Allowing Your Adolescents to Grow Up – Youth Specialties Blog

We’re excited to have Dr. G David Boyd as one of our NYWC speakers. This blog post is a great start to the conversations he’ll be navigating in his seminar: DISCIPLESHIP BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL: THE SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT OF EMERGING ADULTSCheck out more information HERE


My research among emerging adults reveals that they often feel they aren’t treated as adults within the church community.  While being called “Davy” as a child never bothered me, when I left for college, I hoped to leave that name behind.  Sometimes, the easiest way for emerging adults to be treated like an adult is to leave their old world behind.

emerging adults in the church

William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, developed a theory of social selves which posits that an individual acts differently based upon the social situation and the expectations placed upon them.  In some social contexts, emerging adults are expected to be an adult, while in other contexts, they are treated like a child.  As emerging adults mature, our communication, actions, and words must display our support for their ongoing development.

Here are three ways you can allow your students to grow up:

Read the rest of my post here!

I am thankful for Youth Specialties, and for allowing me to contribute to the blog, and to the National Youth Workers Convention 2016.

David - Prof 2Dr. G. David Boyd is the managing director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and churches to engage emerging adults. He is also the founder of the EA Network, a community of people who serve and love emerging adults.


A new vision for adolesecents and emerging adults – Mark Oestreicher

Mark-O has been around the church world for many years, and he has always challenged my thinking, and caused me to laugh.  He recently wrote a reflection on the Ethiopian eunuch, and moved it into the realm of youth ministry.

Here is the article.

Here is the heart of the passage –

Our youth ministries should not exist as well-meaning holding tanks, waiting for maturity and adulthood.

Our youth ministries should not isolate teenagers from the world of adults.

Our youth ministries should not treat teenagers as children, incapable and broken.

If you want to change how your view and treat adolescents and emerging adults, here are some first steps.

The O FamilyMark is a partner in The Youth Cartel, providing services and resources for individual youth workers and organizations. I’ve been married to Jeannie for 30 years, and have two great kids: Riley (22) and Max (18). Here’s The Youth Cartel’s website. twitter: @markosbeard instagram: @whyismarko

Anatomy of Generations – by Wrong Hands

I came across this cartoon, and needed to share it with my readers.  There is plenty more laughter at the Wrong Hands website –  Click here.

anatomy of generations

I believe that laughter can be used to build bridges between the generations as long as it is equally given to each age group.  In this comic, as a Gen Xer, I am just happy that the author acknowledges our existence (sniff-sniff).

All joking aside –

There is a need for inter-generational relationships within the church.  Here are some links if you are interested in learning more about how to help your community connect.

David - Prof 2If you are looking for someone to speak to your community or staff about working together, contact Dr. G. David Boyd at

Could young adults impact their denomination? Is it Possible?

I hope that the answer is yes.  I understand that the leadership boards of almost every single denomination in America is filled with babyboomers who have “earned their stripes” and “understand the real world.”  I understand the challenges that young men and women face before being heard in the church. (Read more – here.)

If we want to change the Millennial Exodus, then we need to address the problem at every level.

  • There is a need to minister to the individual needs of emerging adults.
  • There is a need to provide resources and training to church leadership to reach and minister to emerging adults.
  • There is a need for denominations to lead the way through allowing young adults to speak up and speak out.

Here is a story of one group who is seeking to bring transformation to their denomination.

I recently interviewed Mark Hilbelink, who leads a group of people who have named themselves YALT – which stands for Young Adult Leadership Taskforce.  YALT serves within the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the Reformed Church in America.  The YALT team originally formed under the Leadership Development Department of the denomination, but now has become its own entity.

Image result for Mark Hilbelink

Mark Hilbelink

The leadership of YALT are not paid by denomination, but the denomination provides paid staff support for the movement.  The team is composed by various pastors and bloggers who want to influence the denomination (For example – Hilbelink pastors a church in Texas).

When the team originally formed, they planned events and conferences, but found that this was an expensive, and ineffective way to impact their denomination.  More recently, YALT has focused on their on-line presence.  You can find their Facebook profile and a website.

