an organized sport) has on adolescent men and woman. Going to church on a sunday morning is a scary thing (been there, done that, slept well) but many church's offer a youth group during the week where jr. high and sr. highs can meet with their respected age groups and do games, hang out, spend time getting to know each other, and be poured into by older men and woman who want to help them along in their life. Yes youth pastors teach from the bible, however it is like a great resource to learn and understand challenge youth with different morals and what they believe. An effective youth pastor does not preach one opinion at them (ex. abortion is wrong(this is just an example of a one sided talk not my own view point posed for discussion))but rather engages youth in why it is unwise to have sex before you are married (risking pregnancy which will take you away from your studies, put a very large obstacle in your way of achieving your dreams and a child should be raised with a committed mother and father as it was intended). Youth always have the choice to take or leave whatever they are taught. But if youth do not have someone pouring wise advice into them and encouraging them to make more moral decisions, they are far more likely to drop out of school due to parties, pregnancy, lack of ambition and lack of self-belief. I asked a highschool student (grade 10 at the time) who was contemplating dropping out of school two years ago as to why he wanted to do so. After an in depth conversation he said this: "I would stay if someone believed in me, but I don't. My dads to busy, my mom doesnt care and my friends only want me at parties every night cause I am stupid entertainment." He is top of his class now after joining youth
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      Aug 25 2011: This is why my future children need to stay away from these organizations. Indoctrinating them with the churche's unhealthy relationship with sex is a terrible thing to do to a teenager who is going through so much hormonal transformations. Ever heard of contraception? There's a reason teen pregnancy is so high in the US, it's because you teach teenagers not to have sex instead of teaching them about contraception and in the end they go and have sex anyway, because teenagers are teenagers. Your little success stories will not suffice to validate your idea. Sounds like you've just convinced yourself you're dealing with a simple problem with a simple problem.

      I'd like to know how you'd deal with young gay teenagers, care to tell us?
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        Aug 26 2011: Why do you say that the churches relationship with Sex is Unhealthy? Because they said DO NOT DO IT and left it at that? yes our elders failed to understand and relate to adolescent thoughts. but where they right when they said that sex should be saved for marriage? Contraception is not 100%. You can take all the persuasions but every time you enter into intercourse you are always taking a gamble. Yes the chance of conception is significantly decreased, but why risk the chance aside from the fact that it is fun and that you feel rebelious doing it when people have told you not to. How a person runs their sexual life is up to them. By all means if you want to have sex go for it. If it is with the same sex sure why not. I teach contraception along with the risks.

        A person can not control who they are attracted to. That is just how the brain works. it is stupid to tell a gay person that their interest in the same gender is wrong because that is just how their brain is wired. There is nothing that can be done to change that. Yes there are cases where the individual is sexually confused due to events in their life and that is what I would work with them on, seeking healing from those events. yes I would encourage them to seek love in the opposite gender because marriage and bringing new life to the world is a beautiful thing. But if they decide that they wish to be gay, then all love to them.

        Who am I to judge? I am just as screwed up as the next person. the least I can do is love others as I wish to be loved by them.

        What will you indoctrinate into your future children Matthieu? Will you teach them that all religion is wrong and that seeking out a "God" is stupid? Or will you allow them to explore for themselves? Will you tell them "NO" when they want to do something that you morally do not agree with because you have learned the pain of its backlash?
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          Aug 26 2011: Yes, it's not 100%, the remaining percentages correspond to bad usage which you can help avoid by providing the right sex ed. I'm glad to hear you teach them about contraception. If you teach it right, by all means teach them abstinence too. Abstinence until marriage remains a dangerous way to repress human nature, with sometimes seriously undesirable consequences.

          I won't indoctrinate my children. My family is composed of Christians, agnostics and atheists, so I know what it's living without indoctrination. I won't tell my children God is stupid, that would imply he exists which he doesn't. I'll let them discover the world for what it truly is without enforcing the beliefs of my Christian ancestors. That way, they can look at Christianity, Islam and Hinduism in an unbiased manner and decide for themselves which one of these faiths, if any, is the more compelling. It's too easy for the offspring of religious parents to subscribe to that faith when they've been indoctrinated from day 1.
  • Aug 25 2011: It would not hurt if youth were more physically aware. Maybe if they took the time to look up from their iPhones, they would see that they just ran over a person.

    Youth will tend to rebel against forced attempts at spirituality. Be ready to offer some advice when they come to you.
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      Aug 25 2011: I think more than the youth need to look up from their Iphones. I swear the next time an Iphone user checks his Iphone in the middle of a conversation I'll just leave. People who text are not more important than people who are physically present.
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    Aug 24 2011: I think the need for spirituality is an excuse to get church adherents, it's a false need made up to convince you to join a religion. Invent a need so you can then fulfill that need. Just like the concept of sin was invented so that religion could capitalize on people's new need to repent.

    How about letting young people, who at this age will be pondering where they fit in the world, find their own calling instead of trying to get them to subscribe to a specific brand of indoctrination? Not all a young person's needs start and end with church.
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      Aug 24 2011: I both agree and disagree with you.

      I disagree about spirituality being an excuse or a false need; instead I see spirituality a common need our ancestors needed fulfilled which lead to religion. Chicken or Egg issue.

      However I'm on board for letting young people find their own calling, without stigma (or stigmata). The first time I tried meditation friends and family thought I was crazy. When I took an evolution class in high school (and enjoyed it) my mother thought I was Satan incarnate.
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        Aug 24 2011: It could be debated that what our ancestors needed was an explanation of how the world works, which lead to religion. If you look at ancient religions, they're all based around natural phenomena like eclipses and thunder. But it's hard to read the minds of people long gone.

        I think human beings are complex and I think spirituality and religion is not only a partial solution to their needs but also not the only solution to their needs (there are other things which don't come with so much undesirable baggage). I'm sure for example, that religion and spirituality will brilliantly fulfill a person's need to belong to a community, but that's not all a young person needs. To look at the young and offer them only such a half-assed solution like spirituality is to turn a deaf ear to their problems.