So the first post here before you read this one.
So there is a growing issue that we talked about in the last post that is, as Robert Epstein noted, the “infantization” of adolescents and the result is delayed maturity. We also noted that this has become a growing concern in our churches which families must pay attention to in the rearing of their children. Something I did not mention in the last post but something I have witnessed among twenty-somethings across the church spectrum (not just where I am employed) is that, even in terms of spiritual formation, we are fostering an infant-Gospel which may even play into why many are leaving the church. Again it is a weird cyclical pattern where we our just as guilty for fostering this co-dependency. We in the church are saying: “Come to a building and become spiritually formed. You don’t have to participate just come. Oh by the way, we have certain rules if you do participate and there are things you can do and things you can’t do.”
Do you see what we are doing? Leaders in the church are treating our spiritual family like we are treating our immediate family. That makes sense doesn’t it?
So what can we do? I am skipping over a bunch of material Robert Epstein covers in Part 2 of his book where he builds a strong case on the capabilities of young people. I am already assuming that you understand that our young people are capable and we must build on that and feed it. I have a few suggestions for churches, youth groups and families. I think they apply to all…
- Incorporate classes where parent, child, young and old learn side by side. Of course there are difficulties with this…embrace it.
- Allow young folks to help in the decision-making of church. If they don’t like where the church is going ownership might help alleviate that issue.
- Quit treating them like kids and empower them.
- Make them earn things through hard work, determination and goal-setting. Should every child have their car-insurance paid for? Why? Do adults get theirs paid for? What happens if you don’t pay for insurance….you don’t drive. The same goes with cell phones.
- Partner them with mature adults other than yourself. Assuming you are mature. KIDDING!
- Look for young folks who have a broken family and partner more mature young folks with them.
- Allow students to choose for themselves a relationship with God. A lot of debate here. Some say you can never let someone in your house stay home during services and others vent that you must allow them to choose for themselves in all times. What is lost in all of this is the dialog of what they are doing and why. We tell them to go to church services but not why. Worse, we tell them to go to services and then to leave Jesus at the building.
- Give them freedom along with education.
I know I have skipped over a bunch of things. What would you suggest?
Photo Credits: wÅ‚odi on CC