A Change of Trajectory

Summit Ministries

Rating: 5.00

We’re hearing more and more about students who “Fail to Launch.” What that means, and why it’s important.

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Chuck  Colson

Vaclav Havel, who helped overcome communist rule in Czechoslovakia once said, “It’s not that modern man knows less and less about the meaning of life. It’s that it bothers him less and less.”

He might well have been talking about many teenagers today. As Diana West noted in her book, The Death of the Grownup, many young adults struggle to, well, grow up. It’s been called “Failure to Launch,” or “Peter Pan Syndrome,” or “perpetual adolescence.”

Much has been made of adolescence as a stage of development, but in America we make too much of it today. We treat teens like kids, market to them incessantly, and never ask them to grow up.

It’s a mistake and it’s contagious. In the 1980s, the movie characters who were the slackers were teenagers; in the 90s they were 20-somethings. But today, with movies like The Hangover, the goofball, perverted adolescents are now adult men! And, studies show men in their 30s spend more time and money on video games than teens do!

We used to think of adolescence as the stage of say between the ages of 13-18, now the National Academy of Sciences defines adolescence as the stage of life between 11 and 30! And when more people know the names of celebrities than their elected officials, and when our knowledge of entertainment trivia trumps our knowledge of Holy Scripture – we’ve got a problem.

According to my friend Jim Dobson, that’s where his son Ryan was. A good kid, but with a very small vision of the world – one limited to skateboarding and meeting girls. Then, he went to a Summit Ministries Student conference and everything changed.

According to Ryan, the two weeks he spent at Summit Ministries literally changed the trajectory of his life. Learning about the consequences of ideas, how the Biblical worldview is true and how to defend it against other worldviews, led him to a bigger vision of life and put him on the path of standing for truth and making a difference in society.

My colleague John Stonestreet, host of “The Point,” works and teaches with Summit Ministries. John told me that a recent survey of Summit graduates revealed that they are more likely to pray, read the Bible, share their faith, and have beliefs in line with a biblical worldview than the typical Christian student. They also watch less television and read more books – and vote more often than their peers. What parent wouldn’t want that for their children?

What’s Summit Ministries secret? They treat students like adults and raise expectations about what they need to learn. A lot of youth camps focus on fun and games, but at Summit they focus on student learning – especially preparing them for the many challenges that will assault their faith in college and from the culture.

And, you know what? The students love it. They want to be challenged, because for too long they’ve been the victim of low expectations.

Summit has set the gold standard for training students in Christian worldview. Ryan Dobson and a lot of others are proof it works.

Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll link you to Summit so you can find out more about their upcoming conferences for high-school- and college-age students. And you can search our website and find all sorts of materials you can use to have talks with your kids that treat them like serious adults. There is no excuse for perpetual adolescence.

Further Reading and Information

The Death of the Grown-Up
Diana West | St. Martin's Griffin | 2008

Summit Ministries




teens and challenge
I had to comment on this piece. I was having a conversation about this very thing with a friend not long ago. The youth group of the church we used to attend has begun to make the youth group time into nothing more than a fun and games time. The rationale given for this is that "we are reaching out to those who don't come to church, and we don't want to scare those kids away." She has been told that even if there is a "devotional" (there is never a Bible study), students are given a heads up and allowed to leave if they so choose. Guess what? They so choose. The reasoning is counter-intuitive to the supposed end-result: helping them gain a relationship with Jesus Christ. My friend is still going to church there, but is more and more frustrated by how things are being done and handled in the youth group and the fact that church leadership is turning a blind eye to what is going on. I know from teaching youth Sunday school and teaching public school that the more you can treat kids like they can be trusted with big ideas and big expectations, the more often they respect you and rise to your expectations. The old adage is true: kids live up to your expectations, no matter how high or how low they are. Unfortunately, we have adults who don't seem to understand that.