Although less prominent in the Baptist tradition, non-Biblical sources can also be used to educate youth about the spiritual life. John Bunyan's classic allegory of the Christian journey, The Pilgrim's Progress, is a well-known text (Bunyan was a Baptist minister who lived between 1628 and 1688).
JOINING WITH OTHERS TO JOURNEY FAITHFULLY
Baptism, as a symbol of the individual's desire to journey in the Christian way, also serves as the individual's official incorporation into the community of believers. In the Baptist tradition, the emphasis on the individual's relationship with God is counterbalanced by the recognition that one needs the companionship of others to negotiate the challenges of the spiritual life, and this is why participation in congregational life becomes an integral aspect of Baptist spirituality. The Baptist practice of prayer serves as a case in point. On the one hand, each Baptist member is expected to develop, cultivate, and maintain a personal prayer discipline. On the other hand, conversational prayer in the presence of others-the Baptist prayer meeting-is a core feature of classic Baptist church life. In contrast to the more contemplative forms of prayer, Baptist prayer experiences tend to emphasize a spontaneous conversational style in which members take turns praying for the needs of one another. Children are introduced to this form of prayer at an early age, and are expected to practice it as soon as they begin talking.
ACCEPTING GOD'S CALL TO SERVE
The Baptist emphasis on personal spiritual development also incorporates the dimension of sacrificial service. To follow Christ as a disciple entails serving the world even as Jesus served others. In the Baptist tradition, therefore, ministry is not just the fruit of a positive spiritual life. It is a vital aspect of it.
This ministry can take many forms. It may involve evangelism, worship leadership, teaching, hospitality, and various forms of community involvement and social action. In Baptist churches, children are expected and encouraged to express the notion of the "priesthood of all believers" by testing their gifts and talents in the service of others. Inviting others to church and to a consideration of the claims of the Baptist faith, singing in the choir or playing musical instruments, helping to disciple younger children, and sharing their testimonies at their baptism are just some of the ways Baptist youth are encouraged to unite faith with deeds. Such activities are considered both ends in themselves as well as aspects of an ongoing spiritual formation in anticipation of serving the church and the world as adults.