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Globig 1 Are you my mother? The journey of adolescence is not like P.D.

Eastmans story of a little bird, which went around asking this question. Also, it is not completely like Hans Christian Andersens story, The Ugly Duckling. The duckling develops into a beautiful swan. The difference between this and adolescence is quite simple; not everyone is bound to be a beautiful swan. But we must never forget the beauty God sees in each of us. This story falls more along the lines of a biological development, but one can see how this still has many similarities with identity development. Youth workers, parents, mentors, educators, and role-models aspire to help youth in the earthquakes and storms they face so they might transform into a striking swan! Here, in the tumultuous storm of 2010, no wonder youth workers are so concerned with thunder-struck adolescents. They already undergo a very scary journey down a shadowy path on lifes journey. Alongside this path, are bricks labeled wonders, excitements, dreams, failures, and victories. Lightning strikes the singed trees surrounding, and the cold wind howls in the midst of the perfect storm. Adolescents must be reminded of the need to find their identity in Christ (Romans 8:16-17), even in the midst of a perfect storm. This perfect storm is noted by many youth workers, especially Duffy Robbins, who dissects Erik Eriksons theory of identity development. If an average teen is unsure about his particular role in life, or he does not know the real him, he may be experiencing an identity crisis. Theorist Erik Erikson coined the term identity crisis and believed it was one of the most important conflicts people face in development. ( Duffy Robbins, 30-year veteran of youth ministry, sees Adolescence as an adventure in the Land of There but Not There. (Robbins, 175) This part of the human journey becomes extremely dynamic and confusing because a youths identity becomes so tossed about to and fro, as waves in the ocean. Erikson described identity as a

Globig 2 subjective sense as well as an observable quality of personal sameness and continuity, paired with some belief in the sameness and continuity of some shared world image. ( Robbins recognizes the validity of Eriksons work since all truth is Gods truth. Sociology, anthropology, and biology all assist in understanding the period of the adolescent journey. Many Christians would say the Bible is all we need and we should not trust science or psychology. Fortunately, because Robbins recognizes all truth is Gods truth, he chases after explaining what youth workers must understand about youth development and adolescent formation of identity. Sometimes, this explains why youth act in such curiously peculiar ways. Youth cynicism and mistrust may have a perfectly understandable explanation. we begin to see the fruits of seeds planted in earlier stages of development. Erikson puts it this way: If the earliest stage bequeathed to the identity crisis is an important need for trust in oneself and others, then clearly the adolescent looks most fervently for men and ideas to have faith in. At the same time, the adolescent fears a foolish, all too trusting commitment, and will, paradoxically, express his need for faith in loud and cynical mistrust. (Robbins, 227) Of Eriksons eight stages, he noted this confusing part of the journey as stage 5; stage 5 is titled Identity versus Identity Confusion. (Robbins, 226) It is also interpreted as Identity versus Role Confusion. In Judith Meeces book (co-authored with Denise Daniels), Child & Adolescent Development for Educators, Erikson is described as being an ice breaker since he was one of the first life-span theorists. he emphasized the importance of feelings and social relationships in a persons development. (Meece, 344) Leading up to adolescence are the stages, respectively, as follows: 1st year, trust vs. mistrust; 1-3 years, autonomy vs. shame and doubt; 3-5 years, initiative

Globig 3 vs. guilt; 6-10 years, industry vs. inferiority. They all lead up to this fifth stage, from 10-20 years old. Identity versus role confusion is very important as Adolescents must uncover who they are, what they value, and inquire about a direction for their lives. Adolescents basic needs are met when they are given opportunities to explore alternative options and roles for the future (Meece, 335) While searching for his inner identity, the task is to develop a sense of who he is and who he will become. the critical task is to select and integrate childhood identities with personal desires and societal opportunities and expectations in order to develop [this sense] (Meece, 365) Furthermore, the spiritual battles which wage war against the soul must also be taken into consideration. As teens search for who they are and who they will become they certainly hear many mixed messages tempting them to flee God. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (NIV, Eph. 6:12) This spiritual journey, resembling wandering in the desert, may extend into the college years. This may extend uncomfortably far; a college student might express feelings of hopelessness, purposelessness, and meaninglessness. Actually, [Less] than one-third of adolescents have achieved an overall identity by the end of high school (Meeus et al., 1999). Studies suggest more identity exploration will occur during the college years, when young people have more opportunity and freedom to experiment with [diverse] social roles, occupations, and ideologies. (Meece, 367) Mark Oestreicher refers to G. Stanley Halls three tasks of adolescence identity, autonomy, and affinity, as given in Youth Ministry 3.0. He defines identity as the sum of ones self-perceptions. This includes self-perceptions about character, values, purpose, and potential in life; caste; emotional makeup; appearance and body type; intellectual, spiritual, and

