The foundations of teen identity are shaken and eroded by the simple yet complex question, “Who are you?”
Teens are asked this question in every social interaction, whether at school, in public, or even through social media. The question of who they are is asked by judgmental eyes assessing what they wear, through passive-aggressive comments about their hobbies, through challenging statements to see how they will respond, or simply outright. It is a societal question that teens are bombarded with daily and challenged to answer by their peers, their friends, their elders, and the online community looking for chinks in their proverbial armor of filters and perfectly crafted Instagram profiles.
“Who are you?”
But it is not enough that this question simply resounds as an underlying current in teen culture. No, culture and society have their answer to this question and are determined to make it sound like the ONLY answer for teens. Be like this person. Desire this kind of life. Treat your community this way. Have these morals. Covet until you have. And if not, then you are not enough. If not, then you are broken. If not, then you are naïve and sheltered. If not, then you are not attractive.
Family and youth ministers have a unique opportunity to speak life into the lives of these teens who are wrestling with the very question of their identity and grappling with the questions of “Who am I?” and “Where do I fit?” It gives new meaning to the idea that the church and youth groups are where teens can wrestle with their doubts and struggles and leave with a firmer belief of who God is and whose they are.
“Who are you?”
If we, as the church community, are not helping teens answer that question with scripture and biblical understanding of who created them and why, then the world will scream its answer into their minds. Instead of the gentle, loving whisper of biblical truth, they will hear the clang of the fallen world. Their identity will be up for debate and dictated by society’s current fads.
So how do we get teens to listen in and have tough conversations about teen culture and identity specifically? Axis is an organization dedicated to starting lifelong conversations around these topics and has created guides to help generate honest dialogue with teens. The title of their recent bundle is Parent Guides to Finding True Identity, but these resources can also be helpful tools for pastors to navigate the tough conversations and questions with teens in their ministry.
The Parent Guides to Finding True Identity bundle contains guides on teen identity, body image, sexuality, eating disorders, and fear and worry. These resources are available to help us better understand the realities our teens are facing and speak into the conversation around teen identity with biblical wisdom. Each guide contains biblical insight and discussion questions around the topic, giving the tools to navigate conversations that are hard for both the adult and teens.
The booklets can also be given to parents as a resource or have in the church library or bookstore to direct parents to when needed. Some teens may not have parents who care enough or are biblically grounded enough to have these conversations. We, as the church, are. Even in families where the parents are engaged, sometimes the parents need help, or teens feel they can open up more with peers.
Help teens in your ministry answer the question “Who are you?” with biblical wisdom. Grab your resources today!