I'm beginning to think that adolescence, for American teenagers, is childhood extended for too long.
American society for some reason views the teen years as seditious, immature and dangerous, something that parents should be happy just to survive. How did we get there, from what most cultures see as an arriving point into adulthood, where teens step forth into their own identities, lay the foundations for adulthood, and become fully active members in the community?
I didn't feel like anyone started listening to what I had to say until I was a senior in college, which was ridiculous. What did I have to say at 21 that I hadn't already been saying in some form when I was 20?
Our church youth group growing up at Saunders Station Presbyterian Church was pretty much into a nondescript sort of wholeness. It didn't have anything particularly spiritual about it, nor was it much fun. I briefly tried a youth group at a Pentecostal church in Brush Creek, and found that it was big on gross games, charismatic worship, and closely knit cliques. It wasn't much fun either.
Personally, I'm looking forward to when Evangeline becomes a teen five years from now. Maybe teens can be overconfident in their own perceptions and abilities, but one of the things I see most clearly is the passion that teens bring to life. They believe fervently in their causes, they can't stand hypocrisy, and they're not afraid to call B.S. when they see it.
Maybe instead of hiring youth pastors to try to act like teens' friends and playing dorky games, churches should hire youth pastors who will show teens the kind of faith that doesn't believe nodding your head in agreement shows radical obedience to God, but the rubber-meets-the-road sort that fights poverty by fixing up homes, running farmstands, and things like that.