adam and i were thrilled with how the extended adolescence symposium played out. we had a nice intimate turn-out that lent itself to robust dialogue and engagement. the speakers dove in, and kara powell did a great job of translating and fielding questions.
the ‘launch ministry’ blog has a great three part summary of the day:
part 1 – short overview. a snippet:
While in agreement on the general characteristics and trends of young people, the two presenters had vastly different responses to the data. Dr. Arnett views himself as a researcher and is very hesitant to create prescriptive responses to emerging adulthood. When pressed, he seems to indicate that this new stage of life is an unavoidable reality. This is the way things are now and are likely to be in the near future. As a society, we need to begin thinking about how to change our systems and structures to adjust to this new reality. He used the example of young adults being able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 as one positive idea for what this might look like.
Dr. Epstein, however, views himself as an agent of social change. He believes that emerging adulthood is a problem to be fixed. T0 him, the immaturity and delay of adulthood means that our social structures are broken. We need to change our parenting methods and our educational system to stop infantilizing young people and make them take responsibility for their actions while teaching them the competencies they need in order to make it in the world.
part 2 – framing a response. a snippet:
As I wrote at the end of the previous post, while I appreciate Dr. Epstein’s ideas about stopping the infantilization of young people and instilling competencies, the reality is that even if as a society we fully engaged his suggestions, we would still have generations of emerging adults that are experiencing difficulties. Because of this, I believe our response must include a directed response toward emerging adults and those that soon will be as well as a component that seeks to prevent the more destructive elements of this life stage.
Additionally, since this is a broad sociological issue throughout (primarily) western culture, our solutions and responses must include both activity within the church as well as beyond the walls of the church. My quadrant, then, will include reflections regarding earlier prevention as well as a direct response working with the current generation of emerging adults both inside and outside the church.
part 3 – implications for churches. a snippet:
A role in the community is something that young adults need and lack. This is especially true of emerging adults that do not attend a four year college. Those that do have a culturally defined role of ‘college student’ that has certain expectations around it. Those that do not, however, are left floundering in a weird in-between place where there is no role that helps define who they are. Could churches intentionally engage emerging adults, creating opportunities for leadership within the church and in the community? Maybe there could be post-high school internships or leadership development programs than intentionally seek to provide a role for emerging adults. Perhaps in some contexts there is room for a specific emerging adult ministry (a more mature youth group for college aged young people?), though I think that this could be problematic if the group does not intentionally find ways to connect emerging adults with older adults in the church.