check this little trick out…
Graduating high school is simply the next stage of education. Sure, 40 years ago it was basically a right of passage into adult living. People graduated and most looked for a job. Amazingly, that job could’ve been their entire career. But we all know today is different. Besides getting married there isn’t really a right of passage into adulthood anymore.
People graduate college at different times and when they do they still don’t feel like they’re adults – unless they’re married. But if they’re not there isn’t a clear cut right of passage. And this seems to be causing some other issues. It’s not an entirely bad thing, but this causes some confusion for parent’s too. There is an entire spectrum of parental responses to their kids going off to college. Many can’t seem to let go at all without something outside of themselves letting them know “it’s time.” Others drop kids immediately following high school graduation because that’s what they know.
However, college’s seem to be helping in this a bit. Many have recognized the need to help in this and do so by creating events that give a mental picture for both the students as well as the parents. They are creating elements to move-in days that, to a parent, might seem a bit abrupt, but it’s probably a necessary step. I recently read an article in the NY Times titled, “Students, Welcome to College; Parents, Go Home” that articulates a few ways in which colleges are creating a sort of right of passage for the family. Interesting read. And, it seems to be helping with the all too familiar “Velcro Parent” syndrome (or another reference used for parents that can’t seem to let go is “helicopter parents”).
I think it’s really important to remember that this issue didn’t exist a generation ago…and this ought to affect approaches in ministries/churches.
Question: What sort of things have you done in your ministry (or seen done) to help create a healthy sense of separation and steps toward adulthood for students and/or parents?
My college ministry friend, Eric Ferrell, sent me a link to a NY Times article called, “What is it about 20-Somethings?” The article is recognizing the ever-changing process twenty-somethings go through as they work their way toward adulthood. I have discussed this issue in multiple ways over the years (books, articles, etc.) and have used a variety of sources in my research. Others have also sought to help church leaders recognize this change. Well, now, we have the NY Times talking about it again. The article says this about delayed adulthood:
“We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.” Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so. A Canadian study reported that a typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25-year-old in the early ’70s.”
I think this is a great thing that this is being talked about and recognized! Well, that is, if we actually catch on and seek to address the needs. It’s one thing to recognize the change…it’s another to actually meet the needs the change brings on!
In my book College Ministry 101 I have discussed the issues bringing some of these changes on and what college age people think through in midst of this extended adolescent-like process (1/2 the book is devoted to these issues). I’ve also discussed how we can help them. My two newest books, The Slow Fade as well as College Ministry From Scratch are tools for churches to embrace this change in our culture. Regardless of whether or not these tools are utilized I really hope we can catch on to this…we’re already 15-20 years behind!!!!
The article also issues some stats that are interesting:
“The 20s are a black box, and there is a lot of churning in there. One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married. And marriage occurs later than ever. The median age at first marriage in the early 1970s, when the baby boomers were young, was 21 for women and 23 for men; by 2009 it had climbed to 26 for women and 28 for men, five years in a little more than a generation.”
Interesting findings and I would recommend you read the article…
Connecting people of different generations can be a daunting task to say the least. And in some contexts it can seem literally impossible. Part of the overwhelmingness to this, I think, is many times due to us viewing people in groups, rather than as individuals. Let me explain a bit.
Think about this a little differently. If we think about relationally connecting two different races of people we can get overwhelmed easily. The first thing that comes to our minds are the distinctions and differences between the races and the idea of connecting these groups of people together, again, seems impossible. Trying to get both groups to holistically connect can drive us crazy.
But what if we shifted our focus? What if, instead of viewing them as groups of people, we just focused on individuals? And, what if we didn’t focus on the differences between the groups, but instead focused on helping two individuals find common ground?
I think this is the same thing with people from different generations. The important distinction to make here is we are not trying to connect two generations (groups). We are trying to relationally connect two people from different generations. As a leader of a college ministry this distinction is going to be extremely important for you to make.
This has been something I’ve been thinking about for some time now. This post is more of a devotional, but certainly applicable to our ministries to college aged people.
When we talk about “spiritual disciplines” we are referring to things such as bible study, prayer, meditation, fasting, etc. These are great disciplines to develop and I would even say are essential to our faith. They ought to be a natural outflow of our faith, but we do need to discipline ourselves in each of these areas.
But I think we need to add something else to this list. And especially for us Americans. I think we need to add, “living by faith” onto this list. Why? Because living by faith takes discipline and in the land of independent journeys of life, liberty and pursuits of personal happiness we are overwhelmed by a cultural influence of safety and security. We feel most comfortable with our bank accounts full and feeling like we are in control of today as well as what’s to come. Worded another way, we feel best when we are walking by site, not by faith and fully dependent on God.
God has always called His people to be dependent on Him and Him alone. This hasn’t changed and never will. Yet we find ourselves constantly searching for the most secure and safe ways to move forward in life. We can really see how far off we are by taking a look at our prayer life. In praying and seeking what God wants us to do next or in a particular situation we sift through the pros and cons of each potential direction. And, whichever choice has the most pro’s for us personally, is easiest, safest, most secure or has the least amount of obstacles to overcome….we see this as being obviously God’s will for us. This can be the case (God leading us down this type of path), but we don’t even consider another path being God’s will.
