Adolescence in America is now considered an almost-20 year journey, lasting well into or through the 20s. That shift–in a shockingly short amount of time–has massive implications for anyone working with teenagers or young adults. Problem is: we’re still trying to figure out what those implications might be.
There are plenty of books and articles these days describing extended adolescence and emerging adulthood. but there’s been very little written addressing the question: so what? Is a 20 year adolescence a good thing or a bad thing? Are there ways our youth ministry can prepare teenagers for adulthood in a way that fast tracks them? Should we just roll over and create new ‘emerging adult’ groups, really just a slightly older youth group?
In November 2011, The Youth Cartel hosted a unique day of dialog, debate, and discovery. We brought together two experts with vastly different opinions on the nature & problems of extended adolescence, as well as a moderator/interpreter who knows youth ministry, who helped us wrestle with how to best understand today’s teenagers and young adults, and how we can help move toward adulthood, rather than being perpetually stuck in their teens.
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