As for their impact within the denomination, Mark states that he believes that YALT seeks to get people on board with the mission to reach young adults, and through influencing denominational events.

Mark is often asked why Millennials are leaving the church, but Mark believes (like myself), that there is not a singular reason why Millennials are leaving.  He believes that their lack of attachment to the local church is due to their life phase.  Millennials are transient which makes it difficult to connect with community.  He believes that what overall truly attracts Millennials is not a hip church, but one that is healthy.

Mark shares that sometimes church leadership “uses us [the YALT team] to keep Millennials, but not to bring change to our church.”  Marks believes that while the church may not need to change its doctrine or practices, change is needed in order to stay relevant in today’s world.

If you have an interest in launching a group to influence your denomination, EA Resources can help.  Contact us at

David - Prof 2Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing director of EA Resources.  He is also the founder of the EA Network, a Network that seeks to equip the parents and churches to meet the needs of emerging adults.

Prerequisite for Intergenerational Ministry

Recent research was released by the Pew Research Center, displaying “the Millennial Exodus” from the church. I believe that one reason why young adults leave the church is because of Ageism.

© 2007 Florencia&Pe, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Ageism is prejudice or discrimination based upon age.  “Ageism” was first coined by Robert Neil Butler in 1971, and is displayed through stereotyping various ages and generations, disdain and avoiding contact with different age-groups, and practices that discriminate services based upon age. While the elderly are often the targets of ageism, emerging adults are also victims of its abuse.

Ageism raises it head ever time that jokes are made about a certain demographic within the church.  Ageism smiles when roadblocks keep the young (and old) from leadership and service roles.  Ageism cheers in victory when the “youth” alone are designated for a specific project of the church.  Ageism reigns when generations glare across the aisle at one another rather than standing hand in hand.

© 2007 Mike Renlund, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

The Good News according to Erdman Palmore is that “Religious organization are uniquely able to use exhortation to reduce ageism because most people belong to one and because they can call on the authority of the Bible and other teachings of their religion.“ (Palmore, Ageism: Negative and Positive)

As followers of Christ, we hold powerful answers to ageing and death for our world.  The church also has a single unifying cause (Hint:  The answer starts with a “J” and ends with “esus”).  Armed with a positive perspectives of ageing and death, the church is equipped to build thriving intergenerational communities.

However, when is the last time that you heard a message, homily, blog-post, or devotional on this topic?  Even as I write, I wonder whether or not anyone will read this post.

Intergenerational is a buzzword that you hear every day within youth ministry circles.  In order to create healthy intergenerational communities, we must confront ageism and develop strategies for individual and community change.

© 2010 Eric Danley, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

When you combat ageism, you stand as a warrior for church unity.  Don’t simply be a spokesperson for the youth of the church.  I call you to blaze new trails which allow them to speak for themselves. Don’t strive for intergenerational communities until you know that they won’t attack each other.

If you don’t know where to start combating ageism, then look inside.  Ask yourself the question, “How does ageism affect you?”  May your answer lead you to the cross, and start you on a journey towards healing.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.

Three Marks of the Spiritually Immature

Here is a picture of my youngest – Tobias.

Babies require a lot of attention.

  • Babies cannot feed themselves.
  • Babies stick.
  • Babies can’t defend themselves.

As a father of three boys, I have personally experienced these truth, and as a leader in the church I have noticed some parallels between babies and the spiritually immature.

The Spiritually mature feed themselves.

Here is Andrew, my middle child when he was about 2 years old.

The immature show up to church every Sunday (some of them NEVER miss), and open their mouths saying, “Feed me.”  The spiritual parent provides a message that they quickly swallow, and they never eat again until the following Sunday.  Like baby birds who eat their mother’s regurgitated worms, spoon spoon-fed Christians eat only what they are given.

A follower of Jesus has tasted how good He is, and desire more.  1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”  However, many Christians have filled their natural desire for God with other appetites of the Flesh.

As a disciple matures in faith, he or she is no longer dependent on others for nourishment.  Disciples are able to connect with God on a personal level – through listening to His voice, and responding.

The Spiritually mature don’t stink.

