Thursday, February 17, 2011

Stetzer on Teenage Rebellion

Ed Stetzer writes on “The Myth of Teenage Rebellion.” It’s not earth-shattering and it’s not new. But it’s interesting.

The sound-byte of note is this:

Thinking it is normal for children to raise themselves and become well-adjusted in their teen years only in partnership with their peers often creates the problem, not solves it.

This should continue to challenge us (or start to challenge you if you are behind so far) about the way we do “youth ministry” in the church, and about the way we do parenting in general.

I believe that we all need friends in our own generation. We need people around our age and life context to do life with. The Bible often applies to teens in a way that it does not apply to young marrieds, middle-aged single moms, or retirees. We need to have contexts where each is addressed.

But if all your friends and relationships are within a year or two of your age, you are severely limiting yourself. You are damaging your potential for growth and ministry. You are ultimately hurting the body of Christ.

Most of us need to be much more intentional about cultivating intergenerational relationships, particularly in the church which, in my view, is the main building block of relationships in life. We need to purposely connect younger with older. It needs to be a building block of life as a church.

I am not against youth groups and I am not for family integrated churches. I think both approaches have some issues.

My encouragement is to remember that teenage rebellion is a fact of life because all ages are rebellious. It’s part of being in Adam. And it’s really no different than the rebellion of the “terrible twos” or the “mid-life crisis.” It is the expression of self-lordship in the context of our lives.

The question is, What is the best way to address rebellion?

I am convinced that we do not best address teenage rebellion by locking them all up in a closed room with each other and bringing them out when they are nineteen in hopes that Jesus still works miracles.

No, it will take much more than guarding the door of the youth room to make sure they don’t get out and mess up the real church.

We need to expect people to act their age, but that involves teaching them how to act, training their affections both by biblical counsel and by personal relationships of example. And that can only take place when we connect younger with older.

We should let kids be kids. But we should not let “kid-ness” continue past its “sell by date.”

Let’s help young people grow up by expecting more and cultivating more.

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