Dear brother Damon,
Salamun alaikum. Your response is very heartening. I am in complete agreement with what you have stated. Even if people in this forum are divided on issues like ritual salaat & saum, these are best left to each individual's discretion. There will always be divergent opinions where traditional belief does not find explicit Quranic support.
As regards your two very pertinent questions, I feel the answer cannot be the same for every situation. Having said that, when we talk about educated & sensible youth, I feel a few names & faces immediately come up in the mind. These may be from the family, friends, colleagues, frequent visitors of the masjid, etc. The way I have started to talk with youngsters is using a common conversation, mostly on the state of affairs among muslims & relate it to the lack of Quranic values in our day to day life. Eventually, this leads to the conclusion that instead of the complaining lot, we must become the reforming lot and understand what Allah wanted us to do. I explain the extensive meaning of Salaat. A beautiful explanation of this is given by Allama Parwez in his letter to Saleem. You can find it at: http://www.tolueislam.com/Parwez/skn/SK_12.htm
A printout of this suffices to draw the interest of a seeking mind. The explanation is so lucid & clear that the reader cannot ignore the message. This is what I have started to do. Events such as marriages & burials can also be utilized to start a thread of such discussion. What I have experienced in the last few days is that knowledge attracts. The depth of our knowledge will decide the quality of response. People have shown great interest in understanding the root words and their meanings. For example, I explained to a gentleman the meaning of Surah Fatiha. The names Rahman & Raheem are derived from rahm, which means nourishment, as in a mother's womb. I explained this to him: God nourished us in the womb to enable us to reach a level where we were prepared to enter this world. Now He wishes to nourish us so that we can reach a higher level of being. Our entry in the hereafter will be a consequence of the nourishment in this world. The concept of 'rabubiyat' or closeness to God means that we carry His commands on His behalf. Nourishing others as we want to be nourished ourselves, requires us to become a means (zaria) for this. In our actions, we need to manifest this. God has given us all the means of nourishment (both economic & spiritual) and has given us the best guidance in the Quran. The siraat-e-mustaqim is given to us to follow. Now do we see the depth of meaning the words we generally translate as Beneficant & Merciful?
Such explanations will definitely lead the seeking mind to seek more. That is why I also quoted Surah Muzammil in the earlier post. My study has just begin, but when I share what I have recently learnt, it reinforces my learning. What I am writing is on the basis of my exposure & experience. Situations may vary in different parts of the world, so the approach may vary to some extent. But we will always find people who feel that there is more to it than appears & who are seeking answers to the current problems. We can begin with a normal conversation & Allah will show us the light. I feel this method is simple & hence scalable & widely implementable.
May Allah bless our efforts with the best results.