Babies often stink.  When babies make a mess (in their diaper), they don’t just say, “Mom/Dad, don’t you worry.  I will take care of that foul odor coming from my backside by changing my undergarments.”    When stinky, babies often don’t notice.  As they turn into toddlers, children either cry when dirty, or run off and hide.

Babies are not able to always discern the disgusting from the amazing, and when they are discovered playing in the disgusting, they don’t know what to do.  Being aware of the power of sin in our lives, and daily surrendering our lives to Jesus is a step of maturity.  The spiritually mature are aware of the messes that they make in their own lives (and how their sins affect others), and are proactive in cleaning up the mess left behind.

The Spiritually mature can defend themselves.

A parent of a baby is always on duty (especially when children are old enough to walk, but not old enough to discern danger).  The immature are unable to sense danger whether it comes from an electrical socket or a car.  The spiritually immature are unable to discern truth from error.  Whether surfing the web or listening to the radio, they are drawn, and persuaded by what their ears want to hear.  (2 Timothy 4:3)  The spiritually mature have the ability to listen to others, without feeling the need to change their own beliefs, or the necessity to prove others wrong.

Physical age and spiritual maturity are easily confused by those who have never had the later (like Mayo and Miracle Whip).  However, true disciples accept no substitute.

2014 July4Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  He is an avid lover of Legos, video games, and anything related to the Marvel Universe.

When the Church is Fighting over Coffee Pots

© 2010 Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

I am still shocked and amazed that it happened.  I had heard stories about church conflict centered on the color of carpet or the VBS theme, but it would never happen in my church.

Never say never.

In the midst of a church business meeting, a discussion began that resulted in a fight over the use of coffee pots.  Harsh words were uttered.  People were angry.

In a room where the average age was well over forty

In a room that was holding the leadership of our church.

In a room where gray hair ran rampant, and where wisdom and maturity were supposed to be found in abundance.

In this room selfishness reigned and child-like behavior was obvious.

Sometimes immature behavior gets ascribed to… well, to those who are younger (or to people we don’t like or agree with).  Yet at that moment, it was difficult to imagine any other age group having this same conversation.

Psalm 119: 99,100 says,

I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.

Spiritual maturity is not dependent upon age, but upon the individual’s meditation and obedience to God’s word.  We all make assumptions about others based upon their age – which is defined as Ageism.  Ageism is prejudice or discrimination based upon age, and I believe it to be one of the causes of the Millennial Exodus (or why young adults are leaving the church).

When judged by his age, Paul commands Timothy to stand strong against ageism, “Don’t let anyone look down upon you because you are young.”  (1 Timothy 4:12)  Timothy was called to lead, and Paul knew that his character and calling (rather than age) were the foundation of his leadership.

Why then are young adults often excluded from leadership because of age?  (read more)

For several years in a community where I served, I regularly questioned why our leadership had to be over fifty.  After nominating many young(er) adults, they were always mysteriously removed for the same reason – they were in the wrong ‘phase of life’ (aka – anyone with children in the home). It was thinly veiled ageism –  excluded people due to their age.

When the coffee pots become the center of your church meetings, it reveals that something is wrong.

Your church may be equating age with maturity.

David Boyd 1 (1)Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  He is passionate about equipping parents and churches to reach Millennials.  If there is some way that he can serve your community, contact him at

Church, Make Room for Young Leaders

Church, Make Room for Young LeadersEarlier this week, I wrote about the 5 “Disastrous” Results of Inviting Emerging Adults into Leadership.  I came across an article this week that I wanted to share with you concerning making room for Emerging Adults within the leadership structure of the church.

Here are a few points that I would like to make:

Stephens City United Methodist Church from Flickr via Wylio

© 2013 NCinDC, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

1.  If you do not “make room” for young leaders, then they will not feel welcome
.  Through the years, most young adults know that when it comes to church leadership that the “Young Need NOT Apply.”  We must be proactive in making room into our leadership structures and inviting them to join us.

2.  We must fight ageism within the Church.  In the author’s words, “Don’t expect the worst of fellow believers, regardless of their age. Let the gospel go to work on your subtle age-prejudice.”  People from all generations must stop bashing others, and seek to build bridges.