Globig 4 emotional strength or weakness; relationship to family and friends and culture at large; and many other factors. (Oestreicher, 34) A suiting sports analogy for autonomy is wrestling. The adolescent wrestler walks onto the mat and attempts reversals, half-nelsons, and pins to answer the questions, How am I unique and different? and What is my unique contribution? Sometimes, the adolescent might writhe in agony as they feel the opponent is winning, and they are left with no answer, or they might appear violent and prideful as they strut their stuff to get the answer. A teen must discover their personal power or agency in order to make a difference in the lives of others. not only are kids on the trek to discover who they are, but they also need to ultimately [believe they matter, they are agents with power, and the world] needs them. (Oestreicher, 39) Aside from autonomy, affinity is also sought after. Teenagers just want to be a part of some kind of social group so they feel a sense of belonging. This is what makes a person feel human. They need to be in the midst of other humans. This is why accepting and relational youth ministries are so appealing to teens. They just want to be part of a group which accepts them for who they are. They also need to know Christ accepts them for who they are but desires to transform them. Youth workers should not only understand how to encourage affinity, but they must also understand the search for identity and autonomy. Mark Oestreicher tells youth workers to especially emphasize affinity, given the current national context. in this post-millennial era in which we find ourselves, the dominance of youth culture (a shift in which youth culture became the dominant culture of our world) has moved affinity to the top. (Oestreicher, 43)

Globig 5 Affinity becomes extremely important in many contexts for youth, in order to create a healthy identity which is the major task of adolescence (Erikson, 1968). There are several distinguishable characteristics of a healthy identity, such as: (a) an understanding of the sameness and continuity of the self over space and time; (b) having direction and purpose for ones life as shown through identifiable values and goals; (c) a self that is integrated and characterized by a sense of wholeness; and (d) the self that is defined is valued by significant others. (Adams, 173) Certain factors might play a huge role in the definition of oneself. Some of those, pertinent to [identity formation,] encompass issues [which close] social relationships and the [socio-cultural] milieu present to the adolescent [Some factors are noted as] family relationships, ethnic and racial group membership, and religiosity. (Adams, 174) Since the Christian faith is not mere religiosity, but conversely, a relationship with the one true God, nothing will ever block Christs loving transformation into a healthy identity. Adams reference to the importance of religiosity might be retranslated; a youth group might serve the very benefit of identity formation by Christs transformation on the lives of His children. The impossible becomes possible for Christ. Even if an adolescent is bombarded with belligerent social difficulties such as parental abuse or community violence, nothing will ever hinder the loving identity transformation of Christ. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV, Romans 8:38-39) Christ definitely overcomes all hindrances of wholeness with his love; still, it is important to recognize close social relationships as pertinent in regard to healthy identity formation. A relational youth ministry can definitely

Globig 6 help in this area. As they serve as the hands and feet of Christ, there must also be a mouth to tell them Gods inspired Biblical truth. I remember sitting in my counselors comfortable couch as he asked me some questions. My mouth poured out with so many topics, pains, and struggles I did not realize before. One of my biggest, most painful problems concerned the issue of identity. Like so many others, my problems had bubbled over into low-self esteem. My head swirled with so many whispers (not literally) whispers which told me I was nothing. Whispers which told me I was ugly, stupid, worthless, and hopeless. I was so frustrated because I went to the counselor expecting some quick answers and solutions. He just listened for the first few sessions. I hated it! One night, after I walked in and almost yelled at him for not giving me solutions, he opened the Bible to Romans 8:16-17. 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirsheirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (NIV, Rom. 8:16-17) We talked more about the significance of this verse and how God views me. From this day on, I was overcome with Gods love for me. My identity was in Christ! Counselors and youth workers are certainly supposed to speak Gods truths into the lives of changing adolescents, but how are they to do this? There are certain churches and youth workers who profess Gods truth, but they have a hard time speaking into the lives of struggling teens. They talk but they do not listen. It is as if their lips are flapping saliva all over the floor and in the faces of teens, when sometimes they should simply sit down, shut their mouths, and open their ears. Most adults do not understand the importance of listening to the felt needs. There is an obvious difference between felt needs and real needs.

