Raise the Bar for Teens

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Adult adolescence is on the rise, even in Christian homes. Young men and women are living at home well into their mid-twenties, failing to step out into adulthood. Richard Ross, Professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with 40 years experience in youth ministry, identifies some of the problems behind adult adolescence and practical ways churches and parents can partner together to curb the growing trend.




Richard identified three practical steps parents and churches can take to raise the bar for teens:
  1. Establish clear and reasonable expectations.
  2. Clearly communicate consequences of good and bad choices.
  3. Maintain a posture of unconditional love, warmth, and acceptance.

As both parents and churches work toward the goal of raising the bar for teens, collaboration is crucial. How do parents and church leaders currently communicate about goals/expectations for teens at your church? Parents, how do you communicate what would you like from church leaders? Church leaders, how do you communicate what you would like from parents?
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Parents, think about the current expectations you’ve set for your teen. How can you shape these expectations to foster a growing sense of personal responsibility in your teen? How do you communicate your expectations? How do you make sure that they are clear and the purpose behind them is understood?
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Church leaders, how are you resourcing parents as they establish expectations for their teens? How do you reinforce parents' expectations at church? How can you choose and structure calendar events in a way that fosters teen responsibility (e.g. increasing service opportunities, scheduling activities Saturday mornings, limiting the number of late-night activities)?
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Parents, does your teen have a clear understanding of consequences, both good and bad? How have you communicated about consequences in the past? Have you been more proactive or reactive in your communication?
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Church leaders, how do you seek to reinforce the consequences communicated by parents? What opportunities do you have to use the platforms of youth meetings and special events to communicate consequences in impactful ways?
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Parents, how do you maintain a posture of warmth, acceptance, and unconditional love, even when administering discipline? How do you best communicate to your teen that the expectations you set and the consequences you put forward are done so out of a care for their well being? How can you be a conduit of grace, extending to your teen the grace that God has lavished on you?
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“It is the combination of clear expectations with warmth and love that produces a mid-twenty-year-old that feels like an adult. They’re ready to take on adult responsibilities, they’re ready to live independently, they’re ready to get married if God should lead them in that direction, and they’re ready to make a difference in the world.”