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.


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.

What will we teach Millennials about Aging?

Summer Deck from Flickr via Wylio

© 2011 Todd Petit, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

This past week, I sat on my porch catching up with a long-time friend and emerging adult.  While enjoying the Minnesota summer sun, we talked about life – the simple and complex.  At one shift during the conversation, we discussed aging.  Having just turned 28, he felt as if time had turned against him.

Humans hate aging.  We spend billions of dollars in order to look and feel younger.  I will not attempt to reverse this hatred towards aging and death; however, I believe that if anyone in our world can put a positive spin on aging and death – it is Christians.  While we live in a society of growing “Nones” (Those claiming to be non-religious.), Christians claim a set of beliefs that offer another perspective.

Millard tombstone from Flickr via Wylio

© 2005 Andy / Andrew Fogg, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

  • We believe in an afterlife.
  • We believe in an afterlife that is good.
  • We believe in an afterlife that will reverse the pain, suffering, and blemishes of this world.
  • We believe that this good afterlife is timeless.

Or at least, we say that we do.  Most Christians avoid the topic of death and dying as if they hold no answers.  I know that doubt filters in, and can cause us to stumble.  However, we should regularly reflect on Jesus’ words,

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Jesus knew his disciples would be troubled by an unknown future, and calls them to trust Him.

Our faith demands that we hold to a different view of the human experience to Millennials.  One in which each phase of life is to be embraced (including dying) and enjoyed.

From our platforms and porches, we need to restore a vision for human death and aging.  We need to cling to faith, and live out our lives in view of our beliefs about death.

A theologically sound view of aging will remove our distaste for it.

A theologically sound view of death will remove its sting.

Teaching and living this view is one Christian belief that will appeal to a world of growing “Nones” and Millennials.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.david in hat - black