Adolescence in America is mutating at an impressive rate. The experience of being a teenager has similarities to whatever your experience and mine were, of course; but there are plenty of dissimilarities. Many of these shifts are things we’re all aware of, if we stop to think about them: increased pressure and stress, constant access to and bombardment of information, instant everything (including an expectation of instant, no-presence-required communication). Each of these interwoven shifts (and others) have an impact on the spiritual lives of teenagers, of course, and we youth workers need to be thoughtful about where we pander or acquiesce, and where we take counter-cultural stands, helping teenagers know and embrace what I like to call a “truthier truth.” (I suppose “truer truth” would be more grammatically correct, but I like the former, so deal with it.)
But perhaps the biggest shift in American adolescence is the duration.
Adolescence is now, on average, an almost 20-year trek, lasting all the way through the 20s. Of course, there are 20somethings who are fully living as adults long before they reach the ‘used to be the marker of entering middle age’: 30. But then, there are plenty of young 30somethings still living in an extended adolescence.
There are hundreds of questions we could ask about this, and thousands we could ask about the implications. But I want to zero in on one:
What impact does extended adolescence have on the faith formation of teenagers? Ok, a second question: How should we respond?
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Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on my upcoming teaching series to help students to take their faith public and began to think about how I wanted to brand the series and roll it out to our students.
Enter the youth worker I had lunch with.
He also had been working on a teaching series to help students take their faith public and just a few days ago branded the series and presented it to his student ministry. Immediately the thing took off. Students overwhelmingly embraced it and it looks like a movement has started.
I was in awe of the response of his students and how God has started using his teaching. It was good. Very good, in fact. So good that I had to come up with something different. It was a tall order though… because I had to work harder to create something bigger and better than he did.
Enter the inward struggle.
I started to really wrestle with this. Why did I have to create something different? Something better? Why can’t I just join the movement instead of creating a new one?
So that is exactly what I did. I tried to overcome my jealously… my drive…my pride… and I picked up the phone and called this youth worker. I told him how great of an idea he had. I told him how awesome it was (and also how obvious it was) that God has started a movement. Then I asked to join him. I asked, “Why can’t we collaborate and do something really big here?” And that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Here are 3 quick things I learned through this:
1. God may have you address some of the same topics with your students as the youth worker down the street. Action item: Have conversations with local youth workers to see if you recognize any themes or patterns.
2. I’m not immune to jealousy, pride, or a competitive spirit when it comes to ministry. My hunch is that you aren’t either. Action item: Ask God to search your heart and point out where you might struggle with these things.
3. God may already be at work around you and you need to recognize it. Action item: Don’t believe the lie that you need to try to start a movement. You might need to join one. You can quote me on that!
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#001 - Students First Week: This week is our students first full week of school. I tried my best to check in with as many students as possible just after their first day just to see how things went for them. I sent texts, made phone calls, and used facebook too. Checking in with students after their first full day back to school or during their first full week is a great way to express your care for teens. If school has been underway in your area for more than a week you can still take the time (this week!) to check in with students.Don't miss tips like this and more blog goodness from Terrace Crawford... Subscribe to the feed [here]