Hillary was right. It takes a village.
Kara Powell and the research she has helped lead at the Fuller Youth Institute has confirmed in recent years that one of the primary factors in limiting the risk of faith abandonment (or as I like to call it, “faith fade” since very few people intentionally abandon their faith) is the presence of about five caring, Christ-following adults involved in the life of a teenager; a Christian village might be another way of saying it.
If “no man is an island” is true, then certainly no teenager is an island when it comes to their spiritual walk. There’s no such thing as a one-man village. A one-man village on an island would be a lonely existence! But that’s how some of the teenagers in our youth groups feel. And while some of them truly may be trying to navigate their faith in isolation, most aren’t. Most probably simply haven’t taken the time to recognize and identify the fact that they have a village of support.
Parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, Sunday school teachers, neighbors, aunts, uncles, friends, older siblings, youth ministry volunteers and other church members are just a few examples of people who may have played an important role in the faith development of a teenager. It takes a village.
But my hunch is most of your students have never taken the time to think about it. Americans, after all, love individualism. We love to be “self-made” men and women. We applaud the folks who have “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.” The idea that kids need a village of support was quickly dismissed (mostly by conservatives who simply couldn’t grasp the idea that anything a Clinton suggested had merit) and even laughed at when Hillary brought it into the spotlight.
But she was right. It takes a village.
I’m a fan of individualism. I love the fact that the American way allows self-made men and women. I respect folks who have been able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. We need to help our teenagers develop some of these traits.
Yet in the body of Christ there are no individuals, there are no self-made men and women, and we should never be in the position to pull our bootstraps alone. It takes a village.
Encourage the teenagers in your youth group to identify and thank the people in their village who have helped them on their spiritual journey.
If they don’t have a village, help them find one.
Because living on an island in a one-person village is a lonely existence.