I'm reflecting on some stuff I've just read, which i thought was pretty smart.

Adolescence is "the period of life between childhood and adulthood... (the process) lasts from roughly 10-13 years of age and ends at 18-22 years of age, (however) defining when adolescence ends is not an easy task. It has been said that adolescence begins in biology and ends in culture." (Santrock cited in Dean et. al. 2001: 45).

Youth Ministry is vitally important because it intersects this period of life. Where children become adults. Where they are trying to figure out who they are. Where their parents are still important, but where they want to become individuated from them. Individuation is the process every person undergoes where they become their own person. It can be a long (up to 15 years) process that is very difficult. People at this time will be seeking to find their true identity.

The gift that we have as Youth Ministers is we can alert these young people to the truth; God gives us our identity, and we don't need to search very far or wide to discover that identity. All people are created in the image of God (Gen 1:27) and therefore all people are inherently relational. All people have been purchased by the death of Jesus Christ (Psalm 139, Romans 8).
We need to be helping young people to discover this reality. We are failing young people if they leave our ministry never knowing these two key facts! (God made them, God has saved them).

We have the ability to create communities where young people can go through this process of discovering themselves (individuation) whilst also experiencing meaningful, deep, loving relationships with people who love and follow Jesus.

That's why youth ministry is exciting to be a part of and why youth ministry is a non-negotiable part of any church anywhere. It's no wonder so many (roughly 80% of people) make commitments to following Jesus at this time of their life. What a joy to help someone who is confused about who they are discover their true identity is found in Jesus.

Whilst i enjoyed what i just read, it did make me wonder what was particularly theological about it? I don't read the pages of scripture and see the term individuation jump out at me... Not that this makes it unture, however, there was less actual theological reflection in this chapter of the book than i was expecting. I'm beginning to think that the theology of youth ministry might be more closely linked with our theology of church than anything else.

Dean, K. Clark, C. Rahn, D (2001) Starting Right: Thinking theologically about youth ministry, Youth Specialties Academic: USA