Friday August 5th 2015
A Church-Based Hope for ‘Adultolescents’
Christian Smith, professor of sociology at Notre Dame,wrote in the most recent Books and Culture a review of six books that deal with the new phenomenon of “adultolescence”—that is, the postponement of adulthood into the thirties.
How Should the Church Respond?
How might the church respond to this phenomenon in our culture? Here are my suggestions.
1. The church will encourage maturity, not the opposite. “Do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20).
2. The church will press the fact that maturity is not a function of being out of school but is possible to develop while in school.
3. While celebrating the call to life long singleness, the church will not encourage those who don’t have the cal to wait till late in their twenties or thirties to marry, even if it means marrying while in school.
4. The church will foster flexibility in life through living by faith and resist the notion that learning to be professionally flexible must happen through a decade of experimentation.
5. The church will help parents prepare their youth for independent financial living by age 22 or sooner, where disabilities do not prevent.
6. The church will provide a stability and steadiness in life for young adults who find a significant identity there.
7. The church will provide inspiring, worldview-forming teaching week in and week out that will deepen the mature mind.
8. The church will provide a web of serious, maturing relationships.
9. The church will be a corporate communion of believers with God in his word and his ordinances that provide a regular experience of universal significance.
10. The church will be a beacon of truth that helps young adults keep their bearings in the uncertainties of cultural fog and riptides.
11. The church will regularly sound the trumpet for young adults that Christ is Lord of their lives and that they are not dependent on mom and dad for ultimate guidance.
12. The church will provide leadership and service roles that call for the responsibility of maturity in the young adults who fill them.
13. The church will continually clarify and encourage a God-centered perspective on college and grad school and career development.
14. The church will lift up the incentives and values of chaste and holy singleness, as well as faithful and holy marriage.
15. The church will relentlessly extol the maturing and strengthening effects of the only infallible life charter for young adults, the Bible.
In these ways, I pray that the Lord Jesus, through his church, will nurture a provocative and compelling cultural alternative among our “emerging adults.” This counter-cultural band will have more stability, clearer identity, deeper wisdom, Christ-dependent flexibility, an orientation on the good of others not just themselves, a readiness to bear responsibility and not just demand rights, an expectation that they will suffer without returning evil for evil, an awareness that life is short and after that comes judgment, and a bent to defer gratification till heaven if necessary so as to do maximum good and not forfeit final joy in God.
Seeking to serve the next generation, Pastor John