I recently saw someone post this comment on social media: “My experience thus far would seem to indicate that kids are very very hard on their parents from 16-21 and then after that things get significantly better.” While this is a general principle, it points to how difficult the teen years are – for teens AND parents.
Teenagers make easy targets. Their brains and bodies are still in development. Their lives are incredibly complicated in ways that adults forget. They are in the process of understanding themselves, the world, and their views about God. They have heard the constant message that they need to form their own identity to find happiness. But a unique, self-constructed identity is incredibly fragile because their identity so often depends upon their peers’ acceptance of their expression of who they view themselves, potentially shaping and upending a life in profound ways.
These factors make youth ministry some of the most complex aspects in the life of a church. Youth ministry often reflects the trends of youth culture and foreshadow the future direction of church ministry and the home itself. Parents often want youth ministry to come and rescue their teen from the pressures around them by giving them many opportunities to grow in a safe environment.
Yet this expectation puts a burden on youth ministry that it cannot sustain. Parents cannot afford to delegate the responsibility of spiritual formation to youth ministry, and youth ministry cannot afford to ignore the profound effect parents have on their child’s spiritual development. What is needed is a more robust view of how disciples are formed.
Far too many young people grow up going to church that has catered to their appetites. Relationships and fun are the priority, but often disconnected from spiritual realities. Children are separated from adults, and then are expected at some point to graduate from ‘children’s church’ to ‘big church’ – but they never make the transition.
What is needed is a better vision for youth ministry. And we are working towards that goal at CBC. We want our young people to have gospel-centered relationality. We want biblical truth connected with strong relationships so that our young people have a youth ministry that helps them commit to Christ and His local church.
The teen years are too complicated to merely programatize or reduce to fun. Our young people are living in a world where they are being lied to by being told they can be anything, do anything, and become anything. There is only One who can make them who they were intended to be, and He calls them into relationship with Himself and His Church.
So join us in praying for a more robust, gospel-relational youth ministry. And pray for our youth leaders who are working so hard to love our young people and connect them with Christ and the family of God.