Is your teen confident that to be human means we are spiritual beings who long to connect with God? When our daughter’s teacher announced to the class that they do not have souls she had had enough spiritual formation to think through the complexities of what he was suggesting. Through his lens of naturalism (there are only natural forces) and materialism (the only thing that exists is matter and it’s movements) he was suggesting that to be human is to be a very lucky blob of energy and matter. You are just a body and a brain, there is nothing spiritual about you.
So far in this series we’ve looked at two practical ways to help your child experience their soul in action. First, stirring up moments of awe, wonder and reverence and translating them as coming our soul will help them realise they have longings that can’t be satisfied by the confines of this physical life alone. The second way to help your child to experience their soul is to point out moments in which they long for the world to be good and for people to be kind to each other. Adults call this justice and it is one of the moral longings that cannot be adequately explained by secular ideas of what it means to be human.
Our third practical way to capture moments that signpost the soul is to draw attention to our longing to connect to something bigger than ourselves.
As a teenager I remember going to our small-town football games every Friday night in the autumn. Despite a mouth full of metal braces, I marched in the band with my saxophone hanging around my neck and attempted to add something of musical value to our performance. The cheerleaders led us in optimistic chants, parents and families filled the stands and we all willed our feeble football team of farm kids to victory. We were bound together and united. Looking back, the overwhelming feeling I had from those evenings was being part of something bigger than myself. It was almost spiritual.
As humans we experience many palpable “connection” moments - concerts and sporting events, volunteering to clean up after a natural disaster and, for the Christian, worshipping together with other believers. Over the last century or more, western culture has produced a fierce brand of individualism that means some of our soulful longings are not recognisable for what they are. But during these connection moments, our longing to be part of something bigger than ourselves gets stirred to the surface. This desire to be part of something that is vast, exciting, meaningful and, dare we say, worshipful is really a longing to be part of God’s bigger plan to rescue the world and ultimately to connect with God himself.
Have These Soul Stirring Conversations
You can learn to ask:
"What is that feeling of connection? Where do you think it comes from?"
You can learn to say:
“Some people believe that our desire for connection is just a remnant of our need to survive. However, I believe when we feel this deep sense of connection it points to a different reality. We desire to know there is Someone bigger than ourselves that is connecting everyone together and giving us a purpose that is bigger than ourselves. When you have that feeling of connection, that’s your soul talking. It’s a clue that your soul longs to be connected not just with other humans, but with God and what he is doing in the world.”
Through this series we’ve discussed ways to help your child to experience their soul in action by translating moments of awe and wonder, justice and connection. At Start to Stir we are helping Christians learn to stir spiritual curiosity with those who seem indifferent to matters of faith. If you want to learn more read about this idea of stirring up spiritual curiosity sign up to get the Beginners Guide to Stirring Souls in your inbox for four weeks.
Introducing the Start to Stir Video Training Series
In January 2024 we'll release a four part video course for individuals, small groups and churches to learn to stir curiosity in the gospel in places where people seem indifferent. Let us know here if you are interested in being notified when it's released.
Joy has been a youth worker for over 20 years. In addition to training Christian youth workers she regularly leads communication, digital media and fundraising projects for Start To Stir. Joy and Darin have two teenage daughters and a nutty ginger dog.