Globig 7 A guy might feel like he needs a girl to make him feel more masculine, and a girl might feel like she needs a guy to fill her loneliness. Essentially, they desire to find their identity and pursue their dreams. A boy named Jake, in the movie American Teen, expected to magically change and find his identity when he went off to college, but he had no confidence. He dreamed of becoming someone special, like a jock, or an intellect, but he never took any initiative. Jakes real needs would obviously be Christ (Matthew 6:33). With this in mind, there must be a relationship before real needs are met. Felt needs must be approached and communicated before the real needs are met; this is a Wesleyan principal. I have experienced youth groups in which many youth are not even heard by one of the youth leaders. They are just handed the Biblical truths which are most certainly addressing the real needs but youth leaders are missing the felt needs. They are ignoring the frustrations and confusions which teen feel to be very real. The history of the adolescent transition into adulthood is very helpful to understand why it is so confusing and frustrating for teens. In The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager, Thomas Hine explains, becoming an adult is a highly ambiguous event in our own culture. We have many ceremonies of limited significance, such as religious confirmation, high school graduation and the senior prom, or going away to college (Hine, 44) The perceptions of society, schools, and parents have changed throughout the past 350 years. Even curfews have ebbed and flowed in the tightness to which they are upheld. The American society has struggled to answer how they should deal with adolescents, and as a result teens are left with a very confusing perception of themselves and perception of how others view them. [America] seemed, during the 1960s and 1970s, to be moving toward standardizing legal adulthood at eighteen. Since then, however, some age restrictions have been extended upward to twenty-on An ironic result is that age limits

Globig 8 established to keep young people from endangering themselves such as minimum ages for drinking liquor, smoking cigarettes, and gambling legally become important passages to maturity. The mark of adulthood in America is the license to indulge in bad habits. (Hines, 45) Further in history, there is a lesson to be learned. In the Bible, respect and reverence flow strongly from young to old, but with the creation of the child-centered family a century ago, parents started to serve their children in ways that have done many children more harm than good. (Epstein, p.287) There are many examples of this. Parents who do not allow teens respect and responsibility will in return encourage immaturity. Also, teens who are told constantly, whether verbally or non-verbally, they are too young, might actually rebel as a reaction. So it is obvious to note how parents and society have actually hindered the development of adolescents by treating them as children. Within the Biblical text, there are five unique age restrictions. Each record seems to focus on age 20 as the pivoting age for men. They are as follows: Exodus 30:14, making an offering to the Lord; Leviticus 27:3-5, male taxation; Numbers 26:4, the military census; 1 Chronicles 23:24, service in the Temple; 2 Chronicles 25:5, military age. In many places of the Bible, youth were punished according to their merit instead of age. In todays context, youth are obviously treated differently, depending on age, and this negatively effects their identity formation. Some might argue the Bible supports Jewish males being forced to wait to come into full adulthood, but is this really true, even if the Bar Mitzvah occurred? According to scholars the Bar Mitzvah ceremony didnt appear until medieval times, when thirteen officially became the age at which young Jewish males assumed full adult responsibilities in the Jewish community. (Epstein, p.291) So this type of ceremonial transition

Globig 9 might not have actually occurred all too often. In fact, within the Book of Luke, when Jesus was accidentally left behind, this shows how young people were not shadowed as closely as they are today. There were even prophets, kings, soldiers, and leaders who were very young. According to L.R. Wileys Children and Youths of the Bible, Among the kinds of Judah were several who were mere children or youths when they began to reign: Joash, seven; Ussiah, sixteen; Ahaz, twenty; Manasseh, twelve; Josiah, eight; Jehoiachin, eight or eighteen, given both ways; Zedekiah, twenty-one. Of the nineteen kinds of the northern kingdom, some may have been children or youths, but their ages are not given. (Epstein, 297) The story of someone like Manasseh, looks completely different from the story of many others, his age, in todays world. Today, there are many stories or cases of adolescent identity crises, especially at school. Michael Sadowski, author of Adolescents at School, writes about Mac. Mac is a 14 year-old eighth grader who was getting into fights on a consistent basis after school because it coincided with the environment in which he lived. He identified himself with such characteristics as violence because of his father. Mac labeled his father as crazy and claimed to carry the same trait. Mac familiarized himself in the habitat in which he lived, and as a result, he culminated a certain identity of traits based on habits, routines, daily struggles, thrills, successes, and failures. Thus, he perceived himself through a lens of his close proximity and his thoughts regarding his father. This is not shocking since, Identity is the embodiment of self-understanding. We are who we understand ourselves to be, as that understanding is shaped and lived out in everyday experience. (Sadowski, 7-8) Sadowski is correct to assert such an emphasis on environmental experiences by which we search for our identity. However, if he is also agreeing with existentialism, then his thoughts should be cautiously filtered. According to, existentialism is a 20th-century