And college age people don’t either because many have never seen anyone truly living by faith. Trusting God no matter the obstacle or hardship. Trusting God will ALL their finances and actually believing Jesus when he says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
I believe leaders of college ministries around the country can be most effective if the discipline of living by faith is added to this list. It’s a discipline to consciously put ourselves in a position of faith and full dependence on God. It’s a conscious decision to discipline ourselves to think eternally and not earthly. Consciously giving away our finances rather than saving it for ourselves. If leaders can really begin to live like this I think the college ministry and the future of the church would be more impacting than ever before.
You might be saying, “Whoa…I understand what you’re saying Chuck, but we also need to be wise.”
I’d simply respond to you with the question, “Yes, but wise in who’s eyes?”
I don’t really enjoy reading reviews of things I’ve written or said. I end up encouraged or discouraged or worried because of being misquoted….I guess I go through all the emotions. So, generally speaking, I don’t read them. And I certaily don’t search them out. When people send me links to reviews or blogs that mention me I rarely click on it. I’ve prayed through what I wrote, feel good before God with what I wrote, and am okay with sticking to that.
But then there are times I click on the link.
Sometimes the reviews are not raving about how good the book is, but are fair and tactful with their critique. Some reviewers have obviously not even read the book. Some take one phrase out of context overreact and develop a whole theory on it. And then there are some that are very encouraging, having only good things to say about whatever it is I said/wrote. Up until now anyway (and I’m sure this will change at some point) the reviews for the book I co-authored with Reggie Joiner and Abbie Smith called, The Slow Fade, have been really good and encouraging. At least the ones I’ve seen anyway. At times the people mis-quote things, can take them out of context, switch wording around, etc., but for the most part what I’ve read so far has been pretty good.
I recently read through some and thought I’d include them here…in case anyone is interested. If you’re aware of others, good or bad, feel free to post a comment on it. I probably won’t click the link, but others might!
YouthWorker Journal, click here
Preaching Unleashed/Smart Ministry, click here
Crosswalk, click here
Examiner, click here
Simuleustisectpecator, click here – good besides them misspelling my name at the top
Anyway, there’s the one’s I’ve seen. If you don’t have a copy of the book and would like to read the first chapter, click here!
My experience in college ministry has taken me on a journey, for sure. How I started our ministry and my mindset when I first started is very different from today. These changes in my mindset and priorities are based on my experience of making some not-so-good decisions. And if I’m totally honest, based on a realization of wrong motivations on my part.
When I got hired at Cornerstone to start a college ministry I was very excited. I loved the church and loved the leadership. And, I was excited to start a ministry from scratch. But with limited experience (of making crucial mistakes) I would have to say I went about it wrongly. The truth is I created little more than a para church organization under the umbrella of a local church.
People visited our ministry and talked about how excited they were to see “so many college age people connected to our church.” This was exciting for me to hear….the problem was it wasn’t really accurate. You see, the majority of people weren’t connected to the life of our church. Sure, some were, but most were really just connected to our ministry. This is a direct result of the para church mentality I started with. I lost site of what it meant to be a ministry OF a local church, a larger body of people seeking to fulfill a common mission. Thus I was para confused.
I think this is a crucial mistake we tend to make in student ministry and possibly even more so in college ministry. We are often Para-Confused. We lose site of the larger whole we are supposed to be a part of and develop para-like organizations that operate, for the most part at least, separately from the church. We also lose site of the overall health of the people we minister to and focus more on the “growth” of our ministries (at least that is my confession to you). We are often on our own island, creating our own little world. We are, of course, connected in some ways…but if we’re honest about it we’re really running more of a para church organization than a ministry of a local church. And when this happens there is a heap of unhealth created.
Now, much of this mentality doesn’t start with us. It can be in the culture of our church in general. Our church might be compartmentalized to such a degree that hiring is done with the understanding that someone will come in, focus on only one specific area, “grow” that area or ministry, and do their own thing. Thus, we come in as a hired “professional” or “specialist” in an area. And when this happens the bottom line is we are hired to run/launch a para-like organization.
If you know anything about me, you know I don’t think this is best. But even if this is the culture of your church, it doesn’t have to be the culture of your college ministry. And I’d suggest it shouldn’t be. Local church ministry is one organization, a local body of people, involved in life-long discipleship. Cradle to grave. And as a leader of a college ministry your role must be one of assimilation. We bring people into our ministries from high school and make sure they’re assimilated into the life of our (or a) local church context.
Here are two questions you can ask yourself to see whether or not you’ve become para confused:
If you’re interested in a deeper understanding of what I refer to as, “Non-Mentor Mentorship” I’d recommend you checking out this website! It gives a ton of thoughts, has some forthcoming resources and has free training – namely a seminar I did at The Orange Conference this past April on this issue (see the left margin for a link to that seminar).
I’ve talked about this idea for the past couple years in seminars, have written about it in my forthcoming book, College Ministry From Scratch, and articulated the overall philosophy directly to people of older generations in the book I co-authored with Reggie Joiner and Abbie Smith called, The Slow Fade.
If I had to say there is one thing that has the most impact in our college ministries, it’s this. That’s not to say other programmatic elements aren’t useful and fruitful. It’s simply to say that this, in my opinion, has the most long-term effect.