You may not have heard of the Harris twins, Brett and Alex, the little brothers of evangelical mega-author and faithful pastor Josh Harris. They have a great website, the Rebelution, and a recent book called Do Hard Things in which they urge teens and people of all ages to work hard in life for the glory of God. Christianity Today just interviewed the twins and I found one section particularly interesting for people concerned with the structure and mission of the local church:
“CT: What does your message mean for adults?
Alex: The low expectations for young people are not coming from just the world — the media and MTV. They are in schools and the church, too. But teens are hungry for more. They are hungry for doctrine and theology. They want to know about God and not just have pizza parties at youth group. They believe they can accomplish things for God. They need older, wiser mentors and adults in their lives to come alongside them and be the wisdom that complements their strength and energy and excitement.
In addition, recognizing that culture has turned teens into mere targets of our consumer culture changes the way you teach them. We have had parents read the book and say, “Hey, you’re right. I don’t want my daughter to just be a little Bratz doll. I want to prepare her for a serious time of preparation and launching.”
The message of the Rebelution also speaks to adults to do hard things. Adults get stuck in ruts where they are not going outside their comfort zones. Adults need to do more than is required. They need to dream big. They need to be faithful in the little things, and they need to take a stand.”
There’s a good deal of wisdom here. Maybe we can change this culture in years to come and teach our children the highly counter-cultural message that youth is not to be wasted upon foolish pleasures, but is a season of preparation for the demands, joys, and high calling of adulthood.
In our day, of course, we need to teach this lesson not only to teens, but to twenty- and even thirtysomethings. Life is not meant to be lived for one’s own desires, for the gratification of our immature desires. Adulthood and maturity are good. They are not evil. Conformity on some levels to common standards of maturity is not bad–it is good, and part of being an adult. Self-expression is not the chief good of life. It is better to learn self-control, and then to fit in self-expression.
I could go on. There’s a great deal of ground to make up on this point, and much of what the culture offers youth today goes directly against the Harris twins’ biblically grounded message. But that’s where excellent parents and vibrant local churches come in, right?