Globig 10 philosophical movement chiefly in Europe [which] assumes that people are entirely free and thus responsible for what they make of themselves. ( Romans 8:38-39 counters this exact definition, and so Sadowskis idea must be understood to only mean a persons identity is partially swayed by experiential perceptions of both self and the immediate context. Pessimists would claim the adolescent identity crisis is all but a downhill spiral to depression and un-met expectations, but there is an extreme amount of hope! Visualize a ballroom full of pessimists and optimists. Pessimists would be wearing black and optimists pink. On the left of the room, by all of the freshly baked cakes, donuts, and rolls Michael Sadowski sits dressed in pink as optimistic as can be! He believes adolescents have a chance to make a great future. More precisely, he states, The risk of identity crisis in adolescence is accompanied by a unique opportunity for young people to interrupt the cycle of unhealthy development that may have evolved throughout childhood, according to Eriksons model. If adolescents can experience a developmental moratorium, in which they have an opportunity to reflect on and experiment with who they are, particularly with respect to their skills, interests, and relationships with others, they are likely to move toward adulthood with enhanced possibilities for long-term health and success. (Sadowski, 11) Sadowski suggests teachers and school staff should create opportunities and possibilities for students to explore a different path than just what they have already assumed. If a student like Mac has a poor outlook and self-perception, then the student should be provided experiences in various ways to widen perspective. Mentoring, sports, and extracurricular activities certainly assist in this endeavor. Why is adolescence so difficult if it is such an opportunity? Alex and Brett Harris think of adolescence as a proverbial diving board. They realize there are many risks in hitting the sweet spot to success. Teens should view a diving board as a step into their future life. They are

Globig 11 on it in the present, and they need to make sure they hit the sweet spot. Brett Harris first noticed this when he was taking swimming lessons. He and his wife took the lessons because their child wanted to learn how to swim. In the mean time, they were attempting the diving board although, they were not excellent by any means. Brett remembers one time he championed his way up on the board. He thought he was going to hit the sweet spot, but he hit something else which made him fall face-first just as everyone was watching. Numerous teens think they can just post-pone their future and spend time partying, rebelling, being lazy, and getting away with countless sinful actions just because they have not quite jumped off the board into their future. The Myth of Adolescence would have you think that now is your time to party beside the pool. But the fact [is you are] already on the diving board. (Harris, 49) This sounds very similar to theologians and Christian scholars. There are numerous verses of wisdom about discipline and sowing what you reap in the future. Proverbs 22:8 reads, He who sows wickedness reaps trouble, and the rod of his fury will be destroyed. (NIV) Teens which sow wickedness by partying during adolescence will not magically change into some saintly Christian but will have to bear with the dire consequences. Instead of partying off to the side of the pool, safely, teens might slip off the board and land face-first, like Brett, forgetting they were actually on the diving board the entire time! So, in order to not land facefirst, teens must grasp this time of adolescence to pursue their future identity because this is the time to flee any unhealthy environments, perceptions, or developments. Adoptees find identity development a grueling task at times. This task has haunted me for many years, and unfortunately, still whispers questions in my mind today. Who are you? Where did you come from? Will you ever fit in? Will you ever find your identity? Will you ever find your origins? Will you ever be good enough? How will you keep from being like your birth

