Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Becoming the Right One

I watched one of my favorite films the other day, Let the Right One In. As I'm still thinking about all the implications of Robert Epstein's Teen 2.0 and combating the phenomenon of extended adolescence, a thought from my original review of the film struck me:
As I interact with junior highers on a weekly basis, I see this bleak reality--that students are becoming increasingly isolated from the world of adults, left to fend for themselves, forced to learn about life on their own. The adults in this film--like adults in our culture--disengage from the children, then wonder how things went so wrong. Let the right one in. Where are the right ones? It is a plea to find those who will protect us, care for us, offer us strength and love even when we fall short.
In the film, two twelve-year-olds fend for themselves in a dangerous world of bullies while the adults are completely disengaged from them (with the exception of one, Eli's "caretaker," whose incompetence in his role leads to his dreadful downfall). Mom is busy watching TV or out working; Dad would rather drink with his friends and is more of a buddy than a mentor; teachers are clueless and unsafe to approach with problems.

In Scripture, the older are supposed to take care of the younger, entering into their worlds to help them grow and mature. Yet in our culture, the young are often forced to enter into and navigate the adult world on their own. There is this unseen barrier between the youth and adult world, and often the church has put the onus on the youth to clamber over that barrier. Instead of adults incarnating themselves into the world of youth, youth are left to bridge the gap. And when they can't (or won't. Why enter a world where you've never felt like you belonged?), adults often complain about the youth's immaturity.

I'm beginning to think that my role in youth ministry is to be a connector: to equip and connect Godly adults with young people. For whatever reason, it's become unnatural for adults to spend time with people younger than themselves. They need some guidance in bridging the gap. They need to become the "right one" in someone's life, lovingly showing up at the doorstep of their life and humbly being invited into their world.

What if every young person in your community--I'm talking about anyone under the age of 30--had someone in their life who was just a bit older, wiser, further along in their journey with Christ, intentionally pacing alongside them? How will you become the "right one" for someone?


  1. Joel I watched this movie on Netflix and was blown away!!!!

    I thought it was incredible! I loved this movie...I had no idea what to expect and thought it was brilliant.

    I then had the same though, I wondered about extended adolescence and wondered how to remedy the situation.

    Great thoughts man.

  2. Duncan, glad you liked the film! An American remake is coming out in October, I'm hoping that will give this little film a bit more publicity.

  3. Joel - you've hit upon one of my huge frustrations: disengaged parents. I'm hoping to send you an email w/a brainstorming list of ways to help engage the parents of kids in youth ministry. Some we've tried in the past w/success, others need to come from the "top" instead of just another parent. Some ideas may be completely lame, but will hopefully sprout a new idea. Please hear my heart in that I am not wanting to be critical, but find solutions. I come from a home whose parents would never step foot on a church campus, so this is subject I'm passionate about.