Of Sparrows and Lost Teens

Originally published in January 1993

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.And even the very hairs on your head are all numbered.So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31.

I may not know a lot of sparrows who have fallen but I do know a lot of the teens I have worked with who have fallen.I can picture them as sparrows hitting a glass window (splat!), falling injured and not knowing how to get up.The idea of God’s grace is inconceivable.The politics of church life are as secular as in the real world.The picture of God does not seem to square up with the real world.

Holy Tension

Originally published March 15,2010. 

As part of our Lenten observations this year, each week (including Easter) a teen is teaching an object lesson to the church.These teens are the recipient of years of children’s sermons, particularly at Advent, so I thought I would create a little holy tension in them by proposing they teach the church family in a way they were recipients of when they were younger.

The volunteer the first week was a new member to our group and not the recipient of those children’s sermons.But he volunteered to do the first week, much to my surprise.He experienced lots of holy tension as he set the stage for the following weeks as well as being new to the church family.What would inspire the “new kid” to volunteer for this project at all--and for the first week?I thanked his parents because their impact was obvious.Yet still what drew the “new kid” to this challenge?

The Faith Task of Responding in the Age of Delayed Adolescence

Originally published March 15, 2009.

Most of us work with teens meaning that once they graduate high school they leave the youth ministry and supposedly join the adult world.  Or at least the adult world of college and singles.  However there has been a growing trend of what is termed delayed adolescence.  The coined word for this new life stage is Youthood.   Chap Clark, for Fuller Youth Institute, did a great job of surmising this new life stage, “By the 1960s the end of adolescence was still generally accepted to be around age 18 to 19, for young people left high school and pretty much decided who they were and what they were going to do with their lives. While the social revolution of the late ’60s and early ’70s was fueled by the dreams of a newly emerging young adult force willing to take responsibility to right the wrongs of former generations, it further lengthened adolescence. For those who could afford it, college moved from being the preparation phase for young adults to halfway houses for old high schoolers. ‘What are you going to study?’ was a question that actually made sense in the early 1970s—but it’s met by blank stares today! In contemporary society, graduate school is often a place to ‘find oneself,’ and numerous studies attempt to understand the historically unheard of phenomenon of 30-somethings who have Ph.D.s living at home or waiting tables who have yet to ‘discover what they want to do.’” (Chap Clark, “Youth Ministry in the Age of Delayed Adulthood” )