Globig 12 parents; will you follow their failures? Without diving into further detail, it is obvious my story is similar to that of many others. Nick Greenberg is a trans-racial adoptee. His mom is white, his dad is Jewish, he was born African American, and his adoptive mother is Christian. He feels enormous amounts of pressure to act black or listen to black music from his friends at school, but they cannot completely explain what they mean when he asks them. Most kids do not understand how his dad could possibly be Jewish. After all, Nick does not act Jewish! When asked explicitly to describe where he feels he fits, Nick answered: I dont really choose friends by color; I choose them by who they are on the inside. I watch what they do I have a variety of friends from different races I feel like if its more mixed, I have a better chance of fitting in. (Sadowski, 150) Luckily, Nick was able to explore his questions, Who am I and Where do I come from. He took part in an open adoption, but his identity was, nevertheless, confusing. Loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, problem behaviors, poor environments, unhealthy habits, and incorrect perceptions are some of the common hindrances of healthy identity formation, as suggested above. These obstacles are similar to an elephants invisible shackles. When an elephant is young, it is confined with huge shackles to keep the elephant in place. The elephant will try to escape the chains but will fail to so, resulting in skin which is rubbed to the bone. At an older age, a strong elephant is tied with a measly rope because it perceives the brace of chains. Similarly, adolescents have so many potential strengths and gifts, but teens, sadly, think their identity is wrapped up with invisible shackles. Again, one major hindrance is problem behavior. There are a few psychosocial explanations given by Gerald R. Adams for behaviors such as substance use and abuse.

Globig 13 During adolescence problem behavior may be an instrumental effort to attain goals that are blocked or that seem otherwise unattainable. Thus, [problem behavior] maybe a way of attaining independence from parental authority and taking control of ones life [it] may serve as an expression of opposition to the norms and values of conventional society [it] may serve as a coping mechanism [it] may also function to express solidarity with peers or to demonstrate identification with the youth culture and [it] may also serve to confirm personal identity. (Jessor, 1987; 334-335). (Adams, 217-18) The word may suggests problem behavior is not always an instrumental effort to attain goals, but sometimes it is the case. Since this is sometimes the case, Jessor is seemingly hinting, personal identity is being searched for even in the midst of problem behavior. In this, Jessor is realizing the greater issue. A problematic youth is searching for identity. So sometimes, youth are sinning simply because it is in human nature by way of original sin. Other times, behavioral problems result as they chase felt needs and forget their real need Christ. This is why it is so important to emphasize identity; youth need to find their identity in Christ alone. Obviously, youth do not always seek Christ first. Jake, in the movie American Teen, wanted to find his identity in other girls. He just wanted someone to validate him. One simple sock would go a long way! Jake was quite the nerd but a creative one. He used a sock analogy in his bedroom to describe how he felt. He lifted one sock and said he just wanted to find the missing sock. He just wants that girl who will be his match so he does not feel so alone. Throughout the movie he held tightly to his insecurity and always craved a girlfriend. After most of his senior year in high school, he had one goal; to go off to college and become something great. In a fantastical realm of video game story-line, this

Globig 14 awesome outcome might actually result very easily. However, for most girls and guys alike, this smooth sailing is impossible. PBS Parents showed a movie entitled A Girls Life. It is an intense movie about how teen girls are able to succeed in an all girl school. In this movie, the inner city girls were around so many guys. Pregnancy rates were so much higher in these areas, especially in African American/Latino minorities. In the movie, the method of an all girl school worked well since they were able to concentrate. At such young ages, adolescent girls seek to find their identity in boys. Interestingly enough, there was probably a close tie with problem behaviors, such as sex, and identity crisis. Many of these early pregnancies may have resulted from girls trying to find a boy, to fill the void - which only God can fill by His will. The girls in this movie were so concerned with dress and appearance when they went to school with boys. They continually fought, cried, and worried about who looked the best. Perhaps media had a hand in this worrying. Media and technology have pushed into the lives of adolescents in such an unhealthy manner. In Growing Up Online, by PBS, researchers interviewed teachers who felt crushing pressure to be extremely entertaining because teens consume media more than food or anything else. These researchers were shocked by how intensely girls are placing sexual pictures of themselves on the internet and abroad. One mother was afraid of stalkers because this form of scrapbooking cannot possibly be the safest not to mention it might ruin a girls reputation. As girls are searching for their inner and outer value, parents need to have the strictest measures on teens usage of the internet. Parents need to get passwords and ultimately find out where their kids are at. Youth workers and parents must also look for other unhealthy websites or practices which their daughters or sons might be taking part in, like worshiping the goddess Ana

