Shaping the Faith of Young People

I keep a canister of Play-Doh on my desk. This is not just any canister of Play-Doh, though… this is a fresh, un-played-with, still-in-the-shape-of-the-canister, smelling-brand-new, canister of Play-Doh.

The people who know me well have been long aware of my tendency to keep seemingly random things laying around–seemingly random things that serve as little reminders of the places where God has met me, shaped my faith, brought important people into my life, etc. They’re everywhere (ask my husband, I think he gets annoyed with them sometimes).

So, when we were challenged during our Spoke Folk tour this summer to take a couple bucks into Wal-Mart and find something that represents part of our faith journey, an important experience in our lives, etc., I was all over that. And what did I end up with, you ask? And 88 cent canister of Play-Doh.

Play-Doh is moldable. It’s shapeable. It can become anything you want it to become. It comes in a lot of different colors. Everyone will shape it into something different. Everyone who touches it will leave their fingerprints on it. Play-Doh is inescapably and undeniably fun.

So, I bought this Play-Doh as a reminder of the fact that not only does God continue to shape my life through various people and experiences, but he uses me as one who helps to shape the lives of young people. He uses me as one who equips parents to shape the lives of their children. He uses me to remind young people that they are being shaped by everything, and that everything leaves fingerprints on them.

This past weekend, we had five Youth Sunday services at my church. During each service, a different group of young people (and some adult chaperones) stood in front of the congregation to share stories from their various summer trips. Some shared about songs from the ALIVE Festival that really impacted their understanding of God. Others talked about experiences and specific people that touched their lives and left a lasting impression. Still more talked about the ways that serving people in need or hearing a different voice explain the Gospel really shaped them. Every story was one of faith being shaped. Every story was one in which students had been molded more into the likeness of Christ. Each story gave a testimony of the faith-shaping work of the church, parents, mentors, music, and experiences in the lives of young people.

So now when I see that canister of Play-Doh sitting on my desk, I am reminded of more than just my story of faith-shaping. I am reminded each day that I play a role (albeit small) in helping young people discover the shape of their faith.

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