Why You Should Care About Extended Adolescence

I've done some research and have been having lots of conversations with youth workers on a growing phenomenon known as "Extended Adolescence." One of the people that I love hearing from on this topic (who has done much more research than I) is my friend, Mark Oestreicher (Marko).
Recently Marko's new start-up (the Youth Cartel) announced that he was hosting a symposium on the heels of the National Youth Worker's Convention this year in Atlanta and he's invited a few leading experts to share on this important subject matter.
I asked Marko if he would write a piece for ChurchLeaders and asked him to address a couple of questions. We featured this article just yesterday on the site. If you missed it you can catch an exerpt here on my blog and [go here] for the rest:
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?

[Go here] for the rest of the article.

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Have you tried LIVE Curriculum?

Last week I had a chance to sit down with a couple youth workers and talk about curriculum. I encouraged them to check out Simply's LIVE curriculum, one of the best available to youth workers in my opinion. Check out this quick video about LIVE and if you're interested you should give my friend Matty McCage a call. You might tell him I sent you (and use these code words) for some rewards!

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10 Things I Pray for Today's Teenager

I've seen the Lord doing some amazing things in the lives of teenagers this year. I know its because of the work of God and the result of prayer. Call me crazy, but I believe this generation of students will have an amazing impact on our world and will pursue God with a greater zeal and passion than the generations before them. I invest more time now in prayer for young people than I ever have. Today I want to share with you 10 things that I pray for today's teenager:
1. Purpose - I believe God has a plan and purpose for every student. I speak this over teenagers and ask God to remind them that no matter what their circumstances are, to give them passion and a deep-seated purpose for living. (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 139:13-16; 2 Cor. 5:20; Jeremiah 1:5; John 14:13; Rom 8:28-29)
2. Friendships - I spend more time talking about the friendships young people develop more than other topics because I know the truth that you are (and become) who you hang out with. I pray God will give today's teenager wisdom in choosing their friends and that God will bring people into their lives who will point them to Christ. I also pray that He will use students to encourage and build up each other like never before. (1 Cor 15:33; Heb 10:25; 1 Thess. 5:11; 1 Sam 16:7)
3. Character - Today's teen is bombarded with every temptation known to man and the enemy is seeking to destroy their character. I pray that this generation of students may experience an ongoing transformation by having their minds renewed and that they will be examples to the world in their speech, lives, love, faith and purity. I also ask for more great Christ-like role models for our students, particularly among their own peers. (1 Tim 4:12; Rom 12:1-2; Psalm 24:4)
4. Purity- I pray that God would give our students more of a hunger for righteousness than a sexual appetite and that they would see through the enemies lies. I ask God to strengthen them and give them the drive to flee sexual immorality and help them reserve the gift of sex for marriage. (John 8:32; 1 Peter 1:5; Heb 13:4; 1 Cor 6:18; 1 John 4:4; James 1:12-14)
5. Passion - May God grant this generation of teenagers an anointing of the power by the Holy Spirit to be the greatest witnesses for Christ Jesus than we've ever known. I also pray that their zeal for obedience would supersede any other human desire that they have. (Acts 1:8; Luke 4:18-19; 1 Peter 3:15; Matt 28:19-20; Gal 5:24)
6. Money - The root of all evil is the love of money. I pray that God would give spiritual eyes to today's teen and help them to view money as a great resource for Kingdom purposes. May God grant them contentment in plenty or when poor because of their richness in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19; Matt 6:24; Eccl 5:10; Heb 13:5; 1 Tim 6:10)
7. Submission and Honor - I pray that this generation would submit to Christ and to those in authority over them. May he give them grace to love, respect, and honor their parents, teachers, spiritual leaders and governing officials. (Eph 6:2-3; Heb 13:17; Mk 12:17)
8. Spiritual growth - I pray that God nurtures soil of the hearts of young people and grants them a greater sensitivity to their spirit so that they may grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ. I also pray for more passionate workers for the harvest of youth ministry. (Luke 2:52; Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 3:16)
9. Discernment - I pray God would give our teenagers the knowledge of the truth of God and spiritual eyes to see so that the enemy would not be able to deceive them. I pray they may also be able to discern between the teachings of the Living God and false gods or prophets. (1 Tim 3:9; 2 Cor 2:11; Jn 17:17; Eph 6:14)
10. Hope - May God help today's teen take every thought captive for Christ. I pray He would also fill every young person with the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and protect their mind and heart from hopelessness. May God also help them to cling to Christ during discouragement and soak up His strength when offering this same hope to others. (Gal 6:9; Eph 6:13; Phil 4:8; 2 Tim 2:13; Heb 10:23; 1 Peter 5:8-9)

Join me in prayer for today's teenagers and share this with your ministry leaders.

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New Podcast: The Youth Ministry Garage

The Youth Ministry world mourned when the Simply Podcast crew shut things down after 143 episodes. Now, after obtaining sponsors and a new location, among other things the show has been reborn. (Editor's note: Ok... that was a bit dramatic... but its still exciting!)
The "Youth Ministry Garage" debuted today featuring Doug Fields, Josh Griffin, Matt McGill and Katie Edwards... live from Doug Fields' garage. I encourage you to check out the new site and the first episode. I'm including a screen shot of the site and their slick intro video.

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Why You Shouldn't Try To Start a Movement

A few weeks ago I asked a youth worker out to lunch. We met, had lunch, and talked about our ministries together. In a very short time I noticed a pattern. God seemed to be leading us to teach on some of the very same topics and address some of the same issues in our respective ministries.

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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Extended Adolescence Symposium

There has been a lot of talk over the last couple years about 'extended adolescence.' It's become a bit of a phenomena because adolescence, at least in the U.S., seems to extend to around age 30. This, of course, leaves youth workers wondering about the implications in youth ministry.
I am excited to announce that my friends, Mark Oestreicher and Adam McLane (of the Youth Cartel), have created an event to explore this conversation. It's a one-day symposium that will be held the day after the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta in November... and they've invited a few people to speak on this topic (Dr. Jeffrey Arnett, Dr. Robert Epstein and Dr. Kara Powell).The Cartel created a KickStarter page to introduce this event and ask for your support. I've already backed this (put my $ where my mouth is) and ask you to join me.

I'm also excited about The Middle School Campference (another wonderful offering from the Cartel), for middle school workers in October! Be sure to check this amazing 2-day event coming to Evart, MI. Registration is limited, so reserve spots for your team today!!!

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An Extreme Book

We're really challenging our students this fall to take the Bible to the extreme in their lives. Yesterday we rolled out our one month challenge, in addition to another challenge to read the Bible in just 90 days (our B90X challenge)! Just before we issued these challenges we played this video. Our students absolutely loved it.

RSS Subscribers: there is video [here]
Thanks to my friends at Waters Edge who made this video.

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#YouthMin Tip 001

#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]

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