i wrote a bit recently about why youth workers should care about extended adolescence for the immerse journal blog. here’s a bit from the middle of the piece:
Do you realize that adolescence in America is now considered almost 20 years long? The onset of puberty has dropped; but the bigger change is on the upper end. Adolescent researchers now consider adolescence to extend all the way through the 20s for most.
There’s a complex set of reasons for this, and they’re not all bad (I’m sure you can think about it and come up with several of those reasons). But here’s the tricky part for me, as someone who’s passionately called to youth ministry: my calling is not about keeping teenagers in adolescence! My calling (and I assume yours) is about raising up young adult disciple of Jesus who understand and own their faith. Really, my calling (and yours) is about raising up adult disciples, if we take the long view. I have no interest in investing my life into the idea of keeping teenagers where they are. Discipleship is about going somewhere!
How should this new reality impact our work with teenagers (let alone 20-somethings)?
What does this mean for the spiritual lives and faith formation of teenagers?
If creating a new ‘youth group’ for young adults, prolonging their isolation from the adults in the church isn’t in answer, but those students have no interest in going to cold and dry adult worship service, what options do we have?
How can we do ministry in the real world teenagers live in, but still be counter-cultural, providing onramps to adulthood?
and, join us as we wrestle with questions like this at the extended adolescence symposium in atlanta, on november 21.