One of the most valuable teachings I heard in the Youth Cartel‘s YMCP was on adolescence. Reading Robert Epstein‘s Teen 2.0 was an eye popper. It’s a long book, but I can summarize it. Adolescence is a cultural phenomenon that severely limits the abilities of teenagers. Watch this video (if you aren’t patient, just skip to end and catch the drummer’s solo at the end at the 3:28 mark).
This guy, the drummer, is five years old. I’ve played with countless bands with adult drummers who don’t have those kinds of chops. The point? Adolescence is an outdated limit on pre-adults.
John Eldredge writes a lot about how myth informs life. He reminds us that we are created for more. Ray Ortland said as much in a recent conference (Rooted) where he said, “Don’t be afraid of wanting glory. You were created for it.” We shouldn’t limit anyone in the peak of their growth by having dismally low expectations.
In youth ministry, this paradigm plays out in the arena of faith. Many youth ministries expect so little of their teens. They cater to them and feel the pressure of entertainment. Often, young adults really don’t want to be entertained. They just want someone to help them understand how faith works in their lives. If youth ministry connects faith and teenagers, it can’t be limited to our expectations. God has his own plan for each youth we see. As youth workers, we need to help them see it and give them tools to live it.