Globig 15 (associated with anorexia contemporary worship and prayer to Ana desires assistance when attempting to be beautiful through eating disorders and the like), whether directly or indirectly. Low self-esteem and growing up online can blend into a deadly mixture of bad or neutral, especially if there are pledges to Ana. Apparently, there are thousands. Ana is the goddess of Anorexia. Just a few pledges are along these lines: If it tastes good its trying to kill you; I dont care it if hurts, I want to have control, I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul; Every time you say No thank you to food you say Yes please to thin; Hunger hurts, but starving works; Sabotage your food. Adding too much salt works great. Whether girls are creating profiles on social media sites with Ana pledges or alter-ego picture profiles on some other website, they are doing so to claim ownership of their sites and profess their identities through site design and inclusion/exclusion of content. Personal websites created by girls and young women are spaces of self-disclosure told in narrative from, stories [which] are very personal, intimate (Weber, 84) This type of ownership is very similar to what takes place all across America with consumerism. In an article from Fuller Youth Institute, Consuming Teen Identity, American consumerism was revealed by how it seeks to write the identity of adolescents for them. On the most basic level, this is not surprising since trends and popular styles are obviously shaping society. Most adolescents believe their identity and fulfillment come through consumption, not by knowing and following Jesus in life. Belonging is found in a brand and its community. A sense of autonomy emerges from their power to spend and their ability to capture and broker the latest in cool. My experience leads me to believe that most Christian adolescents buy this story too. ( With all of the companies tugging at youth spending power, the youth are in return devaluating personal values. Instead of pursuing honor, courage, and high

Globig 16 moral standards, youth are distracted, thinking the latest fashions and styles are most important. Walt Mueller looks at the history of how consumerism came to be so powerful. The marketing onslaught in todays world began shortly after World War II. As the G.I.s returned from war, there was a sudden increase in marriages and a subsequent rise in births. Marketers smelled opportunity. They researched boomers and developed marketing plans targeting them. The formula worked. Today marketers develop and sell their products by segmenting the generations from each other through fostering a generational persona. (Mueller, p. 87) It is interesting how segmenting and marketing was able to eventually shape the adolescent identity. No longer were parents and community as vital during this formation stage, conversely, media, advertising, and marketing products swung the greatest weight. Although, parents are still important, in the American society, consumerism remains a huge hindrance for identity formation - as well as postmodernism. Not all aspects of postmodernism are negative, but over-emotionalism, relativism, and the rejection of Gods standards are quite pinnacle in 2010. There is a new openness to cultural diversity. This trend is positive when it decreases hostility and enmity between groups, and lays the groundwork for conversation and cooperation. But this movement is negative and destructive when used as a justification of sinful and immoral behavior. Os Guinness says, Ours is a world in which Thou shalt not judge has been elevated to the status of a new eleventh commandment. Many people today considered judging evil to be worse than doing evil. (Mueller, 93) For someone like Nick Greenberg, the trans-racial adoptee, this kind of diverse plurality is very positive, but when it becomes too comfortable this is terrible. Nick, like any other teen, might find himself in certain situations where he settles for less, according to the generally accepted

Globig 17 standards. The pertinence of this postmodern shift in values increases ten-fold within the context of an inner city. Inner city youth are bombarded with a plethora of identities by which to draw from. Their environment is not only pluralistic, but confounded with several powerful features. The community environment, arguably, has the greatest effect on youth. Their sense of self is framed in the several identities they must assume in multiple arenas family, neighborhood, and schools as well as community organizations, the streets, local economic realities, churches, and youth groups that compose their environment. These elements combine to shape the ways in which young people perceive themselves and their sense of competence, future, and social membership. (Heath, 37) Shirley Heath wrote in Identity and Inner City Youth about how teens, who were asked to express the areas of greatest significance to them in their lives, drew out youth groups as most cherished. Many maps drawn by youth place their youth organization in the middle of their neighborhood map and show the streets all lead to their group (Heath, 44) Their group does not necessarily refer to a church-founded assembly. Although, this is extremely significant because a communitys success can most often be tied to its youth organization, which falls right in the center of all chaos. Furthermore, if a youth group is so crucial for identity formation then a youth ministry, serving communally, is extremely beneficial in a time of identity crisis. Not to mention the most important blessing of it all Christ would be at the center of both the community and many youths hearts. The maps teens draw of their community frequently encompass no more than 5 to 10 square blocks and are marked with significant places in terms of what you can do there and

