New book for youth delves into Ecclesiastes.
But, of course, this is not new. There is nothing new under the sun. In his book Days of Your Youth, school chaplain the Rev George Statheos is determined to show young people that the Teacher in Ecclesiastes has a message for them that’s more relevant than ever. Anyone who works with young people, or has young people in their lives, can see that they spend a lot of time searching for meaning. They are endlessly seeking to figure out who they are, working out what they are passionate about and what they will live for. The world has plenty to offer young people, but it can’t offer anything that truly satisfies them.
“The book of Ecclesiastes has become the book for me – that is, [the book that] helps young people who are searching for answers, or helping their friends search for answers,” says Mr Statheos, who has been working as a chaplain for more than 20 years. The book takes young people through the big concepts dealt with in Ecclesiastes – which also happen to be the big concepts of life: meaning and meaninglessness, the fleeting nature of life, pleasure, foundations, wisdom, wealth and the messed-up nature of the world and its people. “There are some extraordinary verses about death [in Ecclesiastes],” Mr Statheos
says. “The Teacher talks about teens in their church. It not only who can control nature and who addresses important topics has power over death. He would but models good Bible reading have been blown away by the habits such as working through fact that someone can straighten one book and understanding out the mess that happens in the verses in the context of the book lives of young people – that is, they’re in. Jesus, and what Jesus came to Statheos has two big prayers do.” for every person who reads Days Each chapter moves quickly of Your Youth: “My prayer is that and is filled with examples young people will see the book from life and Mr Statheos’ own of Ecclesiastes – about someone teen years to help illustrate the searching for answers – and at message of Ecclesiastes. His aim the conclusion they [will] realise was to keep the book short and that the answers are found in readable, and at 160 pages he has the creator God. For us, that is made what could be a difficult really for the risen Jesus. My part of the Bible accessible to prayer is that young people will many teenagers. see the great hope that we have For youth leaders, the book in our great God.” will be a fresh resource they Days of Your Youth is published can put in the hands of the by Ark House Press.
THREE REASONS TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST ON FAITH Hannah Thiem The parish of Fairfield with Bossley Park has ventured into the realm of audio resources, with a podcast that accompanies the church’s 2021 vision: to build a resilient faith among its members and beyond. Each episode of Resilient Faith will create conversations that aim to get listeners thinking about how to strengthen their relationships with God. In the first episode, rector the Rev Stephen Shead and one of the assistant ministers, the Rev Vincent Chan, discuss personal quiet times. It’s not only encouraging for congregation members but a helpful listen for all Christians as we strive daily to grow in faith. Here are three reasons why you should give it a listen.
1 STRENGTHEN SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES We all need encouragement to stand firm during difficulties and dry periods. As Philippians 3:12 exhorts Christians to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”, we need to keep working on spiritual disciplines such as Bible reading and prayer throughout our lives to avoid becoming stagnant in our faith. Mr Shead’s input is particularly helpful in thinking about this important area, having researched and written about
quiet times for his book Growing in Prayer: Learning to pray with dependence and delight, which was released in May 2019.
The recent rise in Christian podcasting has indicated an increasing acknowledgement of the diverse ways in which people can learn.
The podcast dives into questions such as what “quiet time” means, what content it should contain, how to respond when the word feels dry, and how to approach Bible reading with children. Rather than coming off as a guilt trip, the hosts openly share their own struggles to maintain regular Bible times, and remind listeners that devotions can look different for everyone.
Surrounded by a multicultural community from many backgrounds, Fairfield with Bossley Park proclaims it is a “church for all nations”. Releasing daily devotions and listening resources such as podcasts is one practical way the church is living out this mission statement.
2 EXPLORE AUDIO QUIET TIMES In the Western evangelical tradition, we tend to assume a quiet time refers only to reading a physical Bible. While not denying that this format has many merits, Resilient Faith points to the growing recognition that it is not the only helpful method of spending time with God. Mr Shead outlines how the common understanding of a quiet time evolved from evangelistic university movements, where students were frequently strong in reading ability and understanding. Yet the Bible does not give us a prescriptive mandate on how to do our devotions.
3 CONSIDER HELPFUL PRACTICES There are plenty of Christian podcasts to choose from these days, but that doesn’t always result in high quality. Resilient Faith is a good example of how to thoughtfully use the audio platform to enrich the faith of listeners. Mr Chan and Mr Shead discuss common problems, use Scriptures to back up their assertions, and share their challenges honestly. It also stands out when the hosts close the episode by praying that listeners will encourage each other to grow closer to God and learn the discipline of delighting in him. Under God, listening to this podcast may help to achieve that aim. The first episode of Resilient Faith is on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. 31
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