by Chris Neal, originally posted on Made to Flourish.

This is the final article in our youth ministries series. If you missed the first two, we explored 3 ways to help your students discern their vocational calling and how to help youth value school as work. We hope this series encouraged you, whether you work with youth, parent youth, or want to know how to better serve the youth in your church or school classrooms. Watch for more series coming soon from our Made to Flourish team, and make sure you check out our other resources at and follow us on Twitter.

In what seems like a religious identity crisis, many young Christians feel abandoned and alone by the institutions and structures meant to support them: the church and family. Systems theory wisdom suggests that organizations are perfectly designed for the results they are currently getting. As I’ve served in youth and family ministries for 12 years, I have seen some of the results that social systems have had on our young people. What are some of these results? Jeffrey Arnett, author of Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: A Cultural Approach, argues that people are taking much longer to mature into adulthood (1). Christian Smith has observed that our family and religious systems have primarily shaped our young people to be Moralistic Therapeutic Deists (2). These are not new facts, but they are important to understand how our ministry to youth must be counteractive to what society teaches and what they learn through culture and their peers.

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