Globig 18 where you hang out. (Heath, 44) Heaths discovery shows the importance of contextualization. If a youth ministry intends to impact youth in the midst of adolescent identity crisis and formation, they must realize the context of inner cities. Every 5 to 10 square blocks might have a completely different environment, and thus, an influential youth ministry must have a different approach to reaching youth on their turf. Aside from contextualizing, how can a youth ministry help? Resembling the story of the Good Samaritan, The roadside of todays culture is littered with bruised and battered kids outcasts crying for help. Too many people claiming to be followers of Christ never stop to help. (Mueller, 232) How can a Good Samaritan help if they do not know whats wrong with the youth? Too many people pass by without listening to youth. I have had so many conversations with people who just do not take the time to shut their mouths and listen. I was voicing some concerns the other day at a church; I was interrupted and the person vomited typical responses all over my face. They gave me verses, Biblical truths, and sound advice. I had enough tidbits of wisdom to write a speech! Unfortunately, they completely misconstrued my concerns. Likewise, youth workers, many times, go about preaching and teaching without listening to a youth culture which is crying out. Ministers should be required to go through some kind of boot camp where they are forced to listen to horrible country music, while clothes pins force their ears open. Then, even if they do not like what they are hearing from youth, they will have been trained to listen through all of the painful shrieks! Walt Mueller wrote, the most powerful conduit to understanding young people is to hear their words. Through one-on-one conversations, reading their poetry, digesting their journals or tapping into other creative outlets,

Globig 19 we discover their joys, concerns, questions, frustrations and ideas. (Mueller, 28-29) After, youth workers have first listened, they should speak about the search for identity. A youth worker might ask, What are your passions, dreams, and talents given by God? The entire congregation of the saints could even get involved in this process of identity discovery. A list of things might be offered by the church like apprenticeships, life experiences, and positive intergenerational relationships. Also, youth ministries might work alongside other members of the community or parents, to enroll youth in co-ops, military schools, scout clubs, 4H, employment and service opportunities, mission trips, and other extra-curricular activities. In the inner city, opportunities like this would be like the gold in Proverbs 25:11. Youth usually do not pass up jobs in the inner city because they are such a treasure, like apples of gold in settings of silver! Rites of passage might also have a huge impact. Imagine a live camera recording of a group of youth from America which was shuttled off in Africa to spend time with a particular tribe. An undisclosed youth organization actually performed this as a rite of passage. Although, youth ministries might not want to replicate this type of rite of passage, many of the teens learned valuable lessons from the experience. One of the lessons may have been, Never trust your leaders! Each and every rite of passage, activity, experience, and opportunity must be done in a relational setting in order to be truly successful. The early church in Acts is a Biblical example of such a thriving community. Teens should be immersed in a tribal community so they find a sense of affinity - with Christ at the center. Erikson believed social interactions as well as the social context were critical to the formation of an identity. By interacting with others, we learn about ourselves and what we ought to be. (Meece, 365) Also, if a youth group would like youth to know the Bible, they will create experiences within the tribe to sense, understand, sift through,

Globig 20 and experience the Living Word and the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, many youth groups forget the importance of Biblical understanding and have low expectations for youth. Alex and Brett Harris wrote about the popularized myth of adolescence. It brainwashes teens to think they should meet the bare minimum since there are low expectations. If Christians ever had the opportunity to rise up and follow the calling of God, it is now. These younger generations are the future of blessing and of Christianity. For Christian youth, Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher of the nineteenth century, commented, Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask you Is your delight in the law of God? Do you study Gods Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand your best companion and hourly guide? If not, Spurgeon said, the blessing of Psalm 1 does not belong to you. (Harris, 98) Teens must be challenged to rise to the occasion, but to what level of maturity should teens aspire toward? It is good to dream about spiritual development. Youth must look into the future and ask themselves, What kind of spiritual maturity would you like to reach by age 40? Hopefully, a youth ministry can help youth aspire to live the life of Christ by asking them questions which challenge them. Jesus used to say, You have heard it said but I say He used to say this constantly, and so youth ministers should also follow this example. More precisely, Jesus often spurred people to think about their cultural assumptions by saying, You have heard it said ... Hed proceed to restate a commonly accepted cultural truth (You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.) and then push back with a kingdom-of-God truth (But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.).

Globig 21 Lovingly, in the twentieth century and beyond, youth workers are called to create experiences and environments in which youth might find Christ revealed to them in spirit and in truth. Ministers of the young should be mindful of both history and the context of today in which a youths wholeness is not whole at all, and in which a youth may have not yet experienced discipleship. During adolescent identity crisis and formation, youth must be reminded of the need to find their identity in Christ (Romans 8:16-17), especially in the middle of a rushing storm.