As promised… Here are the final five things I wanted to pass along from recently teaching a university class on the philosophy and theology of youth ministry. See here for more details and the original post.
6. The best definition I came across for adolescence was that it is the time that begins in biology and ends in culture (and independence). I even took two entire class periods as I read aloud from Augustine’s Confessions to give a snapshot of a theological and very personal reflection of a 16 year old nearly 1600 years ago.
7. With this in mind we studied adolescent biology, spending time on issues related to puberty, but we also looked at some fascinating research on neurological development in teenagers. I taught through some of what I learned in a recent book written by a leading adolescent neurologist in her book The Teenage Brain. There is a lot I could say here, but for now just know that a lot of things are changing in the brains of teenagers, we need to be patient, but we also need to be very intentional during this age.
8. It is likely no surprise that we discussed culture for quite a while and the adolescent journey toward independence. You likely know this, but your age does not make you an “adult”. To the guys out there I’ll put it more bluntly, many “men” really are “children” due to their ever-delayed independence and lack of careful decision making in many ways.
9. I brought in an expert who founded the largest adolescent counseling and treatment group in our state, who also happens to have an enormous background in YL. We learned about many of the illnesses and dangers youth face and some initial steps on how to walk with young people in these situations.
10. Though this class was technically focused on philosophy and theology, I couldn’t keep myself from teaching them a bit on sharing the gospel with young people and also on relational ministry. I was careful to include recent critiques of relational ministry which provide good correctives but tend to criticize approaches to relational ministry abandoned long ago by those who are thoughtful and current with students these days.
As I mentioned in the last post, if there is anything in this post, or otherwise, you’d like me to expand upon, let me know (email, twitter, smoke signals, etc.).