3.  Good leadership knows how to release power to others.  Unfortunately, the power of leadership is drawing, and causes many to clutch it for too long (I am hearing the words of Gollum – My Precious).  Larry Osborne has a great quote,

The seniors never graduate (at least not until they’ve become literal seniors and start dying off). They hog the leadership table, shutting out the next generation. It’s one of the main reasons that most churches stop growing and lose their evangelistic touch (and cultural relevance) around the twenty-year mark.

Enjoy the article by David Mathis the executive editor at  



Why the “Teen Section” in your church is NOT a sign of church health, but of sickness.

© 2010 Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Several years ago, I interviewed for a position in Ohio.  Whenever talking about their church’s vitality, they would always reference the “Teen Section” during worship services.  For those who have not heard the term, “Teen Section” is an area of the auditorium where all the adolescents sit together each week during services.  The search committee would discuss how large the section was.  They would discuss how faithful the section was.  They would discuss how active the section was during worship.

This was not the first time that I had heard a teen section is a sign of a healthy church, and I doubt that it will be the last.  During the interview, I held my tongue, but here is what I wanted to say:

Five Reasons Why Your “Teen Section” promotes sickness within your community.

1.  It trains adolescents to seek out and require “peer-driven” experiences.

Adolescents who are limited to a “Teen Section” experience of Christianity are going to struggle as they phase out of age-segregated programming.  I believe that one reason why so many emerging adults leave the church is because they graduated from youth group, and gave up trying to find the “post-teen” section.

2.  It teaches our community that teenagers are not a part of normal human society, but are a subset with strange interests, wild behaviors, and raging hormones.

It is good for adolescents to have their own space.  Due to their raging hormones and rebellious behavior, they are “other,” meaning not like us, and barely human.  It promotes low expectations among teenagers, and continues the myth that rebellion is a natural part of the adolescence experience.

3.  It separates parents from their children during corporate worship.

Worship with kidsWorship services are a time when my children can see what parents value, what parents believe, and what parents feel about faith.  Research by Sticky Faith reveals that only 12% percent of youth have a regular dialogue with their mom on faith or life issues.  This same research shows that only 5% have regular faith or life conversations with their dad.  (Sticky Faith, 71)  By establishing and promoting a “teen section,” we have ceased to support the spiritual development that happens within the familial context.

4.  It isolates adolescents from the body of Christ, leaving the community weak and sickly.

It is not simply that Emerging Adults need us, but the church must realize that we need them.  I have never heard someone say, “Wow, our church is so healthy.  You should see our retirement section! Their section is so vibrant and they love being with each other.”  Seriously, think about it.  We would not say it about other parts of the body of Christ; therefore, we should not say it about adolescents.  The body of Christ is at peak strength when we do not see another’s faults, money, race, status, or age, but serve hand in hand without discrimination. 

5.  It perpetuates the myth that “peer-driven” relationships and age-segregated programming are crucial to spiritual development.

While I do desire that my children develop friendships with peers, I also want them to have an entire network of people at various life stages who will encourage them in their faith.  While popular in our society, age-segregation is not Biblical or healthy.  By not speaking up for the unity of the body of Christ, we continue to promote segregation and ageism within the church.

As we consider the “teen-section,” each church must ask what values, ideals, and practices should be developed within its community.

As Christians, we often promote the “Teen Section” as a sign of life because we as the church feel beaten up in this life.  The world is winning the war for our kids.  We are losing.  Pointing out the “Teen Section” gives us hope for the future of the church, and makes us feel better.

We must remember it is His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Let us work for new signs of life in our communities.  Lives being changed.  Hope being found.  Acceptance being granted.  Care being received.  Love being spread.  The Kingdom being restored.


David Boyd 1 (1)Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  You can follow his publications on Twitter at  @G_David_Boyd as he writes on Manhood, Emerging Adults, Faith, and the church.  He is the proud father of three children – Josiah, Andrew, and Tobi.


Resources Referenced:

Sticky Faith by Kara Powell and Chap Clark