I got to talk to Mark Oestreicher of The Youth Cartel yesterday, and he reminded me what I love about ministry with adolescents: the beholding. Marko wants the church to relate to teenagers less as a problem to be solved and more as a wonder to behold.
He immerses himself as much as anyone I know in the literature on adolescent development, including the scientific stuff about brain development. That field of research is far from settled on some pretty important questions about teenagers’ decision making abilities, the propensity towards risk, and all those other quirks that make people in their teens so unique–and challenging.
The standard thesis for a generation has been that the teen brain is problematically malformed or underformed or not-yet-fully-formed. But a new generation of researchers are actually looking at the adolescent stage of human development as one full of wonder and advantages for thriving that we’ve been overlooking.
Behold then the teen. Behold the risk taking. Behold the drama. What gifts are there to make up for what all of our grown up, risk-managed